Sgt_Kickaxe - 1:57 pm on Sep 10, 2011 (gmt 0)
Quality? No sir, I see MANY more spam sites ranking top 10 now than ever before for the keywords I monitor. In fact the #1 site for one of my favorite keywords is a 100% mashup site, all duplicate content, in which the owner had plans to roll out 5 similar sites but ended up redirecting the other 4 to his main site. Google isn't even catching that apparently.
Quality is not the end all factor in obtaining solid rankings anymore. Social stature seems to be and I don't mean at the site level, it's as if Google has decided to roll everything related to a site including the site owners other websites and his/her social profiles into one lump sum score that heavily influences the height of your glass ceiling.
Also, name dropping - it seems that mentioning a location in a title, h1, h2 or in bold is enough to severely limit ranking potential in all places except that region, do so with caution.