Reno - 1:59 am on Sep 27, 2011 (gmt 0)
I see some patterns in the way sites are ranked. Here's an example based on the rock sensation Willy Widget:
~ If WW has an official website (WillyWidget.com) that is not penalized due to excessive black hat stuff, it has a good shot at #1;
~ Number 2 will thus be Wikipedia, or some other encyclopedic type site;
~ There will also be social media: Facebook.com/willywidget, Twitter.com/willwidget, MySpace.com/willywidget, etc
~ And other high rankings will be from "Trusted Brands" in the rock music field, such as MTV, Billboard, etc.
~ Mixed in will be YouTube videos and news stories about WW.
These listings will likely take up ALL of page 1, so if you have a site dedicated to WW and, especially, if you are an affiliate of various companies selling posters, cds, t-shirts, etc, you are probably going to be on page 2 or lower no matter what you do re site design and content. Why? Because you are none of the above, and never will be.
That is a simple example of how I'm seeing many site rankings, and while it is admittedly a generalization, it's an example of a pattern that in my experience is fairly common. Because so much of the real estate is ceded to all of the above, the rest of us are dropping off page 1, which is to say, into Death Valley, and once you're in Death Valley, you are essentially dead.