Shaddows - 9:22 am on Sep 27, 2011 (gmt 0)
I cannot disagree with any of that (except you missed the block of news results pertaining to WW), assuming your targetted term is "Willy Widget" - and certainly that will have the highest traffic.
However, as a derivative website, you can rank for subjects. "Widget memorabilia" for example. Traffic will be lower, but conversions much, much higher.
If you are a fan site, and you cover off a large proportion of stemmed phrases, you will eventually break the top 10 (and it's quite likely you will go straight into the top 5).
If you are clever in your branding, you could create the go-to resource for WW, with its OWN search traffic- not deriving referals from the generic WW terms. Widgetera, the home for loyal Widgies and Willy Widget related stuff. Prime affiliate real estate, for a start. Direct selling from a subdomain.
But yes, the days of SEO getting you on page 1 for a media term or celebrity is pretty much done. The solution is a new business model, not a revamped site.
Post-Florida, plenty of business models were broken. But the people affected were pioneers in the industry, happy to try new things, adaptive and flexible by character. Post-Panda, people are treading well-worn paths and have been slower to let go of strategies that worked well up til now.