Andem - 7:15 pm on Dec 1, 2011 (gmt 0)
Re: the tacobell and salon search results.
I've been experiencing the same thing over the past couple of months but even now for the past few days, many very important keywords are being dropped from my query but I know that pages exist that describe all keywords I'm looking for. Verbatim actually displays deplorable results sometimes so that is kind of hit-and-miss. For years, they have been providing me with great search results but I'm also seeing some really weird, unrelated things at the very top.
Most of my searches recently have been very technical. I remember always getting results from experts-exchange and I thought they were pretty horrible pages, but one thing those results did give me was ideas on how to better refine my queries. Now I can't find anything programming-related unless I specify site:example.com (a great programming resource). Google has become so dumbed-down it is embarassing.
But to the main point of this thread: I don't think it's necessarily old web sites vs. new web sites. True, it was easier to get links without asking for them back in the golden years, but we've moved on. I strongly believe that link rot is a real factor in rankings; Don't forget that a 'honeymoon' period also exists for new sites which old sites don't benefit from.
If anyone took the time to read some of the great posts in the link development forum, you might actually get a few ideas on how to build up some good backlinks if you deserve them. Most of these techniques require some real work, but the possibility is still there to build yourself some valuable links to pages with great content.