irishsolar - 8:05 am on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)
@Play_Bach my guess is that site sits in a non-competitive niche that is financially not worth a lot. Therefore I think anyone with any SEO knowledge has not invested any time trying to rank for your friend's niche search terms and that would account for her being market leader.
I also strongly believe that if a site with proper on-page SEO for her niche terms had engaged in some targeted backlink building (prior to this update) they would have blown her out of the water - IMO.
If this is indeed the case then your example is not indicative of how search works. Just my opinion but based on 10 years in the game.