What I'm seeing is I lost rank on my most competitive phrases, and "my domain", but I'm still ranking well on some less competitive terms, plus a lot of longtail ones that keep shifting around.
But I just got the "no manual spam action" email in WMT, so there's a third possibility. What if Penguin involves both penalizing certain shifts and affecting certain phrases in the algo? That could explain why some webmasters are seeing huge drops overall that very much look like a sitewide penality, while others are just losing out on certain phrases we used to rank well for.
Fourth possibility: Penguin is strictly about changing the SERPs on certain phrases, but Google also handed out a bunch of manual penalties at the same time without publicizing that side of it.
I've been monitoring the competitive search terms I used to rank highly for, and I just don't understand how the results are good for users. In one example, it's:
1. TV channel's website
2. Another result from same website
3. A link list page from About.com
4. Big brand site
6. Same big brand site as #4
7. Another link list page from an established site
8. Another big brand site
9. Yet another big brand site
10. YouTube video
There are only actually 6 resources in that top 10 list, unless you count YouTube or images as a resource, which most people wouldn't because this query is hunting for some simple, printable text. As a user, I feel like the whole first page is just thinly disguised ads when I get a SERP like that. I know non-techie users may see it differently, but who doesn't feel their time is being wasted when you only really get 6 resources where you're expecting 10?
I never understood Google ranking my page so highly on this term, but nor do I understand how this new result is any better. Except, of course, for the big brands.