diberry - 6:48 am on Dec 16, 2012 (gmt 0)
I do think Google is actively managing the traffic, but not to any individual sites as a conspiracy. It is not in their best interest to do so. It is more managing the internet as a whole. It's not really a cap per se, but more or less, the internet traffic is limited. One site has to lose traffic for another to gain. A more worthy site gains more visibility and "steal" traffic from another site. Or can lose traffic to another site.
This is something I've been feeling intuitively but failing to put into words. For the first time in human experience, there is actually more information available than our brains could hope to handle. Google is the #1 gatekeeper of that info for the world. They've got to be keenly aware of this massive power/responsibility. Years ago, they could index probably the whole darn web, but now? What do you think Panda was about? Clamping down on repetition of information, which is overwhelming them. I think it's literally just not going to be possible in a few years to present the internet to people the way search has always done. It just won't be sufficient. A lot of changes they're making and things they're testing make sense in this light - they're trying to present the BEST sites, not the whole internet. They're shifting in that direction.
So yeah, they're managing traffic, but not necessarily by choice at all. It's just the only way to deal with this huge avalanche of information that's growing every minute.