diberry - 4:28 pm on Mar 28, 2013 (gmt 0)
Seems to me we're not all talking about exactly the same things in this thread. I think we can agree that having an offline rep causes people to search for your brand by name in Google, and what they want is your site, so whether you're a small site known to 25 people who met you at a party or you're BMW, Google's going to return your site. This is totally democratic on Google's part.
It's also beyond debate that richer websites can spend more on factors that the rest of us may not be able to address so well, and when those factors become the deciding ones, they win. Again, Google's treating everyone the same in this case.
It's the lifting of penalties where I question if Google is treating every site the same way. Remember how some big corporate sites came back from Panda penalties very quickly while other big but not corporate sites never did? Presumably, this is because the sites that recovered were able to spend more on making changes to please Google. EXCEPT, why didn't they get slapped with the "you're making too many changes, probably trying to game us, therefore we hate you" penalty like so many others did? It DOES seem to me like some sites are getting a pass. I mean, how were obvious, pure content farms EVER able to overcome Panda? It shouldn't even have been possible, if Panda's purpose was to lower the content farms.
So that's where I wonder if Google's really treating everyone the same. I also wonder if the search team is indeed treating everyone the same, but other powers within the Google company are thwarting this for other business reasons.