diberry - 12:58 am on Apr 11, 2013 (gmt 0)
I see something similar to diberry, but I think my phenomenon that I am seeing is that people still search for those terms, but Google does not rank the site at all for those terms.
So for some visitors I'm #1, and for others I'm non-existent? That's also been my best guess for what's going on - that the sites are just simply "disappeared" for some users through personalization or different data sets or whatever.
But when I search my terms in Google myself, I can't catch them not being #1. I try it on computers other than my own, proxy servers, etc., trying to rule out that Google knows it's me and is showing me the rankings I expect to see. Maybe I'm just not hiding my tracks well enough, but I cannot catch my pages ranking lower than they are normally reported to rank.
If Google is doing this, it's unprecedented as far as I know. It's like the algo is giving everyone 15 minutes of fame... except that does NOT track with what we're seeing with brands and multiple results for a single domain and all that.
The only other theory I have is that we're seeing the start of a fundamental shift in how people find sites. Maybe fewer people are using Google, period. Maybe people are starting to rely on social media (word of mouth from people they know) to find sites of interest. After all, a search engine can't provide results as personal as your friends on Facebook or Pinterest who really share your tastes and know what you like. (Now that I think about it, I'm astonished to realize I may be doing this myself - and I've been dragged kicking and screaming into Facebook, LOL.)