particleman - 7:53 pm on May 4, 2013 (gmt 0)
Why you probably still rank for others is perhaps you didn't try as hard for those keywords and they looked less spammy to the algo.
What's probably more amusing is people not knowing Panda/Penguin weren't updating daily probably fixed their site, broke it, fixed it, never saw changes because they didn't understand it only ran now and then, and have no clue because obviously nothing ever changed because nothing was changing.
I'll be a lot of clients have spent a lot of money on a lot of consultants tilting at this windmill and, depending on what they did, got no measurable results if the site was primarily kept in the status quo. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's what tends to happen when people start thrashing without all the facts.
See my first post in this thread. The changes I made took 6-8 months to fully filter through google. Re Computing the page rank for thousands of pages on your site isn't something google does overnight. I see the process similar to creating a new site, not sure if I would use the term sandbox, but the abrupt page 20 to page 1 is not how it happened. Gradual increases over time. It is even worse when you have a seasonal business to measure these changes.