I don't know what the argument above is about, I don't have the time to figure it out, so forgive me if this angers anyone.
- All sites are not treated equally
- All topics are not treated equally
Those are the only two truths with Google at this time. There is a difference in how Google handles informational and transactional sites and there are many layers of differences in how Google handles different stores/sources of information. In fact Google wants to know where you prefer shopping to give you results you'll appreciate based on your habits so every Google user is served potentially different results.
Penguin further divides the personal user experience in a way that makes "blanket" statements completely irrelevant.
Topics: If your site in ANY way is about a product that can be currently purchased widely in stores then it is highly unlikely that you will find search results for new, obscure, affiliate or less well known websites ranking in the top 10(after an initial surge of traffic at launch while Google figures the site out).
Informational: More and more subjects are treated equally strongly by Google.
The end result is that if your site is not well established or does not "wow" people in some way the odds of it being ranked well for mainstream news/shopping keywords is slim.
I just don't buy that Penguin is a punisher of websites anymore, it's more of a "does this site fit within our strict new expectations for this keyword" and "is this site targeting our shortlist of elite keywords" type scenario.
You're not ranking top 10 for a product found in stores without some serious net clout, and likewise for trending news, end of story. Far too many webmasters keep trying to crack this now impossible shortlist of Google coveted keywords.