It's not really calibrated for sites that aren't calibrated for Google.
yep. so much for the "build for the user not for google" mantra.
with my sites, i know that if they were more optimized for google like some of my competitors do, they'd rank higher. but i refuse this slimy approach in exchange to personal freedom to do what i deem right on my web property. the price is high: more often than not, if you really focus on the user experience without search engine aspects in mind, google seems to have no way to recognize the value of a website in a timely fashion.
for years, i had two websites - one content, one directory - that were interlinked with keywords. google sent all the visitors to the directory that contained the keyword links - not to the site with the actual content. result: more hassle for the user, disappointment, higher bounce rate. it took years that google finally recognized it should send more users directly to the content site - with content creation meanwhile being 95% of my working time instead of 5% for maintenance of the site with the linking list.
very frustrating to see this happening. googles' algo is very conservative, downright anxious. they take much too long (years) to detect and react on quality or topic changes. same applies to earning trust for new websites. what's good for the old establisherd webmaster who doesn't change a thing is bad for the active webmaster who likes to experiment and modernize.