@JD_Toims - +1 Great post, appreciate the time you spent putting this together, reviewing Bill Slawski's excellent work.
longer term personalization, and some measures of user satisfaction... building on what's come before... also play a large part in the overall algo
Years ago I would have suggested folks build their own semantic hierarchy through the site architecture e.g. using side navigation drill downs. Landing pages would need to be specific to each query with unique titles and inbound links based on the semantic hierarchy.
Fast forward 6 years or so, and Google has built up vast repositories of data on individual sites and query intent based on what users have been typing in, and how they've been responding, making the former somewhat redundant.
Bake that in alongside Panda which focus' on user satisfaction and Penguin which removes manipulative link practices, you are getting close to a search engine that needs to be told less about what the webmaster wants to be searched and more about what Google anticipates the user intends. ( Siteowners & SEO's need to adjust their thinking to be more aligned to this, to meet their clients needs IMO ).
Overlay that with brand recognition and specific vertical differentiators [ e.g. real estate versus, say, medical ], along with social signals that cause Google to be a lot more responsive to input patterns and emerging trends. .
[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 5:00 am (utc) on Oct 13, 2013] [edit reason] added missing section, per poster's request [/edit]