EditorialGuy - 2:49 am on Nov 30, 2013 (gmt 0)
It's also possible that domain age used to count for more than it does now. And don't forget that even a slight drop in average rankings can have a big effect on search referrals and traffic.
Our own long-established information site got hit by Panda 1.0 back in February, 2011 and has suffered from a steady erosion of Google referrals since then. The site continues to rank on the first page of Google's SERPs for hundreds of search queries, but I think most people here would agree that ranking 1, 2, or 3 delivers a lot more traffic than ranking no. 6, 7, or 8 does.
Side note: We continue to get unsolicited inbound links regularly (including relevant links from megasites that do well in Google), and we definitely haven't stood still in terms of content or design. So I'm not sure how much of our Panda-caused distress has been caused by the Panda's punitive aspects (punishing "thin" pages, for example) and how much is the result of Google's now favoring things that we don't offer (such as having an EMD, having blog-style comments on every page, or having user-generated content).