Mrguy we were trusting that what Matt Cutts said was accurate. Paid links are bad, content matters, google cares about spam. Do not run multi sites blah blah.
There is your first problem.
How does the saying go, "keep your enemies close"? If you recall, MC was the one who told us all about page rank sculpting and using the no follow tag.
How did that turn out?
Just remember, MC is a paid employee of a public company who thinks they are a God and anything he says has to be taken with a grain of salt.
If you go back over the years and look through the archives of Webmaster world, you will see many other occasions where there are many post just like yours saying the same thing so what you guys are posting is nothing new.
There will never be a single algo running. That ended when flux was introduced and the monthly dance stopped.
Your best bet is to try and learn how to navigate these new waters or be left behind.
When Whitenight posted here, his post were always pretty accurate and he predicted much of what we are seeing all by doing his own testing.
Test, test, and then test again. Just don't do it with your bread and butter sites.
And just remember, Google is not the Internet as much as they like to think they are. There is no law against making numerous sites and running your own tests.
One thing Iíve seen over and over again over the years is people who only have one site, follow ALL of Googles rules and then suddenly they get hammered in the SERPS for no reason and they are posting here about having to layoff people and shutdown their business. Iíve seen posts like that more times than I can count.