Matt Cutts and others from Google have basically said ranking is dead. So where are you getting your traffic?
It may not be altogether dead but it's not as important as it used to be. In my profession, my clients want a visual graph showing where their main keywords are coming up in Google and others. The problem with this is I am in a different location then they are and my search results can vary from theirs.
In Google Analytics, it shows where your traffic is coming from, how long they stay on your site and the percentage of new visitors plus a lot more. This is really the target you want to focus on. My Sedona real estate partner may be getting 1,000 hits a month on their Sedona foreclosure page but only be ranked on the 3rd page for this keyword. What this means is that the majority of visitors going to that page are probably really searching for Sedona foreclosures rather then just clicking through the list on a search engine.
Ranking tends to be that security blanket but it means nothing if those leads are not converting into closings. I don't want 10,000 hits to my site if not one person is giving me their contact information. I want 10 people clicking to my site that really want to find me and out of those 10 people I may have 3-4 closings. Much more personal and goal driven.
Most search engines depend on history of the user. The area you search in and the history you have looked through may determine your future results. If you have searched for Alamogordo real estate in the past, then when you search just for Alamogordo, more real estate related pages will appear rather then something unrelated to real estate.
So don't be frustrated if you are not #1 for your search terms. You may be getting better results from a referring site over here than from the actual search engine. Don't disregard Google and others just yet, but focus on those personalization phrases and referring sites that will actually drive business, not just traffic to your site.