sundaridevi - 9:30 pm on May 2, 2011 (gmt 0)
I don't think Google will ditch PageRank as that is what it got it to the top of the pile. Matt Cutts repeatedly states, that we should build our sites as if the search engines didn't exist and give our users the best experience and that is what will give us the best SERPs. I think that is what we need to focus on.
Up until now in the world of Google --Page Rank-- meant relevance. When I read the intro to this thread I thought that it was going to talk about how User Experience now equals relevance too. That seems to be the general consensus here, but I feel that Google will shy away from practices that expose it to anti-trust action. Overly relying on Data gathered from products like Chrome could start the ball rolling in that direction.
From my own experiences with the Panda update, from many sites in in different industries, one having PR 0 and two having PR6, my conclusion is that, while other factors may be in play, Panda has placed greater emphasis on on-site factors.
The evidence I'm looking at is a new site with PR0 in a fairly competitive niche, with only 3 incoming links, went from mostly page 3 results to page 1 and page 2 results after Panda. And a PR6 site with a very popular search term that has ranked number 1 in google for 8 years and finally fell to number 4. I had never optimized certain on-page factors because I believe, "if it ain't broke don't fix it". So I optimized for on-page, and it went back to number 1. (Are there any other success reports of a post-Panda revision?).
In this forum I see little attention to on-site factors. So I'm just wondering what people here see as the top 3-5 onsite factors?