dickbaker - 2:55 am on May 16, 2011 (gmt 0)
Robert Charleton, your user engagement theory may be right. I wish there was a way to tell.
Shatner, the idea of pigeonholing sites makes sense in your situation. It also makes sense with the ecommerce section of my site.
Prior to Panda, I ranked first-page for several phrases related to the items I sell in my small online store. Now I'm anywhere from #53 out to #114 or even worse for those.
The content on those pages isn't necessarily thin, and there's a fair amount of original content I wrote, much more original than any other online retailer of those items that I've seen. The "punishment" those pages received was the most confusing part of Panda, as I couldn't figure out what I'd done wrong with those pages.
If Google is pigeonholing sites, though, then demoting the online store pages makes perfect sense, as they have the least to do with what Google apparently sees as the primary focus of my site.
If that's what's happening, though, then it is a lousy algorithm. The site is about widgets: who sells them, information about them, and buying accessories for them.
I'm just thinking out loud now. The focus may be a factor, but there's obviously still more. A page doesn't go from #5 to #114 because the site isn't focused on ecommerce. There's too many other sites in between that have absolutely nothing to do with the widgets in question.
Focus is just another item to add to Tedster's list.