AlyssaS - 2:04 am on Jun 9, 2011 (gmt 0)
All the fixes mean nothing until one knows what to fix!
Well one big clue came from Google on their live webmaster chat - see this article for the report:
And the interesting bit was this (it's a response to someone asking why it has not been rolled out internationally):
“There were some characteristics that were more applicable to English-language sites,” Cutts said. The original question came from a viewer in Poland, and Cutts explained that “the link structure of websites in Poland is a lot different” from the link structure of sites in other countries.
Panda seems to me to be entirely about on-page stuff. Therefore "link structure" is referring to internal links. Go and look at some of the Pandalised sites - they have a really heavy link structure.
I don't think it's anything as simple as internal links are bad - more like they are applying ratios of some sort and some sites have tipped onto the wrong side of Panda.
I've been banging on about Hubpages v Squidoo since late Feb [webmasterworld.com] - but though these sites are very similar (both have spam, both user generated content, both have a lot of ads) - the one difference is that Squidoo has a light internal link structure and Hubpages is really really aggressive with their internal linking.
But sorting it out isn't simple. Suppose you remove those links - the internal links might have been the only things supporting some pages, possibly a lot of pages. So you might come back a bit, but not really back to where you were before Panda where your internal link structure was supporting everything. You are going to have to get new external links to those pages which have lost internal link support, or resign yourself to not getting traffic back for those pages at all.
For smaller sites - I think someone reported getting their rankings back simply by removing links to archive pages. And I've heard some reports of people regaining rankings by removing excessive tags. It's possible those archive pages and tags didn't do much anyway, so no loss in removing links to them. But for more complicated sites, it might be another matter altogether.
And of course there are other elements to this algo as well, such as ad-to-content ratio, duplicate content and so on. If you get a black mark against too many elements, you won't recover till you've removed them all.