shazam - 12:49 pm on Sep 11, 2011 (gmt 0)
There is some real truth in the op's title.
I have personally recovered a half dozen pandalized sites by essentially making them more directory like. They all had too much content on the home and other main pages. I removed the excerpts completely, added star ratings in their place and made the main pages nothing more than a crappy directory, and goo loves them once again.
I had another site just last week that was really starting to compete in an insanely competitive niche. The site was trash, so I spent a few days really making it user friendly with a great structure and layout. I increased the quality of the user experience 1000 fold and added some top notch content. Well, as could be expected, the site was instantly penalized and sandboxed. I'm sure I could ruin the site, and restore what it was, but I refuse to do it and will pay the price in lost revenues. Luckily for me, there are some attractive media buy options available in this niche so I may just start investing and testing traffic quality from other sources. These days, I would rather spend my ad dollars outside of adwords just as a matter of principle.
It's clear that one of goo's goals is to make seo an unprofitable and unworkable solution, thus increasing revenues and creating more unemployed folks. Giving away free traffic to the best sites in highly profitable niches is no longer part of the business plan. Rather, buying companies and directing traffic to goo owned pages or advertisers is where they are obviously headed.