walkman - 5:19 pm on Sep 22, 2011 (gmt 0)
If they don't look after their brand and let standards slide, people will eventually turn away from them which google will detect and then any sub-standard web presence associated with them will be more vulnerable to Panda. But big brands don't tend to let that happen
Brands are relative, in some niches it takes little to become one.
But to be the devil's advocate, eHow was (is it still?) a brand, so was Mahalo and Goldman Sachs. Now banks don't even care becuase "every bank does it, where are you going to go." Even Google was once trusted as being fair and beyond any suspicion of wrong-doing. Maybe 5 years from now even Amazon will get greedy and try to squeeze as much as possible [finance.yahoo.com...] not happy of makign many times less than Google is now. The real truth is that they push their luck, little by little. There's also the degree of trust placed on a brand especially since it becomes almost a winner takes all and ruins small competitors.
The reality is that google is no longer the free for all it once was because there are too many people trying to cash in. It's back to the real world now - old rules apply.
Ding, ding, ding, and that's because it's beneficial to Google. See the G business section and anti-trust hearings.
I suspect user engagement too, but they vary depending on the keyword sent to you by Google. To use them as a sitewide metric when the SEs can screw up is insanity. If Google sends users here after searching for "Walkman" and they meant to search for Sony's walkman, how is it Brett's fault? With small traffic sites this can make a huge difference, especially since the plum keywords are being sent to to the top brands.
Not to mention that a certain site brought back from panda has an 80% bounce rate and very flimsy time on site.