Hissingsid - 11:23 am on Nov 26, 2011 (gmt 0)
That is old Google, not new Google ~ Panda was created to prevent the discovery of common themes because Google knows all too well that if that were still possible, they'd be right back where they started, which is to say, certain websites or SEOers could game the algo and undeservedly benefit.
I'm not sure that is correct within a specific niche. Armed with the knowledge that Panda is looking for certain aspects of user experience it is possible to see which sites have benefited from Panda in your niche and what are the things they have that seem to have helped. Perhaps video content or really well structured and written illustrated articles with links to good citations etc.
Another thing to consider is the none Panda parts of the algo. Backlinks, and backlink anchor text are still incredibly important and, depending on how competitive your niche is, it may be possible to outweigh the Panda effects by really good offsite promotion.
I'm trying to do a mix of both.