Reno - 4:40 pm on Nov 26, 2011 (gmt 0)
Let me be clear in saying that, as always, it can be very helpful to do the things you suggest, plus improve the quality of overall writing, aim for faster page downloads, etc. But I see all that as good general advice for everyone, as opposed to finding a "common theme", which to me implies a kind of recipe for success. At this point I tell people to make their site to the best of their ability, as opposed to "knocking it out" in some template fashion, and keep making genuine improvements as they seem useful. That may or may not help with Google ~ with Panda nothing is assured ~ but it certainly will help with the site visitors, and that in and of itself is enough of a reason.
Perhaps video content or really well structured and written illustrated articles with links to good citations etc...Backlinks, and backlink anchor text are still incredibly important