gregw2 - 6:21 am on Dec 22, 2011 (gmt 0)
I agree with you. I know webmasters in both the UK and the US that were hit by the Panda, and virtually wiped out by it.
The sites in question were older, well maintained, and unique.
They also contained valuable information. They were not automated sites with PLR content or scraped content.
One of the sites was about printing presses and the history of printing around the world. It also had or has photos, and descriptions, already on site and within the articles.
For anyone to claim that they know what determined some sites to get the Google Panda Axe while others that appear to be no more than AdSense content farms is really pushing the reality button of anyone who has seen the results of Panda firsthand.
It was all a guess and still is. Granted rewriting some of your content or getting rid of some of your pages that are similar to what you already have published may help to get some ranking back but it does not guarantee it.
I have one site that is nothing more than an Amazon outlet and it did not get a blink from the Panda Axe.
I have an authority site which is much older dating from 2001 but updated and changed in 2008 and it was hit5 hard. It has no duplicate content and all of the content is written by 5 authors. Two of which are very active.
It was dropped from Google rank of 4 to 2, and lost over 2 thousands backlinks. I am guessing the backlinks were lost due to other sites trying to fix their own Panda Axe problems.
I took down some of the advertising for about 6 weeks and it had no affect. I have added the advertising back and it has made no difference. The traffic is gaining again but probably due to Bing and other search engines.
My site (the one I am referring to) was not hit as some other sites that I know that I consider as good or better than mine.
For certain topics I can get in a #4 placement on the first page of Google still but for other topics I am lucky to get to page 3 now. It is nothing like before.
It has been mentioned on another forum that Google Chrome is one element of the Panda Axe that is not exposed for what it has contributed.
Chrome may only have 300,000 users but these users are adding to the Google database by blocking sites that they find in their resultant searches and Google is taking note.
I have no idea if this, or what this, user effect would have on Google's site rankings and ratings, but it has been brought up. I am sure that there were many elements of data that were used by Google to determine which sites were Axed, but there are many good sites that fell and have not recovered, and many nondescript sites that are still plodding along as if nothing took place.
The only thing that a webmaster can do is to try and go over each site carefully and improve it. If that does not work then I have no clue.
I am taking a page a day and changing the content, that is already unique, to target new keyword phrases and see if that helps. As I mentioned, I already removed ads for almost 7 weeks and that made no difference. I how have different ads. I tried adding more AdSense and that has not had any effect either.
One other interesting event is that I had 180 pages linked to in Bing and in the last two weeks that dropped to 61 and today it has gone back to 118. I don't know what that is from. There are about 250 unique articles on the site.