tedster - 3:03 pm on Sep 6, 2012 (gmt 0)
No - it was not "the" holy grail for Panda but it was the important factor for this site. I've written about this in several other threads - the problem was that legitimate republishers as well as some scrapers were getting credit as the original authors. That made the real content owner look like a scraper or re-publisher!
So the goal was to re-establish the site as the content owner and true authority. Since they have about a dozen top-shelf authors with long established industry reputations, that was a very reasonable goal.
We instituted pubsubhubbub with fat pings for every new article; we instituted author mark-up with good author pages for each of the writers; we set a one hour delay on adding the new content to the RSS feed. That's what made the difference for us on the very next Panda refresh.
Earlier on we also fixed some duplicate URL issues, made some successful DMCA requests, upgraded the usability of the site by removing a lot of unused internal linking, and so on. But those earlier changes did not move the needle very much. The big boost came after the steps I mentioned above.
A few new backlinks then popped up from VERY trusted authorities, such as BBB, a security certificates business, and some articles by academic and governmental authorities - but that came AFTER the Panda problem disappeared and gave the site another nice boost. Yes, it appears that good backlinks still can mean a lot ;) But I doubt they would have seen or trusted the site at all before the Panda issue was fixed.