Whitey - 1:57 am on Oct 9, 2012 (gmt 0)
@zeus - I don't have big hopes with regards to the metrics.
Firstly Google isn't playing a straight hand by revealing what they are relying on. We only have half the story from them and we don't know where the metrics come from or how they interpret them and weight each of them. And in any case, crafting the engineering to match theirs seems impossible - as good metrics are in the eye of the beholder, which is going to be different to different sites. Google may have planted some vary narrow variables for all we know, and we don't know. Also, I've not heard of any improvement from cutting pages to improve metrics sufficently to break Panda totally. Someone may correct me if I'm wrong.
Just do what's good for you and your users - that's all you can do.
Secondly, I would bet strongly on quality elements in your design, workflow / navigation and improved naturaland engaging content to assist. This may be more intense in some popular verticals and types of websites. Again, just do your best and observe benchmarks that are not brand - they are getting away with murder or to put it politely, brand is a stronger signal than any other impropriety in the absense of settling down Google's other factors :)
They probably need a couple of years to get this right, plus other reasons we do not know in terms of overall strategy and technicalities. Who knows.
By which time i doubt if any SERP slots will remain for certain verticals. So surviving SEO centric sites are kinda being forced to reinvent how they market to, and serve users anyway.
Good luck and well done for sticking though your ordeal. I hope we have a happy story soon - you deserve a good ROI/effort.