claaarky - 11:42 am on Oct 9, 2012 (gmt 0)
I think there's two separate issues here:-
2) The main algo
I remember reading Matt Cutts' statement about Chrome data not being used in the main algo and thinking he didn't say anything about Panda.
The way I see it, Panda produces a site rating that ranges from -100% to +100% which is calculated based on the user metrics of your site compared to others in your niche. Sites can be promoted or demoted by it, depending on quality. So the main algo does it's normal thing and works out your standard ranking position (based on relevance, click through rate, bounce, etc.), then the Panda rating boosts or demotes your ranking by your site rating, pushing high quality sites up and poor quality sites down.
If that were the case, then Matt would be technically right in saying they don't use Chrome data in the main algo, but I suspect they do indirectly via Panda.
If not Chrome, then it will be something that tells them Exit Rate, Pageviews, probably time on page as a minimum. Exit Rate tells you so much about a page and a site overall that, when compared with other similar sites, it becomes a reliable indicator of which site people like most. It's THE 'human intuition' metric.
The other thing that points me back to the browser is Google's move into mobile. What if you need data from a browser for Panda and see more and more traffic moving to mobile devices where Safari is prominent. What if the number of Safari users went to 70%....where would your quality based ranking system be then?
It would be interesting to see MC's response if someone asked him whether Panda used Chrome data.