I still think that the best chance anyone has of reversing the effects of panda or mitigating them is to analyse what didn't get hit or stayed stable or rose ( even if it only rose a little )..
And it may well seem like I'm "harping on" on some points..but it is what I see ..as usual YMMV ..but it is all data.
Some peoples direct experiences may well contradict what I find ..but these are general observations over many months and years and many niches and more than just the English language..and with regard to nav and design ..are the fruit of hundreds of hours of watching how "non web" people react with sites..don't ask your family how they find your site ( you will get flattery or fights ..neither is of use to you ;-)..watch strangers ..if needs be, pay people to spend 10 minutes trying to use your site and watch what they do
Fora and sites with UGC didn't get hit so hard ..or stayed stable.or rose ..the more posts ( directly related to the site or page topic..ie; the clearer the signal and the association with the site ..and the more posts or traffic the fora have ..the more apparent "votes" it gets ) UGC and like signs of "engagement" may be taking over as a parameter from "links".
Because links can and are bought and sold and exchanged etc ..Google brought this upon itself ..it's stated "best metric" was turned against it ..unless they are from highly relevant sites or pages ..they may no longer be given as much weight as they were ..its easier to buy or "make" 10K links than it is to get 1K post that mention your site ( and actually talk about it , as opposed to just "spam" about it .. in fora ) ..facebook shows the power of "like" .its like average internet user "trust" for a site ..
G thinks it can believe this more than it can believe links in many cases..yes it can be abused ..we've speculated how ..but it will be harder to abuse than "links"..so they are shifting the "weighting" ..
And to those who have loads of inbound links from all over the place..and even those who have "relevant" inbounds..if the sending site ..or the sites that link to them got "revalued" enough ..you will fall ..through no direct fault of your own...Wheel started 2 threads recently that show how to be less affected by algo change..I didn't post in the second one ( because the first one got trolled ..so thought why bother ..in case ) but he matched something I see with my sites ..unique links that the other sites cannot get or don't even think of trying for because they don't know the subject inside out and can't think of some of the more "off the wall" links ..can protect a site..they appear to read as more "real" ..because they actually are ..the quality of links ( not the often irrelevant PR of the sending page which may not be relevant to your site's subject ) "count"..a "golden link" or a handfull of them, or a forum that talks about you and then links to you from inside a post or two ..can keep you treading water or floating along when all around are drowning or swirling about..because their back links or some of them just re not passing the "smell test" ..and G appears to be saying "humans posting is worth way more than site owners linking".
The look and feel of a site ..I'm "harping on" again ;-) ..the first impression is critical and they ran "preview" to test reactions...No one can read your expert text nor decipher your graphs etc in "preview" ..they can however see if it looks like it is just loads of ads ( and apart from those of us who make all or some of our living from ads ..everyone else on the net hates ads..and G knows that..) ..but people like images..but not images that look like ads even when seen in "preview" ( thinking about header ads here ) ..I sell direct ad space on my places ..with some adsense ..I make the ads ..they don't look like ads ..they look like photos or illustrations with text ..when seen through "preview"..
The first glance and the first impression someone gets via preview is not text with ads ..its text with pictures ..and talking to others who haven't been hit and who have images on page ..they give the same impression viewed by "preview" ..and still do when the visitor arrives ..unlike the pages of the builder or even of one of our older members here whose site was mentioned ..the ratio of text content to obvious ads was not high enough to pass the "its all ads test" ..especially recently ..
This does not mean it has to be all arty designer stuff ..the opposite in fact ..rocknbill who comes from the same type of print and design and art background as I do, frequently is on the same "design" threads here as I am, and we are forever telling people KISS..read him..again the sites that I know were not affected including my own are simple and easy to use ..clear nav ..you cant get "lost" in them if you don't know what nav looks like..Simplicity gets you through many "updates" if the rest of the mix is there.
Keywords in domain name ..yeah OldIrish ' like the name BTW ;-) ..keywords in domain name do count ..and should .. it shows commitment ..it "themes" ..it shows you have thought about what you are doing..it shows "serious" ..can't get the keyword you need ..be inventive ..or buy it ..again it shows serious commitment or imagination ..and it's easy to remember for visitors or links from non webmaster people..that's why domain names were started ..to save the non geeks from having to remember all the numbers..
And apart from the tiny number of the population who are webmasters the rest are definitely non geeks..who need easy to remember relevant names to go to..' ( branding is totally different .. takes mega money and time ..and if you are reading this thread looking for ideas ..you already don't have that kind of money ) ..and search engines will always give keyword domain names a "leg up"..not just Ford and GM but "leosonlinelemonadestall" is more relevant the "leosonlinecirusbasebeveragestand"..even if you put hyphens in ..;-)
I have single page 5 and 6 and 7 letter keyword domain names that are in the top 3 consistently of hundreds of millions of returned searches..that haven't moved in years ..before or after panda..in more than just English..and some of them have just one or two inbound links ..and they are from other sites I own..older sites with "trust" are the best to use to point links from like this ( they also have very tight on page SEO ..but read naturally )..But if you don't have your other ducks in a row ..or you have a huge back link portfolio that suddenly went south because Google devalued the sites that linked to you or the sites that linked to them..the the positive effects of keyword in domain ..or better yet "exact match keyword domain"..( some times might take me 48 hours without sleep finding a good one that is actually not already taken ..well worth the effort ..even at my age ) won't save you from being "lost in serps".
Directories..got some .very tight niches ..again stable ..why? ..because they are not just lists of sites..each entry has an optimised ( by me ) description , based on the submission and my visit to the candidate site ..admission is hard to get..they run ads for revenue ..some of the sites also pay for ads ..again I control/make the ads ..lot of work ..yeah ..but the control is IMO the secret ..and I promote them..not via paid ads but via deals with other relevant sites for ad space swaps or other deals ..( again the kind of thing wheel talks of )..No adsense on the directories ..because I can't control completely what G might put there.
There are other things ..but it's near 04.30am here and I have things to do later in the day so am going to have a nightcap and read and get some sleep ..remember what I've written may very well not be relevant for many ..and is not a "guaranteed way" ..but is based on real observations of my own stuff and others ( some of them members on here ..who have not been hit and who are like me not normally affected by what Google gets up to ..although at least one of them frets about their adsense almost hourly ;-))..hopefully it may be of some use to those of you who I know are not spammers and who help out others here ..and who could use some ideas as to why ..even if your solutions turn out to be totally different ( as well they may ) this may give food for thought..
Even disagreeing with me might make some "light bulb" go off, and thus help someone to turn their sites fortunes around.
HTH ;-) apologies also thats it is a bit of a rambling tome ..and probably full of speeling errors ..takes forever to type and correct English on French keyboards, especially when you are dog tired, and don't want to disturb the family ;-)
[edited by: Leosghost at 3:41 am (utc) on Apr 13, 2011]