I couldn't find another thread where this would be appropriate, so I thought I'd start a new one.
People have been questioning why some sites get Pandalized and others don't. I think an example of mine may provide some insights, although I'm not sure what they'll be.
There's a site I created for a small retail store back in 2001. At that time, using just Brett's steps to getting ranked on Google, it was possible to get on the first page in a matter of months or even weeks.
I got this site on the first page for several phrases, and the most desirable phrases got ranked #2 or #3, right behind the manufacturer.
In 2004 I started my own site, which was in the same niche, and which featured the same brands and models of widgets as the retail store. Since I was the writer, the content is similar. Not exact, but similar. It's also very thin.
The retail store's site has two versions of each page; one has no Flash (page_nameA.html), the other has enough to warrant having two separate pages (page_nameB.html). Both versions are no-indexed. The page_name.html page is all HTML, with no images, graphics or anything. It has the same text and links, but it serves as a redirect page, sending those with higher speed connections to the Flash version of the page_nameB.html page, and slower connections to the page_nameA.html page.
So, the site employs redirects for every page. It's never been penalized for the redirects. Maybe Google sees that they're for giving users Flash or no Flash, or maybe Google somehow just missed it. Maybe Google sees the page_name.html page as THE page, and pays strict attention to the noindex tags on page_nameA.html and page_nameB.html.
The retail store's site has held these #3 to #5 positions for nearly ten years, despite the fact that the site hasn't been touched at all in probably six or seven years. It has very, very few backlinks.
My own site was on page one for these same phrases, but I was never able to get my site to rank higher than the retail store's site.
When Panda came along, I got dropped to anywhere from #50 to #110 for these phrases. The retail store's site is still in the same place.
Here's the differences between the two sites:
1. The retail store's site is small; a few dozen pages if you count the three versions of each page as one page. My own site is over 3,000 pages.
2. The retail store's site has almost no backlinks (maybe even none). My site has about 15,000 or so, according to Yahoo. (Webmastertools says 200,000+, but that's impossible).
3. My site has advertising. The retail store's site does not, as it's advertising the store.
4. The retail store's site is clearly designed for the store. My site is a mix of information, ecommerce, and advertising for other retail stores in the same niche.
5. Both sites have similar content that is similarly thin. The widget pages use the same spec's from the manufacturer. Actually, I've done more work on writing original content for those widgets on my site than I did for the retail store's site.
6. I've used all of the usual ways to get backlinks for my site: articles, press releases, forum posts, blog posts, paid advertising, etc. I did none of the sort for the retail store's site. There was no promotion at all.
Tedster has said that he thinks Google is taking into account graphics, typography, etc. However, the page_name.html pages have no font tags or css styles. It's just plain, plain text. Google just sees text and links to the other pages on the site.
There's no good or bad backlink profile. There's no profile at all.
The retail store isn't just beating out my site, it's always beat some heavy hitters in my niche.
How's that for an example to ponder?