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I haven't seen anything where they actually suggest it.
Removing low quality pages or moving them to a different domain could help your rankings for the higher quality content.
Domain names are not expensive, so I wouldn't even think about a subdomain.
then removal of any kind may not be the right approach
We have thousands of pages that Panda may see as "weak" - yet are popular pages on the site.
That would mean that you intend to link to those moved pages then - right? If you can see that many visitors use and value them, then removal of any kind may not be the right approach for you.
I strongly suspect that having an e-commerce section on my site is diluting its focus in Google's eyes.
How have you determined this?"Widget" descriptions from "manufacturers" .
How difficult would it be to "beef up" those pages?
"Widget" descriptions from "manufacturers"
those products if you hope to get significant search traffic to those pages
I was hoping for a discussion in this thread about whether it was a good idea to interlink sites that have been created by splitting a bigger site post Panda, not about if a site should be split.
Also whether a 301 redirect should be done from old pages to new ones on the new domain. Surely this should be done?
Manufacturer's descriptions are pretty much a dead duck. You will need to re-think how you offer those products if you hope to get significant search traffic to those pages - and even more, not have them affect the rest of the site's rankings.