Here is my take after working in this industry for 13+ years... Panda is bad, maybe crippling news for link and content fakers, farmers, spammers and their customers. For you, the good guys wearing the white hats, it's both very good news and a rare, powerful opportunity to improve your rankings by increasing the value of your site and its links.
Make no mistake about it: Panda is Google's way of reminding would-be corrupters and despoilers of the Word Wide Web search industry, an industry that Google "owns" (or at least thinks it does), that payback is a bitch, that the time for payback is now, and that the payback penalties may be severe.
If you've been getting away with buying links from a quick-buck, automated link broker, Panda -- probably sooner than later – is likely to flush your rankings down the tube along with the rankings of all the other "fish" on that broker's sucker list. And the same fate awaits you if you rely on warmed-over pseudo articles from an article farm to try and skate around Google's emphasis on quality content as a ranking factor.
Now the good news for good guys part.
As might be expected in an official statement, Matt Cutts has been suitably and corporately restrained in his descriptions of Panda, though he has admitted that close to 15 percent of all Google's site return positions have changed since its release. "This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites," Cutts said. "Sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites."
Though Google, as always, doesn't release specific details about any of the "more than 200 factors" that go into its ranking and return decisions, it is clear, according to a consensus of expert Google stalkers, that Panda considers link quality and acquisition method major elements in rendering its life and death decisions.
Now, as ever before, the vast majority of websites, probably 95 percent-plus of small business e-commerce sites, can ONLY get a reasonable number of quality links from authority sites via relevant link exchange. Fortunately, Google recognizes this. It understands the underlying logic that you, as the proprietor of a top-ranked, high-authority site, will only bestow links on other far-above-average, ultra-high-quality sites. And having bestowed that link, would you NOT want a link back? Of course you would, you'd probably insist on it since the link would provide a quality value-add to your customers and might aid your site's ranking.
Google, as I said, understands this. It wrote Panda to demand quality inbound links, NOT, necessarily, unreciprocated quality inbound links.
But do you understand it?
Are you over your paranoia regarding relevant link exchange? Or will you continue to purchase links from "expert link brokers" who promise you top ten guarantees? Will you keep purchasing links and/or demanding one way links? Or will you finally realize the fact that there is absolutely nothing wrong with relevant link exchange among quality sites within a specific realm of interest?