Before the Panda update SEOs could easily focus almost all their energies on late funnel high-intent searches which were easy to monetize without needing to put a ton of effort into brand building or earlier funnel informational searches. This meant that SEOs could focus on phrases like [student credit cards] or [buy earbuds] or [best computer gaming headphones] or [vertical computer mouse] without needing to worry much about anything else. Make a good enough page on those topics, segment demand across options, and profit.
Due to the ability to focus content & efforts on those tiny subset high-intent commercial terms the absolute returns and CPMs from SEO investments were astronomical. Publishers could insert themselves arbitrarily just before the end of the value chain (just like Google AdWords) and extract a toll.
Then Panda happened and sites needed to have stronger brands and/or more full funnel user experience and/or more differentiated content to be able to rank sustainably.
One over-simplified way to think of Panda and related algorithms would be: brand = rank.
Another way to look at it would be to consider the value chain of having many layers or pieces to …read more