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The new Google Consumer Survey site allows users to write their own survey questions which are then presented to users on websites around the internet.  Survey makers pay $0.10 per completed survey and the site which hosts the survey receives a small income in a similar way to Googe Adsense.

The person answering the survey may gain access to premium content on websites in return for their responses.  Instead of bombarding surfers with a 40 question survey, the Google Consumer Survey can ask 40 people one question each.  According to Google this improves the response rate from 2% to 40%

In January Google rolled out a data refresh for Panda and further improvements to their algorithm. 

In a post from last year  (Finding high quality sites in search) Google explains that these types of changes are aimed at improving the rankings of high quality sites and lowering those for sites with poor quality.

In 2012 they have improved how Google Panda interacts with the indexing and ranking systems, integrating it further into their "pipelines.