auraoflight - 7:21 pm on Feb 2, 2012 (gmt 0)
How unrelated are the pages currently ranking for the "wrong" pages? Is there any connection you can think of, offsite/onsite that would make google start to gauge context/relevance/anchored links/traffic patterns before and after all of this happened? Are they just showing up for completely the wrong/un-optimized search terms now?
It looks to me like Google is completely discrediting the intended targeted page and showing the page that is 2nd most relevant, which is usually vaguely related to the term and therefore shows up in the depths.
The results that are showing the wrong pages are vaguely related and in the same category of the website. For example, "best red widget" will now show the "sony red widget" as a Google result. It won't show "panasonic purple monkey" as a result, however.
My first instinct would be that Google is saying "nope, don't try to optimize your SEO" and discrediting every optimized page (optimized both on-page and with anchor text links). But why; to screw with SEOs? Who else is going to notice that "best red widget" is now ranking on page 75 for something vaguely relevant?
Pages that were absolutely unique, with nothing else on the site even remotely related, like "how to baste an ostrich with a garden hose" still show the proper target page in the SERPS, but strongly penalized. Maybe because there is nothing else on the site that's even remotely related to the penalized page; that's my guess. It wouldn't make sense to give a search result for that term listing a page entitled "how to bake a porcupine in a cardboard box", if you know what I mean.
The weird thing is that I've been checking a few keywords daily, and one in particular is showing a different landing page almost every day and jumping wildly up and down the SERPS. Example: "best red widget" shows "sony red widget" one day, then "panasonic red widget" the next day, then "LG red widget" the next day" which is very confusing.
Did Google have a habit of changing your titles/metas in the SERPs at all? How about sitelinks in the SERPs before all of this happening?
I hadn't noticed anything with the titles or metas. No sitelinks yet, either; the site is only about 4 months old.
I'm seriously considering moving everything to a new domain. I've put an absolute ton of work into this site all myself (about 75 articles of 1000+ words) and it's nothing short of painful to have this happen. Or maybe I could try completely breaking my site layout so that every page is at a different location and all of the backlinks just go to a 404 missing page. I'm really at a loss here. It's hard to continue working on quality content for a site when it's going to be seen by virtually nobody and who knows when/if it ever will.