@brinked, I've been around the forums for a good number of years and read about and received incredible insight, wisdom and guidance. I mean no disrespect to the many valuable contributors here, but your thread here has to be for me, the greatest thing I've ever read here. You've struck a chord with me personally.
Short story. I've had the many ups and downs over the years. Many devastating days that's for sure. This latest spell, the end of September has essentially been the dagger in my heart. I won't get dramatic but on a scale of 1-10, August was a 12 for achievements personally. Today I can say what I have is 1 on that same scale. Completely torched and smashed to bits. I'm talking about a best Adsense day of XXX in late 2011 and 2012, down to an average now of X, with an absurd daily total just this past week. Making in one day what I might make in 30 minutes in 2011. It's more than just Adsense though, it's everything.
So I've pretty much been without hope all this month until I read this thread. I'm late to this discussion! The point is that what you've said has provided plenty of hope to me lately. I have a lot of pride in what I do and when the entire castle made of sand crumbles into the sea, it makes me question the time I've invested in all this.
I have no idea if you're checking into this thread still. I will mention a couple areas which haven't been discussed. I would be grateful for any insight. I don't beg but I bow to wisdom!
In your opinion, when you have named a url with the keyword phrase, is it the kiss of death to have this same phrase or virtually the same keyword phrase in the title? Is the url really enough. In other words, is there a belief that having the keyword phrase in the url is enough information for Google to digest your page? So if you have blue-widget-breakfast.htm, having a page title as Best Blue Widget Breakfast is risky? In the same way an EMD, if it's widgetbreakfast dot com, starting your homepage as Widget Breakfast is a no no?
Regarding images. Does image naming, image alt tags, and image folders and keyword usage play an important role in over optimization? If I used keywords in the folder holding the images and name the image according to what it is (which is most times the keywords of the page) and then add an alt tag with conservative keyword mention, is this a kiss of death? I'm just wondering to what extent you've tinkered with images on sites that suffered over optimization penalties. For myself, going with the advice of naming your images clearly etc, it could be a LOT of work to rename or change structures like moving images from a folder such as blue-widgets-images to simply images folder. Am I alone in naming an image blue widgets and placing it in a folder named blue-widgets-images?
This thread has provided me with a real boost of hope and brinked you're the reason for that. I have a few sites which I can really work over here because frankly they are dead dead dead. There is zero risk in me reducing some elements on these sites and seeing what happens.
I should also mention here that it's only been the past couple of weeks when I read about looking at the end of Google search results and see if you're site is there. If there is a contest for who has the most there, I may be a clear winner. It's been a HUGE eye opener for me. No idea. I never understood this -50 or -950 or whatever those things meant. The bottom line is what I've done is bad in a lot of instance. My work is literally sitting at the bottom of the ocean. That's my advice to others. Not sure what's going on? Start on the last page of search results and see what you find. In a lot of ways I've been very very stupid.
Thanks for this thread.