mhansen - 9:19 pm on Oct 15, 2012 (gmt 0)
The fact that your URL is still in the result set anywhere at all is a positive sign in a very negative situation.
Don't look at it as being a hopeless case. I'm sure it can be recovered.
We have a site that was moderately impacted by the April 24th Penguin visit and has shown no signs of coming back to life for those same queries as of yet. We feel the same -950, or, end of results impact for certain sections of the site.
Background: Site (180 pages total, several years old) still gets OK G* traffic, just not the "core pages" (aka main menu). Adjusting for seasonality, we're down about 35-40% from the April 24th effect, year over year. We had 5-7 main sections (core pages) that lost ranking during the update in April.
User metrics for this site are very good in my opinion, and once we get the visitors to the site, they seem to stick around and find the info they were looking for.
- 3.73 pages per visit
- 3.16 Average time on site
- 39.29% bounce rate
- 28.80% returning visits
- +750,000 pageviews in 2011 (added for scope)
The pages that were hit the hardest, also the same pages that were our most popularly linked, visited, etc... are generally found on the last page of results, "after" you click the link that says "in order to show the most relevant results, we have omitted some of the results... blah... click here for all results"
The site is not heavily backlinked, and a majority of the backlinks are from scraper info-sites like ehow, diy'er sites, and similar how-to type sites. I feel our biggest opportunity is in higher value backlinks, but it's also the weakest part of our business, building authority backlinks, and truly, we're kinda gun-shy right now, being kicked in the teeth leaves an impression.
We've done quite a lot to try and recover those pages (onsite changes, eliminated what we considered low quality backlinks), so it's no shock to me that we may have tripped other filters, and those core pages that used to drive traffic are still back in the last page results.
In a related observation, other pages on our site DO rank for the same phrases our older content does NOT rank for any longer. Different pages can be found in the top 30.
Anytime we publish new content, it can be found in the G* index for 2-3 days on our sitemap page, before the actual page ever shows in serps.
We've not given up yet, but it's hard to devote resources to the sections of our site that made it so popular (+1 million visits in 2011), yet deliver nothing for visitors anymore.