|Fallen off the rankings (Advice please)|
What can cause your site to go from hero to zero
Hi everyone, I am looking for advice please?
My story is that I do in house SEO for a company and by the end of last year the website was ranking very nicely for a specific keyword set (Google top 10 for most of them). But then almost overnight it just fell off the rankings.
As an example (and to be more specific), the site was ranking at position 7 on Google for a keyword on 1 February 2010, then a week later (Feb 8) it was suddenly down to position 148 and it has since slipped to > 200. The trend for the other keywords I have been monitoring is very similar.
I only engage in white hat SEO and have used very similar techniques on previous (and current) websites that are maintaining page 1 positions solidly (even without further / follow up work) - but not this website it seems.
I know that in the first week of Feb, one of the high ranking websites that was linking to us went down due to a domain non-payment issue, but they paid and their site came back into the SERPS at the same position they left (it has even improved since, but at no benefit to us it seems).
Also, I set the "Geographical target" from United States to un-ticked/unset in Google webmaster tools. The company is a global company and one of the directors did not want "US" to appear next to the listings in case people thought we were US only. I am not sure how much the "Geographical target" setting can influence rank - Does anyone know?
The other consideration is that the directors outsourced SEO to another company and while their initial efforts seemed to contribute to the improvement towards the end of last year I am still not sure exactly what they did and how much of the improvement they were responsible for. While they are supposed to be a reputable SEO company, the vast majority of the links they built (that I saw) came from completely unrelated pages with lists of unrelated links from unrelated Cooking and "Island holiday" websites to name a few (we are an IT company).
Our backlink graph has tapered off from a high of 2.8K links to 2.1K links in the last month (there was no decrease in the February period when we saw the initial drop).
Based on this I am nervous that the SEO company maybe put links to our website in "bad neighbourhoods". I don't know much about this though, how could I find "bad links"? and is this even a realistic hypothesis?
Could the good rankings have been a result of a lot of links built in a shortish period of time, followed by fewer in the next time period - allowing the results to settle? (but back to worse than some of them were before?)
I think that's all I can think of and would really appreciate input and insight on this, thanks.
You have to ask a dispassionate question. Are the sites that are now ranked 1-10 any less quality than your site was / is. If in terms of quality they are equal or better than your site then google has probably / possibly not punished your site, it just has tweaked the algorythm a bit resulting in a new set of sites getting the top spots.
Have you compared your sites 1) TBPR, 2) inward links, 3) no of pages containing the keyword | with what the current top ten sites have? If so, what was the result?
In most sectors, there are hundreds of quality sites, but only 10 can be in the top ten. It is quite possible for google to muddle them up every now and again, partly in the hope probably that many of them will resort to adwords to remain on page 1. In fact it is almost in their interest.
I hadn't really thought of it that way before Mark_A, but that's a pretty valid point (re: Adwords). I will do the research you suggest as well though. Thanks for the input, I appreciate it. Hopefully I will be able to report back with some positive results eventually :) Otherwise, it may just be time focus on Adwords more seriously.