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As of June 21st, at around 1:00 pm PST, I watched in horror as Big G turned off the faucet.
Our site (and offline print publication) is a highly regarded, niche specific resource in our local area. We have thousands of pages of unique content from over the years, some of it is evergreen, some is constantly updated to reflect local changes. Our website has been around for over 5 years. Our brand name is instantly recognizable in our region, and we have hundreds if not thousands of organic, one way links from other local authority sources and media outlets, visitors bureaus, personal sites, and even our only local competitor.
I'm not worried about losing positioning to the other guys, we've been consistently one upping each other for years. My real concern is that our avid user base who can't remember our slightly awkward domain will no longer find us, since it was always so easy for them to simply query our name, come to our site, and get their info.
The results that do show are numerous articles about us, our profile on a local blog feeder site, our old subdomain dev site that has been a 404ing for over a year, even my partner's myspace profile.
I haven't made any drastic changes other than changing up the design a bit. My SEO on the site is pretty much limited to keeping simple title (publication name + topic), se friendly URLs, a heading tag or two, and our incredibly juicy content. I'm not doing any 302 redirects or have any other redirecting weirdness going on. non-ww 301 to www. We aren't banned, most of our pages are not showing as supplemental, it's like I've been sandboxed or something.
The only things I've played loose with and possible reasons I can think of for being totally thrown into the deep SERP abyss are:
(1)running affiliate feeds in sub directories for products/services related to our niche (sudden influx of dupe content?)
(2)running co-op ads mainly so I could consolidate the weight and push it to other sites.
(3)footer crosslinking to other other regional specific websites that either myself or friends own.
I know it's easy to take webmasters who toot their own horns about their website's greatness (particularly those of use with low post count) with a grain of salt.
I've rolled with most of the punches over the years, we have been pretty stable through all of the updates, every once in awhile hit a little turbulence but it's generally shaken off. This isn't even a site that generates me significant income, but it has been my baby since I began work on it.
Has anyone out there had any similar situation, and did it work itself out? Any suggestions, advice, conspiracy theories? I found numerous sandbox threads, but none that seemed to address this type of scenario.
In your title you say "no longer in serps", in your post you say "we aren't banned" - please clarify.
From what you've said, I sse three possible issues, and there may be a fourth unsaid.
First remember that when things change in the serps, EITHER it's a result of a change you've made OR one that Google has made. In this case, I strongly suspect that some or all of your troubles are caused by recent Google changes catching up with you.
1. Google has tightened up on duplicate content, which has caught a lot of sites lately.
2. The coop and similar schemes are pretty well dead in the water; I do not know your motives, but Google believes most members are spammers, and has pulled the rug.
3. Footer link exchange - you may well be linking to a bad neighborhood, or be seen as a mini-coop. Either drop the lot - or check each one carefully, regularly.
4. A new issue is meta descriptions; many pages have been dropped a few hundred metres for having a 'standard' description, many have dropped a few miles for having no description.
Are you buried in the serps for:
Finally, is the site not ranking above page 3 on all possible search terms from obscure to competitive?
Ohh I watched in horror to yesterday (21st Jun) as 80 of our Google traffic walked right out the door, and our affilliates traffic...and theirs. We have a very well known .com In business 6 years. No black hat techniques and in fact I'm the new SEO here which makes the whole thing even more confusing.
It is very obvious that G has made a serious muck up here. We spend many tens of thousands of dollars in Europe advertising on adwords every month. Our natural lists (well thats my job along with PPC) are in planning , but we have no control over the ability of our affiliates to list themselves. If we lose traffic from affiliates because they depend on listings (or someone up the line from them does) then everone gets sce*ed.
At the top of this pile is oue company, award winning for innovation and service. Surviving the .com bust, taking in over 40m dollars every year... and for some reason...unknown to us...or our contacts in Google...we get punished.
So perhaps a rainy day jar...where we put a budget and the next time this happens ...we support our affiliates by advertsing on overture.... they might wake up and listen if all .coms done this.
This is an UPDATE... the site scraping us are better off than we are or our affilliates. This is irresponsible marketing and if it is to continue then Google are surely doomed in the long run.
I did find that our site was also indexed by IP number creating about 1000 duplicate pages. I got google to remove the cache on those IP pages. They won't disapper until spider visits again.
Google says to be patience. I have done all I can do. Is looks like this happened to many others.