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I'm doing some work for a retailer that's been around for 5+ years and is one of the leaders for "blue widgets". They've historically ranked in the top 4 with Google for "blue widgets" for years, PR 8, a large number of legit backlinks, have a ton of pages indexed, have conservatively optimized, unique pages, nobody there knows of any SEO black hat tactics, they haven't had an SEO firm do anything, etc.
Now, they're almost at the bottom of the page 1 results. Even PR6 firms that aren't top players by any definition in the blue widget niche are climbing past them.
On the other major search engines, the retailer pretty much ranks where they should rank in the top 5 or so. It feels like they're actually being punished for something on Google rather than lost relevance or increased relevance by others in the space. This started sometime in early June 06.
Any suggestions on getting a rough picture as to what's going on?
nobody there knows of any SEO black hat tactics
But if they've been there five years, there's a fair number of things which have changed; you'll need to check that the unique pages also have unique metatags; check their linking policies, check navigation, check that many of these unique pages are *really* unique; not just a paragraph or two difference.
You'll really need to get under the hood.
[edited by: Right_Reading at 3:16 pm (utc) on Aug. 3, 2006]
I know Google worked in a tweak in June primarily to beat up on exists-for-Adsense or low-value affiliate pages, but it's hard to see how that affects this company. If you look at the traffic differences between them and others players, they're clearly in the top 3, dwarfing most of the ones in front of them now.
The pages themselves are fine. Very natural linking structure, they're unique, fully indexed, etc. I think they're solid on the onsite optimizations.
What I suspect is that something got kicked out from underneath them from a inbound link perspective, but they get good natural press and haven't embarked on any sort of fishy artificial link strategies. It's either that or if I want to be paranoid, somebody is actively doing something to hurt them. But Google assures us that this can't happen, right? :)
It's just rather odd.
Why not go on a marketting blitz and generate more natural inbounds? When a company's on the first page, its in a good place to generate links.
SEO is like a race. If you stand still, other sites will catch up and pass you by.
[edited by: Halfdeck at 6:09 pm (utc) on Aug. 3, 2006]
Used to be the supplemental index was updated once every 3-6 months, so we only saw a change when that happened. Now things are changing quickly and the index is getting fresher.
Those supplemental pages are getting scored more frequent, so the serps will flux.
But at this point, it looks like they just have to acknowledge the new reality of the situation. They're going to have to go about reminding folks that they're a big dog in "widgets" and building those quality backlinks and company mentions.