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Now we're paying the price for honesty. We have a much better site structure, xhtml compliant code and 4 times the text content we previously had (and it isn't repetitive junk either).
Our traffic is now a fraction of what it was mid-summer and our conversions have flopped as well.
Our competitors seem to be using questionable tactics and getting better results.
I have reported a few of them for questionable practices in the past few months and Google has apparently no interest in punishing them.
I'm a small business, Google doesn't care about me.
Old school word stuffing as in:
<h2><strong>this repeat keyword</strong></h2>
<h2><strong>that repeat keyword</strong></h2>
<h2>the other repeat keyword</h2>
<h2>another repeat keyword</h2>
<h2>some more repeat keyword</h2>
<h2>even more repeat keyword</h2>
Instead of being rewarded for dropping that stuff, we're losing to others with 40 times the spam on the same page. Pages that are nothing more than banner ads and click ads with the minimal real content at the bottom.
If you have changed a lot of URLs it will take Google a little while to factor all of that back in.
We've just passed the third month after the change.
Have you double checked to make sure you are using a proper 301?
(In my experience 3 months is too long if done properly.)
Edited: Oops! can't read sometimes.
I am not sure the above would be flagged as spam.
[edited by: jd01 at 7:22 pm (utc) on Oct. 8, 2007]
Word stuffing in the titles, body text and filenames etc.
When did you make all of the changes?
Old school word stuffing as in:
Did you replace all that stuff with similar content in a more structured fashion?
The change in filenames would be a rather big change because of a new address. The next thing would be the titles. It sounds like you changed the entire "meaning" of your site with all the things you've been doing.
Maybe you could be ranking above your competitors if you would leave things be (now that you've made the changes), and maybe focus your energies elsewhere? What you've described above is akin to launching a new site, almost. ;)
We reduced our code to text ratios immensly.
All the sites pages are w3w compliant.
The old site had very little text content and scads of code. Content was mainly short bullet lists, h tags and links.
The new site has a significant amount of text content and far less banks of keyword linka after keyowrd link after keyword link.
We've even added origninal professionally written news articles on our site.
We've been good little boys like we were told to be in panels and discussions. And it's done nothing but hurt us.
While we're 100% more useful to visitors, but we've apparently lost the interest of the search engines. Not sure, why/how the two don't work together.
Either way I bet ya someone here will turn up something you overlooked and maybe that will turn the tide or the slide...
We can look at the old version of the site as well to determine the extent of the changes you describe..
I feel that we did change 'the meaning' of our site. We changed it from an SEO farm with less benefit to the visitor into a good looking site with well written copy and a better structure that is informative to the visitor.
I will probably post in the site review in the next week or so.
The core site's url didn't change but the product pages were moved to the appropriate directory and the 301 placed at the old location.
Google seems to hit us pretty often. We have a PR 5 (was a 6)
I have a google xml sitemap set up and verified with google.
I regulary run Xenu to verifiy that the links are solid.
but as others have said, you will reap the rewards from your smart business and good mindedness in these matters, particularly if you are following a 'multi-channel' approach (not trying to get all your biz from online, but cross-mingling your advert investments).
as for your competitors' tactics, seems like you are already well-versed enough in those dirty deeds from your own past experience. so you know that you simply don't get qualified traffic with spam. a thousand idiots aren't worth the weight of one truly "looking to book" customer with a credit card in hand.
the spam cattle will just pass through your site on their way to the next link farm. The active searchers, i.e. qualified leads not driven by spam, will stay and do business - *if* you provide them reason, and that's your valid, timely content and sales message served up on white-hat SEO goodness.
on a separate note, that aforementioned limited professional experience in the SEO/SEM world was with a small firm that practiced many of these gray area techniques including keyword stuffing and totally meaningless "seo articles" - nothing ever mean for the human eye, only put out as bait for the crawlers.
it disturbs me that people still take money from others and claim they are providing an SEO service when in return they delivery a totally asinine page of throw-away prose like the following (guess what business this SEO client was in):
"By purchasing discount widgets from Discount Widgets R Us, you will be able to afford the rapidly changing discount widget sizes that your child will need. Discount widgets can be purchased at nearly half the price of other widgets. The discount widgets are available from the same designers that the other stores sell the widgets at full price. There is no reason to throw your money away by paying full price when discount widgets are easily available.Here at Discount Widgets R Us, we offer the finest discount widgets you can find - at the lowest, discounted prices."
Seriously... I include that as a more benign example. There's nothing wrong or really illegitimate about it. It's just stupid. Don't waste money on such hack work.
JSM, it sounds like you are just suffering through what somebody earlier compared to the same sort of bump you take when launching a new site. Just keep your content fresh, relevant, and written for humans - and the humans (as well as google) will find you.
[edited by: tedster at 3:00 am (utc) on Oct. 9, 2007]
[edit reason] substitute widgets for keyword [/edit]
Again, I would stress that if that content was actually written to be useful and informative to humans, it could still be just as keyword-rich and help SEO results. But that garbage above is just stuffing... maybe not black hat but definitely not professional, either.
We were #1 until a few weeks ago for holiday widgets
Now we're #3.
The new #1 & #2 results (different sites same tactic) consist of
Search term in it's domain.
10 banners ads
<h1> tag with the term once
A paragraph with the term 3 times
then a giant 100+ rows table of nothing but:
<a href="blueholidaywidgets/blueholidaywidgets.html>blue holiday widgets</a>
<a href="greenholidaywidgets/greenholidaywidgets.html>green holiday widgets</a>
<a href="redholidaywidgets/redholidaywidgets.html>red holiday widgets</a>
<a href="whiteholidaywidgets/whiteholidaywidgets.html>white holiday widgets</a>
<a href="orangeholidaywidgets/orangeholidaywidgets.html>orange holiday widgets</a>
<a href="yellowholidaywidgets/yellowholidaywidgets.html>yellow holiday widgets</a>
and so on...
If you click any of the links the pages are the same exept the 'blue' or 'red' term is dropped in before the main search term.
Is it 1992 again? Did we go back in time? Where is Google's fabled ability to combat this? There is nothing on these other sites that have any visitor value. Just banner adds and banks of links.
Sure if Google eventually gets around to actual relavence, I'll be the king. But I will probably be applying for unemployment before that mystical day because my clients have left me.
Unless a google employee specifically finds your page and kicks you, stuffing still works I guess.