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Opinion on what happened - penalties or something else?

6:58 am on May 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I was hoping people could please help me work out what has happened to my website. My website has been around for about 4 years. I have a key 2-word search term. In Bing and Yahoo I am in the top 5 results for my key term. In google.com I was in the top 30. Google.co.uk I was in the top 5.
I employed a SEO firm to try and get higher in SERPs. After about 3 months I stopped working with the SEO firm because I felt for the money I was paying them, they wern't hardly doing anything. They got me a lot of links but of maybe the 200 links they got me, only around 10 have shown up in my GWT, even 3 months after finishing working with them. Note however I did some research and this firm was white-hat and reputable in the SEO industry.
Anyway around a month after I finished with them, in March, in Google.com I dropped from around 25 to about 250, which is where I am now, and in Google.co.uk I disappeared from the results completely for my target 2-word keyword completely. I am still in the top 5 in Bing and Yahoo.

Any ideas as to what might be causing this fall in rank to my website?

5:22 pm on May 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

joined:May 26, 2000
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You're describing a ranking drop that others have mentioned in the Mayday Update thread [webmasterworld.com].

It's hard to say what's going on if you never ranked on the first page for those keywords, but only seeing 10% of your new backlinks in Webmaster Tools does sound very peculiar.
8:52 pm on May 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

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My opinion is to check your backlink profile,maybe to much links was obtained in a short period, maybe the same anchor text was used too many times.

Read Hot Topics area in this section of forum and you will learn a lot.