Today I decided to see my new G ranking for a keyword which I was on first page for about 10+ years. I am now hovering around the 400 mark - considerably worse than it has been the last few months not that the difference was noticeable after the original drop.
Late 2011 and early 2012 is when the site was first affected then the emd update literally killed it. What I noticed though was a competitor who also had page 1 rankings for years was right beside me around 400... they had not been affected until recently. I do not know the exact date, but it had to be within the last month or so.
They are not an emd, but I noticed one similarity with our sites... headings on the index page. Both of us are using headings in correct format with one h1, a few h2s, some h3s, and what not. When comparing to sites who have not been hit I realized they use heading VERY scarcely on their index.
Is it possible that headings (in my case I had 13 total... 1-h1, 9-h2, 3-h3 which made totally logically sense) be considered 'spamming' by the algo? Visually and semantically these were used correctly and made sense for the reader, but...
Secondly, is it possible G is using a 'control' of high ranking sites and using that as a base to compare? As I said, all other sites use them sparingly or even just one h1 on the index and nothing else and have retained their rankings all these years. So because the 'control group' hardly uses them my 13 uses along with the other site who fell off the map as well were seen as gaming the system? This is an interesting theory to me and if true then there would be no 'true' seo as every niche would be compared to the rest of the sites in that niche. This would make sense as it appears to be one of Google's goals (remove seo), however, I can see lots of problems with its usage if true. It would explain why 'bad' sites are ranking and 'good' sites are no longer if the control group is all 'bad' sites... and vice versa of course.
Anyone else come across anything like this or notice similarities? Is the 400 level a new penalty similar to the 300? I honestly never kept up much with that as I never needed to worry about it.
Just another thought that popped into my head. I am testing changes and will report back, but for the moment this gives me some hope as it means my emd is not the problem perse, but rather some new trigger I hit.
If anyone uses the moz addon in FF my site and the other stick out like a sore thumb at the 400 level as our pa and da are very high compared to everything around us has essentially nothing. Not saying page authority and domain authority are the magic solution to rank, but it does provide a reference compared to other sites.