For 12 years our site ranked fine. We had our up's and down's like anyone but never to this degree. For the past year, our 13th year, we've been hit hard in the most important areas of our site and we have scoured through the site for the past year searching for anything that could be wrong.
We do not have spam, we have a ton of content and yes, we have we a nicely built affiliate store. Before everyone jumps and says the conspiracies about Google and anti affiliates, our competitors which are affiliates are all still ranking fine.
We had a number of link changes a year ago when we plummeted and we had 301's for a long time which all eventually were switched to 404's. We were advised that 404's were not a problem, if you wanted old pages to go away, 404 was the best way to go. Not to mention, if we couldn't have exact 301 content to content pages, then they could do more harm than good. So, when we had to make a large number of link changes, we knew we would never be able to get good matches across so we went with the 404 route.
Now, it's been a year as of next month. At this point, we are wondering if anyone has ever seen year long hits by Google ever recover. We seem to be fine on Bing and Yahoo but, as we are seeing, not enough people use that to keep us afloat.
I guess we just don't know how much more effort to put. It seems a terrible loss to loose a 13 year old site which is our baby but if Google is just never going to recover us and we are just being hopeful for no reason, then we end out looking the idiots.
If anyone has seen recoveries after this long, then we will gladly keep adding content and babying the site. And paying for a server we can no longer afford.
Any advice is greatly appreciated.