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...The navigation itself wasn't structured into what I felt might be searchable categories.
The site was built in frames, something I haven't seen in many years, which provide lots of challenges for search engines. Even if Google did index the framed pages, the content frames simply not well optimized, nor was the content focused. As I remember, the page titles were often repetitive, and there was no way that titles could have been used to boost relevant content.
Additionally, there's what appears to be a great deal of duplicate content on the site... as I remember without any sort of value-added commentary. Again, we can't get into a discussion of site specifics in a public area of the forum.
I bring this up, though, to suggest that the site was probably ranking on inbound links alone, and it's possible that some aspect of the site's inbound linking, or the linking algorithm, changed significantly around Feb 28. Treatment of (or threshold for) duplicate content may have also changed.
Let me show you a graph :(
It all started on [u]4th of September[/u] with no signs!
On the 28 feb I'm back with this subdomain.
I made no changes to the subdomain, there is no real competition for me on the topic!
I have never had a spike in traffic. Just steady, organic growth, followed by then a cliff. Fluctuations happen, but not this. I'm still working on a revamp of my site, but have not heard anything that explains why 17 years of good results turns into a catastrophic drop in 2 days.