joined:Sept 13, 2019
@StupidIntelligent - slow and steady recovery from 2013, but by March 2019 had only recovered to 50% of 2013 peak, however the trend in the past 12 months was positive. In 2013 we ranked #6 for our main keyword, which was fair. Our ranking of >100 today is a clear "eff off" message from Google IMO. The traffic they are sending now is kinda forced (when you have pages with 1000+ facebook likes even Google feels a little too stupid if they don't throw you some left-over traffic).
And I don't do any serious link building, or purchasing (occasionally get a link from friends or associates), so this is not a penalty move. Although natural link building does not work IMO, except in niche categories, or for huge volume searches, or perhaps non competitive categories where web masters link more freely.
As an anecdote - I'm a self proclaimed expert on a certain topic. I have more info. and knowledge on this topic than anyone in the world (who writes about it publicly anyway). The topic gets 100,000 - 200,000 searches in Google per year. So, I published an article on my site about this topic, and it was related to the focus of the site. The article was important because it had the potential to save lives (people have died, and the unique knowledge I had accumulated could help).
Once the article was published I asked some friends to link to it, and did a small amount of publicity including on forums. Initially I got maybe 5 followed links to the article and I'm sure that was more than anyone as the search was not monetized and had little competition. After a few months I ranked around 10 in Google. I also published a Youtube video, receiving about 100,000 views per year, with a link to the content on the site. The article settled at about the #6 position in Google after a year, and then just stayed there. In combination with the youtube traffic, internal traffic, google traffic, and links traffic (many nofollow forum links, mentions in reddit), the article received around 20,000 views per month. That should be enough traffic to generate the requisite buzz and natural links.
Well, it took about 6 years for the article to finally reach the number #1 position in Google! And sadly, only because of several deaths in the meantime, and a lot of people researching the topic, and finally being mentioned in a national paper (with a followed link). Today we're at #3. The top sites are discussion forums with many comments, so the ranking is appropriate. But in this case Google hardly has a choice to push us any lower. I bet we have more links than all the other search results combined. If that's what it takes, and how long it takes, in terms on natural link building to outperform big brands, it's really quite pointless.
Well thanks for listening to my rants :) Somewhat therapeutic really.