This is in reference to a message board site that specifically targets residents of a small county (in the US). I've never paid a lot of attention to SE placement, but I know that for about 10 years, just about any search for that county name would find my site in the top 10.
After reading some posts on here, I did a search and found that Google now has me on page 9! That's a pretty big drop.
I really can't understand why, because on paper, everything seems right:
1. The county name keyword is in the domain name
2. The meta tags are accurate and not spammy
3. The keyword is in both the title and meta tags
4. I use an H1 tag to emphasize the county name in the header
5. The site has a lot of traffic (about 4 million monthly pageviews), almost entirely from people in that county
But when I look at the sites above mine, most of them don't do ANY of these things. In fact, some of them are generic sites (like zip code sites, or tripadvisor) that only have a town name in the 4th or 5th directory!
Any suggestions on what I've done wrong? I don't think I'm allowed to post the link, but I'll send it by PM if anyone wants to take a glance.