Can you guys suggest what guidelines one should be considering now for search engine placement?
My main site is just under 17 years old. I target a local region, and have the name of that local region in the domain name. The logo is text, using a styled H1 tag to highlight the name of the region, and I have another area that uses a styled H2 that includes the name of the region. Keyword density for the region name on the homepage is 2.6%. The site shows local news, message boards, classifieds, events, etc, so it's highly relevant for the keyword. It has more than 100,000 unique visitors per week, and is very active. Webmaster Tools shows no search errors on the site.
According to smallseotools.com I have:
Domain Authority: 53
Ahref Rank - 445.76K (no clue what this means)
Backlink - 174.81K
Referring Domains - 421.00
Referring IP's - 240.00
And according to prchecker.info, I have a PageRank of 4/10. It's been a 4 for as long as I can remember, so it hasn't gone down or anything.
A few years ago, my site would come up #1 or #2 on virtually anything you searched for that included the name of that local region. Now, as far as I can tell with Google Webmaster Tools, it doesn't come up at all! More than 95% of my search engine traffic comes from queries that include the website name (which means they were specifically looking for me, they're not a new user that Google sent my way).
But you know what does show up on the first page when I search for the name of the region?
An event page that doesn't have the region name in the website address anywhere, uses the region name 9 times on the page (a density of 1.5%), and that already happened in May. This event was listed on my site, too, but that event listing only showed on Google if you searched for the domain name + the event name.
A senior care facility that doesn't have the region name in the address anywhere, uses the region name 5 times on the page (a density of 1.3%), and hasn't been updated since 2016.
A small museum that does have the region name in the domain, but lists expired events and isn't mobile friendly, nor does it use HTTPS. From smallseotools:
Domain Authority: 36
Ahref Rank - 2.02M
Backlink - 1.03K
Referring Domains - 137.00
Referring IP's - 126.00
And they have a PR of 0/10 (I tested with both HTTP and HTTPS).
Also in the top 10 are generic sites that have little to do with the region: zip-code.com, livability.com, mapquest, worldatlas.com, and familysearch.org.
I'm at a loss. All of the guidelines I've traditionally followed seem not to matter: pagerank, domain authority, backlinks, keywords in the domain and URL, keyword density, the age of the domain, frequent updates with relevant content, and using header tags to emphasize key words. So what does?