Site Drops Off Google After 4 Years In Top 5 For Keywords?

Hey all, haven’t been around much … actually busier than the devil so I don’t have much time for forums unless an issue comes up … and it has.

I redid a client’s site (who now is more of a friend than a client) about 4 years ago, using all the best practices etc. The site did REALLY well for his most important key phrases, normally in the top 2-4 positions for them.

Then all of a sudden a few months ago the site literally dropped off the map. There hadn’t been any changes made to the site, the layout, the keywords or anything like that. The ONLY thing that changed was he stopped using Adwords, he had several marketing companies trying them and they never paid off so he stopped.

I have kept up with 99% of the Google algo changes and nothing I have seen in any of them explains what in the heck is going on here. I also had him check his Google Webmaster account to make sure there were no messages from Google about problems … nothing.

He is stumped and for the first time in a LONG time I am stumped and we both hoped someone here might see what exactly has happened.

the site is, the key phrases he ranked so well on are:

Hunting outfitter reviews

Outfitter reviews

Outfitter and guide reviews

Outfitter ratings

As I said he has dominated the rankings for these phrases, along with his other site for at least 4 years now and now nothing.

Many thanks for any and all replies or ideas!

Don’t know if this is the reason, but I was just reading today that Google is on a rampage again about certain forms of link building. Here’s the link to the article: Scroll down to the post script from Danny Sullivan. Very little help, I fear, but at least you might gain some insight.

It did strike me that “HOME” has more links than “Site Map”.
Maybe G thought it a link farm?

Yep I spotted that as well, I’d put my 10p on that being the cause.

The site has been like that for years and ALL of the links are to pages within the site, there are no outbound links. How n the heck could they construe that as a link farm?

From what I read of the new updates this year the link stuff was for outbound links

I hadn’t checked where the links pointed to.

But I agree, I thought internal links where OK too.

Maybe it’s the amount of content on the page?

Do other pages fare better?

I suspect lack of content may be an issue. Some of those links go to pages with no content. On the review pages I also encountered a problem, in that I can’t actually read a review without signing up for an account. :frowning: Again, that’s effectively no content, as far as Google is concerned. So you seem to have a huge number of links, suggesting a very large site - but very little accessible content.

Thanks for the responses … I have forwarded him a link to this thread.

And as far as content, yes … much of it is locked down in an effort to get them to sign up BUT it has been that way well over a year now.

I am going to suggest he come up with some content for the main page and dump as many of the links as humanly possible.

I agree, after reading about all the G updated this year I never saw anything alluding to internal links causing a problem. I would understand it if they were outbound links without nofollows on them.

As far as content see my post just before this.

Also it’s not that any page ‘fares better’ … the site has basically disappeared from any search on the primary key terms (in first post). Ever since I took over this project 4 year ago this site, his other site (HintInfo) and one other have battled for 1st 2nd and 3rd place for those terms with very little change. At one point both NH * HI had two listings for those keywords in the top 5 results.

Maddening to say the least.

Sometimes during a Google slap you just get unlucky. You didn’t really do anything wrong, but the re-weighted algorithm views your site less favorably and drops you anyways.

If this is the case, the good news is that the minor/interim updates will usually see you back towards your old position without much changes on your part. Don’t ask me how I know this.

Couldn’t resist – How do you know this? :smiley:

I have checked your backlinks and found there is something wrong and may be your website lose ranking due to Penguin Update. The main reason behind it is number of backlinks and the time frame in which they built.

On starting September your homepage total backlinks are 2,412 and in 1 Dec 2013 it is 12,186. you have increased around 10,000 your backlinks in just 3 months, which flag it as a spam work. and also the backlinks are poor. most of links are linked with your website URL.

I think this is the main reason, why your ranking drops.

Where and how did you get this information? Open Site Explorer shows 446 links.