The recent Google Dance presented a new Google index and a new
algorithm. Everytime this happens their are some sites that rise in
rankings and some that drop. Never before have I seen the drop happen
to such a specific group, so dramatically, and so seemingly unfairly.
The group are successful commercial websites, who previously had
rankings close to the top for popular keywords, who almost certainly
were doing well from such ranking, and now they can't find their site
in the results, despite their PageRank remaining the same.
Last week a big clue appeared in the Search Engine Journal - an
article that describes what may have happened to your site:
"Google recently introduced a new keyword phrase filter during its
most recent update. Some phrases were unchanged, but many highly
optimized and highly competitive phrases were drastically altered.
Some webmasters saw their sites drop from top listings to not being in
the top 1,000 sites. Unlike other filters, this spam peanalty does not
affect a page or sites overall perceived value. The end effect is
lowered rankings for various specific searches for that page."
The writer suggests that the filter can be overridden by placing a -
character between the terms. So, if you search for colored-contacts,
you are currently in 24th spot:
From reading through the thousands of posts at WebMasterWorld on the
"Florida" Google update, and seeing similarities between queries
posted here and received personally, I believe this is what has
1) Google has identified a number of popular search phrases that it
believes have too many web pages doing well due to reciprocal linking
and link text.
2) For those phrases, Google has removed any ranking that arises from
reciprocal links (regardless of whether they are part of a scheme or
not), and from internal link text.
That was what I thought before visiting your site, and I think I found
the reasons why your site has lost ranking.
Over half the links on your sitemap contain the phrase "color contacts":
And on other pages, instead of the normal text of "home" or "home
page", links to your home page are called "to colored contacts".
In the past Google has given importance to the text contained within
internal links. Consequently many webmasters have taken advantage of
it, and placed their keywords within internal links.
Google is probably also ignoring the value of the keywords in the text
of reciprocal links you have from:
... and possibly has worked out that these are all run by the same
people as your website.
The most likely reason why your site was ranking higher than your
competitors is the keywords in those internal and reciprocal links.
Now that Google is ignoring them for your site, your ranking has
Google gives weight to keywords in URLs, and I am going to add that to
factors Google is choosing to ignore for sites targeting particular
popular keywords. Otherwise I'd be expecting your site, with a domain
name that precisely fits the keywords, to be ranking higher.
What can you do?
First of all, you could wait. It's possible that Google might reverse
the changes it has made. No-one can predict whether they will of not.
If I were pushed I'd say they won't.
I suggest that you accept that the new algorithm is here to stay, and
you should ease up on the internal link optimization. My guess is that
this is the single thing that triggers the filter. Make the links more
natural, so that the links to your home page are simply called "home".
And reduce the number of times the same keywords appear in links to
One thing that your home page is missing is a H1 heading tag. Placing
your keywords within one at an appropriate spot (like above a
paragraph) can help with rankings. Google might choose to ignore such
a tag on your site, but it can't do any harm.
Get links from quality sites that are not your own. I appreciate how
difficult such a task can be.
To sum up, the way to look at this is not that your site has been
penalized, but that smart SEO techniques managed to keep it at a great
Google ranking for a long time.
You may wish to read a recent answer I provided for a business with
the same changes in ranking that you are experiencing: