New user here, looking to hopefully learn a bit more about SEO and maybe get some advice or see what others opinions are at the very least. I work at a consumer law firm that handles a variety of issues, but mainly we are known for our lemon law practice. Our website of concern is www.lemonlaw.com and our main landing page is our home page.
For many years, our law firm and website were recognized as leaders in our niche. Our website was ranked #1 overall for the term 'lemon law'. A lot of this came from our domain name being the target key term and this was also back in the days when keyword stuffing and reciprocal linking was a common practice.
After Google changed how their algorithm worked, we found out the hard way that these techniques were being considered spam and also because Google devalued keyword domain names, hence we lost rankings. We worked to correct the issues using SEO firms, making sure our site was following new recommended guidelines, getting rid of reciprocal links, etc.
In short, we tried our best to do the right thing and weren't ever trying to do the 'wrong thing', we just didn't know any better. We were still on the 1st page, but we often fluctuated between spots 3-8.
Back in mid-2014, lemonlaw.com was hit with a major penalty after a series of Penguin/Panda updates and it was also around that time that we found out that we were being targeted by a negative SEO campaign (we believe we know who, but I can't disclose any of that ofc). We were getting spammed with thousands of links on porn sites, bookmarking sites and spam sites that had the same content on dozens of different domains.
We found fake blog posts pointing links to our site, fake guest posts, you name it. I have plenty of screenshots and evidence to provide, should anyone like to see. Some of the issues were of our doing of course, but the penalties actually knocked us so far back that no one would ever find us and sometimes we wouldn't show up at all. We got messages in our Google Webmaster Tools about bad practices, etc.
We hired an SEO firm who had dealt with similar situations and they introduced us to the Disavow tool. By using this, re-designing a good portion of the site as well as reviewing our own linking strategy, we were able to reverse much of the damage. Since that time we have battled with maintaining ranking on page 1, sometimes dropping down to page 2 or 3.
We stopped working with that SEO firm and hired another, someone we knew personally who did a lot of great work, making our site mobile-friendly and working to implement tagging and meta data to provide the right signals to the SERPS. We saw some improvement but still had issues getting off of page 2 for our home page. Other landing pages were still ranking fairly well, mostly on page 1.
After that SEO firm, we hired one more for a few months before the end of 2016 who made no real progress except for a slight traffic increase. It was around this time that we took their final suggestions, reorganizing the home page and rewrote some of the content. Our marketing director and myself, who are not SEO experts but we've learned a lot over the years, did the work following the SEO firmsí suggestions.
Once Google crawled the new home page, it showed up at #3 for the term 'lemon law' and occasionally #4, but remained steady at those positions for a few months. That ranking would fluctuate a little, moving down to 7 or 8, but then moving back up. It was like that for around 6 months. It seemed like we finally hit a sweet spot of the right amount of content and optimization.
We have not hired another SEO firm since and have not made any major changes to the site, only a few minor content updates and a few images. In an internal meeting, I stressed that perhaps we had been making too many changes to our site and that Google didn't know how to rank us, since we changed it up so often. My reasoning for this is that our main competitor remains ranked very high, sometimes at position 1 and hasn't updated his website in years, with the exception of very minor changes like copyright year, or updating the forms on his site to include the current year. Iím sure there have been a few minor tweaks but his site has been pretty static.
Over the past few days we started noticing a dip in local searches in various cities and now, from our main office in PA, we dropped to the top of page 4 for our home page under 'lemon law' and since this morning, it dropped three more positions (currently 34). This always concerns us with what we've seen in the past, especially since all the other pages that were ranked right around us did not change very much, if at all.
The reason why I wanted to make a post is to hopefully get some thoughts on what people believe to be our biggest issues or perhaps what we could do better. When it seems like we've overcome our problems, another one crops up and all of the SEO firms mentioned above struggled to understand exactly what those problems are. Obviously, itís not an exact science and no one can truly anticipate every change Google is going to make.
We believe we have good content and have been recognized as industry experts.
We often appear on news stories on TV as well as radio talk shows and other media outlets so we have all that backing us up, yet it seems like none of it matters, even though we've been told time and time again that Google does pay attention to these kind of things (signals).
If anyone is interested in discussing any of this, I would be grateful for some insight, thoughts, and will be willing to answer questions and discuss some topics. This has been going on for years and weíre at our wits end. Thank you for reading and sorry for the 'book'!