I have always reasoned that the best place to understand how to improve your visibility in Google is Google itself. So, I tend to spend some time in the Google Webmaster Help Forum. Recently, I came across a thread in which a law firm website administrator was trying to understand why the firm's site went from page one in Google to buried deep within the results:
Our law firm website was on first page for google search and is now missing from web search all together.
I have read the FAQs and checked for similar issues: YES
My site's URL is: www.dysartlawfirm.com
Description (including timeline of any changes made): When you did a search for "Santa Cruz Family Law Attorney" we were on the first page of google and when you searched for "Santa Cruz Divorce Attorney" we were on page 3. In the last two days we went from page 1 to non existent. I checked the first 20 pages of search results with omitted results are we are no where to be found. I had other people verify that our web page is now missing from google search for these keywords.
How is it possible to go from page 1 of search results to no longer existing for these keyword searches? We are completely baffled!
The most likely cause of the problem was identified too:
yeah, the titles of each of the site pages is stuffed with keywords like:
Law Offices of Keith M. Dysart | Santa Cruz Family Law Attorney | Divorce and Custody | Bay Area California | Santa Cruz Divorce Attorney
which have little to do with the actual content of the page. it looks like they paid an "SEO consultant" and that backfired.
The website administrator claimed that she had built the site on her own and modeled it after other lawyer websites. She also claimed to have never paid an seo consultant.
To me, there are two primary lessons to learn from this example. First, SEO consultants have a really bad reputation for trying to game search engines. Second, while hiring the wrong SEO consultant can have a negative impact on your site, so too can doing-it-yourself.
This is a great example of a situation where hiring a professional that understands search engines can help you avoid some of the most common mistakes. While SEO consultants are often to blame for these types of situations, in many cases, the ranking problem stems from either mimicking the bad practices of a competitor, or simply from a lack of understanding about some of the basics.
While the issue in this example could have been very easily avoided, there are many other issues that aren't so obvious.
If you don't know what you're doing, get some help. And if you're looking for help, make sure you know at least some basics about how to properly vet your web strategy consultant.