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SEO 2018 - Time Traveller from 2012 with a few questions!



New Member
Hello everyone, new here, but not to SEO. Many moons ago I used to earn a full time living doing online affiliate marketing, until personal issues and the 2007 financial crash led to me taking my eye off the ball before eventually re-qualifying in another industry out in the real bricks and mortar world.

My website building and SEO skills were very useful in creating my web presence and I've managed to be on page one of Google and usually in the top 2-3 places for the last 5 years in what is a very competitive industry (about 100 direct competitors within 2 miles of me and 500 within 25 miles!)

However, I got so busy I took my eye off the site for some time, and only noticed something might be wrong when enquiries started to slow down. At first, I noticed I'd dropped off page 1 when a bunch of new competitors arrived on the scene, but figured it would settle down again. Until a few weeks ago I was suddenly somewhere down on page 10 for my target 2 word search term (ie my profession and location, which is all I've needed to be very busy for the last 5 years!

So I did a bit of digging and noticed all the mobile first search stuff that Google has been introducing, and double checked my site (using Wordpress with WPTouch plugin for mobile). I discovered that the mobile page title was actually only my name and a few irrelevant keywords.

So I edited that, and got Google to re-index it, and about 2 hours later I was back in 3rd spot for my mobile search tests.

I thought that had sorted it, but not long after this, my site suddenly disappeared again.

Does Google still do the old dance, and should I just wait it out? There's nothing showing up that could be a problem in search console, my site has been around for over 6 years, the feedback I get from client is that my website is one of the most comprehensive and informative around - and yet I am now not showing up in searches in any useful way while sites people have appeared 2 or 3 months ago are taking up the top slots and there are sites which seem to be totally irrelevant (to a human eye) the search terms showing up dozens and dozens of places above mine. As an example, Indeed jobs in my area for my field is ranking way higher than me for a search that is directly looking for a local service... But there are other things even less relevant. I'm still puzzled by how this relevancy is worked out, if what I've been reading is correct, Google are saying there is nothing you can actually do except create a site which will be relevant to users, which I've done! The irony is I'm actually finding Google search results less and less relevant when I try to find anything myself.

I am still coming up in the business/places listings for many search terms on both mobile and desktop search (and even managed to get Google to replace the image of the rear alley entrance with rubbish piled up as my main business image!). I'm still on page 1 for desktop search, but the problem seems to be with mobile search. I also have various other sources of referral/leads, but the trend is worrying after being on page one for so long and surviving every algorithm update - until now! This has been a shock to the system!

Also not sure if this is the right place to ask, but given the above situation, I decided to revive the Adwords strategy I used when first starting out, which helped get me off the ground in the early days. Looking at Adwords in 2018 vs 2012 when I last looked at it (I think!) I decided to delete everything and start again, as the adverts etc wouldn't really be appropriate. I managed to get a basic campaign created and approved, but have run into problems with trying to set the Max CPC - Google seems to want to do this automatically, I can't edit the amount for each keyword like I used to, and even if I put in an amount in campaign settings, it goes to some other amount when I go back to the keywords (set as Auto max CPC, but a lot lower than the max I have set). I don't mind paying a lot per click to get top spot, but don't seem able to achieve this so far, Google seems to want to control my bids, I assume the "eligibility: (learning" status means it is still deciding on a quality score or some such thing?

Clearly a lot has changed in the years I've been away, if anyone has some tips on what I should concentrate on that'd be really helpful!

Many thanks!
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