Hi team, how are you all? I apologize for the long post ahead but would really appreciate some help from any SEO gurus. I've recently picked up a bit of work trying to optimize a suite of sites for a small (Mom and Pop) company in my city. Basically I wanted to test the waters with local SEO work after doing SEO successfully on my own affiliate and info sites. Let me set the scene: * Around 15 websites in the suite (each deals with a sub-issue of a main theme... imagine the theme is "appliances" and one site is about toasters, one about ovens etc). * Each site is basically a subdomain * Very date design but they are getting new themes specced up * 90% of revenue comes from Adsense * Over 200k Aweber subscribers across all their sites * Very well-established websites that have been going for about 10 years now * All sites PR1-2 There is one particular site in their suite that the company want me to focus on. It used to dominate the SERPS for their keywords and bring over 1.5k visitors per day. However, in 2011 at the exact same time as Panda the site owners decided to swap everything from some very basic CMS (cant remember which) to Wordpress. All their sites were offline for around 2-3 weeks as they moved over thousands of pages manually - crazy right? * Their traffic was slashed around 70% and has never recovered * Sites struggle to maintain good rankings - I'm almost 100% sure they were hit by some form of Google update but haven't really let on about it and prefer to blame their site downtime * Big income drop * Most money still from that main site, and it was getting about 700-800 visitors a day start of this year. Fast forward to 2013 and I have done on-page SEO analysis for their sites, focusing mostly on the main one that makes them the most money. I noted: * No new content has been added for over 24 months (to any site) * Lots of on-page errors like bad keyword placement, 5 or 6 keywords in the title tags etc (imagine a page that starts with "discover ovens, oven styles, oven types, best ovens, ovens for your apartment" - you get the picture) * Inbound links from junky sources - company director still paying some outsourcer to submit to literally any new web directory he can find. Links from total garbage sites * Poor internal linking and navigation structure Here's what I did: * Sought out their best performing keywords and related potential keywords with high volume - optimized pages of main site for these keywords * Tidied up broken links, redirects, img tags etc * Started building social signals with a manual/whitehat Pinterest business account, Twitter, Facey and Tumblr. Their sites are image intensive so social media should work. * Links from related blogs, Web 2.0s etc * Researched long-tail keywords for easy rankings and had them outsource over 30 new articles. And the results? * Their traffic has been falling (down around 50-60% ~ 300 uniques per day now, although traffic quality seems to be improving) * Pages slipping from top 20 rankings on Google * I'm outranking their own site for main keywords with a Pinterest profile I've spent about 5 hours developing (around 400 followers) and basic Tumblr blogs that are keyword optimized. * Nothing seems to be working * A very frustrated nekminute It almost seems as if their site was "chilling" in Google and now that spiders have noticed changes have decided to apply a penalty of some sort. I can 100% truthfully say I've only used whitehat link building and on-page SEO methods as well. There is definitely something fishy here though; the main site I'm working on is a "niche authority" - their terms, not mine, and has a PR of 2. However, I outsourced over 30 long tail articles. These articles targeted very specific keywords to generate easy rankings and some diversified traffic. I'm talking keywords like "what is the best stainless steel oven for a small kitchen" - not 3 to 4 word phrases but massively long keywords. Now all of these articles are getting indexed after about 3 or 4 days, but not a SINGLE one is anywhere in the top 50 results. These keywords all have under 500 competing results for an exact match search using parentheses. I've got 1st page rankings for keywords like that on my own sites with domains that were only registered 72 hours previously, so I know it should be possible for such an established site. The only other factor I can see is that the SERPS for the site keywords are inundated with results from a select few heavyweights, such as: * Pinterest * Houzz * BHG * Overstock * Amazon This work is really doing my brain in and distracting me from my own sites, content writing, and language studies. If anyone has any ideas whatsoever about anything I'm doing wrong, then please shout.