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I have a legal site started in 2011, which used to rank top 5 for a particular keyword now disappeared to 6th page in google organic rankings.

The site hit its peak in 2017, but dropped in rankings dramatically and never recovered as of Oct 2019. You will see in the graph, the massive drop in Jan 2019, is attributed to converting our site from html to wordpress.

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I cant seem to think of any other reason , except competitors reporting by site as spam to google. There is no manual penalty or nothing. I disavowed bad links last month, the rankings slightly improved but as as high as 2017 levels. We have setup 403 redirects of all old pages to new pages when moving our site html to wordpress.

The site has excellent quality content despite this rankings never recovered. I have exhausted all options in SEO.

Which google core update or algorithm hit this site? What could have caused this rankings drop?

Any suggestions will give us some hope.

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So you've mentioned improving your backlink profile and having good content on page. I am looking at the timeline that mobile first indexing rolled out. Google announced in July 2018 that sites with low page speed will start to suffer (https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2018/01/using-page-speed-in-mobile-search.html)

It looks like that may correlate with the timeline you provided above. You may want to have an audit of your sites page speeds done to determine if that's the culprit.

Also you mentioned "We have setup 403 redirects of all old pages to new pages when moving our site html to wordpress." Am i correct in saying you did a site migration? If so I would look at the timeline of that as well. If not migrated correctly you could be seeing loss from that but again you would know better by the when that timeline was.

  • Thank you. We improved the site speed now, still not recovering. Secondly, yes we did a site migration to new IP. Thirdly, all 403 missing redirects fixed by now. How long will it take to recover. I am seeing positive signs such as more impressions in the webmaster console. – pbu Nov 1 at 19:34
  • Also, it is possible other sites got more quality backlinks, we did not. We are into this business for a particular keyword before anybody else. All these competitors came into picture couple of years after us. They also have thin content. Considering our domain age and content quality, we are not able to rank above them. – pbu Nov 1 at 19:38
  • Hmm. Thats interesting. If you’re being out ranked for that keyword by competitors with thinner on-page content. I would look at page to page comparisons in that case to isolate any main factors that would make the page outrank my own (speed, backlinks, Inlinks to page, and if the content best supports the users intent). If none of those stood out I would look at if there’s a gap is positive user signals on page. Depending on how important the page, leverage internal link juice to pump up the page in this conquest process and see where I can create supporting content around the pages topic. – LordDarthsidious Nov 2 at 20:08
  • Turns out the slow page load over 6s is hurting the rankings. My wordpress is bit heavy cant optimize for less than 4.8s. So i am struggling! – pbu Nov 4 at 16:11
  • You'll see in GSC there's a new page speed report in Enhancements that may give some more details. Overall, I'm working through a similar challenge in improving page speed. A particular consideration being my theme is bloated with unnecessary code that I'm stripping down, you may want to see how much is an issue there and plugins on second round. – LordDarthsidious Nov 5 at 17:19

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