I write content for my own sites. I've been going after long-tail traffic using highly relevant, unique content (others simply call this "content"). I must admit I don't write the most stellar of pieces, but at least I know my subject and do research so that I don't talk utter nonsense just to hit a word count.
Today I woke up to see that my statistics for the day are as barren as a nuclear testing site. Sure enough, quick googling around -- and I don't obsess about ranking individual keywords -- confirmed that my entire site was sacked. Even if I put the entire article title as the search query, I get nothing. 6-8 word queries of exact wording don't rank my articles in the first 5 pages (logged out, cache deleted). Everything is indexed just fine as the site: operator and article title between quotation marks confirms.
Why it bothers me:
This is the second time it's happened to a project of mine. I had/have a vanity project of a site with about 120 articles that have nothing to do with keywords in the traditional sense. Traffic kept creeping up to about 100-120 uniques a day as I carried on writing unique and well polished content (and at that time I took pride in it). Then it plummeted to 4 visitors a day for a month after that. Not a change of trends. If anything, the topic is currently on the upswing.
No shady link building done to any of these propterties, mind you. I just did what a webmaster is expected to do: worry about your visitors and search engines sort themselves out. Nope, Chuck Testa.
I've been playing the white knight for two years now. I've been producing content with a purpose. Insightful, useful. Funny at least if nothing else. When that big project site was sacked, I turned to a faithful little earner of a niche site of about 40 pages I had chugging along on the back burner. The goal was to keep beefing it out, and beefing it I did. Traffic kept rising as I put new things up there up to the point of just about 120 uniques a day. No dice. Nuked.
I am on the brink of breaking down in tears/going on a rampage/ditching white hat altogether. But I'm disappointed above all. I've lost direction and lost my 'faith' in doing things the right way.