Yesterday, Google held it's second live webmaster chat event. During the event, Jonathan Simon discussed why webmasters can fall down or even out of the Google rankings.
Duplicate Content was cited at the top of Jonathan's list. It can be caused by multiple URLs, syndicating content and even scrappers pulling content from several sources and sticking them together. Ten Golden Rules Tip: If you have duplicate content on your site, be honest about it. Disallow those sections in your robots.txt. Syndicate your content carefully, ensuring that your original work gets credit through a text link or require posters to exclude your article in their robots.txt.
Server Issues are another factor that can effect your rankings. If your server is down or timing out because it's being over taxed, the Googlebot might arrive at your site, ready to spider it and find nothing there. Ten Golden Rules Tip: Make sure you're hosting your site on a reliable server. And if you do some viral marketing to boost your traffic, make sure your hosting company is prepared to handle it.
Competition might have made recent changes to their SEO campaign, either by improving their content offering or getting more link love from authority sites. Either way, it spells trouble for any company that's sitting on their SEO laurels. Ten Golden Rules Tip: The best never rest. Just because you have great SEO rankings today, doesn't mean you'll have them tomorrow, so keep adding new content, building more quality links to your site, and show Google through your hard work why you should be Number 1.
Changes in Search Trends can also affect your rankings. Google is constantly tweaking their algorithm to improve their results. One factor might be weighed more heavily one week and less the next. Ten Golden Rules Tip: Follow SEO best practices and don't stress about Google's tweaks. Your rankings might flucuate here and there. However, give it some time to level out before you start making changes to your SEO campaign.
Webmaster Guidelines Violation by your staff or 3rd party vendor can have a serious negative effect on your Google rankings. Ten Golden Rules Tip: Make sure you know who you're working with. If your site gets flagged for a violation, fix the problem and then submit your site for reconsideration.