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Q: Google search results ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Google search results
Category: Computers > Internet
Asked by: coryhaney-ga
List Price: $75.00
Posted: 30 Apr 2004 05:05 PDT
Expires: 30 May 2004 05:05 PDT
Question ID: 338749
Why is our website,, no longer listed in the
results of a Google search for 'locum tenens'?

The history: For the past two years, our website has been landing
somewhere between result 3 (best position ever noticed) and the low
30's. For the majority of the last 5 months, we were in position 7. 
As of April 5th, we where in position 26.  Today, we are not in the
top 150!

Our site has all the characteristics that, according to the
information available, are deemed favorable by Google.  This includes
backward links, descriptive title tags, informative content, etc.  We
have never attempted to do anything to artifically manipulate the
Google result rankings, which is forbidden by Google, such as
participating in 'Link Farms,' using 'hidden links,' etc.  We are
aware that those practices may result in being removed by Google.

So, what has happened?  How do we correct it?  Is it possible that we
have been inadvertently labeled as 'cheaters' by Google and
subsequently punished?  Is it possible that one of our competitors is
doing something overt to hurt us?
Subject: Re: Google search results
Answered By: serenata-ga on 30 Apr 2004 23:15 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello Coryhaney ~

A drop in ranking in Google's search engine results pages (SERPs) is
always puzzling, especially when there doesn't seem to be an apparent
reason for it. This often sends webmasters scrambling to 'fix'
something which may not actually need to be fixed.

There is enough anecdotal evidence that Google's latest algorithm is
still being worked on. While it is no consolation, it is happening to
other good sites, too. So please understand that it isn't anything
personal, either.

To understand what's happening, and hopefully assuage your worries, it
helps to understand Google's mission and its responsibility is to the
searcher - not to the website owner or webmaster.

This is what Google published and filed with the Securities and
Exchange Commission yesterday on its Form S-1 Registration Statement
under "Our Mission",

     "Our mission is to organize the world?s information and
      make it universally accessible and useful. We believe
      that the most effective, and ultimately the most
      profitable, way to accomplish our mission is to put the
      needs of our users first. We have found that offering a
      high-quality user experience leads to increased traffic
      and strong word-of-mouth promotion. Our dedication to
      putting users first is reflected in three key
      commitments we have made to our users: ...

      * We will do our best to provide the most relevant and
      useful search results possible, independent of
      financial incentives. Our search results will be
      objective and we will not accept payment for inclusion
      or ranking in them...

      * We will never stop working to improve our user
      experience, our search technology and other important
      areas of information organization.

      We believe that our user focus is the foundation of our
      success to date. We also believe that this focus is
      critical for the creation of long-term value. We do not
      intend to compromise our user focus for short-term
      economic gain."


While, purely from a web owner's point of view, it would be nice if
they could get to the "most relevant" before they release the latest
results from their latest tweak, history tells us that sometimes those
tweaks can leave a searcher with less than optimum results. However,
it is erroneous to think for a moment that Google will leave things
like that. In a short time things change again, and then change again.

A good piece of advice comes from Randy, one of the moderators in Jill
Whalen's High Ranking forum, who states,

     "If your site ranks well in all of the other search engines
      but isn't in Google, I certainly would not recommend any
      massive changes. Google is obviously still trying to
      perfect their new algorithm, based upon the changes we're
      seeing almost daily. IMO it is not wise to "chase" anything
      they're doing right now, because it's very likely to change
      tomorrow." [From the "Somebody Tell Me Why....?, Google
      Schmoogle....." discussion thread]

While Randy is not Google and certainly not in a position to speak FOR
Google, he is a fairly well respected search engine optimizer (SEO),
and those are the same words I'm offering to my own clients who
consult for SEO.

At the moment, it is evident Google is getting there, trying to pull
out the most relevant information while diminishing rankings for those
who try to 'spam', 'game' or scam search engines. Basically put, it is
easy to see that what shows now didn't show a few days ago, and what
showed a few days ago wasn't there a week or more before that.

Your best advice is not to go chasing whatever someone may tell you
this algo change is - because it obviously isn't *there* yet, so count
on it changing again very soon.

Duplicate sites?

I just came across your listing in Yahoo which is for
"" ... notice that's DOT org, not DOT com! If you
are running two identical sites, it would be wise to permanently
redirect one to the other and only have the content on one site. While
Google does recognize that you might want to own the various top level
domain names, that is .com, .org, .net, it will penalize you for
running identical sites. It is easier to use a 301 permanent redirect
at the server level and avoid being penalized for sites with duplicate

Your reasons may be perfectly valid, but Google and other search
engines regard it as spam. Here's what Google says about it in its
Webmaster Information, "Quality Guidelines - Specific

     "Don't create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains
      with substantially duplicate content."
   - ://

The page loaded so fast I couldn't determine if you have redirected
one to the other or not; but having a listing in Yahoo for the .org
leads me to believe you're running duplicate sites. This will get you

What about the other search engines?

Well, for the search term you mention, "locum tenens", here's some
results from the others:

     * Yahoo - The .org ranks 47th

and your sponsored link to the .com shows at the bottom of the first page.

     * MSN - Sponsored link on the second page, but your site listing
couldn't be found on the first 100 listings.

     * All The Web - Not found in the first 100 listings

This, then, would indicate you might want to take a better look at
your layout and design.

     * DMOZ, the Open Directory Project ...
       neither nor are listed.

Back to the Basics

While you do have "about 45" pages linking to yours, and "about 363"
other pages which contain the term "", (found by
entering your domain name in the search box), so links are in good
order, then we need to look at the other two factors which help in
SERPs ranking, content and HTML (design).

Shari Thurow, one of the leading authorities in web design and search
engine optimization (and author of the book "Search Engine
Visibility"), made the following observation with regard to HTML:

     "Clean HTML is absolutely imperative for search engine
      indexing. Browsers are extremely forgiving when it comes
      to displaying pages with "unclean" HTML (unclosed tags,
      no quotation marks, etc.).  Search engine spiders are
      not so forgiving.  Even something as simple as a missing
      quotation mark on the <.a href="page.html"> can cause a
      spider to not index text or a link." (See: Link Exchange
      Digest, July 3, 2003, "Clean HTML")

She explained how errors in HTML can affect your ability to be
indexed, and ultimately, ranked.

Taking a look at, there are some important
items missing and some which should be added to make your site

1. DOCTYPE Declaration

DOCTYPES are essential to the proper rendering and functioning of web
documents in compliant browsers. It is also essential for the search
engines to understand and follow the coding contained on your pages.

DOCTYPE is explained and discussed further in "A List Apart",

and in Web Design Group's article, "Choosing a DOCtype",

You do not have a DOCTYPE Declaration and you should add one to every
page on your site.

2. Accessibility

I am sure you do not wish to appear insensitive to accessibility issues.

In addition to that, Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of
1973, 29 U.S.C. 794 and 794d, set forth the minimum government
standards for accessibility.

Among these standards are such items as ALT and TITLE tags and website
design which will enable those with special needs to be able to access
and understand your web site.

You might want to run each page of your site through Bobby, which will
give you a full context report of any portions of your site which do
not meet the minimum standards. If you make all the corrections
suggested, it will greatly enhance any search engine's ability to
crawl your website as well.

The Bobby analysis page can be found here:

Other Search Engines and Directories

Below are top search engines (as determined by Nielsen Net Ratings):

* Google -
   - ://

* DMOZ -

 * All The Web -

 * MSN -

 * Yahoo! -

It would behoove you to make sure you are listed with those search
engines. It won't hurt and may help in order to improve your chance
for better SERPs ranking with Google. And Google specifically
recommends listing with DMOZ in its Webmaster Guidelines.


Your site is informative, but it requires several clicks to really get
to the information inside. Since search engines deliver PAGES in their
results, you might want to see that some of the links TO your site
link directly to the relevant pages and not the entire domain. This
may increase awareness and boost your site's overall ranking.

You might want to get your search term, "locum tenens", moved closer
to the top in the content of your page. Most search engines ignore key
words and the actual usage of the word within what scant test you have
there on your index page does not use your search term very often.
Adding relevant content in which your search term appears, and closer
to the top of your page's content will help.

Important Google Links For Your Reference

I am including important links from Google's site. This information
will help you understand Google's goals and responsibility to the web
searcher (and not the webmaster or site owner).

Webmasters who follow the guidelines and avoid Google's "Thou shalt
nots" usually have no problem getting listed and showing up under the
search terms they desire.

   * Google Today (absolutely the best information you
     can read about the "how and why" of Google's results
     - ://

   * How Do I Get My Site Listed on Google?
     - ://

   * My Web Pages Are Not Currently Listed (a good 'primer'
     on how and why Google works so well)
     - ://

   * PageRank Information (covers both Google's PageRank and
     - ://

   * Webmaster Guidelines (contains both the dos and don'ts)
     - ://

   * Google Facts & Fiction (can  you buy your way to a
     high ranking in Google?)
     - ://

   * Search Engine Optimizers (some good advice on what to look
     for if you're going to hire a Search Engine Optimizer)
     - ://

   * Frequently Asked Questions (pretty much what it says, but
     definitely worth wading through)
     - ://

   * Remove Content from Google's Index (just in case you feel
     a burning need to start all over again)
     - ://

Other Sources of Information

There is also good information from many of the top search engine
optimization experts, such as

   * Detlev Johnson, Search Engine Guide

   * Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Watch

   * Jill Whalen, High Rankings

   * Shari Thurow, Web Pro News (and quoted all over the Internet)

who all have columns or newsletters to which you can subscribe and
keep abreast of the best way to use good content for better
positioning in search engine results.

In addition, Webmaster World - - has
discussion boards on most of the search engines. While some of the
discussions are anecdotal and/or questions for information, there is
usually enough discussion to keep abreast of what seems to be

There is an entire section devoted to Google at:

It never hurts to keep track of the discussions; but remember, trying
to optimize for search engines only is like trying to hit a moving
target. You'll notice among the more experienced contributors to the
discussions - plus the SEO experts listed above - that there really is
no substitute for content, relevant links and good HTML.

Search Terminology ~

Except for the specific search terms used above, the information used
in this answer is from bookmarked resources and reliable information
used in my daily business as a consultant.


Your indication that you have previously placed highly is an
indication that you're heading in the right direction for Google's

There is no substitute for a good combination of links to your site,
content relevant to the search terms under which you wish to be found,
and good html (design) to make your site both user friendly and search
engine friendly.

If you have fallen off in Google, and you haven't made recent changes
to your site (and you haven't indicated that this is the case), it
could be a matter of waiting until thing do get straightened out. I
did notice there was more about choosing locum tenens as a career
choice (in other words, informational), than there are actual locum
tenens staffing companies, which would fall within the observations of
others that things still seem to be in flux.

It is to your advantage - even "necessary" - to be registered with
other search engine and directories, and it would be safe to resubmit
by hand to those in which you currently are listed as well as those in
which you aren't.

Best of luck to you,

Google Answers Researcher

Request for Answer Clarification by coryhaney-ga on 02 May 2004 04:10 PDT
Your answer is very informative and useful.  Thank you very much.  I
have two quick items for clarification.

1.  In your answer you state: 

"Taking a look at, there are some important
items missing and some which should be added to make your site

The link to seems to be a mistake.  I
assume you must have intended to paste in a different link.  Can you
please correct it?

2.  We ARE in  Here:

However, I had to find it this time by "drilling down."  As you found
out, we no longer show up by doing a search for "vista staffing" on  This previously worked.  We DO show up when querying the
Google directory for "vista staffing."  I was under the impression
that these two directories are indeed identical.  Could you please
briefly clarify the difference (if any), and how it may be
specifically affecting us?

Clarification of Answer by serenata-ga on 03 May 2004 12:53 PDT
Hi again ...

Please accept my most embarassed apology for getting that incorrect
URL in there, you are quite correct, it was done erroneously.

I'm surprised why it is I couldn't find DMOZ under your domain name, - as 99% of the can be found that way. I have no
idea what that means so far as DMOZ is concerned.

As to the difference between the DMOZ directory and Google's
directory, Google was (and might still be) using the DMOZ directory as
a base, but there were some fine differences, which would indicate
they put their own "spin" on things - applying some criteria which has
been noticed in a slight difference.

Therefore, it is not a given that because a site is in the DMOZ
directory it will automatically be in Google's directory. However,
your site is still there if you drill down -

And does show up if you use the search term "Vista Staffing", and also
if you use the URL,

My suggestion is still to eliminate one of the domains, permanently
pointing it to the remaining domain, and resubmitting the site to

Hope this helps,


Request for Answer Clarification by coryhaney-ga on 03 May 2004 13:33 PDT
Okay ... we agree that the URL was a type ....  CAN I PLEASE HAVE THE

Otherwise, your answer has proven EXTREMELY helpful.  We've already
corrected the multiple domains, single website problem  They all
redirect to now.  I look forward to giving you a
perfect rating and a tip for this answer if you can please just give
me the correct link that you referred to.  I'm eager to look at that
for addition insight.

Request for Answer Clarification by coryhaney-ga on 03 May 2004 13:34 PDT
There.  I even did a typo of my own and wrote 'type' on accident. :) Now we're even!

Clarification of Answer by serenata-ga on 03 May 2004 16:35 PDT
Hi again Coreyhaney ~

You have made me laugh ... and the truth of the matter is that the
part about missing items should not have  been included.

Is it too late to plead insanity? It's a perfect example of what NOT
to do when you feel a bit under the weather, anyway. If The truth were
told, I was picking up some links for you and picked up more than the
links and didn't read what I had put down.

Actually, there are many things you are doing right. For instance, you
have a Doctype DEclaration,

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">
(from the source code on

plus a character set, "<meta http-equiv="Content-Type"
content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">" (also from your source

Those two together as they are make your site pretty readable. If you
want an idea of what browsers see, try looking at it through the Lynx
Viewer (Lynx is the text browser that Google recommends you try in its
Guidelines). You can find the Lyn Viewer here:


You may have gone overboard a bit on labeling some of the graphics ALT
tags "locum tenens" when in fact they're something else. As you can
see from looking in the Lynx Viewer, this adds the phrase a few more
times to the content. It could be seen as over- optimization, and
there have been some cases where over-optimization seems to be more to
your detriment than to your benefit.

You have a site which is reasonably representative of the phrase and
of your business, stick to one site only, permanently redirect
(without trying to list) any duplicate sites and run all your pages
through the Lynx Viewer to see that they really make sense.

There is always the possibility that your site just wasn't available
when the last Google crawl was done, or some other glitch kept it from
being indexed. I rather doubt that is the case, but there have been
some odd results noted from some search terms in the last week or so.
The good news is that Google usually hears about it pretty fast - and
often - and the "fix" comes in pretty fast, too.

What you don't want to do is leave yourself vulnerable because of a
breach of Google's "thou shalt nots" when things do get fixed.

Thank you again for the chuckle, and best of luck to you.


Request for Answer Clarification by coryhaney-ga on 04 May 2004 08:03 PDT
Okay.  I don't care if it should or should not have been included now.
 It interested me and I'd like to see it for myself.  So, I ask again:

"Taking a look at, there are some important
items missing and some which should be added to make your site

You're response need only be one line long. Then I will rate this as a
great answer and we'll be done!  Thanks.

Clarification of Answer by serenata-ga on 04 May 2004 10:24 PDT
Hi Coryhaney ~

There is nothing missing. 

You have all the elements there, that is why it should not have been included!

Sorry, I thought I had made that clear!


Request for Answer Clarification by coryhaney-ga on 05 May 2004 04:18 PDT
Okay.  This is now getting very frustrating.

I know you didn't intend to put that paragraph in!!!!!!!!!!!  But
let's pretend that you did.

What is the correct link that belongs in this paragraph:

"Taking a look at, there are some important
items missing and some which should be added to make your site

Am I crazy?  Is this not an extremely simple and clear request?  Just
tell me the correct link. is obviously
wrong.  Please don't make me ask again.

Clarification of Answer by serenata-ga on 05 May 2004 04:58 PDT
You are not crazy, but I didn't make myself clear to you.

I was looking for that specific quote from Sherri Thurow - and found
it in a previous question I answered. It is simply a matter of MY
copying too many paragraphs and not editing it properly after I
inserted the quote into your answer.

At the time I answered the previous question, whatever was in that
answer was correct, so the site listed there was actually correct. It
had nothing to do with your question, nor with your site, and those
paragraphs should not have been included.

The error was mine, I copied too much text and inserted it in your answer.

I hope this finally makes it clear what happened and answers your question.


Request for Answer Clarification by coryhaney-ga on 05 May 2004 05:43 PDT
Okay.  I found a previous Google Answer of yours.  I now realize why
we have had this misunderstanding.

Based on the context of this paragraph:
"Taking a look at, there are some important
items missing and some which should be added to make your site

I was assuming/expecting that was suppose
replaced with a link to some type of html (seo related) validator. 
Maybe something similar to  That is why I was
so animate about getting 'the correct' link.  I now see based on
another answer of yours that I've found
( that
the link is the site you are reviewing, and not suppose to be a
validator like I expected.

So, the direct and literal answer to my question would have been: - but that's not a very meaningful answer, is it :)

Thanks again.  You did a great job.  We just both had something
COMPLETELY different in mind in regards to this single typo.  Keep up
the good work!

Clarification of Answer by serenata-ga on 05 May 2004 06:44 PDT
Awwww Cory ~

You're a nice person! 

My silly mistake ~ and you not only gave me a great rating, but a very
generous tip! I didn't want to tell you til this was over, but later
that day I ended up getting admitted to the hospital with pneumonia.

Reading my answer, I'm a bit surprised I made as much sense as I did.
While it's no help here, I'll know better to try to answer a question
when I'm feeling so rotten.

Thank you again for your generosity!

Very sincerely,
coryhaney-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00
Overall, great.  But a proof read eliminating an unintended paragraph
would have saved some frustrating confusion.

There are no comments at this time.

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