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
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
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.
I just came across your listing in Yahoo which is for
"www.vistastaff.org" ... 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 www.vistastaff.com nor www.vistastaff.org 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 "www.vistastaff.com", (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 www.yambarealestate.com.au, 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.
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 - http://www.webmasterworld.com/ - 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
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