Google recently wrote a post on its Webmaster Central Blog addressing site architecture and traffic. Specifically, items addressed include:
This may come as a surprise to you, but affiliate program content and duplicate content do not necessarily cause a drop in traffic. But you have to understand where Google is coming from here. They are primarily concerned with attempts to manipulate rankings and if you use duplicate content to do that, well, then you might see a drop in rankings. That could be have an associative affect on your traffic. But if you have two pages with the same content on them then you shouldn’t see any penalties or drops in rankings or traffic. You can fix that issue with a canonical URL attribute.
With affiliate promotion, simply make your content original and place your affiliate links in the midst of your original content. That’s how you should promote affiliates anyway.
Interestingly, a good deal of Google’s post was about hacking issues. That is probably because this is a growing concern as it is happening more often now. The first defense against hacking is to ensure that you have a secure server. Then you won’t have to worry about cleaning up after the mess.
But what if you do get hacked and you end up with hidden text and links on your website? In that case you could see your web pages de-indexed. Before you panic, sign into your Webmaster Tools account – if you don’t have one, get one – and check to see if you have any issues. You’ll see the big red boxes if you do. Get those fixed and you should see your pages return to their rankings.
Understand that search engine rankings fluctuate over time. So if you drop from page 1 to page 3, it’s probably a natural occurrence. You’ll likely return to page 1 in a little while.
The smart thing to do is to monitor your rankings, but don’t freak out if you see big drops. Most of the time, those are short-lived. If you are de-indexed completely, that’s when you need to figure out what happened and fix it. But don’t lose your head and stay on track!