The Google Cache has a great blog post on reasons sites and web pages get banned from the search engines and other search engine optimization related penalties you might encounter. The blog post also talks about what you should do if each penalty happens to you. But are you sure you were penalized?
We often hear website owners complain that they’ve been penalized when in fact they’ve just suffered from a natural decline in search rankings. It happens every day.
On any given day you may rank higher or lower for a specific search term. Each page fluctuates daily. In fact, several times throughout the day. You could be on page 1 now and fifteen minutes later fall to page 2. There’s nothing to be alarmed about. There are several reasons for these natural fluctuations or ranking waves:
- The search engines could be tweaking their algorithms, which affect all websites
- Your competition may have made changes that caused the search engines to favor their web page for a competitive keyword phrase
- More websites could be linking to a competitor’s web page, giving them a boost
- Some in bound links may have stopped linking to you, causing you to fall
- Someone not competing for your key phrase may have posted a blog post that temporarily ranks well for your key phrase
- Your web host could be performing maintenance on your server, which could cause a temporary lapse in rankings that will return once the maintenance is complete
- Entire IP blocks could be under review by the search engine and therefore taken out of ranking temprorarily while the review is underway
- A spam report may have your site specifically under review; if this is the case and you have done nothing wrong then your rankings will return
- A search rank analyzation by the search engine could be underway at that moment and once it is completed your site will settle where it is supposed to
More than likely, at any given moment your site ranking could be influenced by multiple factors, some positive and some negative. If, for instance, more sites are linking to you and fewer are linking to your competitor while you both tweaked your web pages within days or hours of each other and the search engine changed its algorithms within the same time frame, all of these factors simultaneously will affect your website’s ranking. Google has gone on the record as saying that it tweaks its algorithms daily, but not all of those changes will affect your website. Bottom line: The search rank is always in fluctuation. Chances are you’re not being penalized.