Dawn Gray photo, author

You did it! You got your website ranked in the top ten results of a search engine for your most important key words! Now what?

How do you keep those rankings?

First, I have to ask: Are you really satisfied with your rankings? If not, go back to what you were doing. You haven't earned your break yet! (If you don't know what you should be doing, visit my articles at busymarketing.com.)

If you are satisfied with what you have accomplished, congratulations! You've earned a little celebration. You may find yourself with some extra time on your hands (maybe enough time to work on some new keyword phrases!), but there are some things you can do to make sure you keep those well-deserved search engine positions.

Here are five things you should do to keep your rankings flying high:

1. Don't rewrite any of your highly ranked pages or make other drastic changes. Try to keep your keyword weight (the percentage of search terms in your text), file name, and keyword prominence (use of search terms in your headings, links, and meta tags) the same.

This is not to say you shouldn't update your pages with new information. Letting your page content stagnate could cause some of your search engine rankings to slip. As long as you don't change the number or prominence of your key search terms, changing the content of your website should not affect your ranking.

2. Start checking your rankings regularly. I recommend you check at least once a week. Make sure your page isn't dropped or beaten out by the competition.

A search engine position analyzer, like WebPosition (see my review at here would save you time and help manage your search engine submissions.

TopDog checks almost 200 search engines and will submit your website to over 100. Many marketers think it's the best because it analyzes and submits to the most search engines. I wonder... how much traffic do the 185 less popular search engines send to their websites?

WebPosition focuses on the top 15 search engines and will also critique a webpage's relevance to the search terms you want to rank well for by each search engine's criteria (that they analyze). You should know how well your webpage will rank before submitting it. I particularly enjoy it's "scheduling" feature, which allows you to have your computer automatically check your listings at a certain time and/or day. All you have to do is set it up, then check the results when you're ready!

You can also check your website's ranking in search engines manually by bookmarking the results of searches for your keywords, or use a free tool on the internet (there's one at JimTools.com.)

3. Being at the top of the search engine heap makes your website a prime target for webmasters trying to figure out how to get prime rankings themselves. They will visit your website and try to find out how you got those rankings. Then they'll improve on it.

The more popular the search term you've mastered is, the more quickly somebody else will submit a website that earns an even better ranking. Sometimes the search engine will notice that they're using some kind of "trick" and drop them. Don't count on it.

One thing you can do to protect yourself (for free) is simply put in some white space before you begin the html code for each webpage. Press the Enter key enough times to put two screens of blank gray in your visitor's screens when they try to "View Source." Most visitors will think you have some html-hiding trick and give up before scrolling down enough to find your code.

Yes, there are other ways to hide your source code. There are companies out there trying to sell you search engine proof redirection scripts or programs.

I'm wary of such deals because search engines may catch on and drop websites using such tools. You won't know when it's going to happen - suddenly all your pages will be gone and it will take 2 months to find out if your resubmission was successful before you figure out it was your program.

4. When your page is dropped, resubmit it (or a page linking to it in Alta Vista, which ranks pages it "finds" better) as quickly as possible. It can take over two months to get listed on some search engines!

Keep track of which pages you submitted and when, then check and make sure they are re-added to the search engine's database on schedule. If they haven't been, you'll need to submit them again. If you don't keep track, you may submit your page too often and get penalized.

If your rankings slip in HotBot, try resubmitting the page. HotBot gives higher ranking to pages more recently submitted. In other search engines, you'll have to go back to the drawing board.

5. Look for related websites to link to you. More and more search engines are using link popularity to rank websites. Too much search term repetition in your document and it may be penalized. Links are one good thing you can't have too much of.

Links are harder for other websites to duplicate than keyword weight and prominence in your source code. They also bring visitors of their own to your website, making you less dependent on search engine traffic.

For more information on how to find related websites and solicit links from them, see my article at www.busymarketing.com/solicit.htm

Compared to getting great rankings, maintaining them is easy. Use your spare time to market your website in other ways, such as buying off-line ads or finding new places to display your banner.

Good luck!

Article by Dawn Gray, publisher of Busy Marketing Tips, an almost daily website marketing ezine.
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