The following guidelines should help anyone who wishes to keep their site consistently ranked in Google search results (SERPs or search engine results pages). Some businesses make the unfortunate mistake of depending on their positions in the SERPs to fuel business, and there are so many factors involved with a site’s rank that it is almost impossible to maintain a top position indefinitely. This is why search is ofter referred to as “organic”.

1. Make sure the keywords you want to rank for remain the most commonly used terms across your site. If this changes, you will likely see your position change for any search queries that contain keywords that have been reduced in number.

2. Avoid 404s and site outages. This will cause positions to tank. This is particularly easy to miss when a site gets redesigned, restructured or undergoes substantial changes.

3. Keep a steady trickle of inbound links flowing to your pages.  Also improve the quality of the inbound links as much as you can. Find link sources you can see staying with for the duration.

4. Add content to your site on a consistent basis, increasing the volume of content added over time, if possible. PageRank is all about pages. The more unique documents you have on your site equates to more PageRank potential. This is what optimization is all about. You can’t have too much good content. You can structure it poorly or duplicate it to your site’s detriment, but you can’t have too much if it’s unique and on reasonably good page sizes – usually longer than 500 words. You won’t find a PR9 or PR10 with 10 pages of content. These sites are going to be rather voluminous in most cases.

5. Don’t make too many substantial changes to your homepage if you’re not a news-oriented site or one that lives or dies by freshness. Have at least 2000 words on the homepage. Get your important keywords on the homepage and keep them there.  Guard this part of your content like a Dane. If someone wants to make the homepage simple or has design reduction goals, get them up to speed on the nature of these goals and figure out ways to accomplish them without losing content. Layers are always a good start.

6. Pay attention to Webmaster tools as GWT shows you the way in many regards.

7. Validate internal and external links frequently.

8. Keep your eye out for changes of any sort, by anyone who makes or can make them on your site. If you’re making a change, always think about the implications. This includes changes to external elements such as your physical address or phone, as well.

9. Keep site code clean and well-formed and in HTML if possible. Switching to something like ASP is probably not in your best interest, if you can avoid such moves. HTML is the best doctype for SEO.

10. Other than content, don’t engage in a huge amount of any one type of optimization tactic. Test in moderation and increase  in a balanced way in regard to your other efforts. Do it on a test domain if at all possible. Stop and analyze. Variety is key. Anything you need to hide is going to be exactly the kind of thing you want to avoid.

11. Use social media to promote your content and surrounding products and services.