Andy Beal Answers Your SEO Questions

    February 20, 2003

Back in 11-2002 my candle website was ranked #3 at Google under the common keyword “candles”.

Since then I watched my site gradually fall to #13.

I haven’t changed anything as far as meta tags – so I’m wondering why this has happened and what I can do to correct it.

Although we still enjoy high ranking we’re no longer on the first page and that concerns me…

Thanks in advance for any help/information.

Diane Barton


Thank you for your question about your Google ranking.

Let me start by letting you know that you are not the only one to have seen their website rankings change on Google recently. Around the time you saw your ranking for “candles” fall, Google made significant changes to their algorithm affecting the way they ranked many websites. One of the biggest changes they made was how they viewed in-bound links to a website and the way certain links impacted on PageRank and ultimately, rankings.

While Google is showing over 100 links to your website, many of these are from pages within your website with many others originating from copies of your site located at (such as With the changes at Google, it looks as though any relevance you may have achieved with these links has been reduced, consequently your ranking has dropped. While inbound links are important for all search engines, I would make an attempt to locate third-party websites that have a similar theme to your website and offer to exchange links with them. Try to get them to include text along the lines of “offering high quality wax candles” with your link and you should start to see your PageRank increase, along with your rankings.

Reviewing your website, I didn’t see too many instances of optimization techniques that would be construed as “spam” by Google. However, I did notice a few things that might have raised a red flag with Google’s spam filters. First, you have a hidden image located at the top left of your index page (, which you appear to have used so that you can add many keywords to it’s ALT tag. Not good. Not only will it have little positive impact on any of your rankings, but placing the image at the very top of the page has made it easier for Google to discover and levy a penalty. The image is also saturated with keywords, which has probably added to Google’s concern. Stuffing ALT tags with keywords and using hidden images is usually a bad idea, as the search engines don’t tend to take any risks and penalize those sites that make use of them. This alone, might not normally effect your rankings, but when you combine with the recent algorithm changes, you can see the negative impact on your website’s ranking.

If you build quality links to your website and remove the instances of spam, you should start to see your website climb back to the first page.

Andy Beal

Andy Beal is an internet marketing consultant and considered one of the world’s most respected and interactive search engine marketing experts. Andy has worked with many Fortune 1000 companies such as Motorola, CitiFinancial, Lowes, Alaska Air, DeWALT, NBC and Experian.

You can read his internet marketing blog at Marketing Pilgrim and reach him at