Google Site Rankings Related to site: Results

I had a revelation recently about the Google rankings for one of my sites lately. I’ve actually been frustrated with the lack of and drop in ranking for important keywords we used to rank well for. I think its pretty clear that Google’s index changes fairly often, but I would never expect rankings for keywords to drop completely. Hours and hours of research and I found nothing obvious about where I could have gone wrong.

For a completely random reason, I decided to see what site: returned for the pages index from my site. I noticed that our index page wasn’t the first result returned. I found that odd. Every other site I manage it is the case what the index page is the first result. So it got me to thinking, since your index page is the most important page on your site, could having it not be #1 for a site: search be related to a drop in rankings for important keywords?

I started tracking our appearance in Google for our important keywords related to when our index page was #1 in the results from a site: search and guess what? It turns out that, for us anyway, there is a direct correlation to our ranking for our important keywords to the index page not being #1 for a site: search for our domain.

That got me to thinking again though, why isn’t the index page number one? Well, my guess is that about the time that it goes missing, we’ve had some issues with access to pages on our site. Either having the site down for maintenance for an extended period of time or during a period when we were changing servers, Google couldn’t access our index page and hence, we’ve taken a penalty. This definitely has me thinking of other ways to bring our dynamic site down for updates, but not having the site down completely, especially the index page. Its quite apparent that Google takes the reliability of a site very seriously these days.

Does anyone have any further insight or experience with similar behavior?

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