As a member of several search engine optimization forums, I have recently noticed (especially since Yahoo recently decided to try their hand at competing with Google) that the stress level of many webmasters has gone way up. This applies not only to webmasters involved in Internet-based home businesses, but to webmasters in general.
Additionally, it seems that many people that are in the business of search engine optimization (SEO) are, with good reason, going completely bonkers. As Google came on the scene in 1998 and quickly dominated the search business, website optimization became largely a game of shooting at a single target, namely, pleasing Google...for all intents and purposes, Google became the "800 pound gorilla" of the search engine business.
Since the advent of search engines (particularly Google) spawned the whole SEO business, I guess its only fair that the search engine industry can once again turn the SEO business on its ear, and it seems now to be sort of a cat and mouse (not desktop) relationship that can get really interesting as we move forward.
Not only are there now several viable players (most notably Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Ask Jeeves) in the search engine business, but they are all adopting different and frequently changing algorithms for determining the ranking positions for websites. The current game is that webmasters are trying to figure out how the various search engines perform the rankings and, on the flip side, the search engines are striving to be unpredictable to those webmasters and SEO firms.
For those people using websites to promote home-based businesses, it can be stressful constantly trying to determine "what the search engines want" and agonizing over every downward fluctuation in rankings that their website may experience.
Looking forward in time, I think we can expect that rankings will fluctuate frequently and will not be at all consistent from one search engine to another. It will be quite common that for a particular search term a website might suffer a drop in position ranking for search engine "A" and an increase position ranking for search engine "B" at essentially the same point in time.
Rather than stressing out over every position ranking "wiggle", a better approach might be to just focus on "what do visitors to my site want?". The search engines are striving to give their users a quality (relevant) search experience and if you are focused in giving visitors to your website what they are looking for, these paths will meet somewhere down the road.
You can save yourself alot of consternation by focusing upon the needs of the website visitors you are seeking to attract, rather than chasing the frequently changing ranking algorithms of several search engines. Focus on a single target instead of chasing several moving targets at the same time.
This article pertains to natural searches only, as paid search engine advertising is a completely different situation.
Kirk Bannerman operates a successful home based business and resides in California. For more details, visit his website at http://business-at-home.us