I think I've killed my Google page rankings. I forgot to check them before I made my latest big change, so I'm just guessing, but I think I used to be on the first 10 results for "free crossword." Now I'm #11. Over the past couple months I've moved from having eclipsecrossword.com point to a subsite of my main site, greeneclipse.com/eclipsecrossword, to having it really be its own site. The problem is that a great deal of the links to my site were from people who just copied the URL from their address bar, which gets them greeneclipse.com/eclipsecrossword, and not eclipsecrossword.com. To make things worse, there were actually four different ways to get to the same site:
I now have all of these sites permanently redirecting (as in, HTTP 301-ing) to my main eclipsecrossword.com site. The hope, after reading through Google's and Live Search's documentation, is that the search engines will learn over time that those URLs aren't ideal anymore, and will fix things up to point to the "new" eclipsecrossword.com domain name, without losing all of the goodwill and name recognition I've built up over the past half a decade.
From what I can tell, I've kind of screwed myself over in the past by letting the site go for months at a time without being updated; the longer you go without updating, the less frequently search engines pay attention to your site, and the lower your search rankings fall. I'm currently shooting for updating the site at least once a week with new content; I don't plan on maintaining that pace for the long term, but for now it's fun to work on a site that isn't ugly and dead like it used to be. It's kind of like the broken window theory—I had let the site grow stale for quite a while, and it got to the point where I didn't want to update it because it was old and crusty. But, now that it's gotten a complete overhaul and it's pretty and finally has some useful content, I feel much more motivated to continue to improve it.
Anyway, I think that I've probably hurt my Google page rankings in the short term by the change, but in the long term, it should only help, as there will be exactly one EclipseCrossword site that everyone will link to. Maybe then I'll make it (back?) to the first page of Google results.