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What to Do When Google Is Ranking the Wrong Page for Your Keywords

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What to Do When Google Is Ranking the Wrong Page for Your Keywords

It’s typically a good thing when you find out your website is ranking for a keyword you’ve been targeting, right?

But what happens when, upon further investigation, you learn that the page you wanted to rank for a particular keyword isn’t the page that Google wanted to rank? (And that it’s another page on your site altogether?)

Whether the page is irrelevant or just not the best fit in your eyes, means that all the traffic that’s visiting your site from this newfound keyword isn’t going where you want. This might result in less conversions or a higher bounce rate than previously anticipated.

But don’t worry – this problem is more common than you might think, and it is fixable. Here’s how.

How to Improve a Page’s Ranking Signals for a Specific Keyword

Step 1: Evaluate the User Intent of Your Focus Keyword

User intent is essentially defined as the goal a person has when they type in a search term into Google.

Over the past year or two, ensuring the page you want to rank for a query matches the user intent has become vital.

  • Is the goal to buy something? (Transactional)
  • Is the goal to find a particular website or page? (Navigational)
  • Is the goal to find helpful information to further answer a question you have? (Informational)

Tailoring your content to the intent is crucial.

For example, if your focus keyword was “best laptop computers” and you wanted your product page or category page to rank for this, you probably have no shot.

What to Do When Google Is Ranking the Wrong Page for Your Keywords

In the example above, you can clearly see that all the top ranking websites are from third-party aggregators and review sites where they list a comparison of the best laptops.

In fact, not one manufacturer or retail site is ranking on Page 1 for this so you need to shift focus away from this keyword altogether or understand what you are dealing with to better align.

Step 2: Evaluate the Content on the Page

Once you have ensured your content is matching the intent, you can then move on to ensuring the content on the relevant page is optimized.

Some questions you might want to ask yourself to further analyze are:

  • Is my primary focus keyword in my page title?
  • Do I reference my primary focus keyword in my description?
  • How does the length of my copy compare to that against the Top 10 or Top 20 ranking sites?
  • Do the competitor sites use shared semantic keywords that I need to incorporate into my page?
  • Does my page answer questions a user might have to understand more about this topic?

Two tools that both do an excellent job helping you analyze and answer the questions above are SEMrush Writing Assistant and Clearscope.

Step 3: Evaluate Your Internal Links

Link signals are what tell Google a page is important, so make sure you have a sufficient amount of pages on your website linking back to the page that you want to improve.

Try adding 3-5 internal links from topically relevant pages with high authority.

A quick way to do this is to go to Ahrefs, enter your domain, and then navigate to “Top Pages”.

What to Do When Google Is Ranking the Wrong Page for Your Keywords

This will tell you which pages are the most authoritative on your site, and then you just need to find the most relevant pages and add a link to your target URL.

Bonus Tip: You can be aggressive with internal anchor text so use your focus keyword as the anchor text of your internal link.

Step 4: Evaluate Your External Links

The same rule applies to external links as it does to internal.

Links show Google that a site and a page are valuable, so if you have a copious amount of external links pointing to the wrong page for a specific keyword, it’s going to affect your ability to rank the correct page.

If that’s the case, talk to those sites and ask them to link to the correct page.

Along the same lines, if you don’t have any external links pointing to the correct page, it’s going to send the message to Google that this page isn’t valuable and shouldn’t be ranked well. It might be as simple as doing a link assessment to fix your problem.

Step 5: Look at Your User Data

Do you have a high bounce rate for the relevant page?

A poor click-through rate?

A lousy conversion rate?

If people are landing on the relevant page and leaving quickly, or are unable/unwilling to navigate the page and convert, it’s could affect your overall rankings.

Use Google Analytics or software like Hotjar to get a feel for your user data in regards to this page, and then redesign the page to circumvent whatever problem your users are experiencing.

How to Downgrade or Reduce a Page’s Current Ranking Signals

Once you’ve improved the rankings of the page that you’re trying to boost, you actually need to downgrade the page that’s currently ranking for your search term.

I know that goes against pretty much all SEO teachings, but it’s what needs to happen in order to ensure that the relevant page is able to rank.

You can do this by removing all traces of the keyword and its related terms from the non-relevant page.

Then, restructure your internal links so that they’re pointing away from this page and toward the correct page.

The same goes for external links: contact some webmasters and ask them to redirect their links to the correct page.

If all else fails, you can always take down the page you don’t want to rank and use a 301 redirect to navigate from the old site to the page that you want to be indexed.

You can take the content from the original page and create a new page with a new URL that doesn’t have any ties to the page you’re trying to boost. This solves the problem of your external links, because any pages pointing to the original page will be redirected to the page that you want to rank.

Just make sure that when you recreate the page somewhere else, you modify the content in a way that makes it different so that Google doesn’t bypass your 301 and just assume you moved the exact same page from one location to another and continue to rank your original page (yes, they can do that, and it’s bad).

Having your webpages ranking for the wrong keywords is a big issue that can negatively affect your traffic, but with the right solutions implemented it can potentially be an easy fix.

It’s also a great opportunity to introduce new content and expand on your keyword rankings in order to improve your online presence.

Is this a problem you’ve experienced with a client or within your own website? What steps did you take to reach a solution? We’d love to hear from you! Let us know in the comments section.

More Resources:


Image Credits

Featured Image: DepositPhotos.com
All screenshots taken by author, October 2019

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Adam Heitzman

Managing Partner at HigherVisibility

Adam Heitzman is a co-founder and managing partner at HigherVisibility, a nationally recognized SEO firm. Having been a marketing executive ... [Read full bio]

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