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Strange Ranking Issue for a keyword

 6:39 pm on Jun 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have a website that is having a problem ranking for the keyword red widgets. I'd love to get opinion from you guys... you reading this tedster? :)

I have a page dedicated to red widgets. It's a PR7. The page ranks for all kinds of long tail keyword around red widgets, but not for the keyword specifically.

I have another URL that is a PR5 that mentions Red Widgets, and that page for some reason it the one Google wants to rank. This page ranks on page 12 of google where as the real red widgets page ranks on page 48 (ouch!). This is a VERY competitive keyword, but c'mon, this page is a PR7, does it deserve to be on page 48?

About two weeks ago, the one on page 48 all of a sudden jumped to page 8, and stayed there for about two days, then went back to page 48.

The first page bounces around between page 11 and 13. The second page (the real one) bounces around between page 42 and 48.

When i do a site:mydomain.com red widgets, the url on page 48 shows up as the first result, the url on page 12 shows up as the 2nd result. Strange again.

I pointed all internal links with the anchor text "red widgets" to the page I want to rank, so I'm waiting to see if it goes back up to page 8.

I was thinking of removing "red widgets" from the title of the url that is on page 12 (that shouldn't be ranking), with the thought that the real page would either replace it, or move up in the rankings (back to page 8), but then I'm afraid the opposite might happen, and I just won't have anything rank for "red widgets".

This site has not been affected by any version of panda, if anything traffic continues to grow, but I'm having a problem with just this one specific keyword.

I think I've tried everything in the SEO book.

Any advice?




 6:58 pm on Jun 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

seems an overoptimization issue to me...
ever thought about removing "red widgets" from the title from the url wich is on page 48 ? (if it's there?)
or from the anchortext of its backlinks?


 7:36 pm on Jun 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

removing "red widgets" from the title of the url that is on page 12 (that shouldn't be ranking)

That might be a good step - it can at least help disambiguate the two pages.

If the page that "shouldn't rank" links to the one that should rank, watch out for anchor text that uses the target phrase in that link.


 8:20 pm on Jun 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

That might be a good step - it can at least help disambiguate the two pages.

tedster, the problem is the ranking page title is:

Widgets - Red Widgets, Plastic Widgets with Free Shipping

The one that SHOULD rank is:

Red Widgets - Customize your red widgets online using our tools

The ranking page is the "home" as part of the "tree" that links down into the different color and style widgets. Would it still make sense to remove it?

The one that shouldn't rank DOES link to the one that should, using the anchor text that we want to rank in the SERPS. You're saying to change this? Not sure I follow.

Thanks guys!


 10:45 pm on Jun 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

Widgets - Red Widgets, Plastic Widgets with Free Shipping

Can you try for some title that doesn't reproduce the exact target phrase. Something like "Widgets - Plastic and Red Varieties with Free Shipping

The one that shouldn't rank DOES link to the one that should, using the anchor text that we want to rank in the SERPS.

Anchor text is a strong ON-PAGE signal as well as a signal for the target page. I'd say don't have that anchor text in the main content area. If it nees to be in your content section, find a variation that works for your visitors, such as "For red widget information <a href="red-widget.html">Click Here</a>"

All that said, attracting a natural backlink or two to the "should rank" page can change the whole situation.


 11:37 pm on Jun 29, 2011 (gmt 0)


by de-optimizing the first URL, in hopes the second will overtake, do you see any risk in that, or do you think Google should likely swap them?

thanks for all of your help!


 1:36 am on Jun 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

It gets really hard to discuss this unless we're really into a consultation about your specific website - certainly something we don't offer here except in the Supporters Area.

A lot depends on what that first URL "should" rank for. That's what it's title element should be about.


 7:53 pm on Jul 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm in a somewhat similar situation. Maybe I should open a new thread for this, but it might be interesting for you, apauto(?).

The case for me is that this is a problem for a whole section of my site. I had the problem for 3 months and thought I managed to fix it (when I got the rankings back for about three weeks), but last night it suddenly appeared again. When it hits, it hits over night and I lose 95% percent of traffic on the affected section.

I first thought it was a penalty, but now I see that I might have confused Google somehow:

The important 'money pages' looks like this:
example.com/widget/blue/ ("widget section")

I also have a blog on the same domain which often looks like this:
example.com/blog/celebrate-easter-with-some-blue-widgets/ ("blog entries")

The blog entries always links to the widget section, but I have syndicated relevant blog entries on the widget section as well and are linking back to the blog entries. Often around four snippets containing 30% of the full blog entry per widget page, so four links to the blog entries from the widget section. Could that be the problem?

The widget section has a lot more authority than the blog entries.

The blog entries received the normal traffic amount the same period. It wasn't affected.

Normally the widget section ranks in the top 3 for most relevant searches, but now I have to click "Show more results from Example.com" to see many of these pages even when searching sitename+widgets. The blog entries seems to be prioritized by Google.

I've just decided to remove the syndication of blog entries on the widget section, de-optimizing URL's, titles and content on many of the blog entries, deleting some blog entries, and move content from the blog entries to the widget section. And 301 redirect some blog entries to the widget section. Lets see how that goes.

It's a white-hat site with a pretty nice link profile. Most pages have way more authority and trust than my competitors. Internal links have good variation. I have more and better content than all my competitors (and many of them are doing some really bad things...).


 9:29 pm on Jul 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think apauto may have called me out because I wrote about this kind of struggle on one site several years ago. I tried all kinds of things over almost a year to get the situation to straighten out. The last thing I did before it seemed to get "fixed" was enrich the vocabulary on the intended ranking page with four natural "co-occurring" phrases that related to the intended ranking phrase.

Once I researched phrase co-occurrence for my intended keyword, I saw that my content had been written with too intense an SEO focus on one particular phrase - there were no other semantic signals present to say to Google "this page is ALL about [chartreuse software] - it doesn't just mention the phrase."

In fact it was quite a moment of insight and clarity. No one except for an SEO would write a page about [chartreuse software] the way I had. More normal people would have naturally included some wider semantic signals. I'd say I was having a 90s hangover.


 5:20 pm on Jul 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

Interesting. Thanks for commenting, tedster. I've already had one round of this type of improvement, but I'm sure there's more that can be done. In my case I'm also outranked by many extremely thin pages, so if this is the case the whole "widget section" must have been penalized somehow.

apauto: Does many of the backlinks contain the affected keyword? I will also try to get more backlinks from relevant articles with anchor text like "read more", "here" and just the URL (like tedster suggested).

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