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'Wrong page' ranking - not a penalty but not what I want

 5:00 pm on Jun 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

The site's key search term is a profession, and you can have it as -er, -ers or -ing.

The -er and -ers version occur a fair bit on the home page, so I thought I'd be clever, 'under-optimise', and use -ing for the title tag. A category in the blog has a title tag with -er.

After some work on some OK links (75% anchors on the brand / url, 25% on other anchors, all very random) we've hit page one for all three versions of the term, BUT
- the blog page ranks for -er and -ers,
- and the home page only for -ing (the least popular term)

Ranking position is same the across all three terms.
The home page does appear for the -ers version of the term but down on page 7!
The blog page has no external links.

I'm pretty sure that this isn't a penalty.

I know that tweaking by itself can get you demoted in the short term, but you should come back even if you just touch the title tag.

I plan to risk the tweak, but also add a load of new content to the home page to support this (we're expanding the focus, similar to getting the page to target 'estate agent' as well as 'letting agent').

I would welcome input/advice/experiences.



 8:24 pm on Jun 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

Ive definitely had my struggles with the "wrong page" ranking, too. It's hard to give advice, because the struggle was often long - and sometimes it seemed a change came when Google changed, not when I changed the pages.

One thing often made a difference - look out for the anchor text on the "wrong page." I remember several cases where that seemed to be the critical point.


 11:46 am on Jul 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

I've noticed this on my personal site. Google US - ranks my homepage URL for my name (& .com domain name exact match) at position 1.

Google AU ranks a subpage of my domain for the same keyword (my name) a position 7. Has done for the past two weeks.

Go figure that one out. Sometimes google stuffs it up. Makes no sense at all.


 6:14 am on Jul 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks for replies. Ted: I think you may be onto something with the anchor text on the 'wrong' page. Of the five body text links there, the exact phrase occurs (completely naturally) in three, whereas the home page doesn't include it once! I'll edit the posts too.


 6:53 am on Jul 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

The "wrong page" ranking is indeed frustrating and worse is that you know the "right page" would rank much higher given a chance. I see this a lot when a home page ranks ahead of a new page for the new page subject. Google eventually sorts it out when that "new page" isn't new anymore and no mention or snippet of it remains on the home page.


 4:08 pm on Jul 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Update: I made the change and it's worked out well.

Home page now ranks same or better for -er and -ers.
Home page now also ranking for -ing (albeit slightly worse, but I'll gladly take the trade, as -er/-ers is many times more popular and the blog page had a high bounce rate).

Home page now also ranking for the related term, identical position to the -er/ers terms.

What I did:
1) New text on the home page - about 200 words to support the new term.
2) re-named and re-tagged a few blog posts to de-optimise blog page for old term
3) Tweaked existing text and linked key phrase twice on the home page to point to other relevant pages in the site to support old term.


 2:44 am on Jul 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

sometimes it seemed a change came when Google changed, not when I changed the pages.

I have seen the same.

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