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Standing alone my main page has PR4, 3000+ backlinks and plenty of text which I don't consider to be over-optimized as it is hard to write a piece about such a narrow topic without using plurals, synonyms and repetition throughout.
The problem is I only rank for phrases that are included in the anchor text of links pointing to my page. I found there might be a problem when I started adding an extra keyword that appeared on my page to see what happened e.g.
"highest ranking keyphrase soup"
I rank No.1 for "highest ranking keyphrase", but add the word "soup" and I'm way down at #256 with the most appalling junk, scraper and SERP results pages ranking above me. None of the sites above me will have targetted the phrase "highest ranking keyphrase soup" as anchor text and as I am No.1 for "highest ranking keyphrase" I find it strange that I would be so far down the list when a word off my page is added.
I mean are there other instances of your site not being able to promote relevant stuff to Google on its own? with like internal nav links, titles and such?
if soup is a popular generic keyword ( such as geographical names would be ) you'll need inbounds ( not too many ). If "highest ranking keyphrase soup" is a popular search ( and/or monitored by AdWords, i.e. has any ads, is recognized as making sense ) you'll need at least a few inbounds with the complete phrase. If you can't rank for them ( having no supportive links ) that's usually a mild version of the -950 filter.
but if this thing isn't limited to this single keyword ( soup ) or the word is not generic and the full phrase doesn't make much sense,... that'd be pretty interesting...
Of course, if you are sure the word "soup" is not found in any of the anchor text pointing to your site then this is probably not the same problem I had.
If "highest ranking keyphrase soup" is a popular search
No, soup is not related to the topic generally. Sites that would target "soup" as a keyword would never be targetting the "highest ranking keyphrase" as it is a legal term. We just happen to use the word soup which is why I used it to check.
but if this thing isn't limited to this single keyword ( soup ) or the word is not generic and the full phrase doesn't make much sense
Some of the phrase checked would never be typed in by a user. It seems to be for any word off my page's content that does not appear in inbound anchor text, even those that are related such as:
"highest ranking phrase consultations" which is completely on topic but not a phrase that is targeted by us or our competition as it would not yield good results. We rank in the 300s for that phrase, again underneath the biggest pile of spam you've ever seen along with some of our competitors who are near the top but have very few backlinks and all do not even contain the "highest ranking phrase" in their anchor text let alone "consultations".
It seems as though any phrase searched for that is not a valued phrase to Google (i.e listed in Adwords keyword finder tool) returns nothing but spam or results from the US (we are in the UK). All good results that actually make sense or are viable to UK searchers are pushed way down.
Can you find your site when you search for unique phrases?
Yes, but those phrases are not high value. It is the combination of a high value (as deemed by being bid on in Adwords) phrase combined with a non-value word that the results are completely spam and/or US based.
That's the thing, if it were a filter I'd tripped I wouldn't rank No.1 for unique phrases (with no quotation marks used) out of 500,000 results would I?
You can trip filters that will essential remove the content on your site from the ranking equation. The result is a site that will only rank based on anchor text. I was still #1 for a good many phrases while my site was "content banned" (as I call it). But, searching for unique phrases found *only* on my site returned 0 results.
But, searching for unique phrases found *only* on my site returned 0 results.
Okay, if I do:
site:example.com phrase from my page without quotes
I get 2 of my pages, one with that phrase and one with those words appearing somewhere on the page. Would that be outwith your definition of your content filter?
What happens when you "highest ranking phrase [common word]"? Try adding the most common word found on your page ("the" maybe?) and see if the results are wildly different. If not, work your way down the list of most common words until you reach a point where the results are wildly different.
It sort of sounds like your content been devalued to me. Not banned outright but given very little weight. From what I understand that's most often caused too similar anchor text. What do you backlinks look like? Are they mostly going to the index page with the same or very similar anchor text?