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The site advertises 'widgets' from all the manufacturers of these widgets in the UK. Visitors to the site are looking to buy these widgets as new or used, or even on lease.
We rank very strongly (top 5) for the generic phrases of 'used widgets', 'new widgets', etc.
However, the bulk of our traffic comes in via searches related to the manufacturer and their models of widgets. So people might search for 'used [manufacturer] [model]' or just '[manufacturer] [model]' and we'll be ranking in the top 10 for all of these, except for a few that might be just outside the top 10.
We haven't done anything in our optimisation to focus on one manufacturer or model over another. The pages of the site are largely listings of the products with some focused text on the page.
So, the problem. There are two manufacturers who we don't rank for. The main pages for these manufacturers and their main models do not come up at all in the results. What comes up instead is an advert page for an individual widget from this manufacturer, rather than the main pages (and this advert page is not as well optimised and so doesn't rank as well as the main page would/should). For all the other 150 manufacturers it is the correct page that appears in the results (and ranks highly).
Could it be that the pages (and sub-pages) for these two manufacturers on our site have been penalised for some reason? I can't imagine why Google would do that to just two of the manufacturers though and not all of them if what we've done is somehow wrong. It doesn't really make much sense to me. One of the manufacturers is what I'd call a competitive search, whereas the other one less so. We are ranking well for other competitive manufacturers though, and not sure why this one should be any different.
Has anyone experienced something similar?
I've tried to explain the situation as best I can, but if you need a more detailed picture of the site, please ask away.
So why would Google decide that just these two need to be penalised?
It's not just single pages either, it's all the models for that manufacturer that no longer rank strongly in Google.
Could it be that the pages (and sub-pages) for these two manufacturers on our site have been penalised for some reason? I can't imagine why Google would do that to just two of the manufacturers though and not all of them if what we've done is somehow wrong.
If you search for those two particular URI strings that lead to those mfg pages and/or sections, what type of results do you find?
If you take a snippet from those pages on your site that are not performing and do a "exact phrase" search, what do you find? Be sure the snippet is unique to your site. It may be an entire sentence or it could be 5-7 words, as long as you refine the "exactness" of the search so it only returns results for your pages.
If you go to www.CopyScape.com and follow their instructions, what do you find?
If you go to Yahoo! Site Explorer and search for those pages, what do you find?
Just a few things to keep you busy, let us know. But, no specifics. Just give us a brief rundown of what you may have uncovered. ;)
Last but not least, be sure to do all of the above at Google since that is where your challenges lie. The others may give you more information than Google. Since Google tends to not show a lot of the "junk" that references your site, you may not see it. Hence the reason to use multiple resources to backtrack this stuff.
Perhaps also go through the pages that ARE ranking for the terms you used to and see what you can see.