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Wrong Target Pages Ranking, Anyone seen this before?

10:48 am on Jun 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm discussing about one of my site's penalization in other thread but this thread is completely different and I'm seeing a strange thing.

For 4 target keywords, one page of my site example dot com/abc.html was ranking on Page #1 for several months.

About one week ago, my page 1 rankings (sitewide) disappeared and now for those 4 target keywords, I've 3 different pages ranking. Not on page 1 but Page 5.

The main thing is, those pages have no backlinks at all. I'm tracking rank and this happened exactly on the same day when rankings dropped.

To make it more clear, right target page was ranking for 4 terms correctly. Then one day, rankings vanished and incorrect pages start ranking. The pages are kinda switching. One day correct page ranks and then another day, incorrect page ranks.

I was thinking If it is a penalty or something else? Very strange and I'm really learning a lot with all these sitewide penalties.
5:01 pm on Jun 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I've seen this before when more than one page is relevant for a query but the top one gets penalized. Pages can rank without any external backlinks, especially if they are supported by internal links.

What is new in this situation is that you have three URLs on page 5. That seems to be related to the Google changes we're discussing in a few other threads, albeit for page 1. The "host crowding" filter at Google is going through some changes and apparent testing.
5:36 pm on Jun 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month

I had a similar situation.

I was trying to rank for "widget photos"

I have a page mydomain.com/widget-photos.html

It was ranked NOWHERE in google (like page 30 or something)

A different page, mydomain.com/widget-images.html was ranking for the term "widget photos" instead of the /widget-photos.html page. The /widget-images.html page was, similar to yours, ranking around Page 5.

The /widget-photos.html had some external backlinks, the /widget-images.html page had NONE.

The /widget-photos.html page was ONE click away from the home page, while the /widget-images.html page was TWO clicks away.

Could not figure it out. I was banging my head against the wall.

Then someone pointed out to me that I had accidentally meta noindexed my HOME PAGE - not the widget-photos.html page, but my index.html page.

I fixed it, and one week later both the home page AND the /widget-photos.html page were ranking again.

So when google devalues / revalues your home page, strange things happen to your strongest pages.
6:07 pm on Jun 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I have the opposite. A few product pages coming up just fine in SERPs, but with the home page, when that specific product doesn't even show up on the home page, and there's a perfectly good product AND category page for Google to return.

Google is weird.
6:37 pm on Oct 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

Did anyone ever get an answer or idea for this abnormality? I have a page that we have optimized and built backlinks to:


And my homepage (which is optimized for an entirely different kw) is ranking #3 in the SERPS's for that keyword ...

So, if I want to target the #1 position for my kw, do I just keep building backlinks to the /keyword.php page?
9:39 pm on Oct 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month

@ afreshup:

Does the targeted page rank at all for those keywords? If so, where?

How well is the targeted page linked from the home page and from other internal pages?

So, if I want to target the #1 position for my kw, do I just keep building backlinks to the /keyword.php page?

Do you link OUT to any external AUTHORITY sites from this page? I find that can help, too.

I think that a good safe strategy would be to avoid creating too many exact match anchor text links INTO your target page. If at all possible, just get one or two HIGH AUTHORITY pages to link in to it (such as from an ON TOPIC .edu site).

Then you can build links to other pages on your site that internally link to your target page.

One other thing: If that target page does not rank well at all, it is time to see if there is any duplicate content out on the web. Maybe somebody (a competitor, perhaps) has taken your material and posted it somewhere else, and google, in all its wisdom, is thinking that YOUR page is the duplicate.

I have filed a couple of DMCA requests for one targeted page and it has seen around a 25% increase in traffic and higher rankings. Might be a coincidence, but worth investigating.
10:27 am on Oct 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

This sounds like a similar issue to the one I raised here:


However, this only happens on Google UK (The Web) and is fine in Google.com/Google.co.uk - so I find that quite odd.
12:52 pm on Oct 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

Yes in the past week I've seen something similar.
One of our own product pages appeared to start to compete with the homepage in the rankings.
The homepage is generally found for keywords instead of the product page and searching by the product name shows the product page at position 2 with a non-authority, non related website at position 1.
It's only happened in the last week and we've not made any changes to the site in months.
1:14 pm on Oct 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Yes, more and more recently.

Two particular instances I've noticed it happen more than on other pages:

i) where Google is getting confused about location names, it is returning pages from similar sounding folders (e.g. /minster/foo.php versus /westminster/foo.php) where the content is however different (not just westminster replacing minster) but the page structure and type is similar
ii) where it is possible that Google might want a particular type of page for a imprecise location query (e.g. informational rather than transactional or vice versa), or that the types of pages that are ranking (worse) are showing more of the attributes that are being looked for than the formerly-ranking (and more appropriate page). Here I'm thinking particularly of 'category' pages which were an introduction to a particular subject and then linked to more detailed pages within a niche.