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Why would my privacy page rank first, not my home page

     
8:46 am on Sep 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I have a fairly new (3 months old) site that has an exact match domain, mainly because its the only way to describe the site, a community forum.

We have quite a few decent quality inbound links to the home page from other relevant sites already, but Google is currently showing our Privacy Policy page at position one for our main keywords, and also ranking it above the homepage for other searches. As far as I know, the privacy policy has no inbound links.

The home page has plenty of textual content all hand written, and the privacy policy has just a fairly generic set of terms.

Our homepage did rank as you would expect it to for a couple of weeks, but now it's reverted again.

In the short term, I have added a prominent link from the privacy policy to the homepage and also changed the page title to be something more appealing than just "site name : privacy policy".

Any advice would be welcome as I don't think currently it's not a great situation.
9:13 am on Sept 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Seems strange, perhaps as a new website it's just finding its place?
10:19 am on Sept 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Who knows? Google be CRAZY!

If I try to think like them, maybe they see your homepage as being sneakily on topic and helpful for your target audience and think:

Ah...Ha! You're trying to game our system with your helpfully relevant website! We'll teach you sonny, by ranking a totally off topic page from said website, so you'll know that we know about your helpful homepage but we ain't ranking it.

Sorry for the Sarcasm, but if you find a way to sort it please share for the rest of us wrestling with the Google Black Box.
10:49 am on Sept 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Then again, you could slap "noindex" tags on all your boilerplate pages-- privacy policy, error documents, site search, contact etc. Then they'd jolly well be FORCED to show something else.

And, hm, spend some time fine-tooth-combing that Privacy page and figure out what you said that's so brilliant. Whatever it is, it belongs on some primary content page instead.
11:01 am on Sept 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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spend some time fine-tooth-combing that Privacy page and figure out what you said that's so brilliant


The thing is, it's really is just a stock privacy policy with practically no alteration. It doesn't make any sense at all.
11:36 am on Sept 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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>>>It doesn't make any sense at all.<<<

welcome to Google SERPS 2013!

Sounds like your home page could have a penalty if itís a persistent problem, if it's just happened give it a couple of weeks before you start to worry, imo!
11:43 am on Sept 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Sounds like your home page could have a penalty


I'd lean toward this, we've seen similar with an EMD that was hit by penguin, google absolutely refuses to rank the correct page, to the point of being funny really. I think if we were to remove every other page on the site google would just explode!
11:46 am on Sept 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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It is strange! have you checked you are not seeing personalized result. if page is still ranking up, I wouldn't advice you to block it using robots as it is ranking for your main keywords. If I was you I would build few more link and nofollow internal link to privacy page.

[edited by: chiragparekh at 12:46 pm (utc) on Sep 26, 2013]

12:43 pm on Sept 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Seems strange, perhaps as a new website it's just finding its place?


I think it's most likely this. I wouldn't worry about it, even after three months. Are you getting traffic to your other pages? I've had sites that for some reason didn't show the home page first for a while, and they went on to crush it eventually. While you're waiting, work on your non-organic traffic channels to help boost the signals.
1:17 pm on Sept 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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It is strange! have you checked you are not seeing personalized result.

I've tried all sorts of proxies, mobile etc and it seems to stick regardless.

@netmeg, hopefully you are right. We are getting traffic to other pages so hopefully just a while til things settle down. There's very little competition for the keywords and particular niche, so there's no real reason our homepage shouldn't rank well.
8:36 pm on Sept 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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You might take a look at this discussion, from a few weeks ago....

Inner page instead of home page now showing in Google search results
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4607703.htm [webmasterworld.com]

The topic comes up frequently, and I've seen the issue happen most often with exact match domains. In the above-referenced thread, I was thinking there might have been an inbound link anchor text issue. It may be Google's way of questioning or testing the links in some way. Or... it could be (and this is a guess meant to be a little bit ironic) that Google is giving EMDs a reverse honeymoon as a way of neutralizing their anchor text advantage.

Throwing more links at the page is probably not the right thing to do. As netmeg suggests, work on other traffic channels.

Another thought... I've seen Google return things like privacy pages when it's in a testing mode. If you have an EMD and that vocabulary is featured enough on your privacy page, "keyword cannibalization" might cause Google to check those pages. See CainIV's comments and our exchange about it in this thread...

Why Do Some Homepages Get Buried?
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4410350.htm [webmasterworld.com]