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Most relevant page fluctuation in SERPs


carlos the jackal

11:41 am on Nov 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

Morning chaps, been having an issue (one of many) with our site in the serps, and I'm hoping one of you worldy lot can help...

We were hit by Penguin on 4th October, and lost a lot of ground over the following couple of weeks for most major traffic terms.

The specific point is this - for our main term, 'certain widgets' our homepage has ranked highest (we held no.1 spot for some years). Now however Google can't decide which of our pages to serve for that phrase. If I add new content to the homepage and fetch as Google in WMT, it will list for our main term for about a day, then will get replaced by other less relevant pages. Rinse and repeat.

Does anyone have any idea what might be causing this? As part of a link cleanup, over the past 12 months we've lost a massive number of IBLs to the homepage in particular. Could this have sent Google into a tailspin with indexing our site?

Any input would be massively appreciated.


12:02 pm on Nov 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I have seen this times and times again. I think there must be some additional signals that get folded in a bit later.

I am having a similar problem with Google not detecting German language correctly. After some changes to the page, for a few days Google correctly detects it is in German, then few days later it decides page is in English, it appends "Diese Seite übersetzen" and the page drops in SERPs.

So I am guessing there are some additional factors that get folded in later on that impact how Google sees the page. "Rinse and repeat" solution you are using works for me too, but I am wondering if the constant tweaking could have a negative effect long term.

carlos the jackal

10:54 am on Nov 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

That's the worry. For everything else, the correct page on our site is served.

I'm wondering if this is a kind of weird page-specific penalty?


2:58 pm on Nov 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

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What's with the "other less relevant pages"? Are they all about "certain widgets"? Is it always particular "other less relevant pages" that get ranked for this term or is it always a new page randomly?

From the perspective of conversions, do you generate more sales when the visitor lands on your homepage or have you also tested what happens when they land on a more targeted landing page?

If these "other less relevant pages" weren't important, you could 301 them into the homepage.

I had a similar situation when 7 pages from the same site were competing with each other. The previous company had created 6 keyword stuffed pages for synonym/typo keywords and Google was totally confused as to which page to serve - the main landing page or the spammy pages. Combining all pages into one solved the problem and even improved ranking slightly.

Regarding page-specific penalties, you can conduct an experiment. Set your data range to compare two exact periods before and after the alleged penalty and go to
Analytics -> Behaviour -> Site Content -> All Pages

Divide your site into sections, like homepage, blog, product pages, landing pages etc
In the search box enter the footprint of the particular section, for example: /blue-widget-products-subfolder/ and see if any of the sections show a massively different percentage.


3:20 pm on Nov 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

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kind of weird page-specific penalty?

Page AND Keyword specific. I consider this to be a raging internal battle at google since penguin.
The algo knows that widget.com is about widgets and that the home page is the best page to return for searches for "widget", then the penguin kicks in and says nope, not going to rank that page cause they're trying to hard to rank for "widget", find something else. to which the algo replies by finding another page from widget.com to enter into the results. the algo finds a page but since it's not as relevant to the search term as the home page would be it ranks badly compared to other pages in the index.

In the end, only the penguin is happy...

carlos the jackal

3:55 pm on Nov 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks chaps, much appreciated. @adder - our whole site is about 'certain widgets', and there is a group of 5 or 6 pages that Google will serve in place of our homepage for the term. Each of the landing pages is important, so 301-ing them isn't an option. I have a feeling that Google would choose other pages any way, if we did that.

Shepherd - I think that is exactly what is happening, it fits with the situation perfectly. Have you experience of it?


4:32 pm on Nov 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Have you experience of it?

sadly yes, as of today we have 577 days of experience with it, and even more sadly, no solution.

carlos the jackal

4:57 pm on Nov 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Sorry to hear that mate - was it Penguin related initially?


6:00 pm on Nov 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Yep, original April, 24, 2012. Been seeing the "less relevant flux" every since.

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