josh 07/14/2016

What To Do When The Wrong Page Is Ranking For The Keywords You Care About

You want to make sure that when searchers are performing a query that is relevant to your site that they are going to find the correct page on your site. This may sound obvious, but most sites experience this problem – having the incorrect page come up for a certain query/keyword search. This could be problematic for a few different reasons. First off, when guests arrive at the incorrect page, they will more than likely leave right away. This is going to cause your bounce rate to go up, which in turn is going to hurt your ranking through Google. Another thing that could also happen, which is the most detrimental, is that your conversion rate could go down, costing you lost reservations.

Here’s an example. Google “Maui Vacation Rentals.” One page 2 of the results there are two listings for Maui Hawaii Vacations:

Subject to change – we are not Google!

We’re assuming they are more interested in having their home page come up when searchers look for “Maui Vacation Rentals,” so why is another page coming up? In the guide below we will talk about the different reasons why this could happen and how to fix the problem.

Step 1: Diagnose The Problem You’re Having

There are a few different reasons something like this could be happening to your website.

The first reason is that a relevant page doesn’t even exist on the website that is correct for the keyword, so instead another page has been indexed by Google. Start with creating a page that is correct for the keyword. This is why it is super important to do detailed keyword research and match keywords to existing pages or create a content project if one doesn’t exist.

Second, it might be possible that the relevant page, or page you want to be showing up, is having indexing issues caused by content or internal linking. If Google is having trouble crawling the relevant page, it could mean that your page is being blocked. Your content could also be the root problem –maybe the page doesn’t have enough content, or content that Google feels isn’t relevant or worthy of crawling. It could also be a problem that the relevant page doesn’t have enough internal or external links pointing to it, which in turn tells Google that the page is not important enough for other pages to link to it. Its it important to create good menu hierarchy to ensure your important pages are getting positioned.

Third, the ability for your desired page to rank could be being overwhelmed by another page. We call this problem keyword cannibalism – this means that another page is to closely related in topic and causing Google to be confused on which page to position.

Step 2: Create The Relevant Page to The Keyword or Improve the Existing Page

Once you have diagnosed what the SEO problem is, either start with creating the page or improving the already existing page that you would like to be positioned. Content is always king, so go through and doublecheck that your keywords are all related to what is on the page. You want to ensure that your content is unique and provides value to potential users (guests). Think of content as Google robot food. At the end of the day Google is a machine; it cannot tell what is on the page unless you give it content – well not yet at least (scary).

Check and see what pages on your site are linking to this page and to other pages, but most importantly, make sure that the right links are pointing to this page internally. Internal link flow is mega important and it’s always-best practice to map your site’s internal link hierarchy.

Monitor the user experience, meaning take a look at the time-on-page and bounce. Do the other pages outranking this page have better engagement or search experience when looking for rentals? Google Analytics is your best friend for this and your developers can make this happen once you find out.

Go through and check your external links and find out if they are linking to the other page. Sometimes you might find an authoritative site is linking to the incorrect page, its rare but this does happen.

Step 3: Last Resort to Fix This Issue

If all of the above steps haven’t helped and you still are having indexing issues for certain queries, try a 301 redirect. BUT make sure you have given it enough time for Google to recrawl the above modifications – PLEASE.

You want to 301 redirect the page that is ranking incorrectly (X) to the page that you do want ranking (Y). Before you do this, analyze the content and perhaps consider moving some of the (X) content to (Y). What the 301 does is tells search engines that the page has officially moved and will pass most of the authority over.

Even if you are confident in your site and the SEO you have done thus far, make sure you at least go through and perform a few manual searches, especially the most important ones. Some simple searches can potentially save you big money and help reservations. We recommend doing this quarterly or at the very least a few months prior to your primary season.