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Having the wrong page ranking for a keyword can be one of the most frustrating things for any SEO professional to encounter. Yes, you’ve achieved some top-level rankings for your target keywords, and you’re enjoying a steady stream of traffic into your landing page. However, on closer inspection, you find out the keyword bringing in that traffic should be directing it somewhere else, to a more relevant page.

What’s the issue? Well, just because you’re ranking highly doesn’t mean you’ll get people clicking onto your page if they spot a more relevant result a couple of spots down. Even if you get a large proportion of traffic, if your non-relevant page doesn’t satisfy the user’s needs, they’ll jump straight back to the search results to continue looking for something better, which means a higher bounce rate and lower conversion rate for you. This step-by-step guide will show you how to stop the wrong page ranking for your target keyword and improve your search performance.

So, what do you do when the wrong page ranks for your keyword?

Step 1: Ask the question, ‘why is Google ranking the wrong page?’

There are two main reasons why Google may rank the wrong page:

  1. Keyword cannibalisation: Occurs when more than one page on your website targets the same keyword. This can confuse Google, so it won’t know which of your pages to rank highest. Therefore, you end up competing with yourself in the SERP.
  2. Confused search intent: When there is a mismatch between the search intent and your target keyword.

So, first you need to diagnose the issue and find out what pages on your website are currently ranking for your target keyword. We use the Moz rankings report, which helpfully tracks the URL for any given keyword we are currently ranking for. You could also do this by typing your keyword into Google, followed by your website, to see all the pages which rank for that particular keyword and in what position. Like so:

Using Google Search Operators

The results of this diagnosis could be as follows:

  1. a) You may discover that a relevant page may not even exist on your website, and the answer for this issue is simple: create the page.
  2. b) Your relevant page could be ranking lower than other pages because of indexing, crawling content or linking issues.
  3. c) Your relevant page is doing everything right, and another page may just be doing it better. Therefore the non-relevant page is overwhelming the right one.
  4. d) The user intent may not match up. Therefore, you may need to retarget the content so that it shows up in the right search. A search intent-based keyword strategy ensures that your content – whether that be a product description or a blog post – appears in front of your target audience at the right time.

Step 2: Assess your page content

You must ask yourself, is this page optimised for the keyword that you want to target? Here’s a short checklist to consider:

  1. Make sure your page is not being blocked by your robots.txt file as this will stop Google from crawling and indexing your relevant page.
  2. Check your meta information is optimised for your target keyword by including it in the meta title, meta description and page title. Also, all images on the page should use the keyword or a closely related term in the image alt tags.
  3. Check that your page provides enough unique and valuable content around your target search term to give the user the best possible experience on your page.
  4. Assess what the higher ranking pages included in their content. For example, is it longer or shorter than your piece? Does it include semantically similar keywords that you could target also?

Step 3: Evaluate your links

The links (and the anchor text associated with the link) pointing to your content signal to Google what your page is about and what it should rank for. So, if links point to the wrong page with the wrong keyword, then it’s likely your page won’t rank for your target terms. You can fix this by:

  1. Checking your internal linking structure and making sure all your related pages point to this page with a link that uses your target keyword in the anchor text. Creating a pillar content strategy can help with this.
  2. Checking that your external links are relevant. Conduct a link audit to assess whether any non-relevant external links to your page could be harming your rank and, if so, begin the removal process.

Step 4: Downgrade the wrong page’s current ranking signal

This is not something any SEO professional likes to suggest, but in some cases, the only option is to ‘downgrade’ the rank of the non-relevant page. To do this, make sure there are limited mentions of your target keyword on this page or consider whether it would be more appropriate to target another keyword or related term instead.

Repoint any of the internal links on that page back to your relevant page with an anchor rich link. And, again, request that any external links that are currently being linked to your non-relevant page are changed to point to your relevant page.

If you are becoming increasingly frustrated with your pages not ranking for the terms relevant to your business, this checklist can be the first step in rectifying the issue.

However, if you are still having trouble getting the right page ranking in the SERPs or any page ranking well in the search results, our SEO experts are on hand to offer advice and knowledge to help you climb the ranks and increase your online visibility. Get in touch and find out what we can do for you and your business.