What do you do when the wrong page ranks for a keyword?

SEO, Simple SEO Podcast, SEO Keywords, Blogging, SEO for Beginners

Have you ever wondered why one page ranks for a keyword and another one, the one you want to rank, doesn’t? It can be frustrating when the seemingly wrong page is ranking for a keyword. If you’ve had this happen or it’s happening now, I can help you get the right page ranking.

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Why having the wrong page rank matters to your SEO

You may wonder why it matters what page ranks for a keyword; if your website ranks, people can find you, right? Yes, they can find you; however, we want to ensure they’re finding the right page that answers their query and provides the information they’re searching for. If your potential customer ends up on your website but on a page that doesn’t have the information they’re searching for, they will likely leave without finding what they need. They may not even visit your website because the information they see in Google’s search results doesn’t seem applicable to their issue, so they’ll visit a different website instead.

 Listen to the podcast episode here.

How do you end up with the wrong page ranking for a keyword?

Google tries to deliver the best results to searchers, and sometimes, they see a different page on your site as being better for the user than the one you’d like to have rank. Some factors go into Google’s ranking algorithm, including your content, optimization, user engagement, and internal and external links. Google chooses the page it thinks is the best experience for the searcher and will likely contain the information they want.


How do you find out if the wrong page is ranking?

If you’re actively working on your website or blog’s SEO, you’re probably using a keyword ranking tool to track the keywords that you’re using in your optimization. If so, you can generally see which page ranks for a given keyword in your reporting tool. You can also check manually and see which pages Google shows if you search for your website using different keywords, but tracking in a reporting tool is the easiest way to do this.



How do you “fix” the issue if you find the wrong page ranking for an SEO keyword?

First, start by looking at the page ranking and the page you’d rather rank. What keyword are you using, and where is that keyword on both pages? If you’ve used the keyword in the title tag or meta description on the page that you don’t want to have rank for the keyword, then you’ll need to edit those.


You want to use the keyword on the page you want to rank. You may need to update your title tag, meta description, content, title, header tags, image name, or image ALT text to help Google know what your page is about the keyword you want to rank for. If it makes sense to link this page to other pages or blog posts, go ahead and do that, too. Links can be helpful to both Google and your ideal customer.


Then, choose a keyword for the page currently ranking for this keyword and re-optimize this page using the new keyword. Edit the copy, title tag, meta description, image file name, image ALT text, and header tags to incorporate the new keyword.


Yes, you will need to edit two pages to resolve the issue. Edit the one you want to rank for this keyword, then edit the one currently ranking for the keyword to optimize for a different keyword.


Final thoughts on correcting SEO keyword ranking

I always tell my students and clients that the good news with SEO is that there are do-overs. If you find yourself in a situation where the wrong keyword is ranking for a search query, it’s pretty easy to make the necessary edits, update your optimization, and hopefully get the right page to rank for the keyword instead. Don’t be afraid to adjust your SEO on pages if you think there’s a better option for that query.



 Podcast Episode Transcript

Hey there! Welcome back to the Simple SEO Podcast. I'm your host, Rachel Lindteigen, and I'm so glad to have you here. Today, we're talking about one of the most common SEO issues, why it happens, and, more importantly, how to fix it. If you've ever found yourself wondering why a certain page is ranking for a keyword when it's not the one you want to rank, stay tuned. I’m going to explain why it happens and how to fix it in this week's episode.

First, let's talk about why SEO matters. I'm sure you know that Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the best way to get free organic traffic to your website or blog. For small business owners, this is critical. Without SEO, nobody is going to find your website. Google won't trust you, and they won't show your site to people. It’s like not existing on the internet. If you have a website without proper SEO, nobody will find it. So, we want to make sure that people are finding you.

You're doing SEO, trying to figure out how to do it. You're listening to my podcast, attending my free classes, or maybe you've signed up for Simple SEO Content. Now you’re learning how it all works. We want to control what the user experiences by having the right page show up for the right keyword.

When we do SEO, we are strategic. We choose a page, select a keyword, and do everything necessary to help Google understand what that page is about. Unfortunately, sometimes Google decides another page is about that keyword and ranks the wrong page instead of the one you want.

How do you identify if this has happened? It helps to use an SEO keyword reporting tool to keep track of the keywords you're working on and see how they rank in Google search results. These tools are paid but very helpful if you're focusing on your SEO program. It’s good to have a reporting tool.

Sometimes, Google shows a different URL than the one you want. Maybe it’s a query well-served by a blog post you wrote, but Google is showing your homepage or, worse, your About page. Or, a keyword that should lead to conversion is ranking an obscure blog post instead of a product page.

When doing SEO, we think about the consumer's intent and what they’re looking for when searching with a specific word. We want to map it out strategically so that the word they’re searching for gives them results that meet them where they are right now. For example, we don't want someone searching with a conversion word, ready to buy, to land on a blog post because that won't help them buy at that moment.

If this happens, you need to fix it. If people end up on the wrong page regularly, you could lose out on sales and have a higher bounce rate. People will go to your competitor. If they can't easily find what they need on your website, they won’t stay. People want instant gratification and will leave if they don’t find what they need.

To fix this, you need to work on two pages. Optimize the page you want to rank: check your keyword research, identify the keyword, and ensure your URL has it, if possible. Update your title tags and meta descriptions. Your title tag should be approximately 60 characters, with 56 being ideal. This is the first thing someone will see in search results above your URL, and it needs to be enticing.

Your meta description shows up under the URL in search results and should be a maximum of 160 characters, including spaces. Use your keyword in both the title tag and meta description.

Next, make sure you're using the keyword in the copy on the page so it sounds natural. Use the keyword in your image file names, using dashes to separate words. Put the keyword in your image, alt text, and header tags. Most website builders use an H1 tag by default for your page name or blog post name, which is great as long as your keyword is there. Use H2 tags for section headings and H3 tags for subsections.

After optimizing the page you want to rank, you need to de-optimize the page that is currently ranking. Change the optimization elements for the current page to a new keyword. Edit the title tag, meta description, copy, and image file names with the new keyword. By optimizing one page and de-optimizing the other, you should eventually correct the ranking issue and get the right page to rank.

When the right page ranks, your ideal customer finds information relevant to their query, making them more likely to engage, buy, or sign up—whatever conversion you aim for on that page.

If you have any questions about fixing these issues, DM me on Instagram at @etchedmarketingacademy or leave a comment on the video notes on YouTube. I'll respond, and we can chat about it.

Thanks for being here. I'll see you next week.