Google can be a mysterious and powerful beast to be certain and at the same time can be a runaway train. There have been many situations where we get a client page ranking, but it's not the one that they want ranking. So you celebrate that you gained rankings, but it's not converting the way you want because it is the wrong page. We get the question from time to time, what should we do?
One option is to initiate a 301 redirect. If you don't know what that is, basically a 301 redirect is just taking the URL that is ranking and making it so any user that lands on that URL is then redirected to the URL that you want them to land on. (EG the page you want to rank) While this seems like a good option, the better option is to try to get the URL that you want ranking.
Analyze why the page that is ranking is outranking the page you want to rank.
There are countless ranking factors these days, but there are some high level things that you can look at to see why one page might be ranking when another is not. Let's talk about a few of those.
Loosely defined on-page SEO is anything that happens within the website that can have a positive or negative impact on rankings you seek to achieve. This is the first place to start as oftentimes there are some on page factors that are pushing one page ahead and another back. The first things to compare are:
- Title Tags – they are probably different. Use the ranking title tag.
- Header Tags – how many are there and of what mix (H2s, H3s, etc)
- Content Length – is the ranking page longer than the non-ranking?
- Internal Links – how many internal links are pointed at the ranking page?
- Outbound Links – how many links are pointed to other websites on the ranking page?
There is a ton more you could look at but this is a good place to start. Get this shored up and then move onto the off page variables.
Sort of the opposite of onpage SEO is offpage SEO. This is anything that happens outside of the website that can impact rankings. Most notably this is going to be backlinks, meaning links that are pointed from other websites to yours. When looking at backlinks check out the following:
- Backlink Total – how many backlinks are pointed at the ranking page?
- Backlink Authority – of the backlinks that are pointed at the ranking page are there any high authority links/
There are plenty of other things to look at, just as with onpage SEO, but this is a good place to start and inevitably will factor into the equation, so you might as well get it right from the start.
Now the page you want to rank is ranking…what now?
Once you get the desired result of the current page ranking beware! While you may be ready to pat yourself on the back and move on, there is one more crucial step. Downgrade signals of the page that was ranking. You want to “remove” the SEO from the page that was ranking that is no longer ranking. You could either move it to no-index or just simply rework the content so it is not keyword saturated with the keyword that it was ranking for. At that point I would then push it back through Google Search Console.
Bringing it together
Now that you have implemented the above changes you should be good to go, but be patient and keep an eye on it. Google sometimes takes time to crawl a website so the changes you made may not take hold for several weeks or even months. Remember that Search Engine Optimization is a marathon, not a sprint and if you are not a patient person, get out now!