5. Why Pages Can Sometimes Appear to Rank Well for No Reason
You do a search for a keyword that
applies to your site and a page pops up at the top, or very
near the top for no logical reason. In many cases, the keyword
searched cannot even be found on the page! Or at best, the
keyword is only there once, where your page has it many times,
yet still ranks lower. Stop banging your head against the
wall, and learn the various reasons why this happens and how
you can combat it to gain the advantage.
There are many reasons for why the above scenario can occur.
We'll list and discuss each:
1. Out of date pages: A Webmaster can change the content of
a page at anytime and re-post it to his site. Unfortunately,
unless the page is resubmitted, the search engine may not
know to update its database for quite some time. Even when
the Webmaster resubmits, some engines take weeks before they
get around to re-visiting the page.
What can be done in this scenario? Go to the engine's submit
URL page and suggest they re-index that page. If this is the
problem, the engine should drop it in rank as soon as it visits
the page. On the slow indexing engines, you may have to wait
awhile, but it should accelerate the process.
2. Spoofing or the "Switcheroo" technique: Some
unsavory Internet marketers create a server side script that
will watch for a list of known search engine Spiders. When
they see one, they "serve up" a very ugly page that
is highly optimized to rank well.
The page can rank better than most pages because they are
not concerned about how it looks to the average user. When
anyone besides a search engine visits the page, the site serves
up a very "pretty" page, which may not even contain
the keyword on it at all!
Obviously we strongly object to this technique since it can
serve up pages to the searcher which don't even apply to the
search, undermining the search engine's value. Optimizing
your page to apply to a search based on its real content is
one thing, but "spoofing" is simply bad business,
and is against the rules.
The good news is some of the search engines are now using
a technique that we won't disclose, that catches these guys
and bans their entire site. However, we don't think they've
come close to catching them all yet. If you run into a page
where you think this may be happening, you can report it to
the engine, and if you're lucky, they will investigate it.
3. New ranking algorithm: Search engines change their ranking
algorithm from time to time. Some techniques that worked well
before, may be penalized now. When this happens, sometimes
the engine takes awhile before they bother to re-index their
entire database under the new "rules." Until that
happens, some older pages may continue to rank high, even
though your submission emulating them in nearly every way
refuses to score well.
In this case, the solution again, is to submit the page, which
should apply the "new" rules to it, and score it
under the current relevancy system.
4. Popularity factor: Some pages may have the keyword once
or twice, but certainly aren't using all the tips and tricks
to deserve such a high ranking. This can be very frustrating
to those of us reaching for the "brass ring" and
seeing it go to a seemly undeserving page.
An explanation can sometimes be attributed to the popularity
factor. If the site has lots of links to it, then some engines
will score the page higher because it would seem to be "popular,"
and theoretically, have better content. To determine if this
is a possible reason why a page scores high, you'll need to
do a "Links to URL" search. The Page Critic will
display a link to do this search for you on engines that support
The popularity factor is yet another reason to spend part
of your marketing time soliciting links, or link exchanges
with other sites. We're not entirely certain whether you get
any extra "bonus" for having lots of links to your
domain, or whether it must be to the specific page. I suspect
it is only for the number of links to the specific page, but
if you have an opinion, let me know.
5. Search Engine Bugs: Yes, even the big commercial search
engines have bugs. Since they are continually trying to fine
tune their system to provide better results, or to get rid
of abusers of the system, bugs can easily make their way into
the database. Sometimes it may be fixed the next day, or in
other cases it may score pages incorrectly or poorly for quite
About all you can do in this situation is to complain to the
engine that xyz pages rank high on xyz search, when they really
don't apply to the search. The "smart" search engines
will listen to your polite but firm complaint, and look into
why the search results were so poor. If people don't find
what they expect, they're going to go off to another engine
to do their searches. Search engines don't want that because
they make their money on advertising to those visitors, and
need them to return to their engine, rather than to their
competitor. Considering writing your letter from the perspective
of the researcher doing a search and finding irrelevant results
in their engine. Keep in mind the search engines strive to
serve the average user, but they aren't in business to guarantee
YOU any particular ranking.
6. The Page is simply Optimized: Often the reason a page ranks
high is it simply fits the criteria that a search engine is
Their algorithms are fairly sophisticated so sometimes it
takes a second look and some background information to understand
why a page is positioned where it is. Luckily, this is what
the Page Critic does for you.