Editor note: “Ask an SEO” is a weekly column by technical SEO expert Jenny Halasz. Come up with your hardest SEO question and fill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!
Today’s question comes from Ivan of Varna, Bulgaria:
Currently, my homepage has a good ranking for a keyword. Now after the creation of a new website, I have created a page exactly for this word but Google keeps ranking the main page higher than the new one even though it doesn’t contain the keyword inside. I used 301s for all of the old pages. Is there any way to redirect the rank of the homepage for the desired keyword to my new page without redirecting my homepage?
First, I have to ask why you think your homepage is not relevant for this keyword since Google clearly seems to think it is. Keep in mind, especially if it is a short-tail keyword, Google is going to want to send visitors to a page that encompasses everything about that keyword and all the tasks a user might want to complete in relation to it. That’s usually going to be a homepage or a category page rather than a product page.
I don’t know if this is what happened in your case, but I’m assuming that what you’re talking about is more like this (just an example for clarity):
Let’s say you had a site all about car rental. But you decided to start renting heavy equipment too, so you added that to your site and created a subpage all about car rental specifically. While your homepage is still about car rental in part, you want to send people to the more specific page because it will provide a better user experience.
If your situation is like this, most likely what happened is that you had some high-value links all about car rental (perhaps even using that specific phrase) pointing to the homepage of the old site. So Google sees from all those inbound links that this site is all about car rental. This can be very frustrating when you’re trying to diversify.
There are a few things you could try to fix this.
The most obvious solution is that when you created your new site, you could have redirected that old homepage to the car rentals page. But if you didn’t also procure a new domain, that obviously wouldn’t work. And since you’ve already launched your site (without consulting an SEO, tsk, tsk), it’s kind of late to un-ring that bell.
The next thing you could try is making sure every reference of car rental and closely related terms points to that subpage with an internal link. I’d only do this temporarily since that could easily be looked at as spamming, but if you did it short term, it might be enough for the Google algorithm to get the hint while you work on the next thing — links.
The most important thing you need to do is address that link ambiguity. You could try and earn some additional car rental links directly to the car rental page, but that’s going to be an uphill climb. The more important thing is to seek out those links where you do have exact or similar keyword or topic matches and see if you can get them changed. Again, that’s a highly manual and time-consuming process.
Ultimately, you may need to just accept that Google wants to send people to your homepage. While you work on all of the other strategies, you can place a prominent link or call out on your homepage to direct users where they need to go.
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