February 8

How NOT to Rank In Google

I answered a question from someone in a forum about how NOT to rank in Google. Usually, it's the other way around!

"What to do if you're ranking for keyword(s) you don't want to?

Somehow, for quite a while now, I've been raking first on Google for some words & phrases I don't want to rank for (it has nothing to do with my site/my message, etc.). And it's gaining in popularity which isn't a good thing (over the last 28 days there have been 367 clicks - this increases each month).

My question is - is there anything I can do to stop ranking for the word (phrases)?

Never thought I'd be asking how to NOT rank on the first page of Google 🤣"

Thanks, 'Tonia'.

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Hi 'Tonia',

You'd think this would be easy. Unfortunately, it's not.

There are several ways to try and do this. It would be nice if I could see the pages and keywords at issue for more customized response. So, today, I'll be a little bit broader.

First, I would want to figure out why you rank for keyword(s) you don't want to. 

Taking those keywords out of H-tags (or rewriting them), Page copy, Meta Descriptions, ALT-tags and inbound internal links anchor text can help. 

The specific unwanted keywords may not be the problem - semantic or similar keywords may be to blame.

Using more of those might even help.

Look for problematic keywords in inbound external links and see if they can be changed. It might be as easy as asking the owner to change the anchor text. Try and maintain a link. Don't try to lose any.

You might get some external linking insights using https://moz.com/link-explorer

Your Google Search Console (GSC) has a links report for an overview of your links, including external, internal, top-linked pages and anchor texts. Click on the pages you want to view links to and GSC will give you a list of pages linking to your page.

You can disavow links in Google's Webmaster Tools when they are indexed, but then you remove that page from the results completely.

Make your changes and step back for a week of two. It usually takes time.

Another method could be adding 'noindex' to the pages which have high relevance for the keyword, but this method isn't good for SEO either.

Here's what Google Search Central says about no-index...

Implementing noindex

There are two ways to implement noindex: as a <meta> tag and as an HTTP response header. They have the same effect; choose the method that is more convenient for your site and appropriate for the content type. Specifying the noindex rule in the robots.txt file is not supported by Google.

You can also combine the noindex rule with other rules that control indexing. For example, you can join a nofollow hint with a noindex rule: <meta name="robots" content="noindex, nofollow" />.

META> tag

To prevent all search engines that support the noindex rule from indexing a page on your site, place the following <meta> tag into the <head> section of your page:

<meta name="robots" content="noindex">

To prevent only Google web crawlers from indexing a page:

<meta name="googlebot" content="noindex">

If you can, removing the links, if not the page(s) might help you the most, but it might cost ranking for other pages.

One other thing; consider optimizing more for the correct keywords. Getting a new link or five from other websites may help straighten out Google's A$$.

Over time, your page may no longer rank for the wrong keywords.

My guess is that you're ranking for the wrong keywords because they're used somewhere on your site or inbound links.

To Recap,
1) Study why your content may be helping The G is ranking for the wrong keyword(s).
2) Remove or revise those keywords in H-tags, Page copy, Meta Descriptions, ALT-tags and internal links anchor text.
3) Use MOZ to look for problematic keywords in inbound external links and ask that they be changed.
4) Try and get more external links. Be careful keyword stuffing anchor text.

Hope this helps!

Your website sucks


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