Q and A: Why is my CMS based website only ranking for the Home Page?


Hi Kalena,

We have put our hotel website into Joomla CMS and I notice with our CMS based sites that the home page ranks well but most other pages say ‘Currently not ranked by Google.’ I know they have been indexed by Google, and have internal links pointing to them, yet they are not achieving any ranking despite having relevant succinct copy on them. Any ideas as to why there might be a problem? i don’t see any spam links pointing to them…

Many thanks


Hi Sarah,

The most popular Content Management Systems (such as Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress) are reasonably search engine friendly with their default settings – although all can be tweaked to improve their SEO capabilities.  There are a variety of plugins/modules available for each of these open source CMSs and it is usually worth talking to your SEO or Web Developer to see what can be done to make your site more search engine friendly.

As you say, many (if not all) of the pages on your site [URL Provided] are indexed by Google. When you say you get the message “Currently not ranked by Google”, presumably you are using rank checking software to see how your site ranks for a variety of keyword phrases.  This simply indicates that the pages you are checking are not ranking in the top “X” search results – for the keyword phrases you have identified.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are not rankling for other keywords.   I suggest that you review your analytics data to see which pages are being found on search engines(and for which keyword phrases).

It is typical for a website’s home page to rank better than it’s sub pages – this is largely because the home page usually has significantly more links to it from external sites.  In order to improve the rankings of your sub-pages (assuming that the page structure and content has already been optimised for the target keywords)., you should work at building backlinks to these pages – ideally using your target keyword phrases as anchor text.

The Link profile for your site is fairly basic – with relatively few links from external sites – and most all of these appear to be going to the Home Page.  Undertaking a link building campaign is likely to improve your overall rankings – and also balance your rankings better between your home and sub-pages.

Andy Henderson
WebConsulting (SEO Brisbane)

Q and A: How do I fix Ranking Penalties?


Hi Kalena,

I love your blog… you have a lot of useful internet marketing content. I was wondering if you could do a blog post about the situation I’m currently having.

My site, [URL Provided], was recently penalized in Google. I got one of those -50 penalties where I go down to page 5 or 6 for all of my search terms (including site name). It has been like this for nearly 2 months… since September 24, 2010. I used to be ranking #1 for the term ‘auto insurance quotes’ and also on page one for ‘auto insurance’.

Now, they say that incoming links cannot hurt your site, but that is the only explanation I can think of for my situation. There are a lot of blog comments pointing to my URL. Most of these comments, as well as many of the links pointing to my site, are links that I personally never created. I have never purchased links nor have done any automated link building… The domain is 11 years old and I have devoted the past few years of my life to it.


Hi James,

A sudden drop in search rankings is one of the worst nightmares for most website owners, and can be a very scary thing – particularly if your site relies heavily on organic rankings for traffic and sales.

I’ve had a look at your rankings, and can confirm that it looks very much like a ranking penalty has been applied by Google (although your rankings seem fine under Bing). Your site appears in position 47 on google.com for a query of your business name, with many other sites that simply mention your name outranking you.

Unfortunately it’s not possible within the scope of this Q and A to undertake a detailed analysis of your specific circumstances. However, I’ve outlined below some of the general steps that should be taken, and suggest that you contact a professional SEO for further advice.

It is unlikely that dodgy backlinks, or even duplicate content would result in a ranking penalty – the problem is much more likely to be caused by something on your site.

Identifying a Ranking Penalty

If you are monitoring your sites rankings, you should notice a ranking penalty very quickly, as you will see a sudden and dramatic drop in your rankings for all keywords and pages,  If you arte not checking rankings reguilarly, you may not realise there is a problem until you notice significant drop offs in traffic (via analytics) – or, worst case scenario, in your sales or enquiries.

Identifying the Problem

If you are using Google webmaster tools (and you should be), Google will often (but not always) notify you when a penalty is applied – and will also usually indicate what the problem is.  You should also very closely review Googles Webmaster Guidelines and check if there is anything on your site that may contravene Googles “rules”.

A ranking penalty may not necessarily be applied as a result of a recent change on your site.  The problem may have existed for some time, but have been triggered by a new crawl, a change in the ranking algorithm, or could also be caused by a combination of relatively minor problems with your site, which , taken in total, reach a trigger threshold.

Fixing the Problem

Once you identified the problem/s it is important to fix the issue completely as soon as possible.  It’s also a good idea to also fix any other “iffy” or questionable practices, as your site is likely to be submitted to closer scrutiny than normal before the penalty can be lifted.

Submitting a Reinclusion Request

Once you are satisfied that the problem with your site has been completely resolved, you need to submit a reinclusion request. Google calls these a “request for reconsideration”, and provide some good tips for how to go about doing this (along with a video from the Google Search Quality team) on their Requesting reconsideration of your site help page.

In your reinclusion request you need to be very clear about what action you have taken to resolve the issue and ensure that it will noit happen again.

Once a reinclusion request has been submitted, the Google search quality team will undertake a manual review of your site, and (as long as the site does now conform to their guidelines), will, probably reinstate your rankings.  Be aware though that this review process can take days or weeks.

If you’d like to find out more about the Ranking Penalty and Reinclusion Request, I blogged about it a couple of years ago, and the process is still pretty much the same  – “My Google Rankings have dropped and I think I’ve been penalised – What can I do?

Andy Henderson
WebConsulting SEO (Australia)