Q and A: What can I do to reinstate my Google ranking for my keyphrases?

QuestionHi Kalena

You’ve helped me out before so I hope you can help me untangle this one. Although my site is doing OK, I’m concerned about one of my pages which has fallen like a stone in Google for crucial keyword phrases like “Croatia map” and “map of Croatia”.

It’s one of my oldest pages (4 years) but the drop has occurred over the following year. I wonder if it is competing with a newer page which is also not doing as well as it should? I don’t know what to do. Combine the pages? Dump one? Redo the page completely (thus putting up a brand new page to crawl up the SERPs)?

I feel that my page is much better than my competitors, but how to convince Google? I’d really appreciate your feedback. If you need more coffee to figure it out, let me know!


Dear Jeanne

First up, thanks for your generous caffeine donation. That will keep me in Starbucks lattes for a while!

I’ve had a look a the two pages you’ve provided, as well as the Google rankings for those phrases and here’s what I found:

  • The two best ranking pages for those phrases are from the domains lonelyplanet.com and visit-croatia.co.uk
  • Your first page has a Google PageRank of 4, as does the Lonely Planet page, whereas the UK page has a PR 5
  • Both Google snippets for those competing sites come directly from the Title tags of those pages
  • Both Title tags from those pages contain one or both keyphrases and very little else
  • Your Title tag contains the keyphrase “map of croatia”. but also an additional six words
  • Your page doesn’t contain an optimized META Description tag
  • Your HTML code is suffering from unnecessary code bloat

So what does this mean? You’ve got some work to do. Try slimming down your Title tag to your most important keyword phrase and get rid of any extraneous words. Look at the Title for the UK site – they’ve managed to include both keyword phrases you are targeting without sacrificing space.

If it doesn’t make sense from a usability perspective to have two pages about Croatia maps, combine them. A little more on-target text from the second page would likely help your first page to rank better anyway. Run your code through a HTML validator to prevent indexing problems and see if you can extract some of that excess code and reference it in external files to reduce code bloat. Compare your code to your competitor’s and you can see what I mean. Googlebot likes clean code that is faster and easier to index. Also less code increases the keyword density on your page for target keywords.

Add a META Description tag that is optimized for your target keyword phrases. Use variations and contractions of your target keywords in the page, rather than repeating them ad nauseum.

Above all, remember that Google doesn’t care whether YOU think your page is better than your competitors, it’s their algorithm that determines who ranks above whom.

Spread the joy!