Unexpected SEO Results? Check On Page

OK, I’ve never claimed to be an expert at this but I do think I’m a fast learner.  So you can imagine that I’ve been going a little bit crazy to watch one of my URLs consistently drop in the rankings despite a lot of work begging for links from related pages.  Considering how much money is at stake for these particular keywords, you can also imagine that its not very easy to get these links.

So, when I got my page to a higher PR than any of the competition and found myself declining even against other sites of similar age, when I saw four URLs that linked to my URL ranking higher than me, I knew something was up.

Was the minus thirty penalty back that had originally knocked me off the SERPs completely?  No, the page was still listed for some competitive keywords – even first page for a one-word search that’s just a little less likely to convert sales than the two word phrase I was really targeting.

Well, if this happens to you, skip the confusion and frustration and just go straight to your on-page code.  Almost by accident, I was looking around at the links on that page (ensuring that affiliate links were nofollowed, etc) when I found that a self-referencing hyperlink using the target keyword phrase led to a mis-spelled URL!

Like I said, this is one of my biggest newbie moments of the last few months.

Unexpected results in your SEO activity?  Check the on-page source.  Now I’m going to say that a few more times out loud to myself until it really sinks in.  Sure, a mis-spelling sounds like a very simple and basic mistake, but its one that probably cost me a few hundred dollars over the last month.

The good news is that my home page here at WebsiteBuilding.biz is up to “medium” in the Google webmaster results, so I believe we’ll be seeing PR5 on the top of the domain by the next PR update.


  1. hi John,
    Are you saying that the page you were trying to link for, let’s say, “green banana widgets” had that phrase (green banana widgets) as a link on it and it was supposed to link back to the page, but it linked instead to a non-existent page (because of your typo)? If I understand this correctly, you think that instead of google ignoring the broken link, it is penalizing the page for it? That could be. I’m not sure though that google counts a link on a page that goes to the same page. I’ll be curious if you can update this post if your page’s ranking improves. I do agree that broken links are a no-no, and it’s a bit embarassing to find them (I’ve found several on my site).
    Steve, aka the some what slow trade show guru

  2. When I changed the link by fixing the URL, it bounced quickly from 61 to 11 and back down into the high 60s. This was about a week ago so I expect that the change is probably propagating throughout the data-centers. I also made a PDF to attach to that page and Google itself is always making changes – so I guess it is impossible to know exactly which one factor is causing the rapid 50 point fluctuations. I do think that the broken link was holding me down a bit, though. Linking to 404s is bad form regardless of how the SEs interpret it, and I still feel silly for leaving that issue live for so long 🙂

    I don’t think having the link for “green banana widgets” is as much of a boost as having a dead link was weighing the site down.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.