Is your website ranking for completely unrelated keywords?
For example, if you look in Google Analytics, are you surprised by the list of pages with most views?
Or if you look inside your Google Search Console reports, is your site performing well for queries that you’re not really trying to target?
Here’s what you can do about it.
This video was inspired by a question I received from a photographer during an SEO review I did for her website.
For reference, here’s the full question [shared with permission]:
I have one blog post that I wrote over 3 years ago. It has absolutely nothing to do with anything that I offer or am interested in, nor is there any crossover that my clients might find useful – it’s a review of a photography contest site for hobby photographers, while my website is about my city hall wedding photography services.
This one post gets sometimes 200 hits a day in comparison to my next visited post/page which gets maybe 20.
With what we now know about SEO, and how everything on our site communicates to Google what the subject is, is it actually damaging to have such a popular post that has nothing to do with the rest of my site?
Could it confuse Google and penalize my ranking for the terms I actually care about? (i.e. not ‘reviews of site x’ which is my most searched term!) Sure, it’s great for vanity metrics to see my site is getting so many hits but there is zero chance of them becoming clients.
Or, to the contrary, could it actually help my SEO because people are staying on my site longer, lowering my bounce rate, sharing, leaving comments and actually boosting my domain authority?
Great, great question!
First of all, please acknowledge that this is a good problem to have. If you’re in this position, at least you have some popular posts. Most website owners are just seeing “crickets” when looking in Google Analytics.
This is such a complex issue, but I’ll try to avoid all the possible “it depends” scenarios, and get right to it:
When this happens, it’s usually either a neutral or a bad thing.
There are positives (like getting more traffic in general, and all the extra shares and domain authority that might come with that), but they’re usually offset by the negatives (the traffic is shallow, they don’t engage with your site, and Google takes notice of that).
Overall, I don’t think the effect is positive.
It is indeed confusing Google, it’s “diluting” your SEO signals. And it does indeed lead to vanity metrics that don’t really move the needle for your business.
The possible SEO benefits you mentioned in your last phrase (time on site, lower bounce rate, sharing, leaving comments, increased domain authority) might be “false positives”.
They would require more in-depth research into your Google Analytics and Google Search Console stats, but let’s try to deconstruct them one by one:
- time on site: unless that “different” audience then spends more time on your homepage and on your other important pages, it’s not really time on site, it’s more “time on that specific post” => doesn’t help your business
- lower bounce rate: I’d challenge this assumption a bit, usually you get a higher bounce rate. People come to your site for “review of x site”, then browse around and notice it’s all about something else, so they’re inclined to leave => doesn’t help your business
- sharing: yes, but it’s sharing that post alone => leads to more of that irrelevant traffic
- leaving comments: same as with sharing, it’s irrelevant engagement
- domain authority: yes, it might help with this a bit. But it’s such a vague SEO signal that it’s impossible to truly measure. And many SEO experts consider relevancy to matter more.
So you have two options in this situation:
1. One would be to scrap that whole article. Yes, you did hear me say that. You can actually remove that piece of content from your site and the sky won’t fall. The vanity metrics will look worse, but your business won’t be affected.
2. Option two, which is a great middle-ground, is to update that piece of content by doing a few things:
- you can tweak the content to bring it a tiny bit closer to your actual business. Although the topic is separate, infuse some of your current business services into the post if possible.
- and you can make a clear statement at the beginning AND at the end of that post that you’re a photographer shooting city hall weddings, and that they can learn more + LINK. At least you’ll then try to filter some of that “shallow traffic” to maybe catch some interested potential leads.
Which option to go for depends on your specific situation.
I know that Zoe did try to leverage that “rogue post” by promoting her services inside the post, and also plugging her Instagram account, but the results didn’t come.
The traffic that came to that post was completely unrelated to her website, they were not looking to get marries at city hall, so she just took the decision to delete the post eventually.
If you do decide to do the same, you’ll just need to handle the emotional loss of those vanity metrics. If you can manage that, then you’d end up with a cleaner website, that’s just easier for Google to understand.
OK, hope this was useful.