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Say I have a couple of trivial products in categories. For example:

Hair Products
- Shampoo

Food
- Bread
- Cookies

URLs are friendly Rails slugs like

/categories/hair-products/products/shampoo

/categories/food

While looking at my search results, I drew a horrifying conclusion. When using a search query like "shampoo", a user lands on the /categories/hair-products page, not on the /products/shampoo page, for Shampoo is one of the words on the hair-products page.

Sometimes, when searching for "hair products", users tend to land on the "Shampoo" page, because the word "Hair Products" is on there (as well as Shampoo in a H1 tag). Trust me, I did some serious SEO work on the site already.

Is there a way to have search engine "favor" a "product" instead of a category?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com May 10 '11 at 12:32

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

1 Answer

There is no direct way to have them favor a page over another. You can try to influence it with URLs, page tiles, headings, etc, but there are a lot of factors involved in ranking a page and they can point to one page being more relevant then another no matter how hard you try to dictate otherwise. With inner pages like your shampoo page it's tough to get it to outrank a higher page for generic terms like "shampoo" because of the way web sites are naturally structured they tend to automatically give precedence to higher level pages which is usually a good thing.

But, if you want to give yourself every chance to have one page rank higher then another for a specific term then make sure you do as many of the following as possible (I'm sure you've done a bunch of these but I'm going to list as many as possible for everyone's reference):

  • Make sure the title of the shampoo page is "shampoo" and that "shampoo" is not in the title of the "hair products page" (although in the big picture I don't think this is a good idea)
  • Make sure the URL of the shampoo page contains "shampoo" and that "shampoo" is not in the url of the "hair products page" (In your case this is already done)
  • Make sure the H1 tag of the shampoo page contains "shampoo" and that "shampoo" is not in the H1 tagof the "hair products page" (In your case this is already done)
  • Make sure their is a link on the hair products page to the shampoo page containing the anchor text of "shampoo"
  • Link to the shampoo page from a higher page in your website, like your home page.
  • Cross link your inner pages as much as possible. A "similar products" or "you may also be interested in" list is a good way to link to other internal pages. Internal links can make quite a difference in rankings.
  • Get direct links to your shampoo page from external sites
    • Make sure those links are on shampoo related pages
    • Make sure the anchor text of those links contain the word "shampoo"
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