Ask the Experts: Why is Google Giving My Privacy Page Good Ranks?

by Jennifer Grappone on May 20, 2009

Q: In organic search, Google is coming up with my legal statement and privacy statement pages for certain unrelated terms. These two pages do not house any of the search terms in their copy. How can I get Google to see other more pertinent pages for these keywords instead of these two pages which have nothing to do with the terms?

A: This is a common problem, because so many websites point links from their footer or global navigation to their privacy & legal pages. Google and other search engines interpret this as meaning that these are very important pages on your site. There are a few ways to remedy this – review the list, and choose the method that’s best for you:

  • Using the robots.txt file, you can exclude these pages from being listed. This option is the most extreme, and will also cause any previously accumulated search engine “power” (aka PageRank) to be lost for these pages.
  • Add the following code to the links to these pages: “rel=”nofollow”” This code will cause the search engines not to follow the links, thus focusing power onto other pages of your site This is a good solution if you have links to undesirable landing pages in your global nav, and you don’t want to pass a lot of search engine power to these pages. Here is an example of what your link would look like: Visit my <a href=”http://www.example.com/legal” rel=”nofollow”>privacy</a> page.
  • Change the pages to make them into decent landing pages. Perhaps adding navigation, links, or other information at the top of the pages would be an option?
  • Create a Google XML Sitemap, which allows you to give the various pages on your site your own relative level of prioritization. (We have yet to see this work in practice.)

In addition to the above, be sure that your preferred landing pages are linked from the home page as well as the global navigation if possible. That will help inform the search engines of what pages are most important to you.

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