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SEO Consultant Review – Learn From Experts

One of my recent posts “A few SEO issues” didn’t seem to find favour with some people. I received positive and negative feedback on it and as an SEO consultant I have to show what my thoughts and opinions are based on to try and defend myself.

I am not usually the sort to share other peoples SEO strategies but I feel I needed to show all my readers examples of how the “seo experts” are ranking at the top of Google. In this post I am going to provide you with an analysis of the top 5 sites on Google.com that are ranking for the keyword “seo consultant“. This is a pretty competitive keyword and those optimising for it know what their doing, right ?

My post “a few seo issues” stated that directories still count towards your SEO efforts and that you should use anchor link optimisation. A few people emailed me advising a) anchor text should be natural and that b) directories are a waste of time….hmmm ok let’s have a look at the findings and see what we can learn. Remember were analysing optimisation for the keyword seo consultant.

I know that anchor text is supposed to be as natural as possible but what is natural exactly? Is it anchor text that relates to your content or simply your page title. Or is natural looking anchor text based on your domain name?

Anyway let’s see what we find, these are the top 5 sites I want to take a look at. There are a number of things I really want to focus on 1) on page factors 2) off page factors 3) anchor text 4) domain age and 5) do they use directory links?

Case Study 1
http://www.websitebreakthrough.com/

Case Study 2
http://www.seoconsultants.com/

Case Study 3
http://www.shimonsandler.com/

Case Study 4
http://www.larrylim.net/

Case Study 5
http://www.cmseo.com/

Going forward I will refer to them as case 1, 2 etc…… the sites are also in order of how they rank for “seo consultant”.

I want to compare each site in each area of research separately providing a brief summary underneath with some points to note.

ON PAGE OPTIMISATION

Keyword in Title Tag?

Case 1 – Yes

Case 2 – Yes

Case 3 – Yes

Case 4Yes

Case 5Yes

As you may suspect all include the keyword “seo consultant” in their title tags which reinforces the importance of the title tag in terms of relevance. It is however worth noting that the site at the top of Google (study 1) has a lower title keyword prominence than the others. As we know title tags are not the most important factor and other factors must be making this site rank higher.

Keywords In META Tags

Case 1 - Yes

Case 2 – Yes

Case 3 - No

Case 4 – Yes

Case 5 – Yes

Most have the keyword included in their META data however it is common knowledge now that META keywords and descriptions lend very little to rankings.

Which H tags use Keyword

Case 1 - In h1

Case 2 - In h1 and h2

Case 3 - h tags not in use

Case 4 - In h2

Case 5 - h tags not in use

After looking at this I was surprised, 2 of the sites do not utilise h1 – h6 at all, and the ones that do are not using them to their full potential, but what is that potential? This find in my opinion shows that headings are not as important to SEO as one may think. However I know from personal experience they work well when targeting longtail keywords but the over all value for me has dropped after looking at this evidence.

Keyword Bolded?

Case 1 – No

Case 2 – Yes

Case 3 – No

Case 4 – Yes

Case 5 - Yes

Again 3 out of the 5 sites have bolded the keyword on the page at least once, however the top site does not. Bolding may add a little benefit but in my opinion it is hardly significant and holds no more weight than having the keyword within the main content.

Keyword Density

Case 1 - 1.40%

Case 2 - 5.00%

Case 3 - 0.40%

Case 4 – 2.00%

Case 5 – 0.70%

This only confirmed what I was already of the opinion of and that is that keyword density means very little when analysing the overall page. As long as you have your keyword within the title tag and use it a couple of times in the text you should be good to go.

It seems that on page optimisation must play a very small role in determining the rank of a site, however I still maintain as in my previous post “SEO Blogging” that for less competitive keywords, on page optimisation could be worth up to about 50% in terms of ranking weight. Remember in this study we are dealing with a highly competitive keyword “seo consultant”.

OFF PAGE OPTIMISATION

Link Popularity

Case 1 – 7310

Case 2 – 6510

Case 3 – 13200

Case 4 – 1520

Case 5 – 516

We a
lways knew that back links were vital to rankings but the sheer link popularity is not enough to make you rank No.1. Also look at sites 4 and 5, they rank well and yet have far less in terms of link popularity and site 3 is only 3rd despite having nearly double the amount of links compared to site 1??

However if we look back at on page stats we will see that site 1 utilises the H1 tag and also has the keyword within the meta keywords. Could this be the difference in ranking??? Maybe but I am not convinced. Anyway let’s move one.

Unique Links

Case 1 - 381 or ( 5.21%)

Case 2 – 757 ( 12.08% )

Case 3 – 427 ( 3.23% )

Case 4 – 156 ( 10.26% )

Case 5 – 230 ( 44.00% )

I have always wondered about unique links and if they can add to SEO wieght? Looking at these results I honestly think they do have an impact. Site 2 has a better percentage than 1 but a slightly lower popularity. I want to come back to contrasting these two sites later but for now let’s presume link popularity helps site 1 rank higher than site 2…..

Another thing to note in the results is case 5, it only has 516 link popularity but it’s unique link percentage is that high, that it still finds it’s way into the top 5. I firmly believe you should be looking for at least a 10% unique link count to assist your SEO efforts and that if you do it will have a major impact on your rankings.

Page Rank

Case 1 – PR 4

Case 2 – PR 5

Case 3 – PR 4

Case 4 – PR 3

Case 5 – PR 3

It is pretty clear that PageRank does not determine your keyword ranking position. In fact from this evidence it really does not seem to figure. Two PR 3 sites make it into the top 5 when there are tens of sites behind them with PR 5 and 6. I think PageRank is simply a reflection of the quantity and quality of the pages that link to yours, ranking for keywords is determined by something else.

Domain Age

Case 1 – 3 years and 7 months

Case 2 – 7 years

Case 3 – 4 years and 6 months

Case 4 – 3 years and 3 months

Case 5 – 5 years

Ok we have always know that domain age does help give site authority and hence help it to rank higher, however site 2 again is double the age of 1 but ranks below it. So age does not automatically trump the rest. I bet your all looking at that domain age and wondering if you’ve got the patience to make it. Don’t worry as site 4 has been there for 18 months, meaning 18 months is long enough to establish some authority.

DirectoriesI was going to take a detailed look at how many links to each site come from directories. To be honest it was too difficult to count but this I can say each of the above sites had in excess of 100 directory links. This shows me that directory links are still being used to rank sites on the top of Google and that they are in no way detrimental to your site.

Anchor Text

Ok this is where it should get quite interesting after all should any of these sites have a natural anchor text as “seo consultant”? Lets remind ourselves of the domains -

1 – http://www.websitebreakthrough.com/
2 – http://www.seoconsultants.com/
3 – http://www.shimonsandler.com/
4 – http://www.larrylim.net/
5 – http://www.cmseo.com/

If anchor text should really relate the name of the site then the only one that should have substantial amounts of linked text anchored with “seo consultant” should be site 2. Let’s look at the top 5 anchor words and phrases for each site.

Site 1

Words – seo = 263 / services = 159 / consultant = 77 / company = 36 / com = 30

Site 2

Words – seo = 436 / consultants = 426 / directory = 327 / seoconsultants = 320 / com = 316

Site 3

Words – shimon = 225 / sandler = 213 / shimonsandler = 105 / com = 102 / seo = 46

Site 4

Words – seo = 82 / consultant = 63 / singapore = 59 / larry = 49 / lim = 39

Site 5

Words – seo = 168 / consultant = 110 / cm = 55 / cmseo = 44 / com = 40

As you can see from above all use the words “seo” and “consultant” , to make up some of their main anchor text, except and this kind of surprised me, site 3. The anchor text in site 3 are mainly made up of the webmasters name, yet it still ranks for the keyword seo consultant. The site does have seo
an> consultant in the keywords pointing back to it but not on the same scale as the other sites.

Lets have a look at the top 3 phrases.

Site 1

Phrases – seo services 137 / seo consultant = 59 / seo company = 24

Site 2

Phrases – seo consultants directory = 202 / http seoconsultantsdirectory com = 175 / seo consultants = 103

Site 3

Phrases – shimon sandler = 174 / shimonsandler com = 70 / http shimonsandler com = 21

Site 4

Phrases – larry lim = 31 / seo consultant = 22 / singapore seo consultant = 18

Site 5

Phrases – seo consultant = 81 / cm seo consulting llc = 24 / http wwwcmseo com = 20

One thing we can say about analysing the anchor text is that they are all using targeted keywords and not simply the name of the domain. One exception to the rule is site 3 which does not seem to be anchoring “seo consultant” too much. However on comment I will make about site 3 is that it has 13200 inbound links which is nearly double it’s nearest rivals. Either way looking at these results anchoring your text is the way to rank.

Another thing we have to take into account when looking at the data is that site 2 is a directory, maybe this is why it does not grab the top spot, however it has masses of outbound links and these still do not cause any detriment, this should be a lesson to us all.

Summing it all Up

Ok I’ll do this in bullet points:-

  • Title tag is the most important aspect of on page SEO
  • Heading tags are simply overrated, however keep them in mind when targeting longtails
  • Keyword density is irrelevant
  • Anchoring text is the only way to rank high for keywords
  • Masses of links will also assist in pushing you up the serps
  • Directories still work and can be used to gain rankings
  • Getting a good rank is a mixture of domain age, link popularity and optimised anchor links.

So to all the critics of my last post who state anchor text should be natural for good rankings and that directories don’t work, please make sure you have read this.

Rand over at SEOmoz made a point of outing “national positions” for optimising their anchor text and submitting to directories. Google tries to tell us sites that do this don’t rank well within the serps. Well it seems the above guys definitely optimise their text and why shouldn’t we? It works Google does not penalise it, and it can drive thousands of visitors to our sites everyday.

National positions still sit at number 2 for “seo company” and in my opinion will continue to do so.

Businesses come to seo consultants for results. optimising anchor text gives them their results. If we developed natural links our clients sites would not rank, they would get no traffic and we would have delivered poor services.

If Google changes their stance that is fine, but at the minute they award those who optimise their link text, if or when they change, adapting will be pretty straight forward.

I know this has been a long post, but let me know what you think? Do you optimise links? Do you use directories and other low PR links?

I hope you haven’t died, this is a long one. I need a week off : )

See ya

Tim

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Author: Tim (296 Articles)

is the owner and editor of SEO wizz and has been involved in the search engine marketing industry for over 9 years. He has worked with multiple businesses across many verticals, creating and implementing search marketing strategies for companies in the UK, US and across Europe. Tim is also the Director of Search at Branded3, a Digital Marketing & SEO Agency based in the UK.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Eddie Gear February 25, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Hi Tim,

A very extensive post. I guess I would need a week to read it. ;-)

Cheers,
Eddie Gear

Reply

Tim Grice February 25, 2009 at 2:13 pm

It is a long one but the information within highlights exactly what anyone needs to do in order to rank on the first page of Google. I would definately make the time to understand the principles behind this post.

The main one being link popularity + optimised anchor text + domain maturity = high ranking.

Reply

Nick November 2, 2009 at 1:32 pm

I have submitted to directories and done nothing else. I then tracked the results over a month. There is no question directories alone can get you higher ranking. Is it enough to get you to the first position? In most cases no. Maybe for less competitive keywords it might, but then I have not tried it to be sure. There are two type of directories.
1) They link to your main site.
2) They link to internal pages
The best effect is when you do both.

Reply

Tim November 2, 2009 at 2:34 pm

@Nick,

Totally agree, even though directories are not the best links out there they are certainly effective and help to get new sites on the map.

Reply

Joel Casarez January 12, 2012 at 9:33 pm

More than 2 years after writing this and directories still work. Every competitor I’ve researched has done some type of directory link building. Great analysis btw.

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