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 4
Case Study 5
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 4 – Yes
Case 5 – Yes
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.
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.
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
Case 1 – 7310
Case 2 – 6510
Case 3 – 13200
Case 4 – 1520
Case 5 – 516
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.
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.
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.
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.
Directories – I 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.
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 -
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.
Words – seo = 263 / services = 159 / consultant = 77 / company = 36 / com = 30
Words – seo = 436 / consultants = 426 / directory = 327 / seoconsultants = 320 / com = 316
Words – shimon = 225 / sandler = 213 / shimonsandler = 105 / com = 102 / seo = 46
Words – seo = 82 / consultant = 63 / singapore = 59 / larry = 49 / lim = 39
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.
Phrases – seo services 137 / seo consultant = 59 / seo company = 24
Phrases – seo consultants directory = 202 / http seoconsultantsdirectory com = 175 / seo consultants = 103
Phrases – shimon sandler = 174 / shimonsandler com = 70 / http shimonsandler com = 21
Phrases – larry lim = 31 / seo consultant = 22 / singapore seo consultant = 18
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 : )
Author: Tim (294 Articles)
Tim Grice is the owner and editor of SEO wizz and has been involved in the search engine marketing industry for over 7 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 Head of Search at Branded3, an SEO agency in Leeds.