Google SEO & Search Engine Marketing Services

Rank For Competitive Terms Sooner Rather Than Later

This post is a follow on from a previous post “The Truth About Domain Age“, just let me recap before we continue.

The previous post proved that domain age only plays a minor role in terms of search engine optimisation. In fact 23% of sites were ranking for massively competitive terms within 3 years of domain registration, some as quick as 18 months.

If your looking to make an impact on the SERPS sooner rather than later then you really need to read this post. You see if you are targeting competitive terms (terms with over 10000 searches a month) your going to have to dedicate a lot of time to SEO, but which areas should you focus on? continue reading :)

I picked 10 sites that were all ranking for keywords such as seo, seo services, search engine optimisation, seo company etc… Not only were they ranking but they had achieved it within an average of 2 years 3 months. I analysed all the sites to pick out correlating optimisation factors between them. The last post was graph heavy and probably easier on the eye, there is a lot more text in this but I cannot express the importance of reading it, especially if your wanting better rankings quicker.

Title Tag

The first area that caught my attention was the title tag. 100% of the sites had a 100% keyword prominence.

The keyword prominence is how close the keyword appears to beginning of the analysed area. If your targeting “SEO Master” this needs to be the first keyword in your title tag. This is important and simply implementing it will have an effect on rankings.

There are a couple of side issues with regards to title tags:-

1) 95% of the sites had the title tag as the first line of code in the head tag, I’m not sure how important this is but it was interesting to note.

2) The keyword density within the title tag was typically 25% and generally title tags were no more than 9 words. I think this is definitely something to keep in mind, don’t stuff keywords in the title tag.

Meta Tags

All the sites used their targeted keywords within their META description tag but only 50% used it in the META keywords tag. This confirms that no real weight is given to the keywords, but is the description taken into account???

Body Content

The results I found here may surprise some, but the average keyword density was 1.9%, this is much lower than 99% of SEO’s recommend yet these sites are still ranking high. It seems keyword density may only be a significant factor if your site lacks a solid link profile.

On the other hand you really need to be considering where you have used your target keyword in the body text of your page. The average keyword prominence was 95%! This means pretty much all the sites were implementing their target keywords within the first sentence of their body text. You should be too!!

H tags and Alt tags

The study showed no real link to high rankings based on these factors, however that’s not to say they hold no weight. The sites that did not optimise them correctly had bigger link profiles than the sites that did. So still implement them as they could be the difference between you and a competitor.

Link Popularity

How many links are pointing to your site?? Well the average link popularity on these sites was 22,000 inbound links. This means these top sites have averaged 814 inbound links a month since the domain was registered!!!! This is a huge amount, how does a new site generate that many links???

Keep on reading and all will be revealed.

As a side note the average link diversity was 3.2%, so does it really make that big a difference, the debate is still open.

Relevance and Anchor Texts

The study highlighted that an average of 59% of inbound links were coming from pages with the keyword present on them. This to me plays a huge role in higher rankings, relevancy is key.

According to the data you should be aiming for around a 40% anchor distribution. I have stated many times before at SEOwizz that you should not target 100% of your anchor texts towards a given keyword, mix it around using different variations, however for every 10 links you get try and use the exact anchor text 4 times.

PageRank and Link Quality

All the sites tested were a PageRank 4 to 5.

However the really interesting data came when looking at the quality of the links. After testing all the sites, an average of 63% of links came from directories, article directories and PR’s.

Why is this a big deal??? Anybody can create links using these methods, I am not saying only use these methods but definitely give them 50% of your allocated link building time, why?? Because they clearly work regardless of what any of the ‘Top Guns’ say.

An average of 68% links coming to these top ranking sites carried zero PageRank!!!!!!!!!, who says you need high PR links to rank highly? Just a shed load of PR zeros will do the trick:)


OK here’s my guide to quicker, higher rankings.

  • Make sure your keyword is 100% prominent in the title tag
  • Make sure your keyword is prominent in your body text
  • Attempt to acquire between 300 and 500 new links a month
  • Use all ethical means to build one way relevant links
  • Anchor 40% of your links with the exact keyword you are targeting
  • Don’t be afraid to use article directories, press releases and other valuable directories
  • Produce great content that will drive links to your site naturally

SEO is not magic, it’s hard work and constant analysis. I like the way Aaron Wall summed up SEO at

Same goes with SEO. When there is a lot of competition, you need to be more determined than your competition in order to succeed

Are you willing to put in the hours? Are you working harder than your competitors? Are you willing to invest in order to see a return 2 – 3 years down the line?? If not your not ready to play where the big boys plays.

(I haven’t included a link to the sites I looked at as this is sensitive data and I don’t want a nosey webmaster to use it to sling mud at Google for allowing these sites to rank with low quality links)

As an SEO we figure out how to ethically gain rankings and then implement.

Line Break

Author: Tim (254 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.



David July 15, 2009 at 11:06 pm

Super interesting.

In PageRank and LInkQuality you mentioned “…came from directories, article directories and PR’s.”

What are ‘directories’, and what are ‘article directories’?

I guess ‘PRs’ have something to do with pagerank but I am not sure what you mean. Please explain.

You have helped focus my mind and tell me where I should be putting mental effort – which is in looking for a keyword phrase that is searched but not so competitive that it’s useless to use, which describes out unique selling point and is the ‘master’ phrase I should use in our title (and tweak for other pages).

It’s not easy, brother :-)

Tim July 15, 2009 at 11:28 pm

Hi David,

Sorry should have explained a little better.

Directories are simply sites dedicated to categorising links. is a good example of one and obviously the Yahoo directory and DMOZ are the biggies. You will have to submit your site to them in order to be considered for a listing and a backlink. Article directories are sites such as,, you write content and in return are able to set up a back link to your site, don’t forget to anchor it with your keyword.

PR’s are actually press releases, site, provides an affordable distribution method for sending out news on your products and services to the press. I wouldn’t expect too much traffic from these methods, it’s the links you want.

I personally believe a new site should be spending 50% of it’s link building efforts on these methods, the other 50% should be used to make great link worthy content and getting it noticed socially.

As I said in the article SEO isn’t magic it’s just hard work and patience.

Keep going :)

David July 16, 2009 at 1:30 am

Thanks – all clear :-)

Brian Caruso July 16, 2009 at 5:32 am

Great post! Some of those findings were really surprising and will immediately put into effect. Keep up the great information for us SEOers.

P.S. are you going to release the data or graphs?

Tim July 16, 2009 at 12:00 pm


Thanks for your comments.

I am slowly putting together graphs showing the average SEO factors of 10 sites that have managed to rank for competitive terms, quiick. Expect them within the next few days.

PotatoChef July 18, 2009 at 6:17 pm

Hi Tim,
Please clarify a few things:

The name (title) of my site is Potato Patch Recipes. I bounce around the 1 and number 2 position on Googles page 1 for the term Potato Recipes. Are you saying that it would have been better if I had a name and title that had potato recipes as the first two words?

When you say “H” tags I assume you mean h2, h3, h4, etc… If that is so, can you consider writing a post on the proper way to use these tags. I kinda made up my own rules based on nothing in particular.

Last, the tags that you use at the end of the post, like technorati tags or wordpress tags, how important are they and what exactly do they do?

Thanks….Another good, informative post.

Tim July 19, 2009 at 3:01 am

Hi PotatoChef,

Ok let’s try and clarify this.

1- I had a quick look at your site, if you were targeting the keyword “potato recipes” then yes this keyword should appear at the beginning of your title tag for maximum effect, however you already rank in the top two positions and changing probably wouldn’t cement your position, I would say the keyword is prominent enough in your title tag.

2- Yes the h tags are the headings h1 – h6, to be honest I seriously question their ranking weight, only worry about the h1 and 2, simply ensure your keyword “potato recipes” is in the h1 and a similar variation is in the h2. The effects will be minimal but it’s a good idea to tick all the boxes.

3 – I personally don’t think the “post tags” are all that important, they help create a little relevance and thats about it. It’s simple enough to use them but don’t expect a big increase in rankings.

Hope this helps.

Mike McEvoy July 20, 2009 at 1:08 pm

A very useful and insightful post. I especially appreciated the findings on directories and article directories. I have had a number of people tell me that article directories are a waste of time and to just focus on writing better content. The other part of the article directory issue has been submitting similar content to multiple sites which many people say will get flagged as duplicate content by The Big G. Perhaps a future post could focus on this muddy area in particular? Or perhaps it’s just me that’s muddy?

A quick question on keyword density on a blog: is the body text the only text that counts or does text in the columns (tag clouds, top posts, most recent posts, etc.) also get factored into the density count?

Great post. Thanks.

Tim July 20, 2009 at 5:05 pm


There’s always going to be issues with mass article submissions as if Google find the same content they will put in their supplemental index, however that does necessarily mean it won’t pass any link juice or relevance and your site certainly won’t be penalised for it. I would look to submitting maybe twice a week to the main directories ezinearticles, articlebase, goarticles etc, and directories need to be as relevant as possible but they are out there.

I’m a strong believer in writing great content but unless you have links no one will find it, when academics write a piece of research they publish it at hundreds of academic journals but this never effects the rankings of the university website where the link points to. My advice is to get links from as many ethical avenues as possible great content, content distribution, social media, community participation and blogs.

With regards to keyword density were mainly looking in the body tag, however adding keywords to categories, tags and post titles is always a good idea for increasing relevance.

Hope this is OK, let me know if something’s not clear

rosetta stone August 4, 2011 at 5:28 am

There exists clearly a great deal to understand about this”

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