You no doubt monitor your ranking within Google and even though many online authorities say keyword ranking is not as important as it once was there are still a number of reasons to keep track of it.
1) It lets you know Google is happy with your optimisation practices
2) It helps you understand how site and page changes affect your rank
3) And of course it helps keep you motivated (if you’re moving in the right direction)
So, monitoring your own site is a given, however do you monitor the search results page in general for your target keyword?
For example I am targeting the keyword ‘search engine optimisation’ it is highly competitive and after 8 months of hard work I am sitting on the second page in the UK.
As part of my SEO practice for this keyword I check my rank position weekly; however I also check the top 20 – 30 positions to look for changes and any websites that may have been penalised.
Now recently there has been a major movement in the UK within the SERPS for the keyword “search engine optimisation” and that is with the website and seo company SEOconsult. They have recently dropped from the first page down to the third page.
It’s important to remember at this point that we are NOT dealing with a site that spammed it’s way to the top, SEOconsult are a reputable business and still sit on the first page of Google for the keyword SEO, they have over 50,000 back links and a Page Rank 6 (for all it is worth).
However, if you take the time to look at the link profile of the site it will soon become clear in my opinion.
First Let’s Contrast It
If you ever see this happen to a competing site or indeed if it happens with your own site, the first place to go is the front page of Google. Look down the top 10 results of the SERPS and pick out a ranking site that seems the weakest out of the bunch, or the one with the least amount of links.
I did this for the keyword ‘search engine optimisation’ and picked out the page Topclickmedia, this site has a significantly less amount of links pointing to the page, in fact it only has around 6000 but in order to see why this page ranks on the first page and SEOconsult have been dropped you need to look at the link profile in a little more depth.
I quickly used the SEObook backlink analyzer to do this but you can use any software you wish. It only pulls out 1000 of the most important links but it is enough to understand why the sudden drop has occurred and why the smaller page is ranking higher.
First let’s take a peek at some of the links pointing to Topclickmedia;
Now looking down this link profile I specifically targeted links using variations of the keyword “search engine optimisation” and as you can see it is a very interesting link profile.
There are a few things to note here;
1) The links are made up of lot’s of different variations, there is obviously exact anchor text but only around 25% were exact, 39% were variations of the keyword.
2) The links come from deep pages of other sites and not homepages
3) The links are mainly in content making up part of a blog post or an article
I would say this is a big thumbs up for Topclick they are getting in content/editorial links using multiple variations and hey they rank higher with fewer links.
Google have been spouting for a while that they want to give more credit to natural looking anchor text profiles and editorial links but the evidence has been thin to say the least. Has there been an update?? I strongly believe there has.
Let’s Take A Peek at SEOconsult
Right, time to compare the link profile to see how it differs and to see if we can see any clues as to why the rankings may have been hit.
The snippet above is pretty much what you see throughout the rest of the links, most of them anchored with exact keyword terms “SEO” “search engine optimisation” and “search engine optimization”, there is very little in the way of variation. However, that’s not all, it is also quite clear that most of the links are in footers, sidebars and directory listings.
So my verdict…
I believe SEOconsult has been penalised due to their highly optimised anchor text and lack of editorial like links. These kinds of changes have been seen on the Google.com domain months ago and it looks like they’re filtering through to the co.uk side.
Why would Google make these changes??
It’s simple really and makes sense;
1) Directory links, footer links, sidebar links are more likely to be either paid for or site wide.
2) Even though Google encourages keywords in anchor text, highly optimised link profiles scream manipulation and Google does not want to look stupid.
3) Links within content are generally on deeper low PR pages, this means they have a higher probability of being editorial in nature.
I am not saying to stay away from site wide links or even footer links completely. I am simply highlighting that in general your link profile needs to be editorial in nature and your anchor text needs to look naturally varied, stick to around 25% exact anchor on manufactured links.
I hope this has been helpful.
This is definitely my last post before the Jolly Holidays, hope everyone has a good one and wakes up on Christmas morning with a first page ranking
Disclaimer – The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not factually based principles. The author is not associated with Google in anyway or any of the above businesses mentioned.