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Here are my conclusions. I hope they help others and hope to receive comments on them.
Keyword rich titles - Almost all sites.
Long descriptions and keyword lists - I was surprised there. Most sites have a mile long list.
All websites had PR of 5 or 6, not more.
Keyword density for "Day Trading" varied between 5% and 34%, no clear conclusions.
Incoming links varied from 32 to 1370, no clear conclusions. The quality of incoming links was also varied. From geocities links to link farms.
Few had "Day Trading" in the actual domain name, but inconclusive.
The only thing I found that is absolutely uniform and seems to be the deciding factor, based on my short research, is outbound links. It is not what you know, but who you know.
Sites that had out bound links to major sites on their front page, not just links page, did the best.
I don't believe search engines should be in the business of reviewing sites for any of this kind of thing. And how could a robot be designed to check for site design? I understand your frustration (I get frustrated with this as well), it's just that I want search engines looking at my site's content and as a surfer that's what I am interested in.
In my experience, surfers (as a rule) don't care about bloated code, HMTL compliance, bad formatting, imagemaps or javacript. What they want is content.
I agree with you. However, how long would it take you to review sites all day long to reach by a million? Thats why there are directories that are indexed because people just do it better. Take Dmoz for example, it has for the most part good editors that edit in their free time, no pay. On top of that the sites that look crappy have got the algo pegged down for the most part, they are doing something right. I would like nothing more than to see the search engines come up with a spider to weed out the crappy sites and clean up the index. Now I can wake up because they aint gonna do it anytime soon. You can only catch so much with a filter/spider. You get your dog sites on Google, but they do a good job (knock on wood) getting the sites that are good.
I agree with you. I just don't believe that search engines should necessarily be in the business of enforcing this.
If the site you are promoting is the one in your profile, I would tone-down the use of the phrase "day trading" just a bit.
My opinion (from reading your page and viewing your code) is that you've overdone it with the use of that phrase.
There is nary a paragraph on your home page that doesn't have some form of the word "trade" in it.
Google might have you marked as spamming that word, thusly keeping your rankings down.
Try re-writing your text with less usage of those words, and see what happens for you.
Sometimes "less is more", even in the world of SEO.
And, in the case of Google, this is where the magic of Page Rank comes in. With Google, one can't just keyword spam themselves to success in competitive areas. They also need inbound links giving a decent Page Rank.