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Competitor took my #2 spot - with no keyword on the page

     
6:12 pm on May 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

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A competitor recently took my #2 spot for a great 2-keyword term. A couple weeks later, they dropped to #3 behind me, but now they're back to #2. The 2-keyword term doesn't appear anywhere on their home page which is the page they're ranking with. I'm thinking they must have acquired some links with the keywords in the anchor text. Is there a way to find out if that's the case?
6:56 pm on May 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Yes - click on the "cached" link and look in the top frame. If the term only appears in backlinks, that fact will be noted.
3:38 am on May 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

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If they have a dynamically changing home page these terms may have been referenced in the past and aren't there now.
1:26 pm on May 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Just to add to the last two posts, it may have been on the page when it was last indexed. Look at the cache.

I had the reverse problem with an "announcements" page on my site which was very active. I had to stop it being cached as it kept coming up for terms that had been removed.
1:35 am on May 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

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yep, that means they are doing some link building or someone has naturally linked to that page with that keyword. I wouldnt worry about it that much right now since google has been doing that to millions of sites for the last month. Write some quality posts and try to do some link building.
1:51 am on May 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

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There is no backlinks message on the cached page, but this must be due to backlinks. Is there any way to check on their backlinks to see if they've done any link building?
2:42 am on May 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

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There are loads of backlink checking services - many free and a few paid. We don't discuss specific SEO tools here, but backlink checkers are easy to find.

The paid services that do their own web crawls tend to be more thorough than those that depend on link: operator reports - and they also find internal links more often and are more able to give you the time frame so you can sort recent links form long-time links.

Of the search engine services available, Yahoo Site Explorer tends to be the one webmasters go to.

There is no backlinks message on the cached page

Makes me think that they bought a relevant domain/business and redirected it to their site. And that is a lot harder to discover through free public tools, although again, some of the paid services do give it a go.
3:37 am on May 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I am agree with @tedster. Check the backlinks especially those which are most relevant and have good Google PR as well. Its very easy to find with Yahoo Explorer. Try it.