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What on site factors do you look for when researching competition

   
5:19 pm on Nov 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Hi all, this is a bit of a theoretical question as I don't want to give any specific details.

On a competitive key phrase for some time now, position 1 of Google has been taken up by an extremely low quality site that reportedly has only 2 backlinks from 2 low authority domains (this count hasn't increased in months). Also when I look on site, the page they are ranking on is the home page, it is a bit keyword stuffed and it is an exact match domain name for the keyword.

I am just trying to get to grips with why they are ranking when other sites have a better inbound link profile and are (on the face of it) better quality on site. I don't think its from inbound links to the site which leaves on site.

My question is not specific for this case, but what are the ranking factors you would initially look for when examining any site that is ranking well?
1:35 am on Nov 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Generally I think it's best not to woory about this kind of thing. Personally I prefer to spend my time working on my own sites trying to make them as good as I can, rather than spending that time worrying about what other people are doing with their sites.
1:52 am on Nov 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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it is a bit keyword stuffed and it is an exact match domain name for the keyword.


Thin and stuffed? Perfect match for Google's fubard algo!

Worry? Well, it depends which industry sector one is in ... IF one's business life depends on purely Net orders/transactions, then one has a problem, if one has a real business with realworld people/businesses, then it's just a PITA.

E.G. Our overall Net interactions are way, way down however our realworld business is way, way up ... the wildwest Net BS died, for my global industry, 3-4 years ago.
2:46 am on Nov 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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It probably has lots of links via a 301 redirect from another domain. It's pretty easy to hide these from Ahrefs, Majestic, etc, while leaving them visible to Google.
2:52 am on Nov 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I am just trying to get to grips with why they are ranking when other sites have a better inbound link profile and are (on the face of it) better quality on site. I don't think its from inbound links to the site which leaves on site.

How is the useability/presentation of the site relative to others?

If you're still "hung up on links", it's time to forget about them being "everything you need" for rankings, especially "keyword links" -- Really, it's time to adjust your thinking if you want to continue in this "game" and be anywhere near successful. Links haven't "died" yet, but they're also not even close to what they used to be in many ways.
9:19 am on Nov 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Sorry, we're not debating the fact that links are not what they once were, and no, we're not worried, we are just suggesting this as an interesting case study for the new algo. It's got no back links, It's very poor onsite (a handful of pages with heavy keyword stuffing) yet it's ranking above quality sites, with decent BL profiles and unique content far better for users.

The 301 point is a really interesting point. We're not seeing the full picture. Do you know how we can see these?
10:15 am on Nov 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member piatkow is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



I think the clue might be in your orignal post:

and it is an exact match domain name for the keyword.

It doesn't seem unreasonable for G to assume that if somebody searches on "example" then what they are looking for is example.com
4:15 pm on Nov 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Sorry, we're not debating the fact that links are not what they once were...

That's why I brought up usability/presentation.

You brought up links or at least the lack-thereof you can find, which makes them and the impact they have today part of the discussion. If it's not links, understanding they're not what they used to be is something other readers might "get something" out of and also means there's something "different" causing the site to rank.

It's got no back links, It's very poor onsite (a handful of pages with heavy keyword stuffing) yet it's ranking above quality sites, with decent BL profiles and unique content far better for users.

Why do you keep bringing up links if you understand they aren't what they once were and don't want them and their current impact to be part of the discussion?

The 301 point is a really interesting point. We're not seeing the full picture. Do you know how we can see these?

Based on this portion of your response, you're wanting to go on a 301 "fishing expedition", which pretty much says to me you've still got the idea "it must be about the links" 'stuck' in your head.
5:55 pm on Nov 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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JD_Toims we're NOT just talking about links in the old sense...so just repeating to us that we're talking about links is not helpful.

Let me put it a different way. A site that has NO identifiable offsite noise and Onsite is toilet. (So, we are talking about both factors). Yet it ranks position 1. So..it should be easy to see the ranking factors and we wondered if anyone has some idea what to look for.

rish3 point about 301 is extremely valid. If there is tons of domain authority filtering through via 301s then this would provide some answer.

It's an interesting control sample/case study that's not a huge site with so much offsite noise you can't see the wood for the trees..we're more than happy to do the tests if people can provide us with things to look at. We'll then share it back, as it could be a really useful insight for us all.
6:03 pm on Nov 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Well, if you know or find out why w3schools often outranks MDN you'll see how valid my "usability question" was and why I asked it.

You're saying onpage is a toilet -- But that doesn't tell me much. I use toilets often and find them useful.

If the site is an EMD and usable (doesn't mean pretty -- doesn't mean anyone's run the keyword density on it or needs to) then often it won't need many if any links to rank. Contrary to the "EMD penalty" threads here, EMDs are still some of the easiest sites to put at the top of the results, because all it takes in many cases is giving people the answer they're looking for in a way they can find that answer relatively easily.
7:43 pm on Nov 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jimbeetle is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



rish3 point about 301 is extremely valid. If there is tons of domain authority filtering through via 301s then this would provide some answer

And there's also a heck of a lot of injected, cloaked links floating around.

As JD_Toims says, EMDs are still fairly easy to rank, but as you said that it's a competitive phrase with lousy this and lousy that, it seems that it would still need some solid link support in order to rank.
9:03 pm on Nov 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



reportedly has only 2 backlinks from 2 low authority domains

As you say, 'reportedly' - the network linking to it could be blocking link discovery bots.

EMDs are still fairly easy to rank

From what I've seen (recently) as little as 5-10% of the link power of your competitors will still do. That could be the answer right there.
8:12 am on Nov 15, 2013 (gmt 0)



Rish3 and others are spot on with this one I strongly suspect. i have seen a growing numbers of these in recent months. Basically, thin/nothing special sites that are using nothing but a new breed of blog networks where all of the links are from domains that block ahref, mseo, OSE and other link explorers. Obviously, these allow google bot so the only way to see the real picture is to look through WMT. What's the point if google can still see the links? Well, it stops your neighbouring co-rankers from seeing your naughty ways and filling out spam reports I suppose.

Someone here said recently that blocking specific robots in such a way is a suspicious signal for google to detect such networks. Although that's technically possible and makes sense, I have not seen any evidence of that...yet.
1:18 pm on Nov 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member piatkow is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



All this discussion of links! Does nobody else think that an exact match on the domain name is trumping other factors?
1:21 pm on Nov 15, 2013 (gmt 0)



Not on a competitive key phrase, no.
 

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