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Would you believe there’s a top ranking site in a niche with over 300,000 searches per month which only has 4 pages and spams forums for links? In this study which both shocked and surprised me, I reveal this anomaly and many more. There is no industry where people make as many generalisations than they do with SEO. As with every other post on this site, I prefer to look at what is actually working and how to replicate it, rather than relying on guesswork.
This time I’ve looked into 5 sites, from 5 profitable affiliate industries, and analysed how they are ranking for their keyphrases. A lot of work went into this post, and I can tell you now there are no direct correlations, but I think you’ll learn a lot from what I’ve found.
I judged each site on the following criteria:
There are said to be over 100 factors which make up Google’s ranking algorithm so there’s no way something like this would ever be a perfect study. After all, there’s only so far I can look into on-site SEO for each website. However, the data here does dismiss some common generalisations and helps you see what I would change on websites which aren’t ranking so well.
The dating industry is without a doubt one of the biggest online. Millions of men and women turn to the internet to find out how to attract a partner and spend money on eBook’s, videos, and seminars.
Surprisingly, the site in second place actually has a lot more links with the anchor text “get a girlfriend” over the no.1 site ranking Wikihow. Although factors other than links apply, I will say that Google are very favourable towards Wikihow for a large number of terms. I’m competing against them in one industry and all factors would suggest I should outrank them, but I simply don’t.
I couldn’t find one link with the phrase for girlfriendstealer.com but the age of the site and the relevance of their other links (along with on-page SEO) are keeping them on the first page. Attractionhowto.com is a really terrible website and doesn’t even have the six pages I counted unless you include their RSS feed. They’re simply registering on tons of forums and profile websites, placing their link in their bio’s, and then ranking well for their keyphrase.
I’ve found that people are more likely to spend money on things which could potentially help them make more money. Forex (foreign exchange) trading is one of the most profitable industries online. From eBook’s, training accounts and trading “robots”, there are numerous ways to make money.
Buzzle.com really dominate the rankings for this term, with better stats than any other site. Even though they don’t have the phrase ‘forex trading software’ in their title tag – the most important on-site SEO element – the links they have and the authority of the domain push them above the competition.
On paper, it appears that Forexrobot-review.info should be ranking at least in the top three results. However, their on-site SEO needs some work. If I owned the site, I would do basic things such as:
These changes, with a few quality links, would help push them up the rankings.
Once again I’ve noticed another website which is simply spamming forums (and writing articles) in order to rank for their phrase. Forexreviewlink.com is right up there on hundreds of profile sites with their URL post on all of them.
There are a few “rockstar” affiliate marketers who have made millions of dollars in the dog-training niche. Just think about the number of people who own dogs and would like to train them. The market is insanely huge.
Interestingly, the site dogobedienceshortcuts.com is relying heavily on article directories and Squidoo to give it the links it needs in order to rank highly for this profitable phrase. Despite having less links than the other sites, it has a lot with the necessary anchor text it needs in order to rank.
As far as site age and links go, D-O-T-R (abbreviated version) is dominating the competition. Despite Dogtrainingclassroom.com having less exact match links than the three sites below it, it has a lot more links to its site as a whole. Dogobedienceadvice.com should place the phrase they’re trying to rank for somewhere in the copy of the site, and not just in the title. A lot of their links also seem to be coming from fat loss and make money websites. Basically, a lot of links they have just aren’t relevant.
The industries of learning just about anything can be popular topics. Just think of all the games, languages, instruments and skills that people want to conquer.
Guitarplayworld is not only the youngest site out of the five, but also has the second least overall links. However, it has the second highest number of keyphrase links, which shows how important they are. Their links mostly come from resource and links pages on other guitar websites which is great. However, they link back to all of the websites that link to them, which surprisingly hasn’t affected their rankings.
The tools I use were unable to determine how many keyphrase links were pointing to 2guys.com, sadly.
I’m surprised to see Buzzle on the list once again. It seems like they build very strong pages around different industries and rely on their domain authority to help them rank. Of course, the team behind the site also seem to be great link builders, with more links than anyone else in both industries covered here.
Not an industry I would personally want to be involved with, registry cleaners, anti-virus tools and other computer software tends to be very popular online. The products probably convert well with their free trial offers which later lead to you needing to purchase the product in order to continue using it.
The first thing that struck me about the results here is how well the 5th site was ranking when it was so young compared to the other competing sites. Besides the obvious keyphrase boost, it makes good use of the phrase it’s trying to rank for, in reverse order. Even though most links are for the phrase software registry cleaner, they still help ranking for registry cleaner software.
The number one ranking site, despite having less links than the others, makes great use of on-site SEO. The top two sites especially are being regularly linked to on forums – where people tend to discuss computer problems – because they already rank, which is helping to strengthen their position.
Hopefully you’ve taken some great knowledge from this post on your own, but there are a few things that came to my attention while putting together this data. Before I say what they are exactly, I do want to mention that you shouldn’t take these figures as exact numbers. It’s literally impossible to know the exact amount of links each site has and where they’re coming from, so I used the same tools on each site to generate the figures I did.
1. Spammy Forum Links Work — Some people laughed at me when I said that low-quality directory submissions and tools like Bookmarking demon still help me rank very highly in Google. However, the only reason I say that is because they really work. As proven here, spamming forums and membership sites are helping people rank in very profitable industries.
I think this is a real shame because there are sites which deserve to rank above these, but the Google algorithm is still very easy to manipulate.
2. Anchor Text is Still Very Important – It’s crucial to build as many quality links to your site as you can in order to get Google to give your site enough credit to consider ranking it highly. If you can get links with the anchor text of the phrase you’re trying to rank for, this is going to help you massively. I’ve proven this time and time again on a personal level, currently on the first page of Google for terms like “viral marketing” and “wordpress seo”.
3. Links Don’t Equal Rankings – The graphs in this post really prove this point. A common myth many people follow is that the site with the most backlinks will rank the highest in Google. As shown here, and known by anyone who’s been studying SEO for more than a few weeks, that simply isn’t the case. If you can get links with good anchor text, from high quality resources, then you can outrank a site which has far more links than you.
4. Remember the Overall Picture – There are a few sites I analysed here who would be ranking much higher based on their link profile if they were to change some of their on-site SEO elements. Although links are the most crucial aspect when it comes to ranking, you can’t forget about optimising your site so that it is properly targeted to your keyphrase.
What did you get out of the post?