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5 unusual reasons you may be getting beaten in rankings by websites that are no better than yours.

5 unusual reasons you may be getting beaten in rankings by websites that are no better than yours.

Just a quick blog post mentioning some of the unusual things I’ve seen lately while working on a couple of client’s web sites. I generally get a lot of phone calls from people that complain that other, less informative and authentic web sites rank better than them. Particularly web sites using ‘black hat’ SEO practices, such as no link building, low domain authority, one page of content with keyword stuffing.

I decided to make a quick post and try to explain the top five reasons I’ve given for websites which rank on page one without “deserving” it.

First let’s define what we mean by ‘deserving it’. If your site’s strong and ‘Google-friendly’ it should:

  • Have highly authoritative links
  • Target the right people
  • Have an great on-page optimised web site
  • Ensure visitors are having a great user experience
  • Create useful quality content that people love to read and share through social networks
  • Follow SEO best practice
  • Avoid black hat SEO techniques

Now let’s have a look at some of the reasons your site may NOT be ranking well (every example below is valid today, the 30th of July 2013 and I will monitor these examples for more than a month and come back to you with my findings):

1) Your competitors have the perfect web site url.

Yes, I know that having your keyword in the web site URL is one of the many factors affecting rankings, but there are some cases that CANNOT be explained. For example, have a look at the screen shot below:

exact-match-url

These are the top 2 results for the keyword “seo provider” if you google it today 30/07/2013. While the first is an SEO company with a proper web site, good on-page optimisation, solid link building and good domain authority, the second one is a one page default WordPress web site with no content, no menu, no blog, no links at all and zero page rank. Take a look at the screenshot below:

great-rank-site

I am not sure if they plan to update this page and transform it to an actual web site but for the time being this blog shouldn’t appear on first page on Google. I did a background check on the domain name and it seems that it’s roughly seven years old. However, I’m pretty sure that Google will de-index it soon.

2) Anchor text link building. YES – Penguin is nasty and there are a lot of web sites that got penalised but anchor text link building does help if done properly. I did a quick search on terms such as the one mentioned above as well as local companies and the top pages have keywords in between six and 15 percent of their anchor texts. This is where a lot of companies that use keyword domain names as shown above, have an advantage, as their domain name can also serve as an anchor text if someone decides to link to them.

3) Keyword stuffed pages - In my eyes, it’s clear that 1997 SEO techniques still work on Google. I’ve been monitoring two web sites for the last couple of weeks that rank on page one for the keywords “pest control London” and “pest control Croydon”. The first web site has its landing page stuffed with keywords and locations in a very bad way (not sure how this serves “user experience” – see picture one below) while the second have the keywords hidden in the text where you can only notice if you highlight the web site areas with your mouse (see picture two below).  Both of these practises violate Google’s Quality Guidelines and I hope they will be soon de-indexed, penalised or at least removed from top rankings. I include screenshots as I do not wish to link to these pages via my blog.

keyword_stuffed_example

and here is the second example:

hidden_keywords_1

and after we highlight with our mouse: hidden_keywords_2

4) They have linked their site to paid directories and/or PR sites. Yes Google will penalise those web sites at some point in the future and you don’t want your site to be highlighted when the time comes, as you’ll waste countless hours de-indexing links or using the disavow tool. For the time being your competitors enjoy high PR links you don’t, by distributing press releases and by using paid directories by targeted anchor text keywords. Here is a real example where Daniel Tan released a press release and added the anchor text “leasreepressmm” in reference to Matt Cutt’s blog. His goal was to get Matt’s blog to rank for “leasreepressmm” and ofcourse it worked!!!

5) Calm down, Google is just checking CTR! While this is more of a speculation than a proven fact, there’s a possibility that Google considers the click through rate (CTR)as a ranking factor. So they may rank a page temporarily high in order to measure how people react. If most of the visitors go back on searches and click on the next ranked page that would not be a good signal and you should expect this site to down rank soon.

Have you ever faced a similar problem or feel that other web sites don’t deserve to rank higher than yours? Would love to hear more!

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About the Author:

Ioannis has ten years experience working in online marketing and was an early enthusiast and adopter of social media tools. He is currently a Marketing Manager at London Registrars and also works as a consultant for Atladas Media. He has successfully completed SEO, digital marketing projects and training seminars for clients such as Interaction Studios, Executive Language Tutors, Digital Asset Laboratory, Affinity Training, Maroon Accounts and LimeTree Online among others. He has also taught social media to students at Middlesex university and is about to become a guest lecturer at Hertfordshire University.