It was once said that "there are some that talk SEO and there are some that do SEO, but there are very few who talk and do SEO"
And it is all too true that you arrive at the website of some Search Engine Optimisation companies because you clicked on a paid link, not because they were in the first few results of a genuine search. So never forget, before you hire and part with money, ask where they rank and for what keywords.
Do not be easily fooled into accepting an example that because 'Big Bills Search Engine Service' ranks highly for 'Big Bills Search Engine Service' he is any good at search engine optimisation. We're looking for something other than a brand name, a genuine keyword that a normal user might search for.
You should also be cautious when accepting advice online from certain websites that may only want to sell you software or a book, unless they can prove what they have done in a real life SEO example to.
So sorting the talkers from the doers is an essential first step.
With this in mind we set out to create our own example. We chose the phrase "How to SEO your website" because according to the Google Keyword Tool this had medium competition from other websites.
Searching this phrase bought up about 45,000,000 results so the challenge was "How long would it take to create a page that would rank better than the 44,999,990 others already indexed by Google?"
The answer? 12 (yes twelve) days for this example.
From the outset we had some handicaps that could not be changed:
But in reality our clients rarely have a perfect situation either so some challenges presented a much more real life example.
Here is the diary of events:
Please note - we have had a number of emails asking us how we did this. In reply we followed our internal system which we openly publish and can be found on the pages How to SEO your website
Created the subdomain and content which comprised of a handful of pages with minimal graphics:
We carefully crafted the website from start to end with the same process that we use for our own clients.
Uploaded the sitemap.xml to Google.
Top 20 on google.com and google.co.uk for How to SEO your Website.
According to Alexa the site was number 27,511,203 in the world. In other words there were 27,511,201 websites more popular than this one.
Top 10 on google.co.uk and top 20 google.com for 'How to SEO your Website'.
So on Google's UK pages (and the UK is where our server is based so we should perform better there) it has taken 12 days to enter the top 10 and outperform 45 million other websites.
Alexa ranking of 8,466,596. In other words we had overtaken 19,044,607 other websites in terms of popularity in the space of twenty days!
Article Keyword Tools for SEO That Don't Work published on ezinearticles.com creating the first fully independent link to the website. This was also the first time we had used any 'true' off-site search engine optimisation techniques so up to this point the website had risen to the top of the ranks simply because of it's content and it's coding.
EDIT JULY 2013: If we did this again we would not bother with the ezine article. Almost all article directories are now ignored by the major search engines as content farms.
Launched this page (Seo Example) and uploaded new sitemap.xml to Google.
This page goes top 5 in Google for the search term "real seo example".
For the keywords "How to SEO your website" we settle in the top 10 on Google.com and Google.co.uk. This is it's likely 'natural' position without off-page SEO although there is potential to climb as the average user spends over 10 minutes on the site.
This page goes into the top 20 of the Google SERP for "seo example".
The website rises to Google's top 5 for the search term "How to SEO your website". Much of this is down to increased links from other websites (links made by other webmasters, not us) and a consistancy in positive visitor behaviour (the average visitor spends 9+ minutes on the website.
This page rises to appear in Google's top 20 for the search term "SEO example", above 89,000,000+ other websites.
Alexa ranking is now 4,659,245. An improvement of 22,851,956 over a 6 week period.
It has been an incredibly busy summer at Link2light Design so a slight gap in our online diary but let's bring it up to date.
This page is now number one on Google for "real SEO example" ahead of 230,000,000 other websites and averaging position 8 for "SEO example".
The Alexa ranking has risen to 550,152 from it's original position of 27,511,203 - in other words in terms of traffic it has overtaken 27,000,000 websites in the space of 6 months.
Getting into Google's top 10 is one thing. Staying there is another. So ten months on from the launch how are we doing ... ?
According to Google Webmaster Tools here are a few of the terms for which we are in the top 10:
Many of these have been consistant performers but it is also worth noting we have made very few changes to the site over the last six months and have carried out no 'link building' work.
This is how SEO should be - a website structured to perform and attract links from other sites with no effort ....
One of the actions we took, but only after we were a Google Top 10, was to push this website to the top of Google by adding backlinks, links from other websites that we own. In all it is fairly easy for us to create about 20,000 backlinks just from using our own portfolio of pages.
So what happens when you remove those links? Well that's exactly what we did over the summer and yet search engine rankings were not affected - why?
To put it simply it is all about user behaviour. Links can get you to the top but
We started to note a drop in some rankings and a rise in others around the time Google started rolling out its new Hummingbird algorithm. For "how to seo your website" we dropped to #18 while for terms like "how seo is done" we moved up to #7.
It was generally a mixed bag which didn't change the traffic volume of the site in general.
Google Hummingbird is hoping to match questions people ask more accurately to answers, and more accurately to the people it believes have the most authority to provide those answers. As such for terms like "how to seo your website" the top 10 is now dominated by big names.
That's a shame because there were some very useful sites that ranked alongside us in the old top ten which I believe provided better material than the current line up.
Still hummingbird is in its very early days so we can expect further changes shortly ...
Confident Google has 'got it wrong' we are waiting it out! The search results for "How to SEO your website" are genuinely unhelpful from start to finish
Our page, and some of our original competitors, pop back into Google's top 10. Sometimes doing nothing really is the best policy!
The experiment sort of ends here. The site now naturally attracts links (it is link earning) and the purpose of the experiment was just to prove you could rank fast if you provided the content ... even if you didn't have links.
Moral of the story #1: The moral of the experiment is that if you provide excellent content you will rank quickly because search engines can see your relevancy and you will quickly attract links that will reinforce the search engines initial response.
Moral of the story #2: If you lose your rankings check thoroughly why and consider that there is always that possibility that Google got it wrong!
We take our ranking figures from Google Webmaster Tools which gives 'global averages'. Each person's search results are skewed to reflect their geographical location and past browsing history so you may see our pages positioned slightly higher or slightly lower than we claim here.
If you would like to contact us about your website please visit our SEO quote page
I'm Tim Hill, a Search Engine Optimisation and Online Marketing specialist. I created this site to help others understand that SEO is not a mysterious black art!.
If your a newbie try the Getting Started in SEO page, otherwise feel free to dig around and learn more.