Pref­ace: This post is purely about search rank­ings — not traf­fic or con­ver­sions or any­thing — just how Google orders her results.

When I set up this blog, I decided I would try to make it rank for the term ‘link build­ing blog’.

It wasn’t because it had a par­tic­u­larly high search vol­ume or could be described as a ‘quick-win’, it was just because it’s a blog pri­mar­ily about link build­ing, so it made sense.

I just wanted to see where it ranked and try work out what was mak­ing it rank.

By seoMOZ’s Key­word Dif­fi­culty Tool, it was a rel­a­tively com­pet­i­tive term to go after:

Any­way, that didn’t really mat­ter to me, I just wanted it to rank for what it was.

I’ve been pot­ter­ing around the first page for about six months now, rank­ing from as high as 5 to as low as 11.

Then, all of a sud­den, last week I jumped to 3 in the SERPs. (Which is where I am as I write this.)

If you look at seoMOZ’s rank­ing analy­sis of the first page, things really don’t add up:

(The columns are PA, Page Link­ing Root Domains, DA and Root Domain Link Root Domains — left to right.)

I know links are only part of the rank­ing fac­tors, but c’mon, no one would put my blog third if they were just given these stats and asked to pre­dict the SERPs.

Except for the exact match domain stats (ahem), my blog stands out like a sore thumb.

Link build­ing strat­egy — or lack of

In the begin­ning all I did was add ‘link build­ing blog’ to the  meta-title.

I got a link from the com­pany I work for and asked my friends who blog to link to me. All in all that added up to about 10 links — two of which are from sites that are actu­ally relevant.

Over the past few months I’ve picked up a cou­ple of links rel­a­tively ‘nat­u­rally’, but it’s child’s play com­pared to the other sites here.

(I actu­ally spammed a cou­ple of forums in the out­set, got my fin­gers burnt and learnt an impor­tant lesson.)

It is impos­si­ble to jus­tify or explain why I’m now rank­ing ahead of sites like Point Blank SEO, who tire­lessly cre­ates good con­tent, guest posts on cred­i­ble sites and cre­ates a stir on sites like Twitter.

Case in point — this com­plete list of link build­ing strate­gies.

In terms of link build­ing, I’ve done barely any in com­par­i­son. Maybe I update my blog a bit more reg­u­larly than the other sites rank­ing, but there’s noth­ing really to sig­nal to Google that this con­tent is any good.

I’ve never guest posted, never done any bro­ken link build­ing, never cre­ated a tool or resource.

All I do is write the occa­sional blog post, once every 3 to 4 weeks.

They rarely get many read­ers or social book­marks, or shares on Twit­ter. (Actu­ally, my link build­ing books post got a few shares, but noth­ing to write home about.)

Why then am I cur­rently rank­ing #3 for ‘link build­ing blog’ ahead of sites like Point Blank SEO, Ontolo and Link Spiel? I shouldn’t be any­where near them.


Unfor­tu­nately, I can’t really con­clude any­thing here. Would be more inter­ested to hear other people’s thoughts.

Aside from keep­ing it rel­a­tively fresh and small mix of links, the rank­ings don’t really add up.

At the end of the day, this is just one term. It doesn’t prove any­thing about how any­thing does or doesn’t work.

I’ve cer­tainly found it inter­est­ing to observe what’s been hap­pen­ing and it has made me ques­tion a lot of assump­tions I took as stan­dard in terms of what it takes to rank.

I think I read Paddy Moogan say some­thing about the impor­tance of test­ing and observ­ing for your­self in SEO. I kinda know what he means now.

Any­way, I thought I’d put this story down in writ­ing. It’s baf­fling and I hope you appre­ci­ate my hon­esty in this post.

To Jon from Point Blank SEO and the other link build­ing blogs who are putting out bet­ter con­tent than me and get­ting bet­ter links, I hope Google gets her act together — although it’s all in vain really, the term ‘link build­ing blog’ sends f-all visitors.

Cre­ative com­mons image by tsui­hin — Tim­o­Stu­dios Flikr

Post By Michael Smith (31 Posts)

Michael works at 9xb Dig­i­tal Agency in Har­ro­gate, Mon­day to Fri­day. Click here to fol­low him on Twit­ter or have a look a his Google+ pro­file.

Web­site: →


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15 Responses to Questioning What I Know About SEO and Link Building

  1. Hey Michael,

    I think that you would have to do fur­ther research into this as to key­word spread and such as other sites may have huge num­bers but may have a lot of key­words etc.



  2. Emma says:

    Maybe all those other sites are really just spam­mers and Google is dish­ing out penal­ties? Poke around their link profile.

    Or maybe you are just the 3rd best link build­ing blog!


  3. Kevin says:

    If it’s of any con­so­la­tion, you’re cur­rently in the #8 posi­tion for me.


  4. I’m see­ing you in sec­ond posi­tion now :)


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