If your competitors are SEO high rollers, there is something you can do about it if you know what to look for…
High roller SEO
Today I’ll take you on step-by-step tour through a process I use often to analyse clients’ competitor websites who rank well.
It’s important to know what you’re up against when you want your website to rank highly. Sometimes web designers and SEO practitioners will push things to the limit, so today’s case study will focus on one such site that is sailing very close to the wind, as they say.
The site ranks 1st at Google for just about everything to do with “conveyancing”.
The Google results show the site has been bumped off from 1st to 4th for “conveyancing melbourne” in Google Universal Map results. The parent website is registered for Google’s local search and is ranking 2nd (on the map). The site has also secured a top ranking with a Google ad to ensure a strong presence at the top of the results.
The next step is to see what Google robots saw when they last crawled the site… You can do this by clicking on the “cached” link…
Next you’ll see a screen that shows us more about how Google “sees” the page… But you’ll need to click on “cached text” to see what the robots “really” saw…
The next screen-shot shows lots of text not visible to humans but highly visible to search engine robots.
For the more technically minded, if you look at the source code of the page you’ll see how a <noscript> tag has been used to fill the page full of optimised key phrases. Text in a <noscript> tag is not (usually) visible to humans, but highly visible to search engine robots. This technique can also be used in <noframes> & <div> tags etc.
This site has performed “keyword stuffing” of image alt tags – in other words, it has created very small images and filled the alt tag with optimised keywords (the image alt tag is used to describe images for usability reasons – i.e. screen readers for the visually impaired)…
All these strategies are giving the website its great search engine results, but they are rather ambitious, and could put the site at risk of retaliation from Google. The stakes are high. If Google doesn’t like the tactics, the site could get thrown out of search engine results altogether.
So when someone builds your new website and promises to search engine optimise it for you, it pays to ask them just how they intend to do it.
It’s your website. It’s your responsibility. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with Google’s webmaster guidelines so you understand the risks you are taking.
If you discover that a competitor is taking a few chances, it’s cheaper and easier to dob them in than to try and out-optimise them, so I’ll leave you with one final screenshot you might want to use if you think (or suspect) a website is engaging in black-hat SEO – Google’s spam reporting tool.
Chris Thomas heads Reseo a search engine optimisation company which specialises in setting up and maintaining Google AdWords campaigns, Affiliate Programs and Search Engine Optimisation campaigns for a range of corporate clients.
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