Don't Believe Everything Your Stats Teacher Told You…

…because sometimes you can learn the most from the outliers. It is an idea that Wil Reynolds passed along to me and one that I found to be true very quickly. I’ll do a brief set up how I found this out and finish off by telling you what warrants my ‘oh so’ intriguing headline.

The Set-up

I was given the assignment of doing some investigative work on a client of ours who was not performing as well in the SERPs as we had hoped. I ran a report with a tool conceived at SEER that pulls all of the metrics you could ever want on any site into one spreadsheet, from the average page authority of a domain’s inbound links to the age of that domain. I ran the tool to get info on all of the sites that were ranking on the first page of results for some of the industry’s highest volume queries. With all of the information aggregated, I was able to compare our client with their competitors on one screen to see where they could improve.

Digging through this report I was finding what one would expect to find; most of the sites ranking on the first page had a larger link profile, higher MozRank, and usually were as old or older than our client’s – most. There was one that just did not make sense. The domain was only active for a fraction of the time we had been and had a fragment of the links the rest of their competitors had – apart from that, it was overall a very poorly crafted site. Doing some additional investigating on the site in question I found that they had gotten to their position by using some corrupt tactics.

The Sting

They were being linked from sites like this:

Content has been blurred for our own and their integrity, but note the gobs of copy on here and the amount still left!

• All of this content was written in broken English (at best) and was linking out to the same people with the same anchor text.
• There were around 50 pages just like this the company I was scouting was being linked on.
• Each time the competitor was being linked with anchor text that is synonymous with a phrase in the top 10 highest searched queries for the industry.
• Most of these pages had some page rank and had built links with one another and other shady sites.

One would think that Google’s Panda Update would weed out perpetrators like these, but no – apparently there are many different ways to incorrectly string together sentences about the same things.

What did we do about it? We alerted the client and made sure they knew exactly how they were getting beat out by this competitor who came out of nowhere. We did not rat this company out nor do we plan to; these guys left behind a big enough footprint that Google will eventually find them out and boot them from the searchosphere (ahem. patent pending).

Allusion to the Title

What can be learned from this? Sometimes the most interesting information lies in the nooks separate from the majority of the sample (insert metaphor here). Informing the client of what was going on and that we were on top of it all the way was a big confidence builder. Finding information like this and sharing it with our clients is something SEER Interactive does. Besides, when it comes to business you must keep your friends close and your enemies closer (ahhhh, metaphor!).

Abbott is a SEER Interactive account manager in training. He does not have his own personal website, but you can follow him on twitter for instances of SEO insight and a consistent stream of quality song suggestions.