Thin Site, No Backlinks… and #2 in Google?!

For anyone who follows my blog, it’s obvious that I’ve been less in the mode of “working had” and more in the mode of “hardly working” so far this summer.  For some reason I have been just plain lazy since college let out.  I haven’t been working much on my blog or niche sites, or even bothered getting myself a part-time job for crying out loud!

I could chalk it up to burnout from school, but the reality is that being lazy for a couple of months was what I really wanted to do (though I wouldn’t admit it until now).  I said I wanted to be really productive.  I said I wanted to update my blog regularly and produce a lot of niche site content.  When it came right down to it, though, I put relaxing at the top of my to-do list, and it shows.

I think it’s out of my system for now, though.  I’ve been getting bored and stir-crazy, so I will (hopefully) use this as an opportunity to kick my sorry behind back into gear.  And this time, I have one really cool incentive to motivate me: One of my niche websites, Good Pets For Kids, has hit #2 in Google for its exact primary keyword!I’m really surprised that this has happened.  The site is pretty “thin”–it has only a handful of pages so far.  I can only assume that the large amount of content on those pages is compensating for the small size of the site.  More surprising, though, is that there are virtually no backlinks to the site to send it link juice!  Aside from mentions on this blog, the only other linking I have done to it is from InfoBarrel and a Squidoo lens that I created.  In the world of SEO, backlinks are supposed to reign supreme.  So how did my site get to #2 with almost no effort?

One obvious factor working in my favor is the exact-match .COM domain name.  From what I have seen in lots of site comparisons in Market Samurai, though, exact matches in domains really aren’t all that powerful.  Even relatively long-tail keywords are often dominated by sites that don’t have exact matches in the URL, let alone the domain name itself.

The #2 ranking has to be coming from the content quality of the site.  When I started it, I envisioned an authority site, so I set out to provide in-depth info to users.  I created a very small number of backlinks, then basically forgot about the site for three months.  The amount of content on the site, though, seems to have really registered with Google’s ranking algorithms, and I’m now seeing steady, organic search engine traffic.

What this has really made me realize is that content truly is king.  My garlic site is still languishing around #10-40 for most of its keywords, because it has really light content.  It’s hitting home that all I really need to do to start seeing some increased traffic is beef up the content.  Even if I don’t go gung-ho in my backlinking efforts, I should see drastic improvement if I just focus on content.  I will also be keeping that in mind over the next few weeks as I start building my third niche site, based on multiple long-tail keywords in the “home handyman” field.

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2 Responses to Thin Site, No Backlinks… and #2 in Google?!

  1. I think that the reason for being on #1 is because you have exact domain name. That is the primary ranking factor.
    Content plays much lesser role in this case…

    • Cory says:

      On that one, I have to disagree with you Galyna. With just two PR-0 backlinks so far, one of my articles on my latest niche site (a PR-0 article on a PR-0 site) breezed right past a PR-1 EMD site that has at least 53 backlinks to it. The site I’m beating has good on-page SEO in place as well, which leaves only two areas where Google could really see my page as superior: content quality and backlink relevancy.

      Now, don’t get me wrong–the EMD definitely gives me a boost. It seems that Google has seriously devalued that factor, though. As long as the keyword appears somewhere in the URL, I don’t believe Google gives much preference to exact-match domain names anymore. The content on the pets site is all clearly themed around the keyword phrase (even across the different areas of the site), and Google’s algorithm has pretty clearly picked up on that. Also, the two backlinks that I intentionally built to the site are from PR-2 and PR-3 articles that I wrote on InfoBarrel. Because those two articles are highly relevant to the keyword phrase, they get WAY more authority in Google’s eyes.

      The EMD site that my asbestos-related keyword site beats out in the SERPs has at least two PR-3 backlinks to it, which seems like I shouldn’t be able to come close to beating with my unmatched domain name and two PR-0 backlinks. The problem, though, is that the EMD site built its backlinks with comment spam, not relevant link-building articles. The pages on which they posted their comments are completely unrelated to their site, so Google doesn’t give them very much authority for the links. My links, however, are inside well-written, relevant articles. Even though they are PR-0 articles on PR-0 sites, they still get more love from Google than the competition, because they’re relevant links.

      Now, I can see that you posted a comment here to create a backlink to your own blog. You’ve done something that a lot of people never bother doing, though–you actually read the post and submitted a relevant, useful comment! You also took the time to find a blog that is actually related to your own. My only suggestion is that you don’t use a keyword phrase as your “name” when commenting. Targeted anchor text is great, but it is a very spammy thing to do on a blog comment. Save your targeted anchor text for article marketing, where it is more natural. Besides, Google has been documented to penalize sites that use the same anchor text for too high of a percentage of their backlinks. If you build backlinks that look natural to you, they will probably look natural and high-quality to Google, too.

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