90 Digital CEO Nick Garner gives us an overview on the tools to Copy the Winners in this edition of CalvinAyre.com’s SEO Tip of the Week.
Copy the winners.
It’s easy to just look at big websites and say they are obviously the winners but the catch is many have been around a very long time and they have large link profiles which are very hard to pick through and make sense of.
So when you’re looking at winning websites it’s really important to decide what exactly a winning website is for you. For instance if you are an operator then it’s a case of looking at comparable websites to you, if you’re an affiliate then it’s the same story.
When I analyse the competition I look for two things; one is what they do and how well they do it the second is the link profile.
There is a new phenomenon across the Google landscape and it is the trusted website. If you are trusted by Google they will do their best to rank you in their search results even if you have very few links.
For an affiliate this is a great place to be ranking without links, but of course for you to be a trusted website you will have to fulfill one core criteria and that is:
“Would Google’s users look somewhere else if you weren’t in Google’s search results?”
A very good example of this is the thebigfreechiplist.com which is a bit like a voucher codes website for betting bonuses. What they do is scour the Internet for as many bonus codes as possible. The reason this site appears to be trusted is because it does a better job of giving people more bonuses bonus codes than just about anybody else.
What makes this site so bizarre is 99.4% of all its links are ‘no follow’ and the ones which are ‘follow’ links are junk links and under normal circumstances could bevel propel a site to these rankings.
Another type of winner, in my view, is a site that ranks from nowhere on competitive phrases and manages to hang on to their rankings. What they have done of course is found links which the search engine algorithm loves and therefore responds to.
Looking at operators, Bovada is interesting because they have come out of nowhere within a fairly short period of time, are on a massive link acquisition push. And it’s working…for now.
Here is how I find winning websites:
I pick the key phrases I’m interested in and make sure they are grouped in logical groups i.e. online betting key phrases or online slots key phrases.
I then use a tool from Data Grabber called Share of Search and I pick the country territory I’m interested in. Then when it has run, it will give me a list of websites that rank very strongly for those key phrases.
Now I know who the strongest websites are for the group of key phrases. This is important because now I can start working my way through the list of sites, from most prominent through to least prominent.
I take this list of sites and run them through Majestic. What I am looking for are sites that don’t have a long history of link acquisition, these sites are interesting by definition if they have a larger share of search and are ranking sustainably with a small number of links relatively speaking.
I then look at SEMRUSH and there are two choices here, I either go to their website where I can look at 6 websites for free or I can use DataGrabber and spend 15 dollars on an API key which allows me to query 1000’s of domains. What I’m looking for is the ranking history of that domain. If the domain has come from nowhere and has managed to hang onto its rankings for a few months then I am very interested in that website.
I now look more closely at the links these sites have got. This is where Majestic comes back in. Usually with these sites that comes through fast they don’t have large link profiles, so it’s easy enough to just download all of their links and process them in Excel.
Processing the Majestic data. This is where Excel is your friend and filtering data becomes really important. Simply you open up the link file from Majestic and filter the various columns in order of link trust flow. It’s really important to focus on links and not on domains, because Google looks at websites as interconnecting pages so it’s pages.com first website that comes second when we think of Google’s algorithm.
We’re looking for the strongest trust flow pages in any link set. Simply it’s a case of ordering source trust flow for links highest to lowest and from that you will see which links are the ones that are working.
Occasionally you will come across a website the two ranks for no apparent reason. In my research these are the sites which I call ‘trusted sites’ and for a long time it gave me a headache trying to work out why a site should rank in a competitive segment with no links. The answer came to me when I had read Google quality rater guidelines 2014. When you see one of these websites in your sector, the question will be are they doing some kind of very clever of spam, or are they just a trusted site.
The answer is in the backdrop to the website. Does that website look like its wants to stick around or does it look like a disposable website? Disposable websites are easy enough to spot because they usually have terrible looking domain names, awful looking themes and often you will spot similar sites to your specimen site around the place.
If you do come across a trusted site then it’s worth paying close attention to why it has been trusted. The question is always then whether you can do the same or better.
And that is about it, the important part here is to remember that in search engine results it’s not about being the best everywhere, it’s about being the best amongst your local competition and that competition is any website that ranks around the key phrases you want to rank in. That is why looking at the right winners is critical for great SEO.
Nick Garner is Chief Strategy Officer and founder of 90 Digital, the iGaming SEO and digital marketing agency. They have a team 80 people working across 3 offices. Nick was previously search manager for Betfair and then head of search for Unibet prior to founding 90 digital.