In the comments of a recent post on Search Engine Journal on the Google MayDay Update, one commenter noted that authority is being devalued in terms of commonly sought after sites were not ranking for terms such as search engine and online auctions. In a reply from the article’s author, the sites that were not coming up in search results were not optimized for the keywords specified.
Top 10 Google Results Analysis
So out of curiousity, I decided to look at the top 10 results in Google for each search phrase in comparison with Yahoo’s and Bing’s results with a look at the site’s internal SEO factors (meta description, title, and keywords) plus external factors including anchor text on incoming links. Here is what I found.
Keyword: Search Engine
89% difficulty with 110,000 global monthly search volume (Google AdWords Exact Match)
Random Fun Fact – Bing doesn’t include Google or Yahoo in their top ten results for search engine even though Google and Yahoo include each other and Bing. Bing does have a Freebase article at the bottom of the search results that has a thumbnail of Google’s homepage.
Keyword: Online Auctions
57% difficulty with 27,100 global monthly search volume (Google AdWords Exact Match)
Random Fun Fact – Bing does not list eBay in their top ten results for online auctions, but does list three sites that have eBay alternative in their description. Google and Yahoo only have one site with eBay alternative in their description.
Analysis Tools and Tips
Want to do this kind of analysis on other keywords and websites? Here are the metrics analyzed, tools used, and some tips.
- SERP – Site’s positions in Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
- PR – Google PageRank for each site.
- Page Specific Metrics – Total Incoming Links, External Followed Incoming Links, and Root Domain.
- Incoming Links for domain or page as appeared in Google search results. Does not include variations (with or without www).
- Anchor Text Inc. – Number of Total Links and Number of Root Domain Links where the anchor text phrase includes specific keywords searched.
- Anchor Text Exactly – Number of Total Links and Number of Root Domain Links where the anchor text phrase is exactly specific keywords searched.
- Meta – Title, Meta Description, and Meta Keywords.
- Domain Alexa – Included to show popularity of sites – the lower the number, the higher the volume of traffic globally.
- Search engines – Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
- SEOMoz Keyword Difficulty Tool (paid account required)
- SEOMoz Open Site Explorer (free tool with limited results – for this example, I used one under a paid account with up to 10,000 anchor text phrase results given)
- Microsoft Excel 2007
For Google and Bing results, I turned off the web history / customizations to make sure results were as fresh as possible without any kind of personalization.
- To turn off Google web history, be sure to logout of your Google account, perform a search on any query, and look for the Web History link in the top right corner of the page. If it doesn’t show up after one search, perform another until it does appear. Click on the link and “Disable customizations based on search activity.”
- To turn off Bing web history, be sure to logout of your MSN / Live account, perform a search, and look for the Search History in the left sidebar under Related Searches. Click on the Turn off to shut history off.
I wasn’t able to find any history settings for Yahoo, but I made sure to logout of my Yahoo account before performing queries.
Anchor Text Count
- Get Link Data for the domain you are analyzing in Open Site Explorer.
- Under the Anchor Text Distribution tab, download data in CVS format.
- Delete first six rows of the spreadsheet.
- Highlight the row labels (Anchor Text through Length) and added a filter.
- Click on the dropdown arrow on the Anchor Text column and apply a Text Filter containing the keyword(s) you want to analyze. For the first example, I filtered using search engine.
- Scroll down to the bottom and click on the Sum button for the domains and links columns (B & C) to see the number of times a particular phrase has been used in anchor text.
For Alexa ratings, I simply used http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/domain.com and replaced domain.com with the website. SEOQuake and other free extensions for Firefox can also provide this information along with other great metrics.
Now, instead of me writing out my thoughts on these statistics, I would rather hear your opinion by considering some of the points below and adding your theories.
- Which search engine brings the results that searchers really want?
- Did the MayDay update really make search results better for searchers if some of the most popular sites are lower in the rankings?
- What does anchor text have to do with SERPs in specific search engines?
- Analysis includes exact match keywords only – would singular / plural make a difference in terms of anchor text and title & meta data usage?
- Depending on which search engine you want to rank well on, is it the number of links or the number of root domain links that helps your site the most?
- Do page title and meta tags make a difference in rankings?
- Does PageRank matter when chasing SERPs?
Also, since I am an “research junkie” and I enjoy doing these kinds of studies, I’d like to take special requests. What other metrics or topic would you like to see included in a future analysis?
Special thanks to Gail of Growmap business blogging for suggesting this study.
Another thing that was altered is the power and use of anchor text. I'd really start looking into building more branded links to your root domain and internal pages. Sites with a heavy anchor text focus definitely got a bite taken out of their traffic since May.
Kristi, Great to see some hard core data on this one. I'm not sure that they've gotten all the spam but I have seen some of it disappear! Richard
Hello Kristi, Thanks for this post ..!!! We are affected very badly because of google mayday .. We maintained our website named sankalptech.com on 1st rank for 2 years for keyword - mlm software on google.co.in & we were updating website regularly ... but suddenly other website come on rank 1st ( smartsoft.in) . previously this site was no where in listing ... After that we analyzed so much things our PR, Alexa rank, content, visitors all are more than twice good compare to that other website .. can u suggest something ...
Great article/post. I think SEO has almost come in a circle which is why a lot of stuff in this article is so relevant. Originally people just built pages, and whatever had the best content ranked best. Then people started pulling content tricks. Google then originally started valuing backlinks, and over the years people have tried all sorts of backlinking tricks. As Google develops more and more ways to ignore some of these, quality content and quality backlinks have again come to the fore.
To me Google still seems to have the most comprehensive information but the sources for niche specific data have exploded wonderfully. For example, the search features on del.icio.us, twitter and actual visual search engines like viewzi make research almost fun, lol
I don't think they've really cleaned the spam, as I still see a good bit, but they are definitely working on it with the help of people reporting sites as spam.
That's definitely the best things to focus on. If your site is user optimized with some search optimization, then it should do well.
Thanks. In this case, I got a little too into the stats and such while doing some research, but overall, I think it's interesting to see the differences in search results between the three top engines and how it relates to anchor text, meta data, etc.
I wish I could add some insight on what works best for rankings, but I'm still figuring out what is important and what is not. So far, I've focused on quality content & using keywords. By keeping up with your suggestions and learning as I go along, I hope to grow my site tremendously.
Hi Kristi, I'm not a very technical blogger but I am smart enough to listen to people like you who are. I do think that meta tags can really help with search results.
Mayday update was most surprise for few.....google says that they have cleaned spam in mayday as well as they given more importance to the long tail key words to make google search respond correctly on those long searched keywords
Thanks! And that is great advice - build your website correctly and do not venture to the "dark side" of SEO with blackhat techniques!
Great insight and research Kristi! From what I have read about the Mayday Update is really effects websites that are not created properly, or more correctly, are filled with affiliate links and descriptions that are same as everyone else promoting that product that are deep-linked within your website. In other words, if you have unique descriptions, links to that page from your home page and unique articles that are relevant to your website, you should be fine..... but with Google making well over 400 changes to their algorithms each year, this is just one of many. Just stay away from Blackhat techniques and you should not be effected.