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.