Dissecting the Winning Sites

You’ve started building your web site, and you want to know how to score high in the SERPs like the leading sites in your field. In this article, you’ll learn how to look at those winning sites, discover the secrets to their success — and translate those secrets to your own web site.

This article is the fourth article in a series.  I highly recommend that before reading this article you first check out the previous articles in this series.  This will help you to more fully understand the concepts being discussed here.  You can find the first three articles herehere, and here.

One of the benefits of being an SEO professional is that you get to see a lot of different kinds of web sites in a lot of different kinds of markets. The reason this helps with performing search engine optimization is that you quickly realize there are certain key things that win across lots of different markets, and that win with the search engines no matter what.

In this article we are going to focus on dissecting the winning web sites, and more importantly, how to dissect the winning web sites in your specific market.  However, one of the things you do not want to do is perform your dissection only of the web sites in your own market.  Instead, when you begin dissecting web sites, it is a very good idea to dissect web sites across a variety of markets, so that you can quickly determine what wins regardless of the market, and what doesn’t.

The first and most important thing that a search engine spider looks for is keyword density. The question is, do you know what your keyword density should be to get the search engine spider to rank you the highest for that keyword? To answer that question, what you need to do is utilize the SEO Chat keyword density tool

 

At this point you want to start looking at the web sites that ranked the highest for the keywords in which you are the most interested. However, as I said above, do not stop there. You should also check out the web site’s other keywords. What are their densities? By looking not only in your own market, but also looking in other markets, you will quickly get a feel for what the best keyword density truly is.

The next thing to do is to actually look at the top web sites’ source code.  You will find that most of them utilize H1 and H2 tags.  As I have said in previous articles in this series, you will definitely want to look at making sure that your web site is hierarchical in nature.  As you start looking at the source code for many of the top sites, I think you’ll find that they follow that paradigm.

Checking out those on-page optimization factors will certainly go a long way to ranking you high in Yahoo and MSN. But that is only the first step to good rankings with Google. The next thing you need to look at is who is linking to the winning web sites. Google provides the link: search to help you find who is linking to what web sites. 

Now a lot of people stop by just looking at “the linking sites.”  What you want to do is not only use Google to find out who is linking to the winning web sites, but have a look at why they are linking. Now I’ve easily seen in many cases that the top web sites have thousands and thousands and thousands of links. So the best thing to do is to simply look at the sites with the highest page ranks.  Why are those high page rank sites linking to the number one site in your search term?

That is an important question to ask yourself. Once you get an answer to that question, very often you will find it’s not too difficult to get those very same web sites to also link to yours, assuming you have good content on your web site. In other words there has to be a good reason for those other sites to link to you.

The thing that I cannot stress enough, is to make sure that other sites have a reason to link to you. Simply having “a good product” is not a good enough reason.  Are there any product reviews on your web site? Does your site have an affiliate program (we will get into affiliate programs in later articles in the series)?  Does your web site have articles or content which explain the benefits and/or uses of the product for the different ways that the product can be used?  Does your web site say or contain or have something “controversial” which would then cause people to link to your site?

My point here is that sites will not link to you just because of the product you carry (as a general rule). You have to give other sites a very good, very valid, very strong reason to link to you if you expect to build lots of links, and through those links climb to the top of Google.

As many of my customers can attest, I am not a very big fan of web sites that are nothing more than stores. The reason for this is that web sites that are nothing more than stores do not get linked to; they don’t climb to the top of Google, and they tend to get very poor search engine rankings. Yes, of course some store web sites do get good rankings. But as a general rule those sites have been around for a while and have very diligently built back links and cross links to their site. If you expect to achieve a higher ranking than these types of sites that have been around for a while and have lots of links built up, then you need to give other sites a reason for linking to you other than simply being there.

By giving other sites a reason to link to you, you also improve the stickiness of your web site.  You increase the length of time that a user visiting your site is likely to stay. You are by extension improving the content on your web site, and therefore building trust in your web site, making the customer much more likely to buy from you.  Furthermore, because you are giving other sites a reason to link to you, you will slowly but surely catch up to and eventually bury your competition, giving them no way or no hope that they could possibly catch you.

In fact, one of the things you may notice is that I stress building trust with your customers. I hit on the trust-building issue very hard throughout many of these articles. The reason for that is simple. Any idiot can put up a web site.  Any idiot can sell articles over the Internet. [Actually, that depends very much on who you want to buy your articles. --Ed.] Most people know that. On the Internet, the sites that are the strongest, make the most money, and last the longest are those sites which give their customers a very high degree of trust. The easiest way to do that is through providing web site visitors content that proves you know what you’re talking about as it relates to your market.

This is why the second article in this series talked about writing articles which would then be submitted to other web sites. It is a way of putting your content on many other sites and building trust across a wide range of sites.  It is also a very good reason for other sites to link to you.

By this point, you are probably beginning to see that many of these articles interrelate.  This article touched on many of the points raised in each of the three previous articles. When you are dissecting a site you want to look at on-page optimization as well as off-page optimization.  When it comes to on-page optimization, we talked about those things in the first article. The next two articles related directly to off-page optimization, or getting links to your web site.

It is impossible to dissect a winning web site without keeping the things I talked about in the first three articles firmly in mind.

As always if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me or simply leave a comment here with this article.

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