I was going to do a big post on the initial steps I go through to construct a link development strategy for a site but LinkResearchTools is misbehaving at the moment due to their new release (which is awesome), so instead I am going to do a much shorter post on an interesting listing and how establishing your competition can be difficult at times.
Link Analysis is so Much More !!
Competitive research is the first thing I do when looking at a new market/client site/getting new link development ideas/relaxing … you get the idea, I am a link geek. Most people don’t see the true value in conducting link research. It’s not just about getting a couple of link ideas, it can break down a whole companies marketing strategy. Links are the glue that bind your site to the rest of the web. They can say a lot about your site, the market, what sells and who your real competitors are. This is the best/worst thing about online, it’s very hard to keep any hard working marketing ploy to yourself.
Ok, back to the point. I was looking at a market in the UK today and pulled back results on 4 keywords “manchester hotels”, “hotels in manchester”, “manchester city centre hotels”, “hotels in manchester city centre”.
As any good SEO/Conversion expert will know, it’s not just about ranking a web page, it’s about ranking the right web page for certain queries, so I am not sure Premier Inn would be happy with Google’s results:
“Manchester hotels” / “hotels in Manchester”
This is the right page to bring up and will obviously help with organic conversion. Using prices in meta description can give your organic CTR a lift (dependent on where you are on the page and what competitors have listed), but I bet there is a big drop of at their rates page. I did 5 searches and never got a price below £60.
“Manchester city centre hotels” / “hotels in Manchester city centre”
Now I am not saying it’s surprising an inner page ranks for the head keywords and another page ranks for the long tail versions of these (LateRooms are great at this). But it’s an interesting listing. The keywords aren’t mentioned on the home page (other than an internal link), there are no anchor text links pointing to those page and in terms of internal links, they are not excessively linking back to the page with that anchor text.
It did remind me of this post “Are we Over-Engineering the Link Graph“. Working across a lot of different markets and doing a lot of link analysis has taught me there are often rankings that are difficult to explain. Big brands rank better in Google, the Vince update helped sustain that, although the latest May Day update seemed to focus on lowering domain rank for long tail keywords. Obviously in the above example, Premier Inn would prefer their Manchester page to rank for long tail versions of that keyword too (maybe not, maybe they don’t care). It could be a simply case of tweaking some internal links or a press release with target keywords. But when doing analysis and faced with unexplained rankings, just ensure you gather enough data to formulate a strategy for target keywords. Looking at multiple competitors and segmenting analysis by:
On-Site / Internal Links / Back Links
is a good place to start (obviously the most important thing is to ask can you match their product).