Reverse Engineering the SERPs

Reverse Engineering the SERPs

I’ve been reverse engineering competitors in many industries to try and understand why Google ranks a company (external factors only). I know that Google and many respectable SEO’s preach about building awesome content and give users a reason to link to content naturally. However, I’m finding many sites that do not follow any of the industry recommendations and they outrank sites that are doing what is recommended. It seems like many of these sites have barely any OnPage SEO, what they do have is transparent unnatural backlinks.

If you reverse engineer Wikipedia pages you will find that these pages all have unnatural anchor text link profiles (according to Google’s recommendations) and they are all natural. Perhaps Google cannot really detect these things and can only manually find out after a site’s reported.

Here is the issue, if I work on ranking for a term and my competitors in the industry are ranking from building/buying sitewide relevant links and have a ton of exact anchor texts pointing at their sites I cannot compete. For every article I create and spend time on outreach they can build 10 exact anchored links that carry more PR. When people naturally link to my articles they are usually don’t link to it exact match.

This leaves me a bit confused, I want to create good content but if that doesn’t work I wasted my time.

I also know that Google prefers editorial links. I can build free blogs and add articles on each over time, link to 4 sites in each article and control Google’s SERPs. In fact one of the sites I have reverse engineered has done this and none of their competitors have a chance.

What have you guys discovered when reverse engineering competitors on the SERP?
Have any of you found sites that rank without keyword driven anchor text profiles?

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