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I'm fairly new to SEO and although I've read many articles on the topic I still don't have a clear idea of how to get my client's website get to the first page of Google Search.

I run MOZ competitor analysis and see that a competitor that comes up at the top of Google Search has approximately same Domain Authority, Domain Moz Rank and Trust. They have 8 External Linking Root Domains while my client's site has five. Yet the competitor comes up as one of the top sites on the first page, and my client's side is on page #3.

Then I noticed one drastic difference in competitor's ranking and that is Total Links. He has 1,388! I don't understand how this could be a positive factor in Search Engine ranking and how can they legitimately have 1,388 links (while only 14 of those are external).

Another competitor who is #2 in search engine rankings has 773 links total with only 14 external links.

It seems fishy, but yet there they are - at the top of the search engine results. Is that some current way to trick Search Engines? What to do if I'd like to get my client's website onto the first page by some legitimate means?

Thanks.

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2 Answers 2

I don't think total links is a valuable metric. Internal links only effect SEO in that it encourages engagement; time on site, time per page, pages per visit, etc. External links, meaning link from your customers site to other sites is important for it's quality. Inbound backlinks are generally the key when talking about links. Where do they come from, the quality of the site, the quality of the page, the authority the page, etc., are important metrics. The number of backlinks is not enough.

Another consideration I did not see you mention is the competitors site age, host, registrar, the site ownership, speed of the site, if there are any other sites associated with this site through the afore mentioned, the traffic of the competitors site, the level of engagement; time on site, time per page, pages per visit, etc. These are all extremely important metrics and can easily trump most leading link metrics alone. As well, how well is the site utilizing keywords through backlinks, title tags, description meta-tags, header tags, leading content, etc? What impression rate are they getting, the CTR, bounce rate, time spent on site, time spent per page, pages read as a result of search? We have only just touched the surface.

Remember that Google is said to have over 200 metrics for rank. That is RANK! This does not include the results engine providing SERPs as a result of a search query. We know that there are metrics associated with Penguin and Hummingbird that have nothing to do with rank. Links are important and backlinks are important to persue, however, it is not the sole linch-pin to good site performance in the search engines. Backlinks are a factor in a whole slew of metrics that are all important.

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Thanks for sharing the knowledge. I didn't think that internal links were much of a facto either, but that's the only metric that is drastically different between the sites. I checked the website on their content - doesn't seem anything particularly high quality either. Their blog isn't updated since July 2013. I don't see a lot of links on the visible pages of the site either. Here is the site in question (the one ranking #1 with 1,700 internal links) - springslandscaping.com Just don't see any valid reason why that website comes up at the top of search results. –  hanazair Mar 5 at 21:45
    
I guess it depends on the search terms. It is a reasonably well done site. You have to remember that traffic can be a factor and traffic can be direct from traditional marketing, social, or from search based upon terms you may not know. It may be that they have a good marketing plan. I would not worry about your competitor as much as trying to perform well with as many of the tools in the toolbox as you can. It will take time. But you can do it. –  closetnoc Mar 6 at 0:43
    
I guess, what really puzzles me, is that I don't see what makes that site so much better than the site of my client. I don't see a lot of valuable content, their blog hasn't been updated in over 6 months, they have only 3 domains pointing to them and none of them of much value. And this site manages to be ahead of Timberline landscaping site, who is mentioned in more external domains, has regular blog, etc. Timberline seems definitely a much higher quality site, and yet it is #2. –  hanazair Mar 11 at 19:30
    
I had to make some assumptions about your customers domain name. I took a look at both sites using Ranks.nl and MarketSamurai. They got you beat on keyword usage, PR (2 vs 1), and Backlink Domain Count (57 va 45). There may be other issues too. Go to ranks.nl, webmaster tools, page analyzer. Compare both sites and look at first 7 single words. Match theirs. Also, you are ranking for landscaping and landscape. Stick with landscaping. Also get backlinks from more than 7 more domains. Make sure they are high quality sites to hopefully increase your PR to 2. That should be a start. –  closetnoc Mar 12 at 2:49
    
I forgot to mention that your site (and again I am assuming the domain name) is hosted on ENom. ENom does not seem to have a good reputation and I have been seeing ENom sites in my security database. It may be that your site is in a bad neighborhood. I would switch to goDaddy. –  closetnoc Mar 12 at 3:10

You mention number of links on competitors sites, which may be a fair concern, but have you checked that number on links? Of course, not one by one, but how are those links set, most probably, they have a very intricate system or internal linking, which, well done, may increase findability of pages/products. It's important to have a strong relationship between elements on the site. Not artificially inflated, but fair.

You also mention that you use some services from MOZ, but, have you checked their last Survey and Correlation Data, there you can see what kind of elements weight more on ranking and positioning on search results.

Another reference you may check, is this article about the famous Google’s 200 Ranking Factors. It may not be the best article about it, but is a good categorized list that you can try to check and compare between your client and the competition sites.

Apart of that, we can't tell you why a site comes first on a SERP, only pointers, and general advice.

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Actually, so far I haven't been able to find those links. I see them reported - 1,700 of them! - but I don't see them on the site, I clicked through all of their visible pages. I guess they must be stashed away on some pages not easily located. –  hanazair Mar 11 at 19:37
    
If you don see the links on their pages, have you seen then in a SERP for their site with the filter site:? Remember that Google, and any crawler may have old links on their system for many reasons. So don't believe the link count too much unless you can confirm it 100%, which is not common to happen. –  PatomaS Mar 11 at 23:23
    
I'm sorry for a dumb question, could you tell me how to get see all links on a competitor's site? I was trying to find something like that on MozSEO, but didn't. I tried Googling the question , but all I get is how to see all links on my own site using Google's Webmaster tools. –  hanazair Mar 12 at 3:23
    
you can use site:example.com on Google, Bing and Yahoo. Most probably on other search engines too. That is going to give you some results, different between each other also, but may give you a rough idea of what a site may have. –  PatomaS Mar 12 at 5:45

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