How Can a Website Rank Higher without It Being Optimized?

You’ve probably noticed many websites ranking high in the SERP’s and they’ve really had no SEO optimization done. You’ll notice they are ranking high for keywords NOT on their pages, which often gets us wondering how this is possible. However, it’s important to understand Google does have over 200 ranking factors so these particular sites could be falling under some of these. I went out on a journey to find out how website would be able to rank WITHOUT any particular SEO campaign or even any backlinks pointing to their page. Over several months, I was able to gather cool data on why this was happening. I can tell you right away, much of it has to do with Google and their ranking factors.

Let’s jump right in:

Website Age

One of the MOST important ranking factors for Google is the age of the website. The longer the website has been around, the more credibility it has gained over time. However, this ONLY applies to those websites that are continually updating their content and improving their overall website. Through an older website, you’ll probably increase other ranking factors automatically, for example, older sites have more content, CTR’s, brand awareness, and are much larger. If you think about it long and hard, you’ll notice many of these factors are part of the 200 ranking factors.

CTR + Bounce Rate

Google is ranked the #1 search engine for several reasons, however, the main factor is its ability to distinguish between enormous data. Google will boost your websites ranking in the SERP if you have a higher CTR for a particular keyword compared to others ranking for the same keyword. Keep in mind, the longer your website has been around, the more likely you’ve probably generated way more click-through than some of those just starting out online. However, there are still ways people can manipulate click-through so Google will take into account the bounce rate. For example,

The way to tell if a click-through is legitimate is to track bounce rate. If people truly meant to land on your page, they would spend more time on the page and visit interlinking content.

Content Quality

Because Google is a sophisticated search engine, it can track content quality among many websites. This means if you have some sort of “targeted” keywords on your page, Google will know where to rank your website and for which keywords. However, before it does, it will take into account the quality of your content and compare it to others for the same keyword. Don’t forget the recent updates we’ve had, which focused on ”thin” and “duplicate” content like Panda. Through this update, they can tell when some websites have high quality content across the entire domain compared to a few pages. Next,

Older websites have a proven track record of having a larger collection of high quality content published on their website. This is why older websites have been known to outrank others in the same niche.

Backlink Profiles

Many of you think the higher the backlinks, the better for rankings, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Some websites with only 10 backlinks are outranking others with 50 and the reason is very simple. It has to do with the relevancy and authority of these backlinks. One way Google tells how relevant a website is by skimming through the link profile to check relevancy of the sites linking into it. Older websites with higher quality content don’t necessarily have to build links on their own because over time, they’ve been able to generate awesome relevant links from authority websites.

Keep in mind, if you’re wondering why some websites are ranking and they have 5-6 links, you should dig deeper and look over the relevance and authority of those links pointing to the page.

Keyword Competition

Depending on the niche, some websites might outrank others simply because the keyword profile Google has created is very low in competition. As mentioned, just because you are NOT actively optimizing your website doesn’t mean Google won’t create their link profile for you. How many times have you written content and in Google Webmaster Tools, your page is ranking for keywords you never wanted to rank for? The point I’m making is some websites might simply be ranking for keywords because they are low competitive keywords. This means NOT too many websites are ranking for the same keywords so you automatically have an edge on other websites. This is NOT necessarily a negative thing because some of the generated link profiles involve keywords with the following:

  • Growth potential
  • Current search traffic
  • High converting keyword (buy now, review, etc.)
  • High CPC, which is perfect if you have Adsense on your page

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