SEO case study – competitor analysis comparing actual rankings with common SEO performance indicators

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We are currently working with a client in an ongoing search engine optimization project where we are aiming to boost their search engine ranking in the highly competitive property market of Coventry and the West Midlands for the phrase ‘coventry estate agents’. At this early stage we have looked at the top websites that rank for this keyword and simply extracted some commonly measured SEO metric data to start identifying some trends. This SEO case study shares some initial findings and aims to provoke some debate around ranking factors and which ones genuinely influence the position on search engine results pages.

There’s still a lot of work to do, but it was an interesting exercise and the main conclusion from the raw data is what we already know about SEO – there’s no single ranking factor or performance indicator that is influential and quality counts.

For example there appears to be no obvious correlation between Facebook likes, Twitter followers and search engine ranking. Before you start rushing to ditch your social media sites, the key here is engagement; a heap of Likes and Followers counts for very little unless you get retweets, likes and shares. The jury is still out on how much this influences search engine rankings and therefore web traffic.

The same goes for Page speed once you get above a minimum of say 50, as the number one ranking website is a relative slouch with Google Page speed insight scores of 48 and 55 which is slower than lower ranked websites.

The external links to the page also threw up some interesting results with number 3 having only 7 external links compared to lower ranked websites with many more links. The main conclusion here is quality over quantity. Low quality links will at best do nothing to improve your ranking, and could drag you down if they have a poor reputation.SEO case study

Content marketing is a buzz word at the moment and we have seen examples of websites getting a boost from regularly updated content through blogs and new features. When we looked the number of days since the last blog update, again there was no correlation with the rankings, with no 2 ranking above much more frequently updated websites.

Comparing position on Google with common SEO ranking factors

Position on GoogleGoogle PageRank URLSEOmoz (PA)SEOmoz (DA)
External links to page
URL age (Years)
Social shares (URL)
Days since last blog updateFacebook page likesTwitter followersPage Speed mobilePage speed desktopMobile friendly
113623
140
7
35
802291314855y
233320
118
16
37
6337005545567y
302915
37
5
33
11114257861y
431832
7
2.1
0
No blog5176117165y
523321
44
10
75
666811875564y
61217
3
6
33
867785175161y
712613
7
14
84
No blog731177288y
823320
6
16
8
No blog103336487n
923623
221
15
13
61207946987n

Here are the definitions of each indicator:

Position on Google – the ranking on Google UK for the highly competitive (locally) keyword ‘Coventry estate agents’.

PageRank – PageRank is a metric, developed by Google, to score a specific page. In the past, PageRank played an important role within the ranking algorithm of Google. PageRank is scored using a 0 to 10 logarithmic scale. Today the role of PageRank is far less significant, especially since Google PageRank updates are pretty scarce. A HIGH PageRank is still an important indicator to measure the strength of a page.

Moz Domain Authority (on a 1 – 100 scale) DA – Domain authority is a metric, developed by SEOMoz, to predict the ability of a website / domain to rank in search engines. Domain authority uses a 0 to 100 logarithmic scale. A high Domain authority score means your complete website / all the pages on your domain have the potential to rank well in search engine results.

Moz Page authority PA – is a metric, developed by SEOMoz, to predict the ability for a specific page to rank in search engines. Page authority uses a 0 to 100 logarithmic scale. A high Page authority score means your page has the potential to rank well in search engine results.

URL Age – an estimate of the number of years a domain has been registered.

External links to domain metric – displays the external equity links referring to the domain name / root URL and not the complete domain. Equity links are value passing links.

Social Media score  – the total share count from: Google+, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

Days since last blog update the date stamp of the last blog update from the day of the analysis. This takes no account of other content such as new property details or other content.

Mobile page speed score – the score out of 100 from the Google Page speed insights testing tool for mobile devices.

Desktop mobile friendly score – the score out of 100 from the Google Page speed insights testing tool for desktop computers and laptops.

Does it pass the Google mobile friendly test? – using the Google mobile friendly testing tool to test each URL. This would change the ranking if we were using a mobile device.

We’re still in the early days of this SEO case study project but this analysis does yield some interesting initial results which at this stage neither debunk nor fully support some of the accepted truths about some SEO ranking factors and how they influence the ranking of a website in search results. This SEO case study shows quality not quantity is the holy grail for all the factors, particularly in relation to Backlinks and Content.

See our earlier blog post on ranking factors for more information.

Note: To extract this data we used the SEO review tool’s Website Authority checker cross-checked with Moz’s own free tools to verify.

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