So, those of you who know me, know that I run a successful digital ad agency. One of the many things my team does is SEO. Here's the accidental experiment - take what you want out of this interesting discovery.
We submit our SEO clients' sites for backlinking every week. We have a lot of clients and submit as many as 10k backlinks at a time, spread across 50-100+ clients. Here's what a simple slip of the keyboard by one of my project managers taught me about the significance of backlinks...
First, let me introduce two of my clients: Client A (a dentist in Los Angeles) and Client B (a landscape architect in Houston).
Here's how the backlinks should have gone...
Link: Dentist Los Angeles [pointing to clientA.com]
Link: Landscape Architect Houston [pointing to clientB.com]
I'm sure you can guess - a mistake was made and we flip flopped them...
Link: Dentist Los Angeles [pointing to clientB.com]
Link: Landscape Architect Houston [pointing to clientA.com]
Here's What Happened...
A week later, after we realized the accident. We checked Google for "Dentist Los Angeles" and what did we find on page 1? Client B! Client B is a landscape architect in Houston. None of their pages were optimized for this key phrase at all, yet there they were!
Thinking this was a fluke, we checked Client B's site on Google with "Landscape Architect Houston." Low and behold, there was Client A (the Dentist in Houston) in the top 20 of Google. Again, there was zero on-page optimization for this keyword.
We have since corrected the mistake and our clients are happy to be up on top for their keywords, but I found this accidental experiment to be highly educational. Take what you want from this, but this makes it clearer to me; than ever, that off-page (i.e. link building) amounts to at least 70-80% of ranking. Mind you, our team builds links by hand, so this might not be the result for some of the automatic systems.
Again, this is just my conclusion from an unintended experiment. I probably wouldn't have given it much more than a single blink if it were just one occurrence, but the fact that the result replicated itself between both clients made me pause.
Anyway, I thought some of you may find that interesting.
All the Best!