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SEO Website Audit

Unoptimized Site Ranks #1

October 3, 2007
Hi Jill

I am currently looking at doing SEO work for a [generic type of alcohol for
drinking] industry-related website. I have come across one problem though.

If I enter [the type of alcohol] into Google (, and look at
the top ranking site, I cannot see why it should be number one. I know you
do not review individual sites, so all I can say is that I know for a fact
that this site was not (deliberately) optimized.

It has weak titles, no particular keyphrases in the content, no meta
description or keywords, no keyphrases as headings or alt text. It has about
60 incoming links but none that could be regarded as 'quality' websites.
The HTML does not even validate. All I can see is that [the type of alcohol]
appears as part of the URL and as the first word in every page title.

The problem is justifying SEO to a client when a competitor site like this
apparently defies SEO logic and succeeds nonetheless.

Any insight is appreciated!


++Jill's Response++

Hi Maurice,

This is a great example of how all the elements that people believe are
necessary for a site to rank highly are not always needed at all! In fact,
much of what you read online about what is supposedly going to gain you high
rankings is a complete myth.  This is especially true when it comes to
extremely general, one-word keywords, such as the one you are talking about.

You'll almost always find the top ranking pages for any one-word keyword
will defy the "rules" of SEO. Which is why SEO is not about optimizing for a
one-word keyword, but instead optimizing for the hundreds of keyword phrases
that relate to the product/service in question.  With one-word keywords,
it's basically a crap-shoot.    

If you absolutely need to show up for a very general one-word keyword (and I
strongly believe you don't) then your best bet is to bid on it via Google
AdWords.  However, it's doubtful that the cost per click would provide you
with a positive return on your investment.  General words are usually very
poor converters -- another reason why they're not worth the aggravation of
optimizing for.

Do your keyword research and find the tons of related phrases, then optimize
each page of the site for 3-5 different ones.  Your traffic will soar, your
conversions will be great, and your client will start to see what real SEO
is all about!