SEO Case Study of a Dormant 9 Year Old Website
I graduated as a mature student in 2005 and this resulted in 3 large cardboard boxes of essays, reports, research and floppy disks. I wondered what I should do with all of this information and knowledge that I had spent countless (and sometimes seemingly eternal) hours creating.
With the huge investment I’d made both financially and in time, I couldn’t bring myself to chuck out my essays, although I purged many of them later. However, I kept the files in electronic form. After graduation I set up a business website that eventually turned into the one you’re reading this on now. I created several other sites and honed my web design and development skills. This was prior to becoming an AdWords specialist and a search engine optimisation consultant.
2007 Essay Website
One of the sites I created in 2007 was an essay site, I figured my essays might help someone else and it would also be a reminder of what I’d achieved. I posted 6 essays, together with my dissertation. These were good quality essays and all were marked as A standard and many scored above 80%.
As a fledgling online marketer I performed on-page SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), optimising title tags and meta descriptions and so on, to try to rank the site for its core keywords. I started to appear in Google search results with fair rankings, although not great.
- Dissertation = 11,700 words
- Essay 1 = 4,600 words
- Essay 2 = 4,700 words
- Essay 3 = 3,100 words
- Essay 4 = 7,300 words
- Essay 5 = 5,300 words
- Essay 6 = 4,000 words
A One Link Website
I wanted a link, so I added a link on Wikipedia, as my essay was highly relevant to the topic on Wikipedia and added value to their article. Then I left the site alone. I revisited the site occasionally and checked rankings and traffic, and then moved onto other things like earning a living. Eventually I forgot about the site. In September 2016, 9 years after I built it, I remembered the site and visited it and was intrigued to see performance.
SEO Results 9 Years Later
The site is still ranking for its core keywords, including a position 2 for one of the main keywords and I wondered why. I evaluated the backlink profile and the Wikipedia link is still there! What other links were there if any? Here is the link information.
Backlinks and Referring Domains
Backlinks = 37
Referring Domains = 20
Trust Flow and Citation Flow Metrics
Citation Flow = 27
Essentially, Citation Flow is authority from incoming links (link juice) and predicts how influential a URL is based on the incoming links.
Trust Flow = 22
Trust Flow is proximity of those incoming links to authoritative and trustworthy sources. Trustworthy sites tend to link to trustworthy sites.
For comparison, here are the metrics for bbc.co.uk
Trust Ratio gives a quick indication of the quality of a URL, higher being better and is calculated like this:
Trust Ratio = Trust Flow / Citation Flow
My essay site = 22/27 = 0.81
www.bbc.co.uk = 95/94 = 1.01
Spam type URL = 5/35 = 0.14
Analysis of Backlink Profile
Follow = 8
NoFollow = 21
Images = 8
Text Links = 18
Some links have been deleted and that accounts for the discrepancy in the figures.
As you can see from the statistics above, the majority of links are no follow and most links are from text links. Some images that were included as part of the essays have also attracted links. This looks like a natural link profile as links are of different types, there are many nofollow links and also there are links to the images.
Link Acquisition Over the Last 2 Years
The site is still acquiring links up to September 2016.
The anchor text (linking text) from the third party websites is varied and looks natural. Sometimes the anchor text is the essay title and sometimes linked with a URL and at other times they are contextual links from within the body copy of the linking site, using a relevant phrase to link in. A couple of times, the core keyword phrase I originally had in mind for a page is used to link. Many of the links are to the essay linked to from Wikipedia, but there are also several to other pages, including the Home page.
What Accounts for the Upheld Rankings?
There is some debate over the importance of an aged domain for rankings. I believe there are several advantages to aged domains, but the upheld rankings are likely due more to older backlinks and a natural, organically grown link profile.
SEO = Great Content + Links
SEO is actually content marketing, or is fulfilled by content marketing. Content creates the things that SEO needs. As Kissmetrics says, “there is no such thing as SEO without content”. SEO requires keywords and content supplies those keywords. SEO requires backlinks, content enables that, to an extent, although there are other ways to achieve backlinks. SEO requires a good user experience, and technical aspects of SEO and web site configuration help improve user experience, which again is to deliver content in a satisfying way to the user.
For more on SEO and Content Marketing see here: https://blog.kissmetrics.com/seo-is-content-marketing
My essay site meets all of these requirements, great content, which that was initially promoted with one Wikipedia link, and together, this small example of content marketing led to more links. Coupled with the aged backlinks, the site now enjoys some top 3 rankings. All in all not bad for a domain that was left dormant for 9 years!