Ranking without links

Hey everyone, if there is enough interest in this I will post my entire case study. But to start, let me overview what I did and the kind of results I found.

What I did:

I Registered 30 websites. (10 websites in each of 3 different niches)

  • I Wrote 15 pages of content for EVERY site.
  • Every article was unique. HOWEVER, I changed keyword density, title tags and word placement.
  • Without adding any links, I recorded the positions and ranking changes of each site over time


  • The goal of the study was to test the effect of content on rankings and determine the best way to write content.
  • The keyword’s I aimed to rank for WERE not in the domain (I tried to eliminate any extra variables)
  • All domains were on separate C blocks, and each was newly registered.

Variables Tested:

  • The articles varied slightly in keyword density. (.5% all the way up to 5%)
  • I changed title tags, and my usage of h2 tags
  • I changed word positioning and studied the patents on LSI indexing.
  • Word count varied. Some sites focused on 200 word articles, while others averaged 1000 words.
  • Simple sentence vs Complex Sentence usage
  • Image usage vs Non Image Usage (and the effects of alt tags)
  • The best way to break up content

After adding 2 articles per week, for a total of 6 weeks, I have recorded quite a bit of data. It seems that the most important factor in Googles algorithm is the 6th to 9th word in each article. Look at any natural page of content, you will notice that the 6th to 9th word in each paragraph usually is the focused content of the article. Another observation was the fact that keyword density only plays a negative factor in large articles. In articles with less than 200 words, a keyword density of 5-10% DID NOT hurt the rankings. On the other hand, articles of 1000 words could only get away with a 2.5% keyword density. (Anything more than that hurt the results). It is better to make the H2 tags SYNONYMS of the H1 tag, as opposed to secondary keywords you want to rank for. Content and On-Site factors compose roughly 60% of Google’s algorithm. Half the sites had images, the other half did not. The sites that had images FAR OUTRANKED the sites that did not.

Top 5 Content Writing Tips:

  1. The more H2 tags the better. 150 words under each H2 tag is the ideal range to achieve best rankings.
  2. Make the 6th to 9th word in each paragraph the keyword you want to rank for
  3. Bulleted points are amazing for rankings. Google gives extra value to keywords after bullets
  4. One image per 200 words is the PERFECT ratio. USE IMAGES (5-8 words for alt text)
  5. More words in article = keep a lower keyword density. Less words = keep a higher keyword density

WordPress Tips: Use POSTS not Pages. Tags tags tags, the more tags the better. Categorize and interlink your articles. An HTML sitemap is key. Yoast is the best on-site plugin, in my opinion.

There you have it. A 2 minute overview of my case study. For those of you that like stat, I have correlating spearman data for 45 different factors. Each of the 30 sites have ranking tracking over the 8 week case study. I noted EVERYTHING. If there is enough interest for a complete data analysis, I could do that.

Update: A couple of the sites DID get competitive rankings without links. That being said, after adding a few links, the higher performing sites quickly achieved top positions. (1st Page for 4k Exact Searches and $2 CPC). I honestly do not think Google penalizes for the duplicate content on category pages on WordPress. (Surely it doesn’t help as much as unique content, but I highly doubt it hurts.) I think you guys will enjoy the full study, there is quite a bit of actionable data.


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