It’s always enlightening to carry out a variety of experiments that relate to our world of search engine optimization. Many of our experiments have been related to duplicate content & differentiation strategies. We’ve also been forerunners, we like to believe, with experiments regarding site wide anchor links and footer link positioning.
Our latest experiment relates to a relatively new business website based out of York, PA. The site had difficulty ranking for some prime geographic + keyword searches even after a local marketing firm invested a reasonably fair amount of time & energy (so they say) into promoting the site.
Without any intention of using their site as an experiment, we added a naturally placed geographic + keyword rich text link within an informative article on one of our trusted websites, and, within 2 1/2 weeks, this particular business website was ranking in the top 2 or top 3 organic searches for relevant geographic + keyword searches (one phrase has 12.5 million results in Google). Pretty impressive. Even I was a bit caught off guard by how easy (it seemed) to get this non client website ranking well, at least for the short term. Running backlink queries, we were able to determine that it was, indeed, our link to this business website which was causing the sudden boost in SERP positioning.
Since this business website is owned by a company which is not a client of ours, and since this backlink to them was offered generously to them with no notification to them on our behalf (it was merely within an editorial article, and they probably were never aware that the link even existed), I decided that it was time to conduct an experiment. Today, we added a “nofollow” to the link to their website within the editorial article. We plan to regularly check the SERPs to see how long it takes for a “nofollow” tag to have an impact on this website’s ranking. Based on past studies we’ve conducted, the results can take quite some time.
On a side note, it’s scary to think of how much economical impact removing or adding a link can have on a third party business. Welcome to the 21st century where millionaires are made through merely a well positioned link or two, oftentimes created by an unknowing third party.