SEO Game: Find the intruder where Google has failed

seo game
I thought that an article like this could be useful for all medium level SEO to show in a simple way how to identify with a low margin of error what not to do to prevent the impact of Penguin or eventually other quality filters in respect to google guidelines.

I start from an actual case where I select a quite competitive SERP as “Offerte Week end” and analyze the first 10 results.

TAKE CARE: This post is not an attack to website of this serp, but simply a way to tell what to avoid and why. To do this we need a sacrificial lamb.

SERP “Offerte Week End”

Offerte week end

You can note that the SERP is personalized based on my local city setup on the left, but we don’t care cause this is a common context of user search. To be more clear I show you the SERP in anonymous surfing with Italy as a set location.

offerte week end da italia

The difference is minimal and its related  to the last few results.

Analysis of each URL crossing data of various instruments

For this SEO game we’re using 3 very useful SEO Tools:

Specifically, to get a quick overview of the 10 results, we use the bulk backlink checker to identify immediately possible warnings. Click images to enlarge.


Offerte Weekend - Batch Analysis - Ahrefs

Majestic SEO

Offerte Week end - Bulk Backlink Checker - Majestic SEO - Historic Index

Using “Historic Index”

Offerte Weekend - Bulk Backlink Checker - Majestic SEO

Using “Fresh Index”

Open site explorer

Offerte Week end - Open Site Explorer - tutti


Graphics show in a simple and quite clear way that there is a common line looking at Majestic flow metrics and OSE rank metrics. For ahrefs we can see some differences, but is very interesting to note that social signals (even if not so precise) allow us to assume something strange.

From this summary I can realize that the website in 3rd position presents an anomaly and maybe the 5th too. I can assume this before looking various websites.

Check anchor text distribution

At this stage I use ahrefs that offers the fastest method and easiest to read. In an ideal complete analysis is always good to cross examine data using various tools and not only using page metrics, but it’s enough for the purpose of this post and to simplify.

1° Result

2° Result

3° Result

4° Result

5° Result

6° Result

7th and 8th results are without BL from ahrefs.

9° Result

10* Result

Images show evidences that confirm my hypothesis and looking deeper to data we can find something strange on the 9th result. Now we use a more user-like approach let’s analyse each single website.

Visual analysis of sites

This is a very delicate stage because in most cases tend to be guided by the tastes, and especially if we look at a SERP where we compete it becomes difficult to judge.

The advice when you make a SEO game like this (if you do not have enough common sense) is to choose a keyword in which you are not a competitor.

In the following example I judge and try to concetrate only on the single landing page without browsing the site (unless particular concerns). It is not my intention to give an overall assessment of the sites that obviously require too much time and too many lines, but above that it would be useless for the purpose of this article.

1° Result

That’s what we expect. Of course it depends on the intent of the searcher, but we can not say anything. The site is valid I would say that it is promoted.

Offerte e idee per il week end fuori città -

Offerte e idee per il week end fuori città –

2° Result

If I don’t remember wrong, summer is coming đŸ™‚ Promoted, there is nothing to say always with the premise of the first result.

tui offerte week end estate

Offerte Weekend – Idee Week End Last Minute |

3° Result

Be careful when clicking on the image to enlarge it. You could be electrocuted!

This site as I predicted deserves a more careful and detailed analysis.

Offerte weekend - Home Page

Offerte weekend

4° Result

Different type as compared to the first two websites if we think the intent of the user’s search, but is an alternative to distant destinations with flight + hotel so we can approve it. It List a range of spa packages. Perhaps a bit ‘excessive repetition of the keys in the regional menu.

Offerte week end benessere - week end beauty farm con Benessereviaggi.

Offerte week end benessere – week end beauty farm con …

5° Result

We can say that for a genaric keyword and especially with the location set in Bologna is not the best choice, but the site contains weekend offers so nothing to say. Perhaps we could have too much repetition of the keyword, but nothing serious, but nothing serious. Certainly It shows how Google suffers on exact match domains, but it can stay there even if it has not so great metrics based on our tools.

Offerte Week End Campania - Napoli - Ischia - Sorrento

Offerte Week End Campania – Napoli – Ischia – Sorrento

6° Result

Here too, the site contains information that potentially have been searched for. Nothing to say.

Offerte Week end, Ponti e Vacanze brevi -

Offerte Week end, Ponti e Vacanze brevi –

7° Result

What about this one…if you need a weekend offer in a bed and breakfast probably you will find it.

Offerte Weekend B&B - Bed & Breakfast Italia - Il circuito Italiano di ...

Offerte Weekend B&B – Bed & Breakfast Italia – Il circuito Italiano di …

8° Result

It starts from the assumption that you are looking for a flight for the weekend, but we can’t say anything.

Week end | Volagratis: offerte weekend per i tuoi viaggi

Week end | Volagratis: offerte weekend per i tuoi viaggi

9° Result

If it were not for the fact that the main content is marginal compared to Ads which occupies the upper left corner would not have said anything. So I tried to navigate the menu on the right, but is very hard to find some offers for my weekend and only after scrolling the frame immediately below the 336×336 ads I’m able to find some links to the offers, those are all external links to other very similar websites.

Week End Economici: offerte last minute agosto 2012

Week End Economici: offerte last minute agosto 2012

10° Result

I am not convinced even if Umbria is very nice. I suppose that there is something excessive especially in forcing the anchors and texts, but I can not say anything here.

Offerte Week end in Umbria: hotel, alberghi e agriturismi a Perugia ...

Offerte Week end in Umbria: hotel, alberghi e agriturismi a Perugia …

What happens? How can the 3rd be there?

First impressions:

  • The site looks relatively new and it is an exact match.
  • The site contains a disproportionately large number of ads in prominent positions, ie positions where the user wants to find information.
  • The site contains no actual weekend offers, but possible holiday destinations written as short articles.

But so what’s special about this site? What questions will be done the Panda when he moved there?

Why “Above The Fold” filter, that is not an anti-ads filter didn’t hit this site?

What all these statements are only bogeys of filters, algorithms and animals.

Obviously I’m exaggerating and mocking… don’t get angry.

But above all, where is this penguin when needed :)?

He’s acting widely when it comes or goes patchy. It needs a big number of signals or just a few.

The deadly mix of “exact match” + “backlinks anchor text”

I am sorry to say, but unfortunately today it is still very important to have an exact anchor text concernig with the keyword of interest and the same behavior occurs even in ultra competitive contexts where every normal person with common sense would be able to understand that some sites should not preside certain positions, but apparently for Google is still very important, and unless our dear Panda and Penguin there is very little to do and, above all, with a little strategy becomes very easy to game them.

Looking better at the 3rd website it seems very simple to game google even without any particular strategy.

backlink profile majestic historic

backlink profile majestic historic

Most links are all completely off topic site-wide links in the blogroll section where we can find others mixed argument external links.

Let us take a few.

Offerte weekend anchor

Now I do not mean that those who dance flamenco don’t love to get weekend deals, neither that in Brisighella hate weekends, but I think that “something strange is going on”. Take a look at the “Weekend Italia” website! Don’t remind you anything? đŸ™‚ What do you remember?

We have reached the second level of the SEO game: “Find the differences”

Find the differences

The SEO game is over

Who won? Now our third place friend is the winner, but How long can such a situation last?

Strumento per le parole chiave di Google AdWords

Strumento per le parole chiave di Google AdWords

Do you really think that this is a good mid-term SEO strategy?

Do you really think that even with the volumes of traffic and some adsense smeared everywhere you will be able to establish a project that you can monetize for years to come?

I personally think that doing this type of sites is a waste of time and especially lack of cleverness both from the presentational point of view that of link building. Sooner or later this site will be swept away from SERPs and you never have to take you from the temptation to use shortcuts and push you towards competitive keywords without a true plan behind.

This site is like a lie … and as everyone knows “Lies have short legs.”

How to help search engines?

You can use the spam report that you can fill in the following way…

Penguin Spam Report

but please!

Remember my premise… evaluated with common sense or on SERPs where you don’t compete.

What can we learn from this

To conclude from this sample results on a quite competitve SERP we can learn:

  • We can rank using old stupid strategies [But don’t do that].
  • We can use lots of tools to cross more data and reduce to minimum the possibility of false positive during the analysis. [Here’s an example with 3 tools, but we can use more]
  • We can and we must check competitors’ websites to look what they do, why they do and how they do.
  • We must have a plan, an idea, a passion and we must transform ti in a useful website in what it is.
  • We must use in a clever way anchor text without going over the limit.
  • We can help the search engine becoming auditors [But don’t evaluate “your” serps].

But the most important thing! This is a SEO game so take it as is.

Act with intelligence and leave aside your tastes and your fixations. A site can be ugly (or not like), but contain information useful to the user. Just don’t ask yourself, selfishly, why a site that sucks rank well, but study it and look for the positives things it has and make treasure of them.

Let us be humble in the opinion even though it is very difficult and look for ideas even where apparently there aren’t.

Personally i can say that the most brilliant ideas were provided by the worsts sites.

Article originally posted in italian here with title Gioco SEO: Trova l’intruso dove Google ha fallito

Credits fot the first image

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