Ranking on Page 1 of Google…Without Doing Anything

I realize the title of this post sounds like I’m about to try and sell you a product…the good news is, I’m not! I actually just wanted to share with you a quick story about how one of my niche sites landed on the first page of Google and received an ad click without me doing much of anything.

Although I uploaded a WordPress theme and added my usual plugins, this site was ranking on page 1 before I even added the content.

While you can’t plan for this in any way, I thought it might be interesting to take a deeper look at this site and the keyword that it targets to see if we can learn anything…

When you’re working very low competition keywords, you sometimes come across surprises.  Either a site ranks on page 1 so quickly that your head spins (as one of my sites did in this case), or you can’t seem to get to page 1 if your life depended on it, despite the seemingly low competition.  It’s hard to replicate because each keyword has a unique competitive environment, and for some reason, Google seems to like certain domains more than others. It’s a mystery to me, but I thought I could lay out for you the characteristics of both my domain and my keyword’s competition, with the hopes that we might learn something useful.

Here’s Exactly How it Happened

Just so we’re clear on what happened with this site, I’m going to walk you through it step by step:

1) Purchased the domain

2) Installed WordPress

3) Set up some on-page SEO elements (title, meta description, permalink structure)

4) Installed WordPress theme (this was the theme I used, although I think it’s irrelevant to what happened)

5) Set up my standard pages (privacy policy, contact page)

6) Set up my Google AdSense ads (You might be wondering, “Why did you set up the ads before you added any content?” There’s no particular reason why I did this – it’s just the order that I do things.)

Once all of that was done, I took a break, and during this break, I was looking through my Google AdSense data for the day.  Looking down the list of sites that received clicks for that day, I saw something really strange – the site that I had just set up had already received a click.  How is this possible? For a moment, I was worried that maybe I had accidentally clicked on my own ad, but I’m usually very careful about that.

I decided to investigate, by first looking at Google Analytics to see if there was any traffic recorded on that site.  I wasn’t expecting much – I didn’t even think Google Analytics would be tracking the traffic yet, since I had only installed it on the site within the past couple of hours.

Sure enough, the site already had 3 organic search visits, all from my target keyword. Upon Google-ing the keyword, I saw the site sitting right in the #8 position.  I’ve heard of pages ranking quickly on established blogs or article sites, but never with fresh domains that contain virtually no content.

Analyzing the Keyword, Domain, & Competition

Unfortunately, I can’t reveal the actual domain and keyword to you, for obvious reasons.  I will, however, reveal everything else.

The domain is an exact match keyword domain, with a .net extension.  There are no hyphens or any other words added beside the keyword itself.  Here is the basic information about the keyword:

As you can see, it’s not a high volume traffic keyword, but it’s also not extremely low either.  As for the competition, let’s take a look at the top 10 results for the keyword (it’s actually only 9 in this case), as analyzed by Market Samurai:

Clearly, the competition is very weak (which makes sense – how else would the site get to page 1 so quickly?).  Specifically, these are a few things I noticed (for all statistics, I am excluding my site):

  • 3 of the sites are PR0
  • 3 of the sites are less than a year old (this is the DA column)
  • 2 of the sites have less than 10 pages of content on their respective domains
  • 4 of the ranking pages have 0 backlinks (these tools almost always underestimate the amount of actual backlinks, so it’s possible that these sites have more than 0)
  • 1 of the ranking domains has no backlinks at all
  • Only 2 of the ranking pages have the target keyword in the URL
  • Only 4 of the ranking pages have the target keyword in the meta description

Without even doing a deep analysis, you can look at this chart and see right away that competition is weak.  It’s not too common to find keywords that have 2,000+ exact local searches with page 1 competition like this, but hopefully this little exercise gives you an idea of what to look for.  If you want to read more about my process for researching keywords, you can check it out here.

Conclusion

If sites like these can rank with no backlinks, then logic tells us that slightly more competitive keywords can rank with few backlinks.  For small niche sites, it pays to do good keyword research, because as you see here, it allows you to put little effort into SEO (which we all know is extremely time consuming) and still be able to rank highly in Google.

Have you had this happen to you with any of your niche sites?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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38 Responses to “Ranking on Page 1 of Google…Without Doing Anything”

  1. great Eric. curious about the target keyword. how much exact / broad search volume are we talking? what kind of adsense payout per click?

    this did happen to me recently. previously my focus had been medium to large niche sites. recently however i have been toying with a few one to three page sites, a couple of which ranked almost immediately on spot one.
    Sunil l Expediting Wealth Through Extra Income recently posted… Using Google Images to Drive Organic Search Traffic to Your Website

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    The screenshot in the post above gives you all that info. :) Here’s a link to it as well:

    http://www.my4hrworkweek.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/fast-ranking-keyword.png

    It’s amazing how fast Google indexes new sites/fresh content.

    [Reply]

  2. Cool mini case study Eric. Looks like a great keyword. I’ve had exact match .info domains rank on page 1 without building any backlinks.

    A lot of people say that EMDs no longer carry the weight they once did, but IMO they’re still rank really well, especially for long tails.

    Keep these great posts coming!

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I agree, Tony, EMDs still carry weight when it comes to ranking for your target keyword. Like you said, for long tail keywords with relatively low competition, EMDs work extremely well.

    Thanks for the comment!

    [Reply]

  3. This is an interesting find, even though it does not surprise me. I have always had a sneaky suspicion in the back of my mind that if you target the correct phrases, no back linking is necessary “bar one to get the site indexed” and develop the content below that phrase on site, you can maintain a decent place in the serps.

    I just recently wrote a post on one of my sites targeting a phrase that can only be found 5 times in bing “exact match” within 4 days this term is ranking and receiving traffic with no back linking required.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment Neale. Yes, it definitely seems like you can rank well without backlinks if the competition is low enough and you do everything “right” with the on-page SEO factors.

    However, to maintain the rankings, no doubt you need to add more content and eventually add backlinks, so that Google continues to see the content as “relevant” to the keyword.

    [Reply]

  4. Hey Eric – I really enjoyed your public adsense niche site project – great information. I just built my first mini-niche adsense site and it too reached first page of google as soon as it was indexed. However, it only lasted a couple days but competition is so low it should be back there in a couple weeks.

    I think it has to do with the google “fresh” update, where new content is given some extra weight. Who knows.

    Is your new site still holding its page 1 position?
    Lonnie recently posted… Receiving the Best News

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Lonnie. I think you’re right about Google giving extra weight to fresh content. Also, keep in mind that most new sites will inevitably face the “Google dance” where they bounce around in the rankings for the first couple of months.

    My site stayed on page 1 for over a week, but has now drifted to being near the top of page 2. Once I start add backlinks, I’m confident that the site will go back to page 1, probably even higher than it was before.

    [Reply]

  5. Hi Eric

    I have a similar experience. I launched a new website a few days ago. 6 hours later my website appeared on Google 1 page. With no content and no plugins, hand-made theme only… very strange.

    But when I added the first 3 articles on my page – BUUM. My website suddenly dropped to page 4.

    Google is very strange thing :-)

    Best regards, Kris
    KrisRRR recently posted… Zielona kawa – smakołyk czy lek?

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    It’s very strange indeed – I wouldn’t attribute your decrease in rankings to the fact that you added a few articles. You’re probably experiencing the “Google dance” that most new sites experience.

    Once enough time has passed and you’ve done some backlinking, you’ll probably climb the rankings again.

    [Reply]

    KrisRRR Reply:

    Probably you are right… but I was very shocked :-)

    Best regards from POLAND

    Kris

    [Reply]

  6. I am moving towards bigger and more content pages. It means target 50k with all post and end up ranking something. In long term this looks nice to me. Bigger better lesser and easier to manage.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Authority sites do have a lot more potential, and there’s a lot of ranking potential for various long tail keywords. The biggest challenge is ranking for such a high volume keyword (like 50k searches) because competition will be fierce and will require a lot of SEO work.

    [Reply]

    Rahul Reply:

    I told total count of all posts. i was not talking about keywords in domain name but all post as well.

    [Reply]

  7. glad you wrote this post, it`ll help a lot of people, ive had terrible experiences with very low competition keywords,wish i`d have read this blog ages ago

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Julie!

    [Reply]

  8. Very cool, Eric. I got an exact domain name for a local business.. and it ranks below the Google Map in a few days – with on-page SEO effort only. It maybe a google dance and I will check it out after 1-2 weeks.

    Now, I’m learning how to rank in Google Map. Offline marketing is not my focus and I’m just doing this as a favor for my uncle.

    I learned that getting an exact domain name (with suffix is fine) with decent on-page SEO rocks assuming low competition.
    Kent @ Make Extra Money Online recently posted… Make Extra Money Online with Google Adsense

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    That’s pretty interesting – I’ve never tried to get anything to rank in Google Maps before (but then again, I haven’t done much local internet marketing).

    Thanks for the comment Kent!

    [Reply]

  9. That is Awesome!

    It sounds like you have chosen a very good keyword / domain which will be very low maintenance.

    I just written a post about some SEO stuff actually which might be helpful (a few plugins etc).

    I must admit, I have purchased Market Samurai but have only used it a handful of times. I find it a very (bit too) complex system to use.. perhaps I need to give it another go.

    Great story!
    Ralph | Social Media Explained recently posted… 5 Things You Can Do to Increase your SEO Status

    [Reply]

    Ralph | Social Media Explained Reply:

    Ps. with one of my niches sites I am currently ranking
    #4 in Google on my Keyword
    #5 with one of my Images and
    #7 with my Facebook Fan page (also linked to that primary keyword)

    So you see that every little aspect can help your site populate the first page of Google.
    Ralph | Social Media Explained recently posted… How to use LinkedIn Features

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment Ralph, and it sounds like you’re currently dominating page 1 with one of your niche sites – that’s awesome.

    And you’re right, Market Samurai is a bit complex, but you need to figure out for yourself what things you’ll use it for. The two things I use it for (researching competition and tracking my site ranks) are great – you can do a lot more with it, but I just use it primarily for those two functions.

    [Reply]

  10. Hi Eric!

    What do you think about monetizing posts/articles placed on squidoo, hubpages, etc.?

    in this case it requires even less work and you can use the power of the aged domain with high PR and lots of content. reaching page 1. without doing anything should be even easier in this case.

    what do you think? have you ever tested it?

    well the disadvantage is you have to share 40-50% of your commisions with these squidoo or whateve sites but it is easier to set up and maybe worth considering even just for tests before setting up your own website?

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Great question Pawel, and that’s actually something I’ve explored extensively. You may have not seen it, but one of my more popular blog posts (from well over a year ago) was about writing articles for a revenue-sharing website (InfoBarrel). You can read the post here:

    http://www.my4hrworkweek.com/infobarrel-earnings-how-to-make-2000-per-month/

    I think this is a valid way to make money online without having to spend much (or any) money, because you don’t need to buy hosting or a domain. Although this can work well, I prefer to have more control over my content and actually own the website. Not only do you get 100% of the earnings, but you have the potential to grow the site and possibly sell it one day.

    Also, I think it’s easier to rank exact match keyword domains than it is to rank an individual article from an article site.

    Soon, I’m going to start investing more time in putting up content on these article sites (InfoBarrel specifically) to use them as backlinks for my niche sites. I’ve done this a little in the past, but I want to focus more on it now. Not only will I be building valuable backlinks, but the article itself has earning potential – so I’m killing two birds with one stone!

    Hopefully that answers your question – thanks for the comment!

    [Reply]

  11. You offered us so many interesting ideas and thoughts, that I have to think a little bit about this stuff.
    Hope this is easy like this without doing anything,
    Becca recently posted… Conveyancing Williamstown

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    While sometimes you walk into a situation where you see success without much effort, I’d consider it the exception, not the norm. Although this one particular site was “easy,” I’d caution against walking into this type of work thinking it will all be easy. It’s an uphill climb for sure, and I have a long way to go. :)

    [Reply]

    Alex@bloons td 5 Reply:

    yeah, i wanna say the same. I think either you are very good at finding niche keyword or you must be very lucky, and having clicks on the first day without content is really amazing. Think i will try those steps, thanks a bunch Eric!

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    No problem! :)

  12. Can you please elaborate a bit more on the wordpress theme. I would like to know more about it. Awaiting a quick informative reply. Thanks!
    Anita Richard recently posted… Watch Movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider | Free Download

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    This was the theme I used:

    http://www.srssolutions.com/en/downloads/arjuna_wordpress_theme

    You can read all about it there. Thanks for the comment!

    [Reply]

  13. Ya, we cannot trust on Google.If it helps us to grow then it also help us to drop down without any affords
    It also depend on luck..
    Jhony recently posted… Switch Statement

    [Reply]

  14. Hey bro..i just want to say,you rocking here.Going through all your posts to learn something new.Keep going bro with sharing your experience :)
    Govind Choudhary recently posted… Facebook Updated An Awesome Feature – Interest Lists

    [Reply]

  15. What a great post! It pays to use google adwords to find good keywords. I hope I have some of the same luck. I don’t plan on it I’ll still plan to work hard but it would be nice :)

    [Reply]

  16. Can this be the reason that Adsense is banning accounts? Getting clicks to pages with no content? Where were you ads placed? On the privacy policy page or the contact page? I am just trying to figure out what the hell is going on and why accounts are getting banned!!!

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I don’t really think this is the reason my account (or any account) gets banned. Getting a click on a page without content like I did was a total fluke. If the site remained more than a day or two without content, it would quickly fall down in Google’s rankings and receive no traffic. The ads I placed were in the sidebar widget, but the page itself had no content.

    Unfortunately, we’ll never know exactly why accounts are banned given how cryptic Google has been with their explanations.

    [Reply]

  17. Hi Eric I’m new to all this and I have a site that is ranking on page 1 with no effort. Luck? It’s a 2000 a month exact match keyword and I have the exact match domain with .org extension.

    I’ve been adding content consistently to add value to my readers. I’ve been at #4 position and started a back linking campaign. The #1 site is the only biggest competitor with 197 back links.

    I use Market Samurai too and my matrix is similar to yours however the CPC I’m told is low, $.70. I’m not concerned about this because I want to convert sales. However my question is having a CPC of $.70 does that correlate if the market is profitable or not? Or the commerciality of the market?

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Often times it does, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth pursuing. If you’re thinking about creating your own related product, and you can get substantial traffic, the CPC of the keyword is probably irrelevant to your conversions, provided you have a unique product and a strong sales page. You’ll definitely want to test different price points though to see what works best for your bottom line.

    [Reply]

  18. That is awesome wish I knew what niche you were working on looks like there is a serious hole there.

    [Reply]

  19. Awesome Eric! I haven’t strike any website has done such ranking before without any backlinking. Definitely the answer are EMD and low competition. Good work!

    [Reply]

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