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Running into Googles Great Wall of SERP defense

Written by David Harry   
Wednesday, 26 March 2008 22:41

Young Guns of SEO - Brian Chappell

Lets face it Google has been around for a while now. They have enough sites indexed to serve quality results for just about anything you type in. If you are like me and have been optimizing for a while now you have noticed a trend with highly competitive niches and phrases, where taking over top ranking sites can be like destroying the great wall of china.

the Great Wallof Google
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Google doesn't need your new site, nor mine for its index. You have got to give them a good reason to rank your site high. There is something I have noticed over the years with regards to moving up the rankings in hyper-competitive niches that I thought I would share with you.

Up Against the Wall

This will be better explained by posing a hypothetical example: Let’s say you are involved in the golf niche and are targeting "golf clubs".
  1. You start an ecommerce driven site that sells golf clubs.
  2. It starts obtaining lots of great back links through natural one ways, reciprocal, directories etc. etc. (point being is your link profile is solid and it is dispersed),
  3. The site’s been around for 2 years.
  4. It is pumping out fantastic unique content,
  5. The site architecture is fully optimized and siloed,
  6. All of those backlinks have superb anchor text and are highly targeted,

…yet the site still isn't ranking in the top 5.  The site has successfully broken the top 10 since targeting the phrase and is sitting at #7. The sites ahead of it absolutely should not be ranking ahead of it.

This is all hypothetical of course but serves a point most people don't really understand unless they are directly involved in backlink manipulation. What I have seen over the years in many cases is in sort "walls", or simply put the ease of use of moving up the rankings. A lot of times it will be relatively easy to move up from page 3 or 4 onto page 1. You can really shoot up 10-20+ spots at a time if you are starting at the 3+ page range. However, once you make your way onto the first page movement will really start to slow down. Hyper-competitive terms can almost be impossible to crack. The top 5 spots don't move much, and when they do its 1-2 spots at a time usually.

Google doesn't like us optimizers gaming their algorithm. They have put these "walls" in place to keep us in check, thus making it an ongoing battle to grab the top spot. What do you think; do you see the same thing?

--- Brian Chappell

This week’s young gun, Brian Chappell has been doing organic search engine optimization since 2002 and has spent many years manipulating results in hyper-competitive niches. When not playing in the SEO world, he enjoys connecting with others on Twitter and meeting new people. When time permits he guest posts over on Marketing Pilgrim and dabbles in client work outside of the agency work he partakes in from 9-5. Be SURE to follow his writings over at or you can simply subscribe to his feed.


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