Search engines rank web pages using many different criteria. If you analyze ten different web pages that hold the No. 1 position for non-related keywords, you will likely find that they all succeed at different aspects of search engine optimization. Some will excel at link building, others will do better at internal site navigation, and some others will make the best use of keywords. They all hold the top position within their niches. Which one is doing the best job?
The fact is, the search engines analyze over 150 different ranking criteria. They all weigh into the ranking algorithms at different weights. To simplify how this might look, let’s show a few blind ranking criteria and three different websites along with a number that illustrates how well that site performed within its niche:
RC / Site A / Site B / Site C
1 / 10 / 6 / 3
2 / 5 / 8 / 5
3 / 3 / 9 / 10
4 / 8 / 10 / 4
5 / 7 / 1 / 10
T / 33 / 34 / 32
You can see that each of these are within 1 point on the aggregated score, but even these raw numbers mean nothing without comparisons within the same niche. The highest of the three, Site B, could rank third in its niche while the lowest, Site C, could rank highest. That’s because the same keyword is measure against itself as used by all competitors. But this illustration should show that various criteria are measured and when all those measured are aggregated, results can still come out very close – even within the same niche.
While simplified, this little scenario should explain why both keywords and links are important. Other things are important too and ideally you want to do well in as many aspects of search engine optimization as possible in order to remain competitive within your niche.