SEO Tip #129: How Would A Non-Optimized Site Outrank a Site Which has Done SEO?

Matt Cutts: Well the thing I want to avoid is the impression that it’s only the optimization that would make you rank. There are lots of different factors that would make you rank well but fundamentally we try to look at on page content as well as off domain links. And it’s not the case that just because somebody has done optimization that it’s automatically better than a site that hasn’t done optimization. There are a lot of sites from schools and people that handwrite their HTML and they might not get every single thing optimized but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a good resource.

Another thing is we typically don’t show all of the backlinks to a site to your competitors. If you log into Google Webmaster Tools then we give you a very exhaustive list. But even if you’re going to Yahoo Link Explorer or anywhere else you are only going to get a subset or a different sampling of the links that point to a particular competitor’s site.

The reason we do that is that link: originally we didn’t have the storage space to return all the backlinks and then over time that just sort of became a tradition. So there might very well be links from very high PageRank or very reputable sites pointing to that particular other page that is allowing it to rank.

It’s always tough when you are talking about it in terms of other people in the industry. We always want to look at it and say, “Oh that’s not as good a site as my site but bear in mind that you can absolutely have links that you might not know about as far as to competing sites or to your own sites that your competitors might not know about.

And then we try not to put so much emphasis on that you have to do SEO because we want sites to be able to rank well on the basis of merit. If they are good they should show up in the search results. That’s our basic philosophy.

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About the Author

Andy Johnson

Andy Johnson has been on the Internet since the its dawn(ie his first computer program was recorded on cassette tape) and his first hard drive cost about as much his current MacBook. His first byline was in 1993 for a local newspaper rag he eventually helmed, and his last “real job” was at a computer start up which ended when it ended. Throughout it all he’s freelanced and blogged. Now he is mesmerized by Search Engine Optimization forever trying to “rise to the top” for the right reasons. He’s been married to his wife Julia for as long as he can remember and has two lovely, wonderful children. He looks forward to sharing the latest in the technical best for all the online entrepreneurs.