SEO Tip #93: How Can A Site Rank For A Keyword That Isn’t Anywhere On It’s Page?

Matt Cutts: Okay, let’s take a step back and put this in the realm of universities. Suppose I do the search ‘cattle’, a lot of people might expect Berkley to show up because a lot of people call Berkley cattle. If I do a search for ‘tar heel’ maybe I expect University of North Carolina or to show up even if the word tar heel isn’t anywhere on that page.

One of the things that Google Pioneered was the idea of using anchor text to return a page so it could be that someone is linking to your competitor’s site with anchor text that has that has that particular phrase. Your competitor is not doing anything sneaky, they’re not cloaking, and they’re not hiding text anywhere. It’s not anything that they are doing. It’s just that is the phrase that happens to be pointing to that particular page on their website and that can happen many, many times.

Now it’s always possible that your competitor is cloaking. Cloaking these days is a little more rare. It’s higher risk so people tend not to do it that much. You can usually fit keywords in naturally so people don’t need to really cloak as much these days as they did in the old days.

If you wanted to you could try and pretend to be Googlebot in fetching your compeitor’s websites but frankly I would probably spend my time trying to develop better content on my own website, beefing up the views of my website, utilize social media to promote my website rather than kind of obsessing where that one guy is able to show up for that one ranking.

It can happen for anchor text. It doesn’t mean there is anything sneaky going on so I’d say peace out, spread the love, don’t worry about it that much and keep working on making your own website as good as you can.

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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.