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    Why this page ranks less than competitor's?


    Hello everyone,
    this looks like the typical question a beginner could ask, but please, I am no beginner and I am seeking your advice on how to explain that a strong page like this:

    https://www.virtualsheetmusic.com/Christmas.html

    Ranks in 14th position for "Christmas sheet music" whereas this one:

    https://www.8notes.com/all/christmas/sheet_music/

    Ranks first, and similarly, 12 pages after that one rank better than the first page above.

    If you check all the metrics, the first page above would deserve a much higher ranking.

    Why do you think is so penalized?

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts!
    Last edited by fabrizio; Oct 26th, 2017 at 06:57 PM.
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    Well it may have something to do with their backlink profile Please note that virtualsheetmusic has almost a half million back links where as 8notes has roughly 60 thousand.

    I dunno, seems there may be a quality issues with the source of the backlinks. 1/2 million vs 59,000. Maybe their backlinks are the kicker. Just from a cursory glance at them, I am inclined to think so.
    How many threads here caution that the quantity of links is not what matters, it's the quality of the link. Seems that is pointed out here, the lower ranking site has 8x times the links of the higher ranking site.

    The short answer is 8notes has a better inbound links as it appears. In addition to that it also appears that virtualsheetmusic has keyword stuffed that term for image alt text. I could be wrong, but I don't think so.

    VirtualSheetMusic's profile


    8notes profile
    Last edited by KnowOneSpecial; Oct 25th, 2017 at 10:49 AM.
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    Thank you for you reply.

    I am aware we have more links, but many of the ones coming from the same domains are "nofollow" links. And by using tools like SEMRush or similar, we don't have any more possible toxic links than 8notes does.

    As for keyword stuffing, could you please be more precise? Where do you see more keyword stuffing on virtualsheetmusic of what 8notes is doing on their website as well?

    I am just trying to find the main issue for which our page could be penalized for.

    Thank you again.
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    Understand I am not being offensive here... I am just giving you my honest opinion of your problems..

    Originally Posted by fabrizio
    As for keyword stuffing, could you please be more precise? Where do you see more keyword stuffing on virtualsheetmusic of what 8notes is doing on their website as well?
    I did not check 8notes for that term persay. I checked your site for problems.. Your site is keyword stuffing that term as I stated here
    Originally Posted by KnowOneSpecial
    [In addition to that it also appears that virtualsheetmusic has keyword stuffed that term for image alt text.
    I am talking about image alt text...

    On that particular page, you use that term 16 times in your alt text and have left another 78 alt text fields empty. It doesn't matter how many times or what not that 8notes does something. I didn't check their site for problems. I don't have to, not to find problems on your site. Your site quality is poor when you look at it from the perspective of stuffing that term on the page. Just My Opinion here, but I think it is correct for your site.

    So when you look at the fact, hmmm 16 times with that and no other alt text, wouldn't you say that term is stuffed..... honestly ... if you were to update the other 78 you may possibly make that issue go away. Notice I said may.

    8notes on the other hand only used that term 5 times if you must have numbers... but it doesn't matter really, it matters how you have used it.
    Just because you see another site stuff the word, and you copy suit, don't be surprised when that dog "BITES"

    Toxic links, lets talk about them, SemRush you say you used and maybe another tool or two... well you have 1/2 million links. How many did you disavow, and for that matter how many did 8notes disavow. That is the gotcha... you, I and nobody else knows which ones 8notes have disavowed.

    In addition, you say you have better links.. Sir, not to be rude or argumentative, but I think you may be wrong here....
    Now I have no way of knowing which links you have disavowed, but you have active links on sites that talk about music, but are deliberately posting text concerning adult sites. You have many russian sites linking in... sites that sell mechanical equipment. Same for Chinese sites, industrial types of equipment. Why ??? they have nothing to do with Xmas Sheet Music.


    If you have gotten rid of the toxic links, Great ! Now fix your image alt text issues, Never use another site as a yard stick for what you can and can not get away with. Only Google sets the standard for that.





    Last edited by KnowOneSpecial; Oct 25th, 2017 at 06:29 PM. Reason: spelling correction
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    Oh, and one last observation...

    You are ad heavy above the fold... you should fix that too. Again, just my opinion.... It's what "Fred" targets....
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    Thank you very much for your reply and insights, I really appreciated it.

    I'll look into your highlighted issues and see what they'll sort out, but about your last posting about ads above the fold, that's my competitor's website (8notes.com), so... that should be a penalization for them, not for me!

    Thank you again.

    Comments on this post

    • KnowOneSpecial agrees : wrong monitor when I copied
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    Here I am again. I have analyzed in detail what you have highlighted above, and I'd like to keep discussing all this with you, if you don't mind. I really appreciate your help very much.

    First of all, let me say that what I am trying to find is the "elephant" that prevent that page to rank. In other words, I’d like to possibly find a logical explanation about this situation. So, we all are aware that that could be due to several factors (in-page factors, possible penalties due to backlinks or quality, etc), but what is preventing that page to rank mostly?

    That page used to rank 1st for "Christmas Sheet Music" a few years ago, and it was much different. But yet, had a lot of authority. We have been in business since 1999, so, we earned a lot of links in so many years. We learned a lot of natural links, but also “affiliate” links that should be 99% nofollow though.

    So, talking about keyword stuffing, I see what you are talking about in your post above, but let me explain this:

    The empty alt texts are just for those images used as “spacers”, so to have an ALT text there wouldn’t make much sense for the user. I could add something like “spacer” but I don’t think wouldn’t matter much.
    The “stuffing” you are talking about is actually used as “anchor” text to tell the users (and Google) what’s about the sub-category page the link is taking to.

    Also, we created that kind of “keyword rich” navigation just a few months ago, on the base of what 8notes.com is doing on many other of his top ranking pages.

    Forget for a moment their Christmas Sheet Music page, and take their violin page which ranks first for “violin sheet music”:

    https://www.8notes.com/violin/


    Or their piano page, ranking 2nd for “piano sheet music”:

    https://www.8notes.com/piano/

    Both those pages, like other hundreds pages on that site with a similar kind of “keyword stuffed” navigation, are top rankers. So… should we really worry about having the same kind of strategy applied on our website? Actually we emulated 8notes.com on purpose, because we were so desperate to find an explanation of why they kept raking first on pretty much every single keywords compared to us

    So, I really feel pretty confident to say that we should dismiss the on-page factor you highlighted about possible “keywords stuffing.” I don’t see why we should worry about that when our competitor is doing exactly the same with impressive results on all fronts.

    Your thoughts are very welcome on this, eager to know what you think about this.


    About your mentioned backlinks, I see 8notes.com is also listed on that Chinese website, as well as many other competitors of ours… so, we should be even in that specific case, right?

    Also, you said that I stated that “we have better links”…. I am sorry, but where did I state that? I cannot say that, that’s the only thing I think we could work on. 8notes.com could have a better backlink profile than us, but… we really deserve the 14th spot on Google? What about the site listed on spot 6th, or 7th? Their backlink profile is minimum compared to ours, they DA also, etc… I really can’t find a logical explanation.

    Google preaches about “giving the best quality to users”… well… have a look at the websites listed before our own Christmas sheet music page, and tell me how many of those deserve to rank better based on that concept? Ads everywhere, confusing websites, bad navigation, etc… is this a quality problem? I have some doubts here too…

    So, what is it? Any more thoughts are very welcome, if you see what’s the real “elephant” here that’s preventing that page to rank, please, let me know!

    Thank you again.
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    Maybe you should hire him to help and take this through e-mail.
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    Ok,, maybe I took your comment the wrong way. You saying no more than your competition as to being equal or better....
    And by using tools like SEMRush or similar, we don't have any more possible toxic links than 8notes does.
    I did say...

    Originally Posted by KnowOneSpecial
    The short answer is 8notes has a better inbound links as it appears. In addition to that it also appears that virtualsheetmusic has keyword stuffed that term for image alt text. I could be wrong, but I don't think so.
    Ok, lets go for the long answer.....

    That page used to rank 1st for "Christmas Sheet Music" a few years ago,
    ...
    we earned a lot of links
    in so many years. We learned a lot of natural links, but also “affiliate” links that should be
    99% nofollow though.
    All of these links are under your control. It's what a Google Disavow File was invented for.
    All of those affiliate links, have you disavowed them? You stated they should be no follow, and you can control that. If you have not, then get to work.

    The empty alt texts are just for those images used as “spacers”, so to have an ALT text there
    wouldn’t make much sense for the user. I could add something like “spacer” but I don’t think
    wouldn’t matter much.
    The “stuffing” you are talking about is actually used as “anchor” text to tell the users
    (and Google) what’s about the sub-category page the link is taking to.
    That's great you use images for spacers... But consider this. of the alt text you use, you only use the one term. christmas sheet music, nothing else. Contrary to what a lot of folks believe Google has been use LSI in its algos for quite some time

    So you are over optimized for the term christmas sheet music, you should use some other terms ok... xmas music sheets, xmas tablature for violins. Not just the one phrase. BTW. I told you 8notes only use that term 5 times. Once in there title, once in a h tag I think and then in the text content the rest.
    Didn't check them any further than viewing the page source code and doing a find with Google Chrome.

    Google will discern the intent of that page better than you think, if you believe every image alt text that you do use should be christmas sheet music because it is the only way to tell Google what the page is, you are in fact "Wrong", No offense.

    Calling this stuffing "Keyword Rich Navigation" is a mistake. Your main navigation should be and needs to be "Keyword Rich". You are thinking this will work, but it won't. Obviously it hasn't changed a thing.

    So, I really feel pretty confident to say that we should dismiss the on-page factor you
    highlighted about possible “keywords stuffing.” I don’t see why we should worry about that when
    our competitor is doing exactly the same with impressive results on all fronts.
    You know, your page is pretty good on about 90% of your on page, I'll give you that. Let me put it another way. It only takes one or two quality issues with your site that doesn't agree with Google's guidelines and poof, off of 1st page you go.

    About your mentioned backlinks, I see 8notes.com is also listed on that Chinese website,
    as well as many other competitors of ours… so, we should be even in that specific case, right?
    NO ! EMPHATICALLY NO ! This will get you into trouble. Big trouble, Penguin is now part of the running algo, every time your site is updated, The Penguin will feed, now also consider this. Google now says Penguin now is more granular, it will punish a page, but not the entire site.. Got that, the page. Not the site. But I bet it will bash the site if you get to agressive with link building.

    Remember, you and I nor anyone else knows what 8notes has done to improve there backlink profile. To me ...checking 1/2 million links will take time. I am still of the opinion your links are the issue. I would bet that 8notes has implimented damage control on the links they have.

    I am not going to dissect 8notes for you and show you step by step. That can't be done here in the forum. I will tell you what I see wrong with you site. and I have.

    I make mistakes, but your site's issues are to me are your links, and your poor use of image alt text for the images you use. Use some LSI keywords and I am betting you will see some better results,

    Like I said earlier, I copied and pasted from one of my monitors and grab the wrong site. I gave you some rep for catching my error btw.

    I looked at the other sites... only one seems to have really stuffed that term.. lol.. I will give you that..

    But did you investigate thebalance dot com (yeah I broke it up, the greedy pataks ) they are a media marketing solution and have about 400 k inbound links.. Xmas sheet music is not their money maker, but they have some pr weight to throw around it appears... Because of their niche, they can garner links from many sources it appears. But I am going to show you something... that may surprise you...
    Maybe you should follow suite. They it appears have done the correct thing. They apparently have cleaned up there link profile and culled all the toxic links... Thats my bet !
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    Originally Posted by Test-ok
    Maybe you should hire him to help and take this through e-mail
    Thanks for the recommendation Test-ok... but I have to decline.

    I did tell him tho, because I made the mistake saying he was top heavy by using ads and used the wrong site, I would send him a courtesy audit of the page.
    It's gonna surprise him... It's an Auditor Report.
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    Thank you very much KOS for your detailed new reply above. Before to post my additional thoughts, I'd like to see the report you are talking about.

    I just sent you my email via PM. Looking forward for it.

    Thank you again.
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    Thank you KOS for sending the report over, I read through it and I'll post my thoughts about it soon.

    Could I ask what software or service have you used to created the report? I'd like to use it to analyze some pages of my top competitors before to jump back into the discussion, I'd like to compare some metrics there...

    Thank you again.
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    It's PowerSuite

    You can get it for yourself.. just search Google .. You can even download and run the free version.
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    Thank you KOS, I didn't know about that software, let me install it and analyze some pages, then I'll get back to you. Thanks again.
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    Hi Fabrizio,
    None of us can be definitive about why one page ranks higher then another in a forum. With 200+ ranking factors of variable strength, I believe we can only offer some ideas for closer exploration.

    I'm not going to comment on the numbers and types of external links and their values. This is well discussed by Knowonespecial but I would suggest comparing the structures of the two sites for how link juice may be passed through to the example pages very differently.

    1. Site Structure & PageRank
    Virtualsheetmusic uses a much flatter file structure than the 8Notes site. I've not counted but a quick eye-ball suggests Virtualsheetmusic Home could be diluting incoming PageRank values across maybe 5 times the number of pages as the 8notes site.

    This should cause a much greater reduction in PageRank values to the virtualsheetmusic.com/Christmas.html pages than to the equivalent 8notes section pages.

    I find a visual inspection of the text-only cached versions of home pages the best/quickest check for this issue. (I.e. Do a G "site:" search)

    2. Volume of Content about Christmas Music
    A site: search also indicates that 8Notes contains many more pages of info about "Christmas sheet music" then Virtualsheetmusic.

    8Notes = 20 pages
    Virtualsheetmusic = 4 pages

    G is not only looking at how external pages are linked, it also assesses internal site content links. If one site has 20 pages of content that relate to a search query topic and they all use SE relevant ranking factors like search words in URLs, titles, H1 headings, link text, etc. the 20 page site section should have a big ranking score advantage over the one with only 4 pages on the same search topic.

    I have always found that a major aspect of SEO success is in deciding which individual search query words to target across all site pages vs. those you select for targeting on section pages of a site.

    (Knowonespecial, Not trying to cut in here. I've recently retired from offering SEO services.)
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