Hobart went on, in fact, to analyze DecorMyEyes' traffic using Yahoo Site Explorer, and found predominantly spam sites and paid links referring to the site, as well as a few group shopping sites and blogs.
Most of the complaint sites don't even link to DecorMyEyes, Hobart found, suggesting that the company's abusive tactics don't actually have much to do with its ranking success. Rather, "a combination of black-hat techniques and dumb luck" helped the site to rank well, Hobart concluded.
Next page: The top 5 SEO factors, and tips to improve your site's ranking
The Top 5 Factors
The top five most important factors in search engine rankings are as follows, according to SEOmoz, which provides a search marketing platform and tips:
1. Keyword-focused anchor text from external links.
2. External link popularity.
3. A diversity of link sources.
4. Keyword use anywhere in the title tag.
5. The trustworthiness of the domain based on its "link distance" from trusted domains.
Looking at this list--particularly the first, second and fifth items--you can see why that link from the New York Times's N.F.L. blog was so valuable to DecorMyEyes.
Top negative factors for a site's search engine ranking, on the other hand, include link acquisition from known link brokers and sellers, according to SEOmoz, among many others.
So what does this all mean for an SMB trying its best to rank well on Google's search engine? Here are a few suggestions.
Go for the Biggest Effect
First, assuming you haven't been attempting unscrupulous gaming tactics like DecorMyEyes has, my advice is to stick with the solid SEO tactics that are already out there, making use of lists like those on SEOmoz to exert as much influence as you can on what are widely believed to be the most important ranking factors.
Those, after all, are the ones generally understood to have the biggest impact on your page rankings. My PCWorld colleague James Martin offers some good suggestions in his article, "Five SEO Secrets to Make Your Site More Visible."
Steer Clear of Negative Tactics