I ran a simple test to determine how easy it would be to rank well for a term if I put only a small amount of effort into the process. Here is what I did and what the results were.
The background info:
- I created a niche directory for Keyword Services in August, 2004. (The actual keyword is unimportant, but is competitive).
- I chose a domain name of keyword-services-directory.com
- The number of results returned by Google for the phrase "keyword services directory" is 2.6 million
- The three word phrase is only moderately competitive
- Only 11 people have entered their information into the directory, which consists of 6 categories
- Each of those 11 people have reciprocal backlinks to the site, using the phrase "keyword services directory" as the anchor text of the link.
- Each of those reciprocated links is on a related site.
- The site has a total of 186 backlinks.
- 175 of those links are about equally divided between site-wide links on one site and forum signature links
- Most of the competing sites have tens of thousands of backlinks
- The site ranks Number 1 for the phrase in Yahoo!, AllTheWeb, MSN, and HotBot.
- The site does not rank at all for the phrase in Google.
- The site ranks Number 1 for allinanchor: in Google.
I spent all of a few hours setting up the site and directory and placing site-wide links in another site I own, as well as adding the link to my forum signature. I did absolutely nothing else to the site. Over a four month period, 11 people submitted their sites to the directory and in turn gave my site reciprocal links back. With just a small amount of time, choosing a domain name, setting up the site (with normal on-page optimization used), and adding a sitewide link and forum signature link, the site achieved Number 1 status on all search engines except Google. The fact that it does not rank in Google is probably attributable to lack of backlinks, but may also be caused by the sandbox effect. Nevertheless, I am satisfied that minimal effort is needed to rank well in the other search engines for a moderately competitive phrase.