Niche Analysis – Garcinia Cambogia (part I)
I’m planning on making this an ongoing series in analyzing the SEO behind popular niches. I’m doing this to 1.) show you how I analyze a niche, and 2.) to show you that you shouldn’t always believe what you hear/read, but should do your own research!
The best way to understand what’s working in Google is to look at the sites that are currently ranking. I’m reminded of this quote, from Ender’s Game (one of my favorite books):
I am your enemy, the first one you’ve ever had who was smarter than you. There is no teacher but the enemy. No one but the enemy will tell you what the enemy is going to do. No one but the enemy will ever teach you how to destroy and conquer. Only the enemy tells you where he is strong. And the rules of the game are what you can do to him and what you can stop him from doing to you. I am your enemy from now on. From now on I am your teacher.
That might be a bit dramatic, but do you get it? You could listen to 100 podcasts on SEO, read 8,000 blog posts on link building, but the only way to really know “what works” in SEO is to look at what is currently ranking.
So whatever SEO philosophy you subscribe to, here is what’s working in the Garcinia Cambogia niche.
1,000,000 searches per month
72% – Moz keyword difficulty
CPC – $1.82
This is a very desirable keyword to rank for, due to the amount of searches being made (it’s a “hot” item, recently), and the profit to be made selling the Garcinia Cambogia pill (which is related to weight loss/appetite suppressant).
Overview of the Top 20
For this overview, I’m using the very fantastic new tool SerpWOO (as always, that is not an affiliate link–I do not use affiliate link except for hosting in the site’s footer) to get most of my data. I looked at the top 20 sites ranking over the last 14 days, and here’s what I found:
1. Several of the sites in the top 20 search results are there on the strength of their root domain/brand alone, such as…
- Huffington Post
- Consumer Reports
All of these sites have crazy authority, and very high (7+) PageRank, but are not authorities in the weight loss/supplement niche. They are ranking solely because they have a page related Garcinia Cambogia, and a ton of trust/authority metrics with their domain name.
2. The next class of sites has super high trust and authority as well, but are related to the health niche:
- Women’s Health Magazine
- Vitamin Shoppe
Here is a case of sites having authority and relevancy in the niche related to the keyword. Would the average searcher look at these sites and agree “yes, this is what I was looking for?” Would someone doing a manual inspection of the top ranking sites say “these are the sites that should be ranking?”
There are two domains left I want to talk about.
WSJ.com and Yahoo.com. Yes, these domains fall under the “domains with authority but not relevancy” category. But that category can be broken down further.
This could almost be considered “filler” if it was on another website, but here, it is a quick reference sheet for med students on the active ingredient in Garcinia Cambogia. It’s interesting to note that this page, ranking for such an SEO-targeted term, is ranking with just 415 words of content. (Similarly, the NIH.gov page is ranking with just 230 words).
The main thing I want to point out here is that the NYU.edu page is not trying to sell a Garcinia Cambogia product. There are not outbound links to an ecommerce store where you can buy this extract. Instead, there is only information related the the keyword.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the WSJ and the Yahoo pages that are ranking for this mega keyword.
1. Wall Street Journal
The Garcinia Cambogia page ranking for the WSJ url is a press release from 2013. This press release contains links with the following anchor text:
“garcinia cambogia extract”
Now, you may be thinking these terms are awfully optimized… and you’re right. The point of this press release is a) to provide the “money sites” with some nice link juice from the WSJ, and b) to rank high in the SERPs based on the domain authority of the WSJ url, and funnel people their sales page. Of the two links on the WSJ domain, the first link was just two clicks away from a sales page, and the second link was four clicks from a sales page. Both links eventually lead to this site: www.garciniacambogiadirect.com
The article masquerading as a press release was all about the effectiveness of the Garcinia Cambogia supplement in aiding weight loss, as conducted by the reputable-sounding (but not actually reputable) company Investigated Reviews.
The article on the finance subdomain of the Yahoo.com domain is also a press release (from PR Newswire)–this time masquerading as important info on how most of the Garcinia pills on the market are ineffective, but good news! They’ve got direct links to buy the ones that ARE effective.
This press release contains three links–but here there is a bit more attention paid to crafting not-so-obvious anchor text. Here is the anchor text for all three links:
- “Go directly to the highest rated, #1 trusted and 100% natural Garcinia Cambogia extract supplement.”
- “Click here to discover the Top 3 Garcinia Cambogia supplements of 2014.”
- “Visit the highest rated and #1 trusted Garcinia Cambogia extract supplement”
Of the three links, two of the links go directly to–surprise!–www.garciniacambogiadirect.com (the same website you’d end up on if you followed the trail of links in the WSJ press release). There is another link that goes to an Amazon.com page with an affiliate code inserted into the url (not sure if they own the product they are linking to as well).
When I checked the metrics of the WSJ page in MajesticSEO.com, I saw a dismal looking score of 8 trust flow and 9 citation flow. I then checked the metrics for the specific Yahoo page of the press release, and was greeted with this:
Wow! Look at that high trust flow. Check out the pleasing shape of the trust flow/citation flow graph!
Want to know how they achieved that?
Injecting a link to their site in the footer of another site, over and over again.
If you look at the “backlinks” tab for this specific URL (http://finance.yahoo.com/news/garcinia-cambogia-reviews-expose-convincing-150100018.html) you will see many links from the homepage of various sites.
How generous! Here’s how it looks:
For example, I took the site at the top: www.orchestredeparis.com and looked deeper. On the homepage, in the footer, you can see the links that were injected (and are still there):
Just FYI, www.orchestredeparis.com is a PR 6 site with 50 domain authority an 58 page authority according to OpenSiteExplorer. If you comb through the results, you’ll see a lot of footer links with optimized anchor text unwillingly pointing to the finance.yahoo site.
You can also see that, until recently, this yahoo press release page did not have any links being built to it. Then, suddenly, at the beginning of August, a few hundred links appear:
How well does this work? Here’s an SEMrush report on the keywords the yahoo press release page is ranking for:
In part II of this niche analysis, I will cover the methods that www.puregarciniacambogia is using to rank (spoiler alert: it’s surprisingly less spammy than the methods I’ve covered here today). So check back for part II, or sign up to the mailing list so you don’t miss it.
In the course of doing this research, there were a few sites that came and went into and out of the top 20. These sites had amazing back link profiles and a ton of referring domains, but also had some red flags like domain names registered in the last 30 days, and a history of zero backlinks until a few weeks ago, when the number of backlinks shot up into the thousands per day.
The one thing to remember about any type of SEO is to know the risks, and to understand your outcome. My goal in breaking down this (and future) niches is to show what is CURRENTLY WORKING in Google. I am not explicitly endorsing or suggesting you try any of these methods yourself (these optimizations were performed by trained professionals 😉 ), but merely showing you how and why the top sites are ranking.
Regardless of your SEO philosophy, the study of this (single) niche shows that:
1. It’s good to be a big brand
As far as I can tell, 19/20 of the top ranking sites for this keyword are established business/organizations. The authority of the root domain is helping them rank for this popular search term. (It’s hard to beat age and authority. Even the URL for a garcinia cambogia product review on Amazon is a PR 5).
The Costco product page ranking at #14 has a Domain Authority of 86, and a Page Authority of 1…
So, for this particular niche, my best advice to you would be to build a rock solid brand with trust and authority. 🙂
2. Press Releases still work
Two of the top 20 results are press releases. You can’t argue with that. Maybe press releases are not as effective at passing link juice along to your money site, but if done right, (and in combination with point #3), it’s possible to borrow the authority of a big domain to help your own.
3. Parasite pages work really well
According to Terry Kyle (who I interviewed on Episode 23 of the Visible HQ Podcast):
A Parasite Page is where you rank a (new) inner page on an existing Authority site that Google ALREADY loves.
The Yahoo and WSJ results I talked about above are being used as parasite pages–and the content on those pages is a press release. Simple enough in concept?
4. Content length doesn’t always equal high rankings
There’s a lot of thin content in the top 5 sites for this keyword.
Webmd is 398 words of content.
Doctor OZ is 414
Authority Nutrition is 1141
Womens Health Mag is 337
Wikipedia is 615
That’s an average content among the top 5 of just 581 words.
Why is this relevant?
Common SEO advice goes something like this:
The average content length for a web page that ranks in the top 10 results for any keyword on Google has at least 2,000 words
– Neil Patel, QuickSprout (by the way, that’s a good post. Don’t be lazy–if you’ve never read it before, take some time and do so).
Am I saying that Neil (and SerpIQ, where he got the info) is wrong? NO! I’m saying to do your research, that general SEO advice is great, but each niche is unique. For this niche, you don’t need a ton of content to rank.
I hope you enjoyed part 1 of this niche analysis case study. Part II will look at some more legitimate and creative ways a website is using to rank in the top 20.
If you enjoyed what you read here today, do me a huge favor and share it on the internets. And if you’ve got questions/thoughts on this post, take it to the comments! I’d love to hear your thoughts, just be respectful or I will delete them.