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In doing some research on competitors of my clients, I'm quite surprised to see SEMRush showing only 6 or so backlinks (domains) and they are in the number one spot for maps and even organic.

Am I missing something?

I get the understanding of consistent nap, citations, etc...
 

HurricaneK8

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Hi Mike,

It's helpful for other pros if you can share the city + search term so we can investigate. Otherwise we're shooting in the dark and there are hundreds of search factors, so therefore hundreds of answers.

Sometimes I see this with terms that Google thinks "could" be a brand search. There could also be some manipulation going on behind the scenes, but it's impossible to know without investigating. Google's gotten pretty good at weeding out manipulation tactics!
 
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Iowa City Orthodontist

SEMRush shows MergenOrthodontics.com with on 6 referring domains, and they are dominating that city.

This morning they bounced down to second organic from first yesterday. And they are at the top in the pack.

Hi Mike,

It's helpful for other pros if you can share the city + search term so we can investigate. Otherwise we're shooting in the dark and there are hundreds of search factors, so therefore hundreds of answers.

Sometimes I see this with terms that Google thinks "could" be a brand search. There could also be some manipulation going on behind the scenes, but it's impossible to know without investigating. Google's gotten pretty good at weeding out manipulation tactics!
 

JoshuaMackens

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Iowa City Orthodontist

SEMRush shows MergenOrthodontics.com with on 6 referring domains, and they are dominating that city.

This morning they bounced down to second organic from first yesterday. And they are at the top in the pack.

Couple of things:

1) Not all links are created equal. Those 6 links could be very, very powerful, so keep that in mind, although I'm sure you already did.

2) Crawlers like SEMrush don't pick up everything. Ahrefs doesn't pick up everything. Majestic doesn't pick up everything. Really, everyone's best bet is to use all 3 to find all the links a website has and even then, some will be missing. Remember, these small companies are trying to duplicate the exact same crawler that a company like Google has. They don't be perfect.

3) If they're using some type of Private Blog Network or any type of website where they have some type of control, many times those websites will block crawlers from everyone but Google, hence not allowing those crawlers to report those websites and confusing people on how they're ranking so well.

Just a few thoughts.

Also, just checked the SERP, Mergen has the highest PA/DA combo of any of their competitors. Moz shows them having 142 links to their domain, although I have no idea how many of those are root domains.
 

HurricaneK8

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I did a bit of digging. He's doing alot of blogs/squidoo/etc. and some spammy things, like linking to his website with a bunch of keywords & zip codes from his personal G+ page:
Orthodontist Iowa City IA, (319) 471-4202, pediatric orthodontist, pediatric orthodontics, family orthodontist, family orthodontics, best orthodontist, interceptive orthodontic, interceptive orthodontist, emergency orthodontist, emergency orthodontics, invisalign dentist, teeth whitening, clear braces, orthodontic care for teens, dental implants, veneers, 52240, 52245, 52241, 52242, 52243, 52244, 52245, 52246, 52333, 52317, 52358, 52327, 52755, 52340, 52353, 52247, 52276

You can see the entire list of blogs/subscriptions/etc on his g+ page.
Lots of videos and citations. Just google his phone # or use NAP Hunter (chrome app) to find them all.

I don't have any more time to dig deeper, but this should give you a start! I classify citations as links. Or rather, citations, links, unstructured citations as "References" to a website. References gives a better picture of authority & reach IMO than # of links.

Hope this helps!
 

heckler

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It also helps that his domain has been active since 2004. Domain-age gets overlooked a lot.

3rd result on that SERP (for me) goes to a 404'd page, wouldn't be surprised if he eventually dropped out (maybe help them by reporting that URL? - Dr. Samir E. Bishara, DDS).
 

Tony Wang

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Mergen also has 72 5-star reviews, nearest competitor has 3, most have 0.
 
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Another thing that's interesting. Look at his homepage title and description.

Home | mergenorthodontics.com | Mergen Orthodontics
Learn more about Home at mergenorthodontics.com

No mention of city or state at all. I am stumped as I always make it a point to mention city in homepage title tag, as well as description.
 
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Tony Wang

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Yes, that's a glaring omission, but compared to all the other stuff he's doing right, that's obviously not hurting him.

Iowa City doesn't appear to me to be a highly competitive or large market, so it's all relative. He would be on page 2 in a tougher market. Hopefully that makes it all the easier for you to get your client up there.
 
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