There are still many reasons to why websites can rank high on Google without optimizing. Besides, click-through rate, age, and backlink, the next reason is cross-linking. When your site doesn’t have the best SEO on page and lots of backlinks, your site can still rank well on Google from an overall site perspective if you cross-link on your pages. This is an important part and not just from perspective of navigational or breadcrumb, but from an in-content perspective. When you add in-content link throughout your site and cross-link your pages, in the end you’ll find that all of your website pages will gaining increase in rankings.
When you’re not doing cross-linking on your website pages within your content, you’ll notice that there are few of your web pages rank extremely well on Google, while the rest of your pages are not. This is mainly because you’re not spreading link juice and authority to whole part of your site. Content quality is also one of the reasons why sites can rank well on Google. This specifically started since Google, Panda algorithm update in August, 2011.
With this algorithm, Google can measure content quality of website. For instance, Google can decide whether a site is too thin or has duplicate content, this makes Google to analyze content quality much better than before. Older sites can rank well not only because their age but also high quality content that they have. Content quality of a site is not only what Google analyze but it also compares content from a site to its competitor. This means if your site has more quality content that your competitors, than you’re going to outrank them in long time.
Competition is also part of the reasons why sites can rank well on Google. The best part about ranking for specific keywords is because they are low in competition. With some of these low competition keywords don’t get search often. When you look result pages of low competition keywords, they are not updated as often as more competitive keywords. The reason is simple, because many people are more interested on competitive keywords.
Growth rate is the last “main” reasons on why sites without optimizing can rank well on Google. Many people know the basic to rank really high for keywords are to build many relevant backlinks and create many quality contents. But if you do it too much, too sudden, it will seem unnatural in webmasters and Google could give penalty to your site. Google has created algorithms that are smart enough to know this method because it has data on a lot of sites within your space. For the example, you can see many of the older sites can rank well because they grew at their natural pace that can’t be outrank against site that its pace seems manufactured.
So, click-through rate, age, backlink, cross-linking, content quality, competition and growth rate are the ‘main’ reasons to why sites can rank high on Google without optimizing, with there are still many reasons but they don’t have big impact like these 7 reasons. And it’s better for website owners not too spend much time focusing on their competitors, instead they need to put all of their focus on improving their site. In the end, website with the best “product” tends to win competition.