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Railway Sleepers Sydney – A case study in SEO

Railway Sleepers Sydney

Railway Sleepers Sydney

What do they have to do with SEO?

I’m a regular participant in the small and micro business forum Flying Solo and often get involved in discussions regarding topics such as online marketing and search engine optimisation. On a recent discussion a topic came up related to the value of  content vs links for SEO purposes, with an odd example phrase of railway sleepers Sydney brought up to illustrate a point regarding links not being of importance, as the top search result for this terms is a company who specialises in selling railway sleepers and includes the word Sydney on their page, but has few incoming links. However the lack of competition and SEO efforts by competitors targeting these keywords is why it ranks well, not the fact that links are bad or irrelevant as suggested in the Flying Solo post.

I contend that relevant content is most important for low competition keywords where few competitors have strongly optimised sites. However for industries where there is a lot of competition, good content along with quality / quantity of incoming links is required to succeed, and good content alone will never get the rankings you desire.

For a bit of fun, and to make some interesting SEO points I’ve decided to create this post the topic of railway sleepers for sale in the city of Sydney, with the aim of getting it to the top 5 in within 48 hours. I’ll be interested to see if I can succeed, but may have to eat my hat if I can’t!

What are the SEO lessons from this?

The first point is that the first step in SEO is to ensure you page is actually relevant to the search term you are targeting, and actually includes the words and phrases on the page itself, in the title etc.

The second point (although is probably not effectively illustrated by this ultra-simplistic example) is that if there is any significant level of competition quality linkbuilding efforts will be required to rank. The more competitive the keyword and stronger the competition, the more the focus shifts from content to link building.

The third point is how little most Australian small businesses understand about Search Engine Optimisation,  and I’m constantly amazed how many pages fail the basics of SEO. Often I see sites I’d just love to “fix”, but of course I can’t unless they ask me! So, if this is you, please don’t hesitate to contact me via my main Marketing Web site.

Finally, just to finish this post off, I’m going to post some content about Railway Sleepers! Feel free to tune out at this stage.


Railway Sleepers

For those looking to redo their garden or find some solid hardwood for woodworking purposes, used railway sleepers can be an ideal choice.

Railway sleepers originally used in train tracks are often retired from service as track works are completed. Made from hardwood, some may have rotted or deteriorated over the years but many sleepers will still be solid an sturdy; quality wood that is too good for the scrap heap. These type of railway sleepers can become a classic case of the value of reusing a product rather than relying on recycling.  Used railway sleepers are available at many garden products suppliers and specialist suppliers in locations Australia wide including Sydney, Melbourne and most capital cities and regional areas.

In addition to genuine used railway sleepers, imitation wood styled in the same way as railway sleepers is also widely available, particularly in locations such as Sydney where the demand for railway sleepers often outweighs the supply of genuine used sleepers. If your are purchasing this product, ensure they are hard wood and not pine, unless that’s what you are after for your railway sleepers of course.

Genuine used railway sleepers are often the cheapest, heaviest, most sturdy and hardest to cut when building an outdoor retaining wall for example, and will provide a sturdy wall with character.  However they are not as “pretty” as the brand new imitation ones.  In the end the choice can come down to price and availability, and of course your personal preference.

If you are a companies targeting the search phrase railway sleepers Sydney, have come across this post and are concerned that it’s ranking above your site, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d love to speak with you regarding how I can help you with improving your search engine rankings, and I’d also be willing to consider putting a link in from this page to your site at no cost to help boost your own site up.

About the author

Matthew has written 10 articles for Brand Police

Matthew Cummins is the owner of Marketing Web, a marketing, website design and SEO consultancy business. Matthew has degrees in both IT and Management/ Marketing as well as practical experience in B2B and B2C sales, marketing and marketing management, SEO and website development. Matt built his first website in 1995, and has been passionate about the web ever since.

10 Responses to "Railway Sleepers Sydney – A case study in SEO"

  • David Moloney 07:16 AM 16/9/2010

    Hi Matthew. You’re currently on page 2 of Google for the term ‘railway sleepers Sydney’. I’m sure this will rise up the ranks in the coming weeks. I agree that there are fundamental SEO errors that occur frequently across almost all small business websites. I wonder how long it’s going to take for basic SEO knowledge to become standard – or even to become available in government assistance programs.

  • Jan Littlehales 10:38 PM 16/9/2010

    Hi Matt, I’ve been learning about SEO over the past year or so and what I’ve learned and applied has certainly made a huge difference to my search engine rankings. Still a lot to learn, but I’m enjoying the journey.

  • Jo Carey-Bradshaw 02:51 AM 17/9/2010

    Hi Matt, I agree with you wholeheartedly – and have been thinking along the same lines for a while. Content is hugely important, And I am glad to see that your content the railway sleepers was extremely relevant to my occasional sojourns in Sydney. I have a great fondness for railway sleepers and have used them to advantage in three states so far.

    As to the SEO values; I am reminded that really it just boils down to a communication tool – how do I get a message across to someone so that it is heard, sometimes from across a busy road! Good luck, and like David above, I will be watching with interest and cheering you on.

  • Aidan 12:13 PM 17/9/2010

    Hi Matt, Railway sleepers are really cool especially in Sydney but its a shame the railway sleepers experiment did not get this page listed in the top 5 for “railway sleepers sydney” in the 48 hours you wanted in order to get listed for “railway sleepers in sydney“.

    I guess its not keyword density that helps then (or else all these mentions of railway sleepers in sydney might have helped the page get ranked for “railway sleepers sydney“)? Well at least I know where to go to get some info on railway sleepers while I reside in Sydney! Just kidding Matt – many thanks for sharing this experiment and seriously it would be interesting to see how long it would take with a few good backlinks now that Big G has sped up crawl and index rates.

    Don’t go eating hats though, it won’t do you any good, you would be better off eating a railway sleeper, they are at their best in Sydney this year.

    LOL – have a great weekend.

    Aidan (fellow Flying Solo’ist)

    • Matthew 01:01 AM 18/9/2010

      Hi Aiden and All, Looks like i’ve failed at this stage, with the site ranking around 17 for the phrase, having peaked at 14. I guess this could show a few things .

      1) This blog is still fairly new, so the rank of the site isn’t that high. In this case it seems that adding a post with good keyword density, keywords in title, in H1 tags, in URL (but not domain) etc doesn’t guarantee good rankings. Makes me wonder if this same post was put on say Rand Fishkin or Seth Godin’s blogs, would the result be different? I suspect so.

      2) It’s possible Google does a better job than we think of knowing what a site’s theme is about overall – something i’ve had my doubts about. The theme of this blog besides this post is generally nothing to do with wood, garden supplies or anything like that – it’s a “post out of place” in some ways.

      3) Maybe i’ve missed something in my onpage SEO, or even mentioning SEO in half the post rather than being about railway sleepers type stuff has confused Google as to the “theme” of the page – again if this level of “Google understanding” exists which as I said i’d doubted.

      4) Something else i’ve missed.

      Anyway I might do some more link building to see if it makes a difference, however as much as I hate to fail I don’t plan to become obsessed with this term as there is lots of other more important search terms to focus on!

  • Gab 04:40 AM 19/10/2010

    MM can I play Matt?

    • Matthew 10:02 AM 19/10/2010

      Nice Gravatar Gab! Sure you can play – do you mean you want to have a go at beating this result, or your know what I’ve done wrong? (other than the obvious of very little linkbuilding).

      Did another bit of a check, and now sitting at 15 in google. Com. Au, 11 in google. Com, and 2 in Yahoo. We were going for Yahoo ranking weren’t we? *joking*.

      Also interesting, so far Google Analytics tells me I’ve so far had 37 visits from Google on railway sleepers related keywords, spread over 21 different keywords (so clearly most are one visit only). This includes really long tail phrases like “scrap railway tracks for sale australia” and “recycled railway sleeper retaining wall“. Amazing what people search for AND will click on my site despite the fact the title and meta description both make it clear to a human it’s not actually about railway sleepers! “.

      Just deciding now if I should actually do some link building and try to get to page one, or give up on a somewhat silly project like this! Matt.

  • Gab 08:28 PM 19/10/2010

    Matt the gravatar was thanks to your post about Gravatar mate. Ok… I’m ready to play.
    Get ready to be crushed by the Fury of the Ninja! (I was going to write the keyword in this comment… But no more keyword juice my friend! )

  • Chris 11:21 AM 21/6/2011

    Well, your railway post is now at #5 in Google… Half a year late, I know, but you got there eventually.

  • Railway Sleepers London 09:55 AM 09/11/2012

    I have gone through your article and its really very informative for those who are learing SEO.

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