Details on Sites Known to Escape
Sadly, there are only two sites that I have recently seen escape that I am permitted to comment on and mention names. I have knowledge of many others, but cannot share them except anonymously.
The first site I'll mention is one I have not been shy about mentioning in the past - www. avatarfinancial. com. It's a site that I have been optimizing for since April of 2004 and was actually my first foray into professional SEO on my own. The site has the following features that have allowed it to crawl into many top rankings at multiple engines:
1. Links - 7100 @ Yahoo!, 1530 @ Google, 16,360 @ MSN (although that count seems erroneous)
2. Anchor text - #1 allinanchor positions for every keyword targeted
3. Links from top sites - 25+ of the top 100 pages in Google's SERPs for various kw phrases link to the site, including many in the top 30 and several in the top 10.
4. On-Page Optimized including high term weight on page for primary terms
5. Use of high C-Index related terms on the site (mostly naturally occurring) and throughout the link building process, especially in the latter stages.
6. Links from major hubs - there are 6-10 major hub sites in my SERPs, of which nearly all (or perhaps all) link to avatarfinancial.com
7. Content - I and my boss write the articles for the site, the early ones tend to be of poorer quality, but the latter ones have improved steadily (since I learned about the importance of content)
The second sites is this one - socengine.com, which appears to be ranking very highly for terms like 'msn beta search' and 'seo tools'. I have little explanation, but I assume it is because of you, my faithful readers, who have built the links for me. I certainly have not added any manually, except in my signature links at SEO forums (but I don't do that for the search engines' sake). I like to think of SEOmoz/SOCEngine as living proof that a site can succeed with purely natural link building.