I have a couple blogs that are in a small niche, yet extremely competitive. It is usually how I am able to observe a lot of stuff that others can’t, which is where I learn most of my SEO insight. I was noticing that my sites in this niche were ranking very high for major keywords, even though other sites had the same keywords, higher Pagerank, and had been around much longer with a lot more inbound links. In fact some of the other competitors wouldn’t even rank in the first 10 pages, while I could get on page 2! By the way my sites are less than 8 months old.
The major difference that could explain why I ranked better was because they were referencing their site by their name. This is a HUGE mistake. Whenever you build a backlink, alway try to have descriptive anchor text instead of your site name. Having your name or website title is usually not what you want, since no one on the net is looking for Joe Blow or Joe Blow’s Blog. They are looking for generic highly searched keywords.
Search engines learned a long time ago that simply making your domain and title on a major keyword is not enough to get you to the top. If you want to rank really high for that keyword, you MUST use anchor text too. This is much harder to do, but it’s less biased because it allows 3rd party sites to give a description of your site everytime they link to it. Anchor Text is really what the search engines see as your websites “Title”.