Greg Boser of Web Guerilla made an interesting post about buying older sites and domains. In his post he shows an example of a domain amishfurniturecrafts.com that resolves to the same IP address as gokartsusa.com.
The result is that the site ranks highly for keywords like “Amish furniture”, “Amish gokarts”, and “mini bike furniture”. As a side effect, this can also overtly hurt the rankings of the phrases that the site originally ranked for. Why? While we don’t have the data to prove it (we did not look at this site prior to seeing Greg’s post), inbound anchor text, and the pages and sites linking to you, play a key role in developing the “relevance” picture of your site. When the messages get mixed, so do the results.
Presumably, the Amish furniture domain was acquired by GoKartsUSA in order to gather the value of the inbound links to their site. Greg points out that there is a possibility that this could be an act of competitive sabotage. We consider this scenario a bit unlikely, though. Its an awful lot of work for someone to go through with uncertain results. Not only that, one would suspect that the majority of GoKartsUSA competitors would not have the SEO expertise to figure this one out.
It looks to me like GoKartsUSA probably got some bad SEO advice. 1-2 years ago, relevance calculations were not as sophisticated as they are today, and a link was a link. What we do get is a splendid example of the power of anchor text. The inbound anchor text is literally overriding the on page content.
So content may be king (you can’t get good links without it), but links rule. Do your link building with care, and keep it on topic.