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I found this on a thread at TP (kudos to the poster that found this), and just wanted everyone here to take a look at this:
It's basically a 70 page whitepaper where they took a very large sample of competitive search terms, and then analyzed the search results to see what the top ranking websites had in common.
Make no mistake that this is not some blogger study. This is by far the most analytical study I have ever seen. There are some very valuable nuggets and analysis in there - and some things you would have never guessed. (I'll give you a hint : Top ranked sites have way more NO-follow links than sites further down the rankings).