What’s your REAL competition?
I wrote a similar post in the SBI Forums and it has received lots of attention, so I decided to share it here.
The latest experiences from various SEO experts and webmasters show that the keys to ranking high for a specific keyword in Google (and other search engines) are:
1. Having the keyword in the page title
2. Including the keyword on the page a few times
3. Having internal links pointing to the page where the anchor text contains the keyword
4. Having external links from relevant and authoritative (high pageranked) sites pointing to the page with the anchor text containing the keyword
Someone who knows this and wants a high ranking for a certain keyword will include that keyword in the title.
They will also try to point as many links as possible to their page where the keyword is included in the anchor text. This type of person is your REAL competitor.
But before you learn how to find them, let’s assess the usual ways of evaluating your competition and see how you can improve them.
1. The Google bluff
(I learned this trick from Charles Heflin, the webmaster of SEO2020 who sent an email to his list describing this technique.)
The usual way of checking your competition is to type your keyword into Google and check how many websites are listed on the results screen.
I choose quite a competitive keyword for this example: rapid weight loss (with 235 estimated searches per day according to the free Wordtracker tool).
The search with no quotes in Google returns this:
But here is the trick: if you keep clicking to see the last page of the results (it goes faster if you set up 100 results per page in your Google search preferences) you will eventually end up with this:
In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 805 already displayed. If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.
What’s that? There are only 805 results? And in Google’s words those are “the most relevant results”.
This is calling the Google bluff. 😉
You really wanted to see all the results, and Google had to admit that there are only 805 relevant results, not over 3 million as suggested in the beginning.
You can repeat the same search with quotes. Here’s what you get on the first page:
Again, if you call the Google bluff and try to get to the last page of results you’ll get this:
In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 795 already displayed. If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.
Again very similar results; there seem to be only around 800 websites that Google finds relevant to this search term.
But how to find out who is trying to rank high for “rapid weight loss?
2. The Intitle Inanchor Search
The intitle inanchor search shows you pages which contain the keyword you are looking for in the title of the page. The page must have at least one link (internal or external) pointing to it with the keyword included in the anchor text.
Here’s what you type in Google:
intitle: “rapid weight loss” inanchor:”rapid weight loss”
And here are the results:
There are only around 600 websites trying to rank high for this particular keyword!
I have intentionally chosen a very competitive keyword to show you that the competition is really not that tough (600 compared to more than 600.000 that showed up in the quotes search).
Once you start checking less popular niches that still have a strong demand, you will soon find some keywords that quite easily give you a high ranking.
One of my sites ranks in the top 3 in Google for 3 keywords with almost 1000 combined daily searches.
The intitle inanchor check of the competition gives me 18, 54 and 40 competition results for each keyword. 😉
I included all 3 keywords in the title of my homepage, which has the highest pagerank, and it now ranks in the top 3 results in Google for all those keywords.
The non-quotes or the quotes results cannot really reveal what your real competition is.
You can use the Google bluff trick to give yourself a better picture of your competition. But the intitle inanchor search combo shows who is really serious about ranking high for a certain keyword.
When to use this specific search method?
I use it to plan the keywords for my homepage title and incoming links.
I also use this method to check for the long tail keywords that have a strong demand for my Tier 2 (main pages). This gives me the best chance of high rankings.
This may seem like a time consuming process, but in reality you only need to check 20 or 30 keywords that you are considering for your homepage and the main pages of your site.
The initial time investment is well worth it when your traffic starts building up after a few months of building pages and incoming links.
[tags]Google search, Google, keyword research[/tags]