What’s your REAL competition?

Posted by on Aug 20, 2007 in SEO

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:

Google no quotes search

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:

Google quotes search

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:

Google inanchor intitle search

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]

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  1. Hi Tomaz,

    I think this is a real gem – it really helps weed out those sites which are targetting your keyword. I’ve just run the search for some keywords for the next site I’m planning and they are coming up nicely.

    cheers for the tip!



  2. Tom,

    I love this article.
    I have questions. i am an sbier.
    How do i choose which secodary keywords to optimize my title and body for.
    Do i get them from brainstorm it by using filter and typing weight loss and all keywords with that phrase, i check the most profitable and use them?


    Tomaz Reply:


    It depends. Sometimes you can look for synonyms. A primary keyword may be buy tennis shoes but you’ll also find buying tennis shoes in your MKL.

    So your title should include buy, buying, tennis and shoes keywords. It’s then up to your creativity to some up with something like: Looking to Buy Tennis Shoes? 5 Buying Tips For Online Shopping

    You can also just start typing the main keyword into Google search box and “Google suggest” algorithm will show you main long tail searches.

    If you start typing tennis shoe into Google, you’ll see long tail endings of the keyword: for sale, for women, reviews, brands, etc. Find a way to incorporate one or more of those long tail keywords into the title and you’ll automatically optimize for ALL of them.


  3. Thanks Tom.

    But what of a case where you have a keyword buy tennis shoes in mkl. You write a page for it.
    And then you have To buy tennis shoes, buying tennis shoes, how to buy tennis shoes, buyer of tennis shoes

    Do i optimize my initial page for all this or i write new pages for each one?

    They all have good supply. Its really giving me headache


  4. Frank,

    You optimize only one page for these keywords. And by optimize I mean that you find a way to include one or more of these words in the TITLE. Others can be in the text.

    More on this in the article about titles and article optimization.


  5. Thanks Tom


  6. Hi Tomaz,

    First of all, thanks for sharing this great info! I’ve had a look at your blog and you offer some really good genuine, no-BS advice here. You really are a breadth of fresh air compared to similarly themed blogs/sites!

    I’ve had my site for almost a year now. Do you think that it will damage my rankings if I change a few keywords on the home page now? Not the site concept keyword, but the rest of the keywords in the meta tag.

    I’m also thinking of doing some article marketing now to increase my backlinks. Would you say that this search method is also good to identify which pages to concentrate on when writing articles? As I see it, if I do a search for a keyword and find that it only has about 15 competition results and has good demand, then it’s best if I concentrate on improving links to that page because it’s “easier” to get better rankings. Am I correct in thinking this way?

    Sorry for the long post. Would really appreciate your insight on this.

    Thanks a lot and all the best with your web sites – you really deserve whatever success you have!




    Tomaz Reply:

    Hi Marica,

    You won’t damage your site by changing keywords.

    And sure, you can identify low competition by this method or by checking your MKL for low supply keywords and then optimize articles for those keywords and submit them to ezinearticles or other article sites.


  7. Hi Tomaz,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my queries.

    Looks like it’s time for me to do some research and identify the best keywords to target 🙂

    You have been very helpful. Thanks again!

    Have a nice weekend.




  8. Hello tom,

    Please i have a question.

    Hope you dont mind.

    How do you, use this method to plan the keywords for your homepage title and incoming links.

    How do you also use this method to check for the long tail keywords that have a strong demand for your Tier 2 (main pages). How does this gives you the best chance of high rankings.”

    I dont see the connection.


    Tomaz Reply:

    Hi Spaniel,

    This is how I check to see which keywords REALLY have the least competition. The normal Google search doesn’t show that.

    But this is just one of the cool SEO tricks that you can do. What I do now and what I suggest you do is just focus on Real Supply numbers from the MKL.

    Those are very reliable. Lower number means lower competition.


  9. Hi Tomaz,

    Strange thing: I did a Google research (intitle: “rapid weight loss” inanchor:”rapid weight loss”) for a keyword with which I have often #1 in Google and…my page doesn’t appear amongst the first 10! It means that my page doesn’t “fit” this parameter…but it gets #1.


    Tomaz Reply:

    Ana Maria,

    Could it be that Google is tracking you and serving your site since you look at it often? What is your ranking here:


    Do you still see your site at #1?


  10. I must be missing something. I was getting confusing results with my searches, so I copied & pasted

    intitle: “rapid weight loss” inanchor:”rapid weight

    into Google and got 300K+ results. I’m sure I’m doing something really stupid. Would you, please, give me any suggestions that come to mind?



  11. Or, perhaps, the problem is that it’s four years since you wrote this, and the results really have gone from 600 to 300K+? Wow. Not a good thought for my niche.



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