The allintitle metric was once ( and even today ) commonly used to estimate keyword competition and see if it would easy to rank for that keyword, without significant SEO ( or lots of backlinks! ).
The technique is quite simple. Just search the keyword with “allintitle:” prefixed to it and Google would show the pages that have all words of the keyword in their page titles. Count the number of results that exist.
The more the number of such pages, higher the number of sites targeting that keyword and in effect competing.
If you find one with very few number of pages in the Google results, then the competition is low and you have a game that you can win easily. Just write good content, do little social promotion and you should land on the first page.
Otherwise, if the number of results is higher, you know that it will need more seo power to reach upto the first page.
What’s wrong with this approach
The allintitle technique is a very gross method of assessing the competition level across the entire index of Google. It is like an average number taken over a giant data set.
That is the fundamental flaw in this approach. Theoretically if you see only 20 results it would mean very very low competition, but what if the only 10 sites are highly seo optimized and its impossible to beat them.
Allintitle is very unreliable in case of long tail keywords
The allintitle technique becomes even less useful when used with long tail keywords. The more the number of words in the keyword, fewer will be the number of pages shown in the result set.
Consider the following keyword –
how to make a website in wordpress for free
Doing an allintitle search –
allintitle:how to make a website in wordpress for free
Based on the result count number, the keyword might appear to have low competition, but that is not the case. The keyword is more competitive than what it appears. Therefore it would be wise to not rely on the allintitle numbers alone.
Analyze the actual top competitors in the SERPS
The only real way to gauge the level of competition of a keyword is by checking the top sites in the search results. That is to find how strong the top sites are seo-wise.
The process again is quite simple.
1. Search google for the keyword. Note the top 10, first page urls.
2. Analyse each url using metrics like backlink count, domain age, onpage optimization etc.
Many of these services have a free chrome extension that works directly inside Chrome browser and gets you the relevant data very quickly.
Here is a quick screenshot of how you could use the free ahrefs chrome toolbar to get the backlink count of urls in search result of Google.
So if you see that most urls have a high authority number and lots of backlinks, then its obvious that your competitors are strong and you would need more seo power to compete.
However if the authority numbers are low and the pages don’t seem to be relevant to the keyword or the topic, then the competition level is low and all you would need is a good piece of content with little seo work, to rank.
Analyse keyword competition with SeoStack
SeoStack has an inbuilt module to check keyword competition level, with an approach similar to the above.
Click on Tools > Competition Analysis and a new tab would open. Type in the keyword on the left and click “Analyse”. It would then fetch the top 10 urls in google results for the keyword and analyse the seo strength of each url.
Here is a quick screenshot.
Take a look at the average keyword competitiveness value at the bottom. It would indicate how easy or difficult it would be to rank for that keyword. Decide accordingly.
Limitations of competitor analysis technique
Even the second approach of analyzing competitor urls is becoming less effective with certain type of keywords. The most impact is seen with buyer keywords. Google is becoming increasingly smarter at determining the intent of keywords and is altering search results accordingly.
So with buyer keywords, Google is biased towards showing results from ecommerce sites and brand sites, even if they appear to not have strong seo factors.
In such cases, its best to manually review the search result pages and determine the feasibility of reaching the top ranks.