Keyword Competition Analysis
After you have done some keyword research and found nice long tail keywords with buyer intent, the next task is to check the level of competition that exists on google for those keywords.
If the competition is higher than what you can compete with, move on to the next keyword. If the keyword appears to have low competition, build content and try to rank it.
Sounds very easy, and it gets easier as you start doing it with enthusiasm and energy. So this post shows you the exact steps you need to know in order to properly calculate the competition level of a keyword and decide whether or not should that keyword be selected for your next piece of content.
It might be a little worthwhile to know about some of the old techniques that have become obsolete now.
Many years ago, some keyword research tools used to calculate keyword competition level using special google operators known as “allintitle”, “allinurl” and “allinanchor” and also exact match search count. It was easier, quicker and the data from google was available for free.
The process was something like this. Lets say you keyword is –
“get more traffic to your website for free”
Now do an allintitle search for the keyword and check the number of results reported by Google.
allintitle:get more traffic to your website for free
Smaller the result count (say less than 1000), lower the competition. However this approach is now largely inaccurate.
For the above keyword, less than 1000 results ( at the time of writing this post ) would come up. Theoretically this sounds an easy keyword. However, there is significant competition around this keyword.
This happens because of the “long tail” nature of the keyword. Using allintitle with a long tail keyword with 5-6 or more words, results in fewer pages returned by Google. It is easy to see why.
A better approach – analyze the competitors
A more reliable method is to analyze the top competitors and see how strong they are, before deciding to go into a battle with them.
If the top 10 competing urls are weaker than your site, then in most cases ranking on page 1 would be an easy target for your site.
Simply search for the term, and note the top 10 results. Now check how strong are they. There are a number of ways to analyze their strength. Some useful metrics are
1. Number of backlinks to the domain – Yes, this directly relates to the PR of the domain
2. Number of backlinks to the page – Yes, this directly relates to the PR of the page
3. OnPage optimization around the keyword
4. “Popularity” of the site – The CTR factor
Now this can take quite some time and effort, if done manually. There are plenty of online services to find out the backlinks of a site. Some are free, some are paid
There are some other tools that do the analysis work for you by evaluating all factors and generating a single digit score which indicates the strength. Sites like ahrefs.com and moz.com provide a distinctive number called “authority measure” for each page that exists out there. It is believed that this number takes into account the backlinks and quality of backlinks.
However, not all these sites provide the data for free and have paid subscriptions to get access to the data.
Ahrefs provides a free chrome extension that provides authority scores for free.
1. Use Ahrefs Chrome extension
Ahrefs has provided a chrome extension that shows statistics from ahrefs.com for free. On google search result page, it shows statistics for all the result pages, making it easy and convenient to analyse the SEO strength of each url.
Here is a quick screenshot
The important ahrefs metrics that you need to check –
1. Page Url Rank (UR) – A number from 0 to 100.
2. Domain Url Rank(DR) – A number from 0 to 100.
3. Backlinks and referring domains to the page and Domain.
Now both the page url rank and domain rank take into consideration the backlinks to the page and domain respectively.
By looking at the Page UR and DR values it is possible to make a reasonable guess about how difficult it would be to compete with those urls.
How to use the Page UR value to estimate competitor strength –
1-20 : Indicates a weak competitor
20-30 : Moderate
30+ : Powerful
Exception – There is however one exception to the above rule. If the results contain ecommerce sites like amazon, ebay, bestbuy etc, then even though the Page UR value might be very low, it would not be easy to rank above them.
This is simply because Google gives more importance to ecommerce sites, if the user’s search intent is of buying something.
Low Page UR and high DR – If the results contain youtube videos, or facebook pages for instance, the domain rank would be higher but the Page UR would be very low. This again indicates low competition.
Very low Page UR – If the Page UR is very low ( < 10), this potentially indicates very low competition and an easy chance to rank.
2. Use SeoStack
The above shown method is still quite cumbersome. You need to type in each search query into google and then manually analyze the metrics provided by ahrefs for each individual urls.
The whole process is much easier with SeoStack. SeoStack has an inbuilt competition checker module that automatically searches google for the top results and then fetches relevant metrics and calculates a single digit score that indicates the keyword competition level.
Here is a screenshot
The process gets even easier with the Keyword Competition column, where you just need to press the calculate button next to a keyword to get the competition score. This way you can analyze multiple keywords quickly.
Here is a brief description of how to interpet the keyword competition score shown by SeoStack –
1-10 : Very low competition
10-20 : Low competition
20-30 : Moderate competition
30-40 : High competition
40+ : Very high competition
Ideally you would like to target keywords with competition level between 0-20. Though you can go for more competitive keywords if you already own an authoritative site having good seo power.