Keyword competition is one of the factors most Internet marketers (IM) take into account when doing keyword research. If you are not doing that, you should think about adjusting your decision making process. Keyword research is the starting point for your Internet marketing. If you do not get this step right it is likely that everything else will be flawed. One important aspect of your research should include keyword competition analysis.
Keyword Competition Revealed by SEOmoz
One problem is in the IM community is that many teaching SEO are suggesting that looking at the number of results is a gauge of competition. I don’t even look at the number. I consider that a complete waist of time. I use to do it but then I ran into Shane Melaugh. He was promoting his product known as SE Cockpit. He explained it something like this. If you’re in a race and driving a Porsche while racing 10 people driving a Model T who do you think will win that race? Of course, you will win. If you’re driving a Porsche and you’re racing a Formula 1 driver in his favorite Formula 1 car, who then do you think will win that race?
It isn’t the number of people your competing against, its the quality of the competition. For me, the only thing that matters are the top 10 listings. To make money I have got to be on page one. The higher up one is on page one, the better. There is a huge difference in the amount of traffic you will get from a number one listing versus a number two listing.
So how do I measure competition? I use a tool that simplifies the process for me. The most important factors are listed below:
- Links to the Page — How many links does the site have and what are the quality of those links.
- Page Authority — I use SEOmoz to’s page and domain authority as well as MOZ Rank.
- On Page Optimization — Are the sites targeting this keyword?
Links to the Page and Keyword Competition
The most important factor for me is the “do follow” links to the page that I am trying to outrank. It is the page and not the domain that matters the most for search engine rankings. All I care about are the top 10 pages shown in the search engine results.
If you want to find a deeper page, it can be difficult to find that specific page. I have a cheat though. I use Open Site Explorer to find it. With SEOmoz Pro I export up to 10,000 links of the competing domain and then search for my keyword. I can usually find the article I’m competing against by doing this. I don’t find a need to do this very often.
Another factor is the number of links that the page I’m competing with receives from different domains. If they have 5000 links from four domains that is not a ranking I find hard to overcome. I use SEOmoz’s Open Site Explorer to find this out. The quality of those links can also be determined using Open Site Explorer.
I use SEOmoz’s Page Rank measurement to find out how many links that page has. Since I’m a Pro member I can get it by using the Moz’s SEO Tool Bar.
When I search the major search engines the SEOmoz Tool Bar is displayed below the listing for each site. In the graphic below you can see it highlighted in yellow. If you are not a pro member then you will see only statistics for the root domain.
If you are not a pro member the SEO Tool Bar will only show results for the domain. If you’re not a pro member you can get from the Open Site Explorer. It also shows the pages that link to that page and their page and domain authority which I will discuss more later in this article.
I use SEOmoz’s Page Authority to give me an idea of the number of links and the quality of those links. The higher the page authority for the web site, the more likely that it has a high number of links to that page or a fewer number of links with high authority.
Another thing to consider with links is can I get the same links? Using Open Site Explorer you may find that their links are coming from sites like WordPress or Blogger. After your web page is online, go to the same page and post a comment linking back to your site.
Don’t totally dismiss “no_follow” links as they do have value. I recently saw some evidence to indicate that they have more value than what Google has been leading us to believe.
Consider Page Authority During Keyword Research
Page and site authority is determined by a number of factors that are not totally known to me or anyone else. The authority of a web page includes the number and quality of links to that page. It is believed to also include the age of the domain the page is on. It may include other items such as the title of the page. Google gives us some idea of what they see the authority of page to be through their Page Rank rating. SeoMoz has two similar tools that indcate a pages authority rating. These are known as MOZ Rank and MOZ Page Authority.
MOZ Rank considers the number and quality of links to a page. Quality from a linking page is largely believed to be influenced by that pages MOZ Rank or Google’s Page Rank. So if the site linking to your competition has a high page rank it is a higher quality link.
MOZ Page Authority is a combination of SEOmoz’s MOZ Rank, MOZ Trust another factors that I do not believe are fully known to the public.
When I’m doing keyword research, I consider the Moz Rank and Moz Page Authority primarily. I do give some consideration to Moz Domain Authority rating. If both the page authority and domain authority are high it will likely be even harder to rank higher than that page. However you may still be able to overcome their high ranking if they are not optimized for that page.
On Page Optimization and Keyword Competition
A web page could have a high authority due to factors that have nothing to do with your keyword. That site may not be targeting that keyword at all. At this level you need to take a look at the webpage or use a trusted tool that does that through a numeric or graphic rating system. SE Cockpit is the tool I use to show this information to me graphically. Generally I want to know if the title, the H1 tag and the description for the page include my keyword. If they do, you can assume they are in fact targeting that keyword. If they have a strong Moz Rank, Moz Page Authority and are optimized for the keyword then you have strong competition and to overcome this, you will have to be stronger.
There are other factors that make up keyword optimization but no one really knows what they are. When Google crawls our pages they are trying to have their computer “understand” what our page is about. This is basically what on page optimization is. No one knows what these things are. We have strong indications that the title, H1 tag and description are important. Placement and usage of keywords in the content of your article are also important. There is much debate over these factors That issue is outside of the scope of this article.
These are the factors I look at when I’m considering the strength of competition for a keyword I am evaluating. There are others that yet remain undiscovered to me. If you have suggestions for additional keyword competition analysis I’d love to hear about them. Please leave a comment and share your thoughts. Once again, it is not the number of links but the quality of links you should consider when doing your keyword competition analysis.
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