A vital part of any keyword strategy is knowing who your competitors are. You can save a lot of time trying to rank for keywords that are simply too competitive. It’s best to pick the right battles and select those keywords where you can see a ROI.
As with anything in SEO there are a lot of automated tools that can help with this process. But there are some manual searches you can do to get your competitive research off to a good start.
Taking the keyword “herb remedies” as an example we can do the following:
a. Search for keyword “herb remedies” on Google.co.uk. This brings back 5,440,000 total pages indexed in Google. That’s a lot of pages.
b. Using the tag “allintitle:” we can do this search again. Simply enter “allintitle:herb remedies” into the Google search box.
The tag allintitle looks for all pages with the text “Herb Remedies” in the page title. This brings back 6430 results.The results on top are from a normal Google search. Those on the bottom are from using the allintitle tag. As we can see the results differ. This is showing us other sites are ranking in the top 3 for reasons other than the title tag (as the first result in the normal Google search is not first for results returned by allintitle).
c. Using the tag “allinanchor:” we can do this search again. Simply enter “allinanchor:herb remedies” into the Google search box.
The tag allinanchor only returns pages that have inbound links using the full keyword in the anchor text. This brings back 21000 results. The results on top are from a normal Google search. Those on the bottom are from using the allintitle tag. This time we can see the top 2 results on each match up. Anchor text would be one of the more important factors in terms of where your site is ranked. But remember it’s only 1 of 127
There are other tags you could use such as:
- intitle (only one of the keyword needs to be in the page title)
- inanchor (as per in title but for the anchor text)
What do these stats show you ?
Well they show you what percentage of sites are doing some type of optimization in relation to the number of pages appearing for that keyword. In this keywords case it would be deemed a moderate keyword to work with (in terms of competitiveness).
I would also look at the following points when looking at competition:
1. I would take a quick look at the top 10 search results for each of your keywords. You want to know who occupies these spaces. As page one is really all that counts, you want to know what you are up against. With the increase in universal search there are now lots of entry points onto this page. Look for videos, news items, Google blog posts, Google product searches.
2. Take you top keywords (between 10 and 20) and look at the top 10 rankings on Google for each of these. Notice where your competitors appear and where they don’t appear. Jot down potential gaps in their keyword strategy. There is a good chance your main competitors are so focused on the top keywords in this market they have neglected some of those on the list. You may be able to target some of these to build up page rank on interior pages to funnel towards your more competitive pages.
There are some automated tools to help with this process. It’s easy to get carried away with tools, constantly picking up the latest gadget. But I find the following work for me:
1. SEO Elite
2. Yahoo Site Explorer
3. Manual Searches
4. InterLeado (Irish Software)
I am going to put together a brief video this weekend (I hope) to follow up on these. So that’s it for now. If you want to check out the previous post in this series, Keyword Research – Automating the Process.