Who is your real SEO Competition

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I have read countless threads on forums, blogs and in the social sphere where someone is giving details of how effective their SEO work is and using a highly ranked key phrase to back this up.

Let’s take the following example for a random keyword, say “backpain relief”. Now an SEO guru may sit at the top of the pile and say, hey look at me, first out of over 3m pages ….


Now if you want to come into the market, you may be thinking, wow, there are quite a few pages to beat out (3m is actually not that competitive). But it gets better, the SEO guru is in fact overstating the marketing. The 3m pages are made up of all pages that have those words on them but they do not have to be in that order. Let’s put quotes around the keyword to see what the competition looks like for pages that have the full keyphrase ….


We have reduced our market quite significantly. Suddenly being top spot doesn’t look as hard and the SEO guru doesn’t look too guru like anymore. There is a problem with using quotes though. This doesn’t take into account people who have optimised their page with off page factors. Lets dig a little further into your SEO competition for this market.

Another command you can use is “allintitle:backpain relief” and you will get all pages with this keyphrase in the page title (27,000 of them). I would take note of the top 3 at the very least.


Next you can look to see who is top of the ranks for anchor text by using “allinanchor:backpain relief”.


Again taking a note of the top 3 will allow you to see who ranks there based upon having the keyphrase in the anchor text of links pointing towards this page.

You can repeat the process for allintext, this does the same but for the text on a page. Keeping a note of the top 3 (or more for bigger markets) gives you an indication of sites that may be optimised for this keyword. If a site consistently appears top for these searches there is a good chance it has been optimised and this is your real competition. If different sites appear for each search, there is a great opportunity to rank your page first.

For any site that is dominating these searches you can now go onto that webpage and look at the page title, copy, links etc to get a sense of what it will take to beat the site. I should also point out that you can use the same commands above but in the format “in” instead of “all”. This simply means the exact keyphrase doesn’t have to be there.

Now that you have started to get a proper understanding of who your competition is, I can show you something else that is pretty cool. Going back to the SEO guru, he will never be competing against 3m pages as Google only shows 1000 for each search, so here is another handy technique to get a feel for your SEO competition:

1) Let’s run the above search again without quotes i.e. backpain relief. This gives you 3,240,000 results
2) Now go to “Advanced Search”
3) Set your results to 100 per page and click “Advanced Search”. This will bring you back to your search page with 100 results instead of 10.
4) Now click on the 10th page (last one)

Ah you will see there are 749 pages out of a possible 3,240,000 that Google deems relevant to your search. This is a better indication of your SEO competition. You can run through the further commands given above using this format to see how many web pages are listed under each one. For example running allinanchor in this format gives only 314 pages ….

Hope this helps, anyone got some cool tecnhiques to share then please comment away …

Oh yeah if you are looking for a really quick way to do this, check this post out SEO Competitior Research in 5 mins

Oh double yeah, please use the Retweet button if ya feel like it !!!

About Kieran Flanagan

Online Marketer who implements both inbound and paid strategies to help companies grow internationally. Lover of content marketing, SEO, analytics, CRO and strategy. A highly motivated marketing geek high on data crack.