Welcome to chapter 5( keyword competition) of our guide to keyword research. If you haven’t seen our previous post, check them out here:
Now assuming you’ve read these articles, let’s move on to find out who your competition is on Google’s first page.
If you check the first page of Google for your keyword and you see that it is dominated by big brand names then it may be a wise idea to move on to another keyword.
You’ll have no chance in beating these brands.
But don’t worry. Once you filter through your keyword competition you’ll find keywords that have fantastic search volume AND have little to know competition.
Less competition means you need less content and outreach to take the number one spot.
In this chapter in our ultimate guide I’m going to show you how to asses a keywords’ competition on Google’s search results.
What if I told you that there is a free browser toolbar that helps you evaluate keyword competition.
Well there is, it’s called The MoZbar.
Let me show you how to install it in your browser and set it up:
First, follow this page, it directs you to the page on Moz’s website that allows you to download there browser toolbar.
Click the yellow button and download and install MoZbar.
Then , when you are searching in Google you should see the MoZbar in action:
Now you have the MoZbar installed, let’s check out the competition.
Let me let you in on a little SEO saying. It goes as follows,
“Google doesn’t rank sites… it ranks pages.”
The main factor in a page’s ability to rank number one in Google is NOT the domain authority.
Although this is an important factor, it’s not the most important. It’s actually the authority of that single page.
And what’s the best way to find that page authority of a page?
Just take a look at the page authority (PA).
When you’re looking for PA on pages with medium to high volume keywords, don’t be surprised to see loads of high PA a sites.
What you have to do is to keep looking.
Eventually you’ll see low-PA pages that will be easy to takeover. The more you see from different pages, start rolling you’re sleeves up and start going to work.
Basically, Google works like the following:
The more backlinks that a page has, the higher the page tends to rank.
If you don’t believe me, take a look at this study… It found out that the more referring domains directly correlated with higher rankings, in comparison with any other factor.
What does this mean for you?
It means that you have to take a closer look on referring domains; it’s as simple as that.
Now trying to exactly find out how many links a page has, has it’s issues. There are many tools to find out the number of links on a page but some tools are more accurate than others.
My two main tools are the MoZbar and using Ahrefs.
In my opinion and others, Moz’s link index is no way as good as Ahrefs.
However, I do like the fact that The MoZbar is extremely convenient in trying to quickly asses the data in the SERPs.
As most of you guys are new to SEO let’s use the MoZbar and leave Ahrefs site explorer for another day.
When you are looking at the SERPs the number of referring domains appear on the MoZbar
It obvious that Google loves to rank pages that have great authority in their niche. Websites like Wikipedia and Amazon are everywhere, and Google loves to rank them high.
Most of the time pages within this website rank high and rightly so, but more often than not pages on these types of websites get a huge help from the very fact that it’s a very authoritative domain.
This means that when you start your keyword competition analysis you also want to take a look at the overall website your coming up against, not just the webpages.
Truth be told, the website with high DA and PA are very competitive and is very hard to beat.
So like I mentioned earlier the best tactic to do is look for low hanging fruit.
You have to look for website and pages on the first page of Google with low DA and PA.
Long story short PA is the main factor but don’t underestimate DA.
What is a brand signal?
Brand signals are signals that show search engines that a site is a part of a larger brand.
Google is taking brand signals more seriously and is incorporating it into their algorithm.
Don’t take brand signals for granted and take it into consideration. For example, an Amazon page with a same DA and PA as a smaller brand will have the upper hand.
Any SEO know about link metrics and the importance of knowing and understanding link metrics.
Website and pages with black hat and spammy link profiles may appear to have a high PA and DA, but because they’re using spammy links to get there they won’t be on the top page for long.
If your analysing your competition and you suspect that the site may be using spammy links, check it’s link profile to see what’s going on behind close door.
Checking a sites link profile also helps you get a better understanding of how hard it will be to overtake a site in the SERPs.
If a site is getting mentions from big sites like the BBC and entrepreneur.com then you may want to reconsider the keyword you’re competing for.
Nonetheless, if you’re going to put some blood sweat and tears into ranking a keyword then you might as well find out how a site has landed on the first page.
1) Copy the URL of one of the website on page one:
2) Paste the URL into MOZ
3) Scroll down and take a look at the backlinks:
It will show all of the external links pointing to that page.
4) Then look at the spam score of each link.
This will give you a great indication on whether or not a link is spammy or not.
The higher the number the better chance the site has bad links.
Links coming from the following places normally have some black hat SEO done to them:
· Private blog networks
· Spammy blog comments
· Low quality web directories
· Article directories.
Whilst your checking their link profile don’t forget to have a look at their anchor text.
An over-optimized anchor text indicates poor SEO and chances are the site won’t stay long in that position.
Likewise, a site with good authoritative links is something you have to make a note of.
Remember, checking out the link profile of a site is to give you a better understanding of who you are going up against and assessing how hard it will be to overtake them.
On-page SEO is so underestimated in the world of SEO.
Great on-page SEO can boost your rankings just in itself, without any backlinks. But obviously on-page SEO itself isn’t going to make you rank.
When assessing your competitors it’s also a good thing to check out how good their on-page SEO is.
First, take a good look at the webpage’s title tag. The title tag is the link that’s highlighted in blue:
The two examples above are very good examples of sites with well optimized title tag ( I searched Victoria sponge cake).
The sites have used close variation of the keyword in their title tag, which is good SEO.
To analyse even deeper, click on one of the websites and hit the “page analysis” button on the MoZBar:
The icon will show on-page SOE information on the page your viewing:
Look at the H1/H2 tag and the URL, if it has the keyword in it then the page is well-optimized.
However, if the site has bad on-page SEO then you have a chance in taking this site over in organic search, even if he has good PA and DA.
I just talked about referring domains and on-page SEO but there is something that I haven’t talked about to beat your competition.
As they say, “content is king”.
I know it’s a saying that gets used over and over again, but it’s true.
Having quality content on your site is a great way to overtake your competition and get to the first page of Google.
So be aware when you’re trying to beat your competition you will have to beat or at least match your competition in terms of content.
You can normally get a good grasp of what type of content is needed just by looking at the top 5 results in the SERPs. All you have to do is to create something longer and better and you’ll come up on top.
Here’s an example:
I looked up “health benefits of asparagus”
All of the articles written on the first page of Google is well written and often have sources that are cited, making the articles credible and worthy of getting links.
Your articles will have to match or beat it.
Let’s look at the result showing in the image, WH Foods:
One thing you can see from the website is that the design is very old fashioned, making it harder to get links. The first thing on my mind would be to impress with my web design.
However, the content that exists on the site is amazing.
It includes charts:
And they’re referencing scientific evidence:
However, the on-page SEO is not the best. The title tag is simply “asparagus” rather than “health benefits of asparagus”.
Nonetheless, this website is great but could be better.
When creating content you’re content has to simply better and you have to make sure your on-page SEO is correct.
Do that and your set.
Now you’ve checked out your competition, it’s time to take it to the next level.
What do I mean?
By using your keywords to make great SEO content.
See you in our next chapter.