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Evaluating the Competition of a Keyword

The goal of every online marketing endeavour is to get a website to rank as high up on Google as possible. While there are plenty of things that go into this effort, trying to rank for specific keywords is an important one.

Of course, the exact keywords that you want to rank for should be very relevant to the type of website you have. For instance, a pet grooming company’s website would be wasting their time trying to rank for a keyword such as “accountants in Toronto.” Instead, something like “Toronto pet groomers” would be much more relevant and useful to target.

However, the keywords you choose to target and try to rank for are likely being targeted by other websites already. That means you’ll be competing for that particular keyword. The key is picking the right keyword that is not only relevant, but is one that you will be able to outrank other websites for. That’s why it’s important to assess the competition level of a keyword before you go after it.

You first need to start by finding out who your competitors are. Many people make the mistake of assessing a keyword’s competition by the number of search results that Google displays when typing in a certain keyword. They may wrongly assume that the number that shows up is exactly the number of competitors that they have. In many ways this is false.

However, the number displayed isn’t something that should be ignored, either. Essentially, they would need to outrank that number of webpages in an effort to rank on top for that specific keyword. However, not all of these webpages are actually attempting to rank for that particular keyword. Using the previous example, if you type in “Toronto pet groomers” in Google and get 219,000 results, that doesn’t necessarily mean that each one of these webpages is actually trying to target that keyword.

Google is not necessarily telling you that 219,000 website owners are trying to rank for that term. It’s just that 219,000 pages have that particular keyword phrase included somewhere on their website. Most of those pages will probably not be trying to rank for “Toronto pet groomers” at all. Instead, they are probably trying to rank for a different keyword altogether, or may not even be trying to rank for anything at all.

You might be curious about who these website owners are that are ranking for that keyword, but it really doesn’t matter. All you need to know is that you want your website to rank on top. It’s really the top 10 websites that are your real competition for a particular keyword. At the end of the day, you need to be on page one of the search engines. That gives you the best chance of having your website seen by people. When conducting an analysis of your keyword competition, the only thing you should be concerned with are the websites that are currently ranking on the first page for a keyword.

Now that you’ve pinpointed who your real competition is for a keyword, how should you evaluate the strength of these competitors and determine whether or not it’s realistic for you to try to outrank these other websites for that keyword?

Here are the factors you should consider when analyzing your competition:

Page title – This is underlined and is in blue. Your keyword should be in your page title. If there are websites ranking on page one that don’t have that keyword in the page title, that’s a good sign of low competition.

On-page tags – The keyword should be in a page’s header and image alt tags in order to optimize the page for a certain keyword. If the top websites have done that, they are likely investing money in SEO. This is a strong competitor.

Content – Good quality content that’s the right length contributes to a higher competition level. To rank well with your keyword, you need to make sure the content on the page is equal to or better than the content of the pages of the top 10 competitors.

PageRank – PageRank is a score between 1 to 10 that Google gives to each webpage on the internet and gauges the authority and importance of that page. A webpage with a PR of 1 would rank higher for a certain keyword than a page with a PR of 5, for instance. If the websites on page one have a PR of 4 or more, the competition is probably high.

Backlinks – This is the most important factor to consider when it comes to the level of competition and is also the hardest factor to evaluate. It involves a combination of the number of backlinks, where they come from, and what text is being used to create these backlinks. If the competition has a lot of backlinks from various authority websites, you can consider the level of competition to be high.

Going up against tough competition doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t win. However, it’s important to be realistic about what you’re up against. Ideally, you should go for keywords that you know for a fact you will be able to compete with, or else you just might get lost in the crowd.

Written by

Dedicated to delivering effective and professional web design, Umberto Valenti founded UV Designs in 2010, a one-stop shop delivering web design and development services. With a background in business marketing and Economics.