Keyword competition analysis

In the previous post of this guide to Google keyword research I showed how we find keyword ideas and get an idea of the traffic expected from these keywords. This is only half of the battle. As I touched on in a previous post, we need to find keywords that not only have good search volume but will also be possible to rank on the first or second page at the very least.

Manual Google Search page one analysis

There are tools out there that can do a lot of this work for you but it is better to go through manually so you understand what you should be looking at. Also there are a lot of things that these tools cannot do or judge properly. Judging the search engine ranking pages (SERPs) can be a bit of an art.

We want to rank on the first page of google for our chosen keyword so it is best to look at those already ranking. If we aim to optimise our site or webpage better than these sites we should be able to achieve a page 1 ranking.

Browser SEO add-ons (free) you will need

SEO Quake – Can be used with either Firefox or Google Chrome as an extension.

Moz toolbar – used with Firefox or Google Chrome.

These tools allow you to see a bunch of metrics in real time as you are searching google. This allows you to instantly asses the top ten results of any given search.

SEO Metrics and their meanings

Domain Authority – This is a score from 1-100 that Moz has given the domain. Anything that is over about 35 is quite high. As authority increases it is harder for a site to gain authority for example, to go from 50-100 is harder than going from 0 – 50.

Page Authority – This is a score from 1-100 that Moz has given the ranking page.  This is the same metric as the Domain Authority but this is just for single pages. Normally the homepage will have the highest rank and the further a page is from the home page the lower it will be.

Page Rank – This is googles Tool bar page rank, it is a rough estimate of how much trust google gives the website. The more links a website has from other trusted high page rank sources the higher this number will be. This is a similar story to authority, getting a page rank up to 3 is not too difficult but beyond that can be tough. Google does not update its page rank tool bar often, only 3-4 times a year. This year has seen a long gap between updates, so it is not that reliable.

Links – This is the total number of links from other websites the page has pointing to it. These are referred to as backlinks.

RDs – This is the number of linking root domains. A site can have 100 backlinks but if they are all from the same website they are not as powerful. The more linking root domains the more powerful the links will be.

Snippet analysis

In the example image above I searched for “Solar Panels information”. To See how well optimised this page is for this keyword we have to look for it in the 3 main areas, Meta title, URL and meta description.

In the example we can see that “Solar panel” is in all 3 places and “solar panel” and “information” appear in the meta description. This particular page is only part optimised for the keyword but it is still ranking 3rd. When a site is really powerful and authoritative it does not need to be as relevant to rank highly. Here we can see its page authority is 80 (very high).

On page analysis

Click through each website and look at a few areas of the site.

Are the keywords in the page title?

Is there much content on the page like images, videos or a well written article that the viewer would like.

On the ranking Wikipedia page we have only a partial match keyword “Solar panel” as its main heading but there is so much information on this page and many relevant links to other informative pages, that it ranks very highly. Users and google love these types of pages.

When the SEO quake Plugin is active you will see the tool bar when a page loads in your browser. Click on the Diagnosis button to get a run down of the on page optimisation.

The report will explain where this page is optimised well with a green tick and badly with a red X. Some of the advice here is a bit outdated, for example the meta keywords tag is basically useless for SEO in Google.

Off-page analysis

In the Moz tool bar metrics we can see that this Wikipedia page has 3499 backlinks from 639 different domains pointing to it. That is a very high number and in general this will translate into higher authority.

A High number of links pointing to a page does not always mean higher authority. Not all backlinks pass the same amount of authority. For example a link from a university or government site can be 100x more powerful than a link from a low authority directory. In fact having to many links from very low quality sites can cause google algorithm penalties and a huge loss in rankings.

The 2 main tools we like to use to look at a sites backlink profile are Opensiteexplorer (OSE) and MajecsticSEO. OSE is a tool made by moz and uses the same domain and page authority metrics as the moz tool bar. MajesticSEO I have always found to be a bit more in-depth and better at finding backlinks. Majestic uses metrics called Citation Flow and Trust Flow to measure the value of a webpage and backlinks.

It is best to not focus too much on 1 metric and to use all of this information together when looking at the top 10 results.