The SEO Competition for any Keyword is one of the most important factors in the whole equation, because not only does it decide whether a keyword is worth trying to rank for, it also provides us with invaluable information to do so (rank) – should we be given that green light in the first place
The Competition is NOT about the Number of Competing Pages!
One of the most common ‘Newbie’ mistakes relates to what the ‘SEO Competition’ actually is – because contrary to popular belief, the number of pages competing for your keyword is really not a very good indication of the competition at all. What’s worse – the information is misleading and actually not that relevant to your situation anyway!
Let’s take a look at why… (I will continue with the Keyword I started the MS Bootcamp series with: Online Dating Advice)
If I was to go to Google and type in “Online Dating Advice” in quotations as is the formal method then Google tells me there are 23,100,000 pages that ‘mention the keyword somewhere in the descriptions and/or tags. 23 million!!? (At this point all the ‘books’ tell me this is too many and to “try another keyword”) But this figure is not even valid because:
- How many sites out there would have the words somewhere on the page but not directly be trying to compete for it? A lot I’d imagine.
- How many sites initially optimised themselves for the phrase and then simply gave up or stopped trying? Again, I’d say a lot! And finally…
- How many of those pages that ARE genuinely competing for the phrase are building links with automated tools and shitty content? Yep -A lot!
The point is – the amount of competing pages is not an adequate measure of the true competition because it is 1: Based on irrelevant information and 2; it fails to give us the Most Important piece of the SEO competition Puzze: The Top 10.
Your SEO Competition is the Top 10 Ranked Sites.
It doesn’t matter whether there are 23million competing pages, or 1125 – if the 10 sites holding firm on page one of Google are all authority sites with high Pagerank then your chances of ranking alongside them range from ‘Highly Unlikely’ through to ‘Yeah, You Wish’.
The Top 10 ranking sites can also provide us with a lot more information that is relevant to our cause – and it is here that Market Samurai earns it’s reputation (and you see where your money went) because what it can uncover in seconds would take you hours to find yourself.
Using the Market Samurai SEO Competition Module.
The SEO Competition Module is really (really) easy to use – but almost impossible to truly understand. The secret to getting the most out of it simply comes down to accepting this and never (EVER) trying to understand it. Just work with what you know (which in a moment will be a lot) and forget about the statistical anomalies and contextual hyperbolas.
Allow me to translate exactly what is going on here:
The SEO Competition you are looking at here is always going to be that of the keyword you are investigating. If you want to find out the competition on a different keyword then you will need to add this yourself first.
To get this page to look like the above screenshot, simply choose the options (I recommend leaving everything as it is be default for starters) and then click the ‘Generate Results’ Button.
Market Samurai SEO Competition Module Options
By default I think all of the elements are included (boxes are all check marked) but there are only a few columns that we are really interested in:
The Pagerank of the competing domains is always a highly relevant piece of information, regardless of what stage of ‘Research’ you are at.
This indicates the number of Page Backlinks pointing to the URL in question
This indicates the number of Domain Backlinks pointing to the URL in question
This indicates the number of Backlinks pointing to the URL in question that come from .edu and .gov domains
These 4 pieces of information provide a very good outline of the strength of any particular site, and looking at the example above you can clearly see that 23 million competing pages or not – there is a definite green light on this particular keyword!
Now Let’s dig right into the SEO Competition Module and find out what Market Samurai has to say.
When you are given the resulting pages you have the ability to drill even further into the results and get even more relevant information regarding their backlinks. The little diagonal up arrows next to every single numerical result will take you to Majestic SEO, the service that provides much of the data to Market Samurai. As an example, I have attached a couple of screenshots of the sort of information Majestic SEO can provide.
In this case I have clicked on the arrows next to the BLD or Backlinks to Domain figure:
Now in order to truly see the competition for what it is – and in order to get the biggest possible picture, it is advisable to rely on numerous sources of SEO Competition data. The data provided above – although broad, can still give us a very good ‘big picture’ scenario. Eg: if you look at the External Backlink Data provided by Majestic SEO you can see that of the 14,686 indexed backlinks:
- 8,528 are No Follow, and
- 1,955 backlinks come from Images.
This data alone is already giving us some fairly good insight into the link building strategy I need to apply.
Now let’s move onto the nitty gritty of the Market Samurai SEO Competition Module
If I could draw your attention to the small down arrow next to each of the top 10 URLs. See it. Click it! (go on, you know you want to )
After clicking on it you will have the option to further drill into their backlinks with either a PR Analysis or an Anchor Text Analysis.( See above screenshot)
SEO Competition Module – Anchor Text Analysis
After clicking the Anchor Text Analysis you are taken to the screen similar to the above screenshot. On the left is a list of all the words used as anchor text in the backlinks pointing to the site and on the right is a detailed list of where those backlinks are actually coming from.
Once I have this information I simply click the Export List to File button in the bottom right and the whole thing becomes an excel file that I can look at later, or now… or like, whatever.
SEO Competition Module – PR Analysis
The only difference here is that the incoming links are tallied by their PageRank as apposed to the anchor text being used. I find this data far less relevant in the big scheme of things so tend not to use this function.
Generally, regardless of what method you use – you will ultimately end up with the same link data.
I had to repeat that last line because it is something that we need to keep in mind when analysing our SEO competition. Because of this it is important to utilise other tools and services (namely Google and Yahoo) to gain even more understanding of the competing pages as well as the backlinks it has indexed*
*No matter how accurate something appears to be – it isn’t!
You can do the same research on the same page and each tool you use will bring back completely different links and sometimes even conflicting results! This is normal so relax..
Bonus SEO Competition Analysis Tip.
I have taken you through most of the important elements of the SEO competition module, and shown you how to dig down further into the information presented. But there is one more ‘button’ we have yet to explore, and even though at first glance it may appear random and unhelpful – it is actually very very useful indeed.
Next to the PageRank (PR) in the Market Samurai field is the IC field or Index Count. If you click on the little arrow next to the Index Count it will direct you to Google where it has already presearched for site:www.competingdomain.. thus bringing up a list of every single page that is currently indexed.
So what? That’s what I thought at first – and I quickly ignored it. But then one day I needed optimised content… (see where I am going with this? 😉 )
By looking through the indexed pages, you not only get a broader understanding of what type of content Google likes on this particular site, you also get to see what that actual content is!
Now that we live in a Post Panda world of quality content and social media – isn’t understanding your SEO Competitions Content structure just as important, if not more so than learning where the physical backlinks are coming from?!
Now that we have extrapolated a ridiculous amount of information it is time to actually makes sense of it. This is a process that I like to approach in two parts –
- The Big Picture – looking at the overall linking structure, including types of and number of links
- The Finer Details – actually analysing the links themselves and seeing how (if) I can acquire similar links myself.
This of course is going to require a few more tools and a whole shedload of words and images. Stay tuned for SEO Competition Module Training Part 2, or was it Bootcamp? whatever.