Determining Keyword Competition

 Not all keywords are rankable, not easily anyway. No matter what you do, sometimes it will take time to rank for the really hard keywords.

What I'm going to show you is how to work out what keywords are hard to rank for and what ones are not. You can then decide if you want to go after those keywords.

There are two things you want to look at when determining keyword competition.

Keyword competition being how hard it will be to rank for that keyword due to the competing pages already ranking for that keyword or keywords.

You want to look at page authority and you want to look at your competitions relevancy. Relevancy again plays a huge a part in rankings.

Just because there are a lot of large, well known websites ranking for a particular keyword, that doesn't mean you cannot rank for that keyword, especially if they are not as relevant as your page or site is and I'll cover all this in a minute.

Page authority is a metric created by Moz. Moz is an SEO authority blog and tool set. You should definitely check out for more SEO reading.

Page authority is a score out of 100.

It tells you roughly how authoritative Google see's that page that is ranking. The higher the number, the more authority that page has in Google's eyes and the harder it will be to rank for a particular keyword if everyone of your competitors in the top 10 has a high page authority number.

So how do we determine competition using Moz?

First thing you need to do is install their free toolbar in your browser. You can do that here;

When you install this and do a search in Google for a search phrase or

keyword if you will, you will see a bunch of numbers under your search

results, that look like this;

It will give you two numbers. PA & DA. Page Authority and Domain

Authority. You don't really need to worry about the authority of a domain when it comes to ranking for keywords, you are really just competing against the page.

I can outrank Yelp, Yahoo, Craigslist, Ebay, you name it, because of A)they have a low page authority page ranking for that keyword and B)

because I'm more relevant to the search query.

When it comes to page authority, I check not only the top 10 results, but the top 20 results in Google. I check page 1 and 2 of the search results because you are not just competing with the front page, you are competing with all the sites that are ranking.

Of course, you want to land on page 1, because anything below that is the friend zone. Nothing happens in the friend zone.

There is a funny quote that says; "Do you know the best place to hide a dead body? Page 2 of Google."

So for all the keywords I've chosen, including my long tail keywords, I will check out the page authority of every site.

If all of the top 10 rankings are sites with page authority of 50 or more, that's a very tough keyword. It makes me question whether or not to go after it.

(Now, none of what I'm about to say is a hard and fast rule. Sometimes you can rank for really hard keywords, above competitors who have been doing this longer than you, but it's the exception, not the rule.) That's not to say there might not be some really good long tail keywords that are an offshoot of this keyword that I could rank for.

Long tail keywords are those which are longer than what I call the seed keyword.

The seed keyword as an example could be; 

Credit Cards

The long tail keywords from that could be;

Bad Credit Credit Cards

Best Credit Cards 2015

Best Low Interest Credit Cards

Best Credit Cards For Frequent Flyer Miles

So while the keyword 'credit cards' may be too hard to rank for, I could

very well create a page or pages around some of these long tail

keywords and rank for those as they would be less competitive.

By nature, the longer the search phrase, the less competition there will be.

I could even create an epic piece of content, 7500 words in length and target the keyword 'credit cards' but also sprinkle these long tail keywords throughout my content to get them to rank as well.

Back to keyword competition.

I will take all of my keywords and I will check the page authority for all the websites ranking for these keywords and I will note them down.

Now, page authority.

Anything under 31, I'm very confident on beating with just the on page

SEO tactics I outline in this book with minimal backlinking or off page

SEO work done.

I'd most likely be able to beat a 31 page authority site with a really good relevant page, long form content and some social media shares.

Anything between 32 & 51 I'm starting to think this is quite hard. So if the majority of the top 10 had sites ranking with this sort of page authority, it would give me some doubt.

Just because there are one or two sites with this sort of page authority shouldn't put you off, but if you are looking at result after result of this sort of number, you are probably trying to rank for a really hard keyword and you should look at long tail keywords that you could rank for instead. Anything over 52 is re-donk hard to beat.

Now to throw a spanner in the works here.... none of the above actually matters too much if the sites ranking are not overly relevant to the keyword or search phrase used in this search.

If for example you are looking at the keyword; Best Credit Cards For Frequent Flyer Miles And none or very few of the sites are actually using that term in the title of their page or the majority of the page is not about that exact topic, these sites are not all that relevant and are ranking mostly because of their page authority.

You can beat these sites / pages all day long, regardless of their PA if you are more relevant than they are. Google wants to rank the most relevant sites for each search someone does.

This again is where relevancy plays a massive part in your success.

This is why I love the phrase, 'inch wide, mile deep'.

That's how I get most of my rankings for my self and my clients, by being the most relevant search result. Covering a small topic in A LOT of depth.

To determine competition, look at the relevancy and look at the page authority and while it's not fool proof, it's pretty close to it.

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