Keyword Analysis Part IV: How To Uncover Your REAL Keyword Competition In The Search Engines

by Damon G. Zahariades

You have your set of keywords that you're trying to rank for. The trick is to figure out how many competitors you're gonna be in the boxing ring with.

Go up against a bunch of Mike Tysons and you'll have lots of bruises (and maybe some broken bones) to show for it.

But, compete with some slow, powerless half-wits and you can smile all the way to the bank.

The trick is knowing which is which. And that's exactly what I'm going to show you how to do today.

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Finding Your REAL Competition

If you have your finger on the pulse of your niche market, you can easily identify your REAL competition.

Let's say your market is 'basket weaving.' (Don't laugh. Take a look at the Google Adwords.)

If you're in the boxing ring, about to go twelve rounds in that market, you'll need to size of your competition. Are they wannabees? Or are they gonna crush you?

You need to do 2 things quickly...

  1. Identify who your TRUE competitors are in the SERPs (search engine results pages)

  2. Figure how well they've executed their SEO efforts
Do these two things and you can decide whether you want to play in that sandbox or not. Get these two things wrong and you're in for a world of hurt.

The One Mistake Most Newbie SEO's Make

Lots of folks look at how much competition there is for their keywords in the search engines. That's good. They SHOULD be looking at that.

But, sadly, here's where most people get it all wrong.

They go to Google, type in their keywords, see the number of results returned, and usually gasp at how many competitors there are.

For example, Google 'basket weaving.' At the time that I'm writing this, there are over 3,600,000 results.

Newbie SEO's immediately think, 'Crap, there's a lot of people in that market. I can't compete.'

But, the number of results returned by Google is completely misleading. It has NOTHING to do with the level of competition in the 'basket weaving' market.

The fact is, most of the pages that Google returns are owned by people who aren't competing for the phrase 'basket weaving.' They merely have the phrase on their site.

And that's not even close to competing.

Now, let me show you exactly how to identify your REAL competition.

Three Steps You Need To Follow To Identify Your REAL Competition

There are a lot of wannabees in the SERPs. They aren't your competition. You don't care about the posers you can knock out in the first round. You're looking for the guys who can go the distance.

In the world of search engine rankings, your TRUE competitors are other SEOs in the market. They're the ones to watch for.

Doing a Google search for your main keywords ain't gonna cut it. That won't identify them. You'll need to dig deeper.

So, here's what you need to do...

Step 1: Look For Title Tags

You need to find how many pages there are in Google that contain your keyword in the title tag.

If a page doesn't have your keyword in the title tag, they're not trying to rank for your keyword. Simple as that.

So, go to Google and type in the following exactly as I've done it below (in fact, just copy and paste it)...

allintitle:'basket weaving'

At the time of this writing, Google is showing 20,500 pages in their index that have 'basket weaving' in the title.

That's a hell of a lot less that the 3,600,000 pages returned by Google when we simply typed in 'basket weaving'.

You're already getting a better idea about your REAL competition for this keyword.

Step 2: Look For Keyword-Specific URLs

Here's another good indicator of SEO work... URLs with the keyword contained within.

If a site is trying to rank for 'basket weaving', the owner will usually try to put 'basket weaving' somewhere in the URL.

It's not clear whether doing this will actually give you a boost in the SERPs for your keyword. But, there are a lot of SEOs who believe it will. Since, you're tailing SEO's, you need to do this step.

So, let's take another trip over to Google. Type in the following line exactly as I've done it below (again, make life easy on both of us and copy and paste it)...

allinurl:'basket weaving'

At the time of this writing, Google returns only 1,360 pages where 'basket weaving' is somewhere in the URL.

Whoa. That ain't much.

After doing step 1, you had a better idea of your REAL competition for 'basket weaving'. After doing step 2, you have an even better idea.

But, now for the coup de grace... Step 3.

Step 3: Look For Keyword-Specific Incoming Links

Any SEO worth the clothes on his back is going to try to get links coming to his site.

And not just ANY links. I'm talking about incoming external links with the keyword in the anchor text of those links.

If a site doesn't have keyword-specific incoming links coming from outside the site (i.e. from another domain), that site is NOT your competition.

So, it's Google time again. You know the drill. Copy and paste the following...

allinanchor:'basket weaving'

At the time of this, Google only returns 9,980 pages that have links with 'basket weaving' in the anchor text.

This is VERY important information!

You now have a clear idea of your TRUE competition.

Now, I know you're getting tired, but I always like to give a little something extra.

So, here's Step 4...

Step 4: Look For Everything At Once

You already know that your TRUE competitors are doing one (if not more) of the following three things...

  • putting their target keyword in the title tags of their pages

  • putting their target keyword somewhere in the URL

  • getting incoming links with their target keyword in the anchor text
But, let's kick it up a notch. Let's look for the folks who are doing ALL THREE of the above. After all, you're planning to do all three, so you want to know which of your competitors are just as diligent.

So, go to Google and copy and paste the following...

intitle:'basket weaving' inurl:'basket weaving' inanchor:'basket weaving'

At the time of this writing, Google returns only 994 pages that have all three going for it. That's your REAL competition.

That's a lot less 'competition' than the original 3,600,000 pages Google returned when we first started poking around!

Last Thoughts

If you want to know how much REAL competition you're gonna have to duke it out with in your niche, you need to follow the steps that we just completed.

The good news is that most SEOs (believe it or not) don't do this. Some are lazy. Some just don't know any better.

If YOU do this and identify your REAL competition, you can easily make the decision to either attack the market or move on to a market that you can penetrate more easily.

That saves you time, money and effort.

By the way, you are absolutely NUTS if you don't save this article or print it out to refer to later. There's a lot of step-by-step meat in this article. Don't let it go to waste!


Just because we found 994 pages that were doing some fundamental SEO work doesn't mean those 994 pages are hard to beat in the SERPs.

Without knowing for certain, I'd be willing to bet that most of those 994 pages only had a few links coming in.

Keyword-specific links are arguably the most important piece of SEO. If you were to get a few MORE links than those other 994 pages, who do you think would be smiling THEN?

That's it for now. Hope you enjoyed this article. Take action and put these steps to use in your business.

Damon G. Zahariades

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