First up, keep in mind that competition is your friend – it means there’s demand for a product! With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the KEY components of how to perform an Online Competitor Analysis.
Check your Google Results; the number of listings returned by Google is an estimate only. Quantity of listings is one thing, however for most search terms you will find that many of the results will contain little to no SEO (low quality). Market Samurai provides an awesome insight into the top listings for terms and their associated onsite and offsite SEO – very handy for performing this sort of analysis. Poor SEO sites can easily be trumped with your own tuned sites to gain high credibility organic traffic!
Use the google results figures as indicator only for competition in that term (ideally under 1 million results), then use Google Keyword Research tool to gauge market interest.
Check for competitors who have your keyword phrase in their title by entering into Google “title:keyword“. Anything less than 5,000 results will give you a decent chance of ranking well for such a term. Keep in mind that Phrase matched terms will tend to rank higher than broad matched terms!
allinanchor:”keyword” – This is a powerful reason for ensuring you use effective internal linking in your site designs! Anchor texts provide Google with insights into search term / key word candidates for sites (both internally and externally). Searching based on anchor text will ignore page titles in favour of returning sites which contain the anchor text you are looking for, when contained in a website link.
Examine the Page Rank (PR) of top ranking site for your keyword. The google toolbar offers this information, or alternatively Market Samurai does an excellent job with this also. Focus specifically on non-optimised (on-site / offsite SEO) sites to see what elements can be improved upon in your own site. If your search results return a lot of PR 5+ sites with lots of backlinks, these will be very difficult to compete with. If you are considering competing with such sites, you will want to get lots of high credibility backlinks from othersuch high PR sites such as the following;
… you can do this either by providing comments on existing articles or submitting your own. You can also google top PR sites to see what ranks well atm. One site I discovered on this was; Top 1000 Google Page Rank Sites.
Domain age; are the domains old? Older domains tend to rank better in search engines. Tools such as Market Samurai will give you this information fairly easily.
Search Volumes; is anybody actually searching on that keyword? Some keywords have too much competition to justify the traffic. Use the Google Keyword Research Tool to find out approximate traffic vs competition volumes. A popular methodology on doing this is to use the following “Money Word Matrix” for assessing keyword candidates to use.
When used in conjunction with a Google Search and Google’s Keyword Research tool, the matrix provides a good indicator for keyword “sweet spots”, where the ratio of competition to searches is more (or less) favourable for focusing your Search Engine Optimisation efforts. There’s an excellent video offered by Niche Profit Classroom which explains all this in more detail.
The moral of this story being that instead of trying to compete head on for “big ticket” key terms, it is often easier to rank well for more peripheral terms or possibly even micro-niche phrases, which collectively may provide just as much traffic as those big-ticket search phrases. These long-tail key phrases may even be more profitable as they may more closely target your intended market. By example; “Learn to play guitar”, than just “play guitar”.
Is there money in the market? Or rather, is this a keyword or keyword phrase which has commerciability? If there’s a keyword which seems to be good to be true (that there aren’t any paid advertisers for a particular term), then maybe it’s just not a term people will pay for as the traffic it offers isn’t the type to convert into sales. Once again, Market Samurai offers a very comprehensive insight into this information, allowing you to see how much people are willing to pay for certain terms. Here’s a video on how you can do this if you’re already own this;
And finally, something else to keep in mind when performing online competitor analysis, is the regional variations when searching in Google. For instance, you will find that results from www.google.com.au vs www.google.com will vary in the results sets returned. Likewise when you specify “search pages within Australia”, the result set will vary again. You can force Google to use a non-geographic specific search by using www.google.com/ncr – which is handy when checking how you rank generically in the online market.