Do you know who your real SEO competition is? Sometimes it can be pretty hard to get an accurate picture!
If you’ve been wondering how you can zero in and sort the “wanna-bes” from the professionals, here’s a quick and easy four-step process to help.
In fact, in a matter of minutes, you can find out just how strong the search engine optimization (SEO) competition is before you put any money on the table promoting an affiliate product.
If you feel like digging deeper, we’ve also come up with some extra options to help you with that. Plus, you’ll have some good ideas on what needs to happen to rank for any given search term.
Here’s what you need to know!
Serious contenders for a keyword phrase will optimize their site as much as they can. What this means is if your competitors are targeting your chosen keywords, many will have these in a variety of places to improve their rankings.
They’re likely to have gone through each of the following exercises one by one. And you can bet that they’ll be regularly checking out their results.Why? Because they know that by taking the time to do so, this attention to detail will help them optimize their results.
By putting search query filters on each of your top competitors, you can find out just how clued up any particular one happens to be.
Using these, you can also work out what bits of a page are missing in regards to on-page SEO for any keyword phrase. This can also help you find out if there are any worthwhile “gaps” your would-be competition has missed. Or, perhaps, whether this particular phrase is going to be too tough a nut to crack with affiliate marketing.
So, how do you find out who is your real competition?
Let’s take a look at one example of a competitor. Once you’ve done the first one, it’s simply a case of repeating the process.
First up – let’s say we’ve already decided that our keywords for this example are “learn Italian”. We punch in our search for “learn Italian”, making sure we include quotation marks.
(The reason for this is to make sure we don’t grab obscure results and then assume they are part of our competition. For example, a page might up come with “I decided to learn whether the Italian man across the road also spoke English.” If you didn't search using quotation marks, this result would be counted as part of our competition, because it’s picked up the terms “learn” and “Italian”. However, it’s not much use to us, and not a real competitor!)
So, let’s put in “learn Italian”, and see who we’re dealing with.
It comes back with 680,000 results – significantly less than if we did the same term without quotation marks. (Without quotations comes back at a massive 45,900,000.)
And the winner for this round is – learnitalian.elanguageschool.net. Now the fun begins!
We’ll check out the search term “learn Italian” with the various search query filters and find out:
A) just what level of competition they really are
B) what we’ll have to do to compete with them if they’ve left a gap we can fill
We’re going to be focusing on these search query filters:
Each of these cover off a number of different levels.
Let’s take a look at each of them.
Anchor text shows the search engines what your page is about.
When you do a search for “AllinAnchor:” you’ll only get results with those keywords in the anchor text. These are based on the text used in the back links (also known as external links) pointing to the page.
So if we enter [AllInAnchor: learn Italian] as our search term – what do we get?
Learnitalian.elanguage school.net ranks extremely well here.
And look at the SEOBook toolbar that we downloaded!
From it we can see that there are 18,000 links to this domain, and 675,000 page links. Pretty impressive.
(As an aside – when you’ve decided on a niche – make sure you don’t waste your anchor text links and shoot yourself in the foot! Don’t have them saying “click here”. Or let them be used for some obscure piece of copy that no one will actually search for.
If you don’t use these to your advantage, you’re missing an opportunity to get some extra juice from the search engines! Work your anchor text links in where you can for your search terms, and related ones.)
Right now – let’s check out the next search query filter and see where that leaves us!
Start your query with Allintext, and you’ll get the results of all those that have all the query terms you’ve specified in the text of the page.
For example, putting in [allintext: learn Italian course ] as a search returns only pages in which the words “learn,” “Italian,” and “course” show up in the text of the page.
So what will happen if we do this with our “learn Italian” example?
Again, Learnitalian.elanguage school.net does very nicely. It’s clear that these guys are well optimized for these filters so far.
You’ll see the title of a webpage displayed at the top of the browser window, as well as the first line of Google’s search results for a page.
“Allintitle” gives you just those results that have your query words in the title. After looking at this, Google then ranks the results based on other things, such as PageRank, authority, keyword density, and other “off-page” criteria with title pages.
This means that if you enter [allintitle: learn Italian], you’ll get just those documents that have both “learn” and “Italian” in the title.
Let’s see if our winner so far can make [Allintitle] as well!
Again, this competitor does very well.
At this point, you might be reassured to know that you don’t have to have your search term actually in your title to get a top 10 ranking!
While many top ranking sites do, it’s not the end of the world if you haven’t got this. (Although it certainly helps!
In URLs, words are often run together. They don’t have to be run together when you’re using allinurl:
If you start your query with allinurl, Google shows only those results that have all the query terms you specify in the URL (the website’s address).
For example, [allinurl: learn Italian] will return only those results that have the words “learn” and “Italian” in the URL. So let’s take a look with our example.
Well, that’s a first!
No Learnitalian.elanguage school.net in sight – interesting!
Another Google filter that's available is [link: ]
Using “link:” as a prefix lists SOME of the web pages that have links to the page you’ve specified.
For example: The search “link: www.google.com” lists web pages linking to the Google home page.
This shows 479,000 back links to Google’s home page. But take a look at Yahoo! Site Explorer – and it’s a different story.
This time we get an enormous 270,416,501 back links to Google! This huge difference is one of the reasons many toolbars use Yahoo! rather than Google to check back links – Yahoo! is more accurate and up to date.
Let’s take a look at our “Learn Italian” example, and see where that sits as a comparison.
We’ll check out Google first.
OK – 30 back links with them. Let’s try Yahoo! Site Explorer.
Again – a whole new story. A result of 660 back links to this site. Big difference!
So – looking at what we’ve just done here – we can be pretty sure that overall this particular competitor is running a pretty tight ship, based on what we’ve seen so far.
The filters we’ve just gone through can take you a big way in getting to grips with your real competition. No matter what tool you decide to use with all your research, take the time to make sure your data is accurate before you launch into hours of marketing.
These filters are great tools to help you weed out any not-so-good sites and help you focus on getting to grips with your serious competitors.
If you’ve already got your site going and you decide to make some of the changes we’ve talked about – a word of caution. Once you’ve made any changes that need to be done based on the above – be patient! Sometimes it takes Google five to seven days to get the newly indexed content and put this into the search engine results.
If you go changing things too quickly, you can make bad decisions that you’ll regret. Check your results once a week maximum to see how you’re stacking up. Then make the changes you need to based on your results, rinse and repeat!
These tools can give you a fantastic filtering system. With them, you can weed out any not-so-good sites. You can also focus on getting to grips with your serious competitors.
From this point, you’ll also want to look at different ways in which you might carve off a part of the niche you decide focus on. This might be honing in on a particular geographic location, or a specific part of this niche. It can also mean focusing on not-so-obvious key phrases that can still drive worthwhile traffic.
So now you’ve got some little helpers in checking out your SEO competition.
You know how to check out your competitors, and get a good feel for just how strong they are.
I hope you’ve found this fast-track way of checking out the competition a good one!