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Content Marketer at Serpstat
How to find the perfect keywords to easily break in the SERP top 10
It happens that you came up with a phenomenal idea, checked it at Google and faced the harsh truth: you’re not the first one. But let’s not jump to conclusions. What if the top-10 consists of low-quality sites? What if they missed something?
The market is overstocked with great ideas and products, but after all truly outstanding ones won’t remain without attention. In this article, I’ll share some ways to check the competition within the niche and choose the right keywords to easily break through it!
What is keyword competition?
You’ve collected a bunch of keywords, sorted it out and got your seed list of highly relevant keyword phrases. Now you should estimate your chances of getting in the SERP top-10. In other words, you should check your competitors and decide if their positions are strong enough.
Of course, you can beat any competition sooner or later. But at this stage, you need to decide if it’s really worth spending valuable time and money.
First of all, there is no universal method of competition testing. Conditionally they can be divided into the manual approach and the using of SEO tools. We will look at both ways.
Work with Google
You probably will be surprised how much information you can get from google search.
First of all, check search volume:
Thus you can find out how many pages are indexed for your keyword phrases. Seeing such a big numbers, some people can stop the research right away. But there are many extra factors to pay attention to.
Even on this stage, you can also take a look at the number of ad results. On the screenshot we have four of them – it’s not that bad. Anyway, more PPC advertising – less chance that it will be easy to break in the top-10.
Use search operators
Checking only search volume we can’t see the whole picture, google operators help to get more targeted results.
To see all the pages when keyword is used exactly in the title tag try allintitle:your keyword
To check where keyword is used right in the URL: allinurl:your keyword
For note: you can also use your keyword within double quotes (for example, inurl:“your keyword”) to find exactly these words without any other variations.
Or try to combine two operators to get more realistic idea of the situation. Any page that has your keyword phrases in both the title and the URL is likely to be optimized for that phrase, so they’re your direct keyword competitors.
Of course, I chose too wide keyword phrase for this example. In your case, the number will be much lower. If it’s under 50 – you probably can try to struggle through it. If for some reasons you have the number similar to mine – it’s pointless. So, remove all the keywords with the huge competition you won’t be able to beat.
You can also create a spreadsheet to gather all the information in one place. Thus you’ll see the whole situation and won’t get confused with all these numbers.
So, there are a lot of search operators you can use. It all depends on your keyword and your purposes. Now, when you’ve found your direct competitors, pass to the next step.
Check the competitors
There is a big chance that almost all returned pages aren’t qualitative. First of all, take a look at the SERP top-10 and analyze these factors:
- Sometimes at the first positions, you can see Wikipedia or Quora. These platforms are quite authoritative, but their presence in the SERP shows that the search engine couldn’t find sites with more detailed and interesting content. It’s the first sign that you can compete there.
- Pay your attention to the snippets: comprehensive descriptions indicate a qualitative optimization of the pages. Check if it includes keywords.
- The presence of the sites which lead to the main page indicates a high competition of the query.
- Check whether there are results connected with a season or geo location and exclude needless ones from the list of competitors.
Then pass to the deep investigation. Visit the site of each competitor and check:
- The design of the page. If it looks inconvenient, doesn’t offer needed information, has some lags, it won’t be so easy to surpass this site.
- Content optimization: keyword in the title and meta tags, in the H1-H6, keyword density, quality of the texts. You can check tags by opening the code of the page. (Ctrl+Shift+C).
- Technical side: errors in HTML code, the speed of pages loading, the convenience of the navigational menu other characteristics influencing on usability of a site.
- Backlink analysis. Evaluate the incoming links to the competitor’s site. Look not only at the number of them, but also on the quality of donors. You can use any backlink explorer you want. Some of them are Moz, Serpstat, Ahrefs, Majestic SEO.
Now you can exclude low-quality sites from your list and see the real number of your direct competitors. And besides, you’ve already know all their weak spots.
The only disadvantage of this method – you’ll have to do all these steps with each your keyword. So I offer to use this approach if you’re choosing your niche or entering the new market, not for the weekly articles.
Use Keyword Difficulty feature
The second way is to use special tools. Sometimes people don’t trust to these scary soulless mechanisms and do all work manually just to be sure.
Maybe it’s a right decision in some cases, but still. The qualitative tools provide accurate data and save a bunch of time. Let’s figure it out.
How such tools work
There are a lot of tools with the special feature called Keyword difficulty (KD). This parameter shows how difficult it is to rank high for the desirable keyword.
In most cases, they use the backlinks analysis of a whole domain or a certain page in the SERP.
The first way can be a bit unclear because of the situation with sites like Wikipedia and Quora. They are authoritative, but they’re not our competitors. The tool can show a high level of KD, when the real situation is opposite. So, the second way is better.
In fact, backlink analysis is one of the main factors for evaluating the quality of site. If you need to collect keywords for the article, such tools can easily cope with the selection of easy keywords.
You can use any SEO tool you want, including the ones I’ve named before. I’ll show the KD function by the example of Serpstat. It’s an all-in-one SEO platform with 5 modules:
- Keyword Research
- Competitive Analysis
- Backlink Analysis
- Rank Tracking
- Site Audit
Recently to the first module was added the new metric – Keyword Difficulty. Now it’s available only for the US, but other databases are coming soon. Let’s find out how it works.
At first, enter your keyword into the search line. Here is what you’ll see:
It does backlink analysis using the second way – of a certain page in the SERP. But Serpstat also considers a few extra metrics:
- External backlinks
- Referring domains
- Serpstat Page Rank
- Serpstat Trust Rank
- Domains with the keyword in title
- URLs with the keyword in title
To see the details go to “Keyword Selection” and click on the arrow at Keyword Difficulty column:
There you can see almost all factors we were checking manually at the first part of the article:
Thus you can assess your chances of getting to the top of SERP for your desirable keywords in a few minutes.
A lot of tools consider only backlink factor measuring KD. Of course, it won’t be a full investigation. But since Serpstat added 6 extra metrics, the manual approach has a big competitor as to the accuracy of the data.
Choosing a niche for a blog or just a topic for an article, we often face the fact that all top places are firmly occupied. Of course, a huge desire can beat any competition, but sometimes the result isn’t worth the effort.
So, no matter if you choose the manual approach or one of these tools. Doing the keyword research, you always should check the competition, assess the possibility of surpassing it and only after that make the final decision.
And do not check the horoscopes. Go and work your way to the top.