Why should we use "Quotes" for keyword research?

by Mattk
43 replies
I'm trying to get my head around this concept. I look at the keywords people use to come in to any of my websites and 99.9% of people don't use quotes.

So what is the point in using quotes for keyword research? I thought the whole point of keyword research was to figure out how you can compete for certain keyword phrases.

If nobody uses quotes in their searches, you are competing for the keywords with no quotes. Right?

Am I missing something? Example:

red widgets = 1,000,000 competing pages
"red widgets" = 50,000 competing pages

The word in quotes seems to be great unless nobody searches for red widgets using quotes. Then you are competing against 1,000,000 pages instead of 50,000. Right?
#keyword #quotes #research
  • Profile picture of the author richdirtygirl
    LOL of course most people don't use them...

    the quotes are to know who are the real competitors, those targeting that key phrase specifically.

    you don't usually use quotes when looking at searches per month, etc... only on the organic side.

    Makes sense?

    Laura
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  • Profile picture of the author Scott Ames
    Well with the quotes you get a better match.. "red widgets" would return pages with the words exactly like that.

    With no quotes you might get a page that says:

    "Red here... I was thinking other day about blue widgets"


    But I see your point... people do search without quotes often. Your competition is both with the pages that have red widgets on them and perhaps, as far as getting eyes on your page, with those that rank well without quotes.
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  • Profile picture of the author Lisa Gergets
    I know this goes against popular opinion, but you shouldn't use quotes. You want to know what your customer actually SEES when they look something up, right? How many people do you know who look things up in quotes? I know of exactly none.

    This is one of those ridiculous things that supposed experts keep saying and if you asked them why, they probably wouldn't even know.

    Just my two-opinionated-cents.
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    • Profile picture of the author Lance K
      Originally Posted by Lisa Gergets View Post

      How many people do you know who look things up in quotes? I know of exactly none.
      Now you know exactly one.
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    • Profile picture of the author JayXtreme
      Originally Posted by Lisa Gergets View Post

      I know this goes against popular opinion, but you shouldn't use quotes. You want to know what your customer actually SEES when they look something up, right? How many people do you know who look things up in quotes? I know of exactly none.

      This is one of those ridiculous things that supposed experts keep saying and if you asked them why, they probably wouldn't even know.

      Just my two-opinionated-cents.
      Noooooooo...Lisa



      Seriously, it's not just one of those ridiculous things.

      Using quotes (otherwise known as an advanced operator for Google) is a method of filtering your results to return only direct competition for your keyword/phrase.

      Using quotes allows you to ONLY see pages that contain that exact word/phrase, thus alerting you to your competition only.

      You will not be in competition with other pages that contain the words in any order, but when searching without quotes,Google will, inevitably show you any page that contains your words....



      Peace

      Jay

      p.s. Have a Google around for information on advanced operators, there are many that you might find useful in your research, like these:

      Google Search Operators - Google Guide

      and

      Google Guide Quick Reference: Google Advanced Operators (Cheat Sheet)
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      • Profile picture of the author Lisa Gergets
        Originally Posted by JayXtreme View Post

        Noooooooo...Lisa



        Seriously, it's not just one of those ridiculous things.

        Using quotes (otherwise known as an advanced operator for Google) is a method of filtering your results to return only direct competition for your keyword/phrase.

        Using quotes allows you to ONLY see pages that contain that exact word/phrase, thus alerting you to your competition only.

        You will not be in competition with other pages that contain the words in any order, but when searching without quotes,Google will, inevitably show you any page that contains your words....



        Peace

        Jay

        p.s. Have a Google around for information on advanced operators, there are many that you might find useful in your research, like these:

        Google Search Operators - Google Guide

        and

        Google Guide Quick Reference: Google Advanced Operators (Cheat Sheet)
        Ok so now I know of two.
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      • Profile picture of the author JustVisiting
        Originally Posted by JayXtreme View Post


        You will not be in competition with other pages that contain the words in any order, but when searching without quotes,Google will, inevitably show you any page that contains your words....

        Jay

        Try searching for 3 word phrase without quotes:

        car insurance quotes

        The top serps do not have the phrase in that order.
        The returned results are:
        #1 - Car Insurance | compare cheap motor insurance quotes ...
        #2 - Insurance Quotes - Car, Home, Health, Life Insurance Companies ...
        #3 - Car Insurance. Get Instant Car Insurance Quotes. Online Auto ...
        #4 - Auto insurance quotes and car insurance rates; compare rates - MSN ...


        So if your market is searching without quotes you need to be optimized for this.
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        • Profile picture of the author JayXtreme
          Originally Posted by JustVisiting View Post

          Jay

          Try searching for 3 word phrase without quotes:

          car insurance quotes

          The top serps do not have the phrase in that order.
          The returned results are:
          #1 - Car Insurance | compare cheap motor insurance quotes ...
          #2 - Insurance Quotes - Car, Home, Health, Life Insurance Companies ...
          #3 - Car Insurance. Get Instant Car Insurance Quotes. Online Auto ...
          #4 - Auto insurance quotes and car insurance rates; compare rates - MSN ...


          So if your market is searching without quotes you need to be optimized for this.
          Your market IS searching without quotes...

          That is a given..

          But using quotes during your research allows you to filter the results as I described above.

          You don't need to see pages that aren't in competition with you. Sure, some of the top results might appear without the words in that order when you search without quotes..

          But, you are going to be optimising your niche marketing pages for that exact quote... so you only need to aim at that.

          Narrowing your target

          Peace

          Jay
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          • Profile picture of the author JustVisiting
            Originally Posted by JayXtreme View Post


            You don't need to see pages that aren't in competition with you. Sure, some of the top results might appear without the words in that order when you search without quotes..
            These pages are in competition and they need analyzing. They appear above you for many reasons.
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            • Profile picture of the author JustVisiting
              Originally Posted by s4nt0s View Post

              Lol this is hilarious. A debate on using quotes or no quotes. So pointless ...

              You guys need to stop focusing on quotes and start using different advanced operators like: intitle:"keyword" inanchor:"keyword"

              The "title tag" is one of the most important SEO factors if not the most important for ranking for a particular keyword.

              It looks like people are still doing the same old rehashed keyword research that's been passed around the net for years now.
              Agree. As I said earlier:

              Originally Posted by JustVisiting View Post

              These pages are in competition and they need analyzing. They appear above you for many reasons.
              But since the OP is "quotes" specific.
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        • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
          Originally Posted by Lisa Gergets View Post

          I know this goes against popular opinion, but you shouldn't use quotes. You want to know what your customer actually SEES when they look something up, right? How many people do you know who look things up in quotes? I know of exactly none.

          This is one of those ridiculous things that supposed experts keep saying and if you asked them why, they probably wouldn't even know.

          Just my two-opinionated-cents.
          Lisa, now you know three...

          I'm not quite as hard core as Okane, as I consider my competition those in the top 3 or 4 pages of results.

          I usually look at the results for the phrase without quotes and with to see if I get radically different results.

          The search without quotes brings up pages with the words in the key phrase somewhere on the page. Are the results what my target searcher is likely looking for, or is there junk that might lead them to page 2 or 3 before refining their search?

          The search with quotes brings back pages that have the phrase exactly as it's typed between the quotes. These pages are more likely to be relevant, and therefore more difficult to outrank.

          If I need to go further, I use the allintitle: operator, which brings, strangely enough, pages with my phrase inside the pages title tag. If the exact phrase appears in the page title, these are usually people targeting that phrase.

          I usually don't have to go all the way to the allinurl: operator, which returns pages with the phrase somewhere in the url. These people are definitely aiming to appear relevant for people searching for the term.
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  • Profile picture of the author MoneyRaker
    Doing keyword research with and without quotes are both important.

    Without Quotes:

    Obviously because as you have pointed out - most people do not include quotes in their searches, this type of research is important for obvious reasons.

    With Quotes:

    A "red widgets" keyword research would give you access to your real competitors - i.e. the people that are actual COMPETITION . This way you can not only spy on your real competitors but also c your rankings in relation to them. So this is Reason 1.

    Reason 2:

    Google algorithms pay alot of attention to search relevance , therefore sites optimized for "red widgets" are 8-10 times more likely (keeping other factors constant) to rank high than sites optimized for .... "red is a good color..... and widgets suck" ......


    Therefore doing a with and without quotes research gives you a much more complete picture of the overall scenario and gives you the right insight into your REAL competition.

    Hope this helps ..... I am sure other people will come upo with additional logic too!
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    • Profile picture of the author Mmfh
      Using quotes tells you exactly how many other sites are using your keyword in the exact same order that you are using it.
      Its just part of doing your keyword research!

      Mm
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      • Profile picture of the author JustVisiting
        Originally Posted by Mmfh View Post

        Using quotes tells you exactly how many other sites are using your keyword in the exact same order that you are using it.
        Its just part of doing your keyword research!

        Mm
        Problem is these "sites" do not appear top serps when search does not include quotes - which is how 99% of people search.
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    • Profile picture of the author Wealthyclark
      Originally Posted by Richard Odell View Post

      Your "real competition" is the top three results in the serps.

      Who apart from marketers, uses this method of search?

      You can bet its not the general public! :rolleyes:
      Richard, you are very correct, most people don't even know that search types exists. In my opinion both methods are very much child's play compared to methods that a hand full of others don't want let out of the bag. hint! hint!
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  • Profile picture of the author shmeeko69
    Originally Posted by Mattk View Post

    I'm trying to get my head around this concept. I look at the keywords people use to come in to any of my websites and 99.9% of people don't use quotes.

    So what is the point in using quotes for keyword research? I thought the whole point of keyword research was to figure out how you can compete for certain keyword phrases.

    If nobody uses quotes in their searches, you are competing for the keywords with no quotes. Right?

    Am I missing something? Example:

    red widgets = 1,000,000 competing pages
    "red widgets" = 50,000 competing pages

    The word in quotes seems to be great unless nobody searches for red widgets using quotes. Then you are competing against 1,000,000 pages instead of 50,000. Right?
    That has cleared it up for me now, as I don't know anyone who
    uses quotes when typing in a keyword.

    I now know the real purpose behind quotation marks.

    Mark
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  • Profile picture of the author JustVisiting
    Originally Posted by Mattk View Post


    If nobody uses quotes in their searches, you are competing for the keywords with no quotes. Right?
    Welcome to our minority club! You are correct. I'd rather be top of the serp's for what people actually search for and optimize accordingly. No point sticking your head in the sand and ignoring the real competition But it's not worth arguing with the 'flat earth society' Anyway, it's less competition for us
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  • Profile picture of the author strong5000
    using quotes is very necessory but lots of people dont use them.people do search without quotes often.Your competition is both with the pages that have red widgets on them and perhaps, as far as getting eyes on your page, with those that rank well without quotes.i always use quotes and i know the importance of quotes
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    • Profile picture of the author Okane
      Of, course, nobody searches with quotes.
      It's just a method to judge competition.

      Example:

      Keyword: lose weight with wii fit
      Search results in quotes: 59.800
      Search results without quotes: 2.780.000

      keyword: lose weight with yoga
      Search results in quotes: 154.000
      Search results without quotes: 2.530.000

      In this case, it will be easier to rank for "lose weight with wii fit" (and thereby for the same phrase WITHOUT quotes) because there are less pages optimized to this exact keyword.

      However, in the end the competition is always just 10... the 10 results on the first SERP.


      Marc
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  • Profile picture of the author KristiDaniels
    It is just a more accurate number for comparison with other numbers like it.

    Of course most of your prospects search without quotes, but they get a lot of noise in their results. That's just fine for them, but you need accurate data to make accurate decisions.

    The quotes give you more accurate and repeatable data that isn't noisy from all of the cross matches with other topics.
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    • Profile picture of the author JustVisiting
      Originally Posted by KristiDaniels View Post

      It is just a more accurate number for comparison with other numbers like it.
      Ever thought you are comparing apples with pears? :rolleyes:
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  • Profile picture of the author JayXtreme
    Originally Posted by JustVisiting View Post

    These pages are in competition and they need analyzing. They appear above you for many reasons.
    Having read your previous replies in the thread now (flat earth society... :rolleyes: )... I'm not sure it's even worth discussing with you...

    Seriously..

    If a page doesn't appear for a phrase when I search with quotes, then I really don't need to worry about it.

    They aren't my competition, they are simply filling space because they happen to contain my keywords in their pages. The only thing I need to worry about, is pages that contain my exact keyphrase.

    Peace

    Jay
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    • Profile picture of the author JustVisiting
      Originally Posted by JayXtreme View Post


      They aren't my competition, they are simply filling space because they happen to contain my keywords in their pages. The only thing I need to worry about, is pages that contain my exact keyphrase.
      We'll have to agree to disagree

      The serps above you 'filling space' are what the searchers click on first. They do not scroll down to look for the exact phrase they typed in.

      Peace.
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      • Profile picture of the author JayXtreme
        Originally Posted by JustVisiting View Post

        We'll have to agree to disagree

        The serps above you 'filling space' are what the searchers click on first. They do not scroll down to look for the exact phrase they typed in.

        Peace.
        They might be "above me", before I work on that phrase. But if they don't appear when I search in quotes, they won't be above me for very long for my phrase, I can say that with certainty...

        They don't scroll down looking for the exact phrase, but if I am optimising for my exact phrase, then it is going to appear above the ones without the exact phrase. And my page containing the exact phrase is gonna jump out in BOLD when they search

        Peace

        Jay
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  • Profile picture of the author Lisa Gergets
    LOL John. I simply use a different method to come up with the same results, really.

    2+2+2+2 and 4x2 both still equal 8, right?

    Meanwhile, back at the farm....
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  • Profile picture of the author greff
    Matt, search this to understand better.

    "red widgets = 1,000,000 competing pages"
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  • Profile picture of the author Lisa Gergets
    {sits back with popcorn & soda}
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    • Profile picture of the author Lance K
      Since you guys have the quotes vs. no quotes debate taken care of, I thought I'd jump in with this...

      Isn't broad match pure idiocy to begin with? If someone types in any sort of phrase (2 or more words), it's likely that that's what they're looking for.

      If I search for New York Pizza Places, that's what I want to know about. I don't care about the millions of pages related to New York, but not pizza places or vice versa.

      Or if enter underground dog fence into the search engine. I don't care about archeology, oil reserves, people who sell stolen goods, chicken wire, different dog breeds, etc. I want to know about a piece of wire that goes a couple inches underground in my yard that will zap my punk pup if he tries to leave the yard. And that's it.

      So...why the heck is broad match the default? It makes no sense. Not if user experience is truly the #1 priority.
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      • Profile picture of the author JustVisiting
        Originally Posted by Lance K View Post



        So...why the heck is broad match the default? It makes no sense. Not if user experience is truly the #1 priority.
        Agree totally. Now if Google made phrase match default....
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  • Profile picture of the author s4nt0s
    Lol this is hilarious. A debate on using quotes or no quotes. So pointless ...

    You guys need to stop focusing on quotes and start using different advanced operators like: intitle:"keyword" inanchor:"keyword"

    The "title tag" is one of the most important SEO factors if not the most important for ranking for a particular keyword.

    It looks like people are still doing the same old rehashed keyword research that's been passed around the net for years now.
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    • Profile picture of the author JayXtreme
      Originally Posted by s4nt0s View Post

      You guys need to stop focusing on quotes and start using different advanced operators like: intitle:"keyword" inanchor:"keyword"
      Wow... I had no idea there were other options to use during keyword research... thanks for saving me!

      And to think, there was me focusing so hard on quotes, I didn't take the time to use other advanced operators.

      [/sarcasm]
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      • Profile picture of the author s4nt0s
        Originally Posted by JayXtreme View Post

        Wow... I had no idea there were other options to use during keyword research... thanks for saving me!

        And to think, there was me focusing so hard on quotes, I didn't take the time to use other advanced operators.

        [/sarcasm]

        Yes but this whole thread is dedicated to quotes or no quotes with are aren't very important or accurate for SEO research purposes.

        I figured I'd share some more important operators for doing keyword research.

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        • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
          Originally Posted by s4nt0s View Post

          Yes but this whole thread is dedicated to quotes or no quotes with are really not important at all or very accurate.

          I figured I'd share some more important operators for doing keyword research.

          The whole quotes/no quotes thing may not be that important to technical SEO, but they are not worthless, either.

          As I mentioned, I like to look both ways to see if I get roughly the same results.

          I do a search on shiny blue widgets, and I get a hodge-podge of results containing the words shiny, blue and widget somewhere on the page.

          I do a search on "shiny blue widgets", and I get totally different results, maybe closer to what I'm really looking for, I know I need to refine my search.

          At this point, I want to know two things:

          1. How much work is it going to take to get me to show up for shiny blue widgets...

          2. How is the average searcher going to refine the search, since we seem to agree that most average searchers are not going to use quotes? If I can get a feel for that, maybe I can be there waiting for them.

          There's also a difference between competition for position and competition for clicks.

          If I want a position on the first page organically, I have ten pages to beat.

          If I want the click, I have to not only land on that results page, I have to beat the other organic results and the paid ads for the searcher's attention and click.

          Which gets back to the psychology - what is that searcher really looking for?
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    • Profile picture of the author Sara Young
      Originally Posted by s4nt0s View Post

      Lol this is hilarious. A debate on using quotes or no quotes. So pointless ...

      You guys need to stop focusing on quotes and start using different advanced operators like: intitle:"keyword" inanchor:"keyword"

      The "title tag" is one of the most important SEO factors if not the most important for ranking for a particular keyword.

      It looks like people are still doing the same old rehashed keyword research that's been passed around the net for years now.
      Agreed (except for the tone).

      To fully analyze the competition, you need to:
      - search with quotes
      - search with the intitle operator
      - search with the inanchor operator

      And Lisa I also search with quotes sometimes - so now you know 4!
      But that's besides the point...
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    • Profile picture of the author JustVisiting
      Originally Posted by s4nt0s View Post

      Lol this is hilarious. A debate on using quotes or no quotes. So pointless ...
      When looking for viable markets the method of keyword research mentioned in the OP is the very first filter people use.
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      • Profile picture of the author s4nt0s
        Originally Posted by JustVisiting View Post

        When looking for viable markets the method of keyword research mentioned in the OP is the very first filter people use.
        Not me.

        I guess we all have our way of doing things though and maybe it's just a matter of personal preference.

        The main point I wanted to make was that it's really not worth spending much time on in my opinion.

        but if people find it useful and it helps with their SEO planning, then keep doing what ya do.
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        • Profile picture of the author JustVisiting
          Yup...everyone has their own way of doing things.
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          • Profile picture of the author Peter Burke
            Hi Matt

            Searches in quotes only mean something if you want something directly relevant.

            I would say that 99.9% would never think of doing a search in quotes but then they're not internet marketers or SEO experts.

            We only use quotes searches to look at direct competition as Jayxtreme says.

            However if you want to rank for that keyword you need to use both.

            If you see 4 - 5 of the quoted searches and plenty of web 2, article directories etc on the non quoted then rank away baby.

            So quotes only relevant for direct search and for us IM ers and SEO guys as long as you're on page 1 top 5, even better #1 then who cares?



            Regards


            Peter
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  • Profile picture of the author Mattk
    Holy crap, I go away to write a couple of articles and come back to all these great responses.

    What a forum, Thanks guys
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Zalesky
    Honestly I dont under stand why so many people care about the amount of sites with our without quotes? No matter is there is 150,000 sites with the exact keyword phrase or if there is 5,000,000 sites with the broad phrase. It all comes down to how is ranking for basically the top 5 sites. There are tons of keywords that only have 50k exact matching competitors that you have no chance in competing with. It all depends on how well the top 4 or 5 sites are established and if they are actually trying to compete for that keyword phrase or if they are just ranking because of mentioning it a few times on their site.

    For example: if you take the phrase "blue coffee makers" and look at the top 5 competing sites and all of them are nextag and amazon etc that are ranking just because they have so much authority already and have it listed on their site you can easily outrank them by having the keyword in your domain especially if you can find an aged domain that was indexed by Google so many years back.

    Now on the other hand if you have Bluecoffemakers.com ranking number one and they have 6,000 inbound links and its done by someone how knows SEO then your going to have a very hard time to rank number one for this term. No matter if it has 1 million sites with the phrase or just 100.

    Best rule of thumb is to also shoot for keywords who the top 4 or 5 sites that are ranking for it to be less than a PR3 for the indexed page that is ranking for that term. If the keyword your targeting has the exact phrase as a dot com in the top four then dont bother unless the person doesnt have a clue about seo and you should be able to tell.

    Anyway that is my two cents and is a easy way to determine a keywords competition. And you will also notice that most of the keywords that you find that are under those guidelines will end up having low competition.

    Any questions just PM me....

    Jason
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    • Profile picture of the author s4nt0s
      Originally Posted by Jason Zalesky View Post

      Honestly I dont under stand why so many people care about the amount of sites with our without quotes? No matter is there is 150,000 sites with the exact keyword phrase or if there is 5,000,000 sites with the broad phrase. It all comes down to how is ranking for basically the top 5 sites. There are tons of keywords that only have 50k exact matching competitors that you have no chance in competing with. It all depends on how well the top 4 or 5 sites are established and if they are actually trying to compete for that keyword phrase or if they are just ranking because of mentioning it a few times on their site.

      For example: if you take the phrase "blue coffee makers" and look at the top 5 competing sites and all of them are nextag and amazon etc that are ranking just because they have so much authority already and have it listed on their site you can easily outrank them by having the keyword in your domain especially if you can find an aged domain that was indexed by Google so many years back.

      Now on the other hand if you have Bluecoffemakers.com ranking number one and they have 6,000 inbound links and its done by someone how knows SEO then your going to have a very hard time to rank number one for this term. No matter if it has 1 million sites with the phrase or just 100.

      Best rule of thumb is to also shoot for keywords who the top 4 or 5 sites that are ranking for it to be less than a PR3 for the indexed page that is ranking for that term. If the keyword your targeting has the exact phrase as a dot com in the top four then dont bother unless the person doesnt have a clue about seo and you should be able to tell.

      Anyway that is my two cents and is a easy way to determine a keywords competition. And you will also notice that most of the keywords that you find that are under those guidelines will end up having low competition.

      Any questions just PM me....

      Jason

      Agreed!
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  • Profile picture of the author Midas3 Consulting
    I could personally care less about in quotes out of quotes or otherwise. I honestly find them all pretty useless, I wouldn't attempt a niche based on any results they gave me.

    I look for strength of actual competition, inanchor etc is pretty useful or decent tools such as MNF or MS are a good help but once MNF or MS finds me something half decent, I actually switch to manual mode, check carefully the top 10 with inanchor and a few other tools and work from there.
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