Please help me understand why I should look at number of competing pages

14 replies
  • SEO
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Hi all,

One of the first things I learned in IM from various guides, ebooks etc etc is to look at the number of competing pages in google's index. Some say look at number of broad match, phrase match, all in title, all in url. And on and on. All of the major keyword tools use these figures too.

At first it made sense to me, but as I learned more and more about IM I started to realize what is really more important: the top 10 competition and what they are doing. To me, this is WAAAYYY more important and I'm sure many of you agree.

But I'm also sure that many of you still look at the number of competing pages (whether thats broad, phrase, all in title....).

So to those of you that do, please help me understand the importance of this number. Using analogies may help me understand

One analogy that I like when looking at the top 10 and SEO is to look at it like an MMO. In an MMO the strongest characters are the ones that have the most time, energy and resources put into them. It doesn't matter how many players are on that server (or world or realm or w/e). What matters is how much time you put in compared to the top guys.

But, since a lot of respected marketers still preach using number of competing pages, I want to know why.

Please help me wrap my head around this.
#competing #number #pages #understand
  • Profile picture of the author jasonmorgan
    But, since a lot of respected marketers still preach using number of competing pages, I want to know why.
    Can't teach an old dog new tricks?

    I dunno.

    But I'm right there with you. The top 10 is all that matters. The rest are insects to be crushed. <-- my analogy for you <-- best I could come up with in 5 seconds.
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  • Profile picture of the author magnus1
    It all depends who you talk to. Some preach the "look at the number of competing sites", while others tell you to "focus on the top 10". I always thought it was crazy when I started out too, the whole "do your search in inverted commas" thing. Top 10 - actually top 3 - is all that matters to me. If you can beat them, you're set.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mike Grant
    You shouldn't, it really hasn't much to do with competition at all.

    What you should do is analyze the first page in a very large niche/keyword, or the top 3 spots for a small niche/keyword.
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  • Profile picture of the author Diane S
    Originally Posted by CMCarlin View Post

    Hi all,

    One of the first things I learned in IM from various guides, ebooks etc etc is to look at the number of competing pages in google's index. Some say look at number of broad match, phrase match, all in title, all in url. And on and on. All of the major keyword tools use these figures too.

    At first it made sense to me, but as I learned more and more about IM I started to realize what is really more important: the top 10 competition and what they are doing. To me, this is WAAAYYY more important and I'm sure many of you agree.

    But I'm also sure that many of you still look at the number of competing pages (whether thats broad, phrase, all in title....).

    So to those of you that do, please help me understand the importance of this number. Using analogies may help me understand

    One analogy that I like when looking at the top 10 and SEO is to look at it like an MMO. In an MMO the strongest characters are the ones that have the most time, energy and resources put into them. It doesn't matter how many players are on that server (or world or realm or w/e). What matters is how much time you put in compared to the top guys.

    But, since a lot of respected marketers still preach using number of competing pages, I want to know why.

    Please help me wrap my head around this.
    I agree with you and I never look at the number of competing pages. Here's why. Google will always list millions of results, but they are not all competing pages. Only the websites listed on page one are your competitors. Google gives many rankings based on lack of exact match for keywords, many sites get ranked by default. If google showed only the sites that actually met the search criteria, then results would come back with less than a hundred competing pages in many cases.

    But Google continues to list thousand and millions of results. Most of which will never get clicked on by the searcher. Because they don't really belong in those results. They are in the results by sheer luck and chance. The Google algorithm is not that smart.

    If you beat number one, then you beat them all. so who cares how many you beat? the one to beat is number one.
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  • Profile picture of the author Benjamin Ehinger
    I am going to give you the tip that changed things for me about 3 years ago. Competition does not matter at all!!!!! Yes I said it and this is why.

    When you get tied up in all the competition numbers and what not you waste a lot of time. My advice, get a list of keywords, mainly long tail or 3 word phrases and longer. Then, just get to work on writing and putting articles out there for the keyword phrases. You will be surprised what you can and cannot get on the front page of Google for.

    My reasoning for never looking at the competition or the search numbers:

    1. It wastes a lot of time. I could have pumped out 5-10 more articles in that time I spent worrying about the numbers

    2. I could get listed on Google anyway. It has happened far too often when the numbers didn't match that I just do not worry about it anymore.

    3. I could get listed on another search engine without even realizing it and get traffic that way as well.

    4. I don't care about the searches because some of my best performing articles and blogs have produced sales from low search number keywords. This is because they are more specific and are what I call buying keywords.

    I would simply make a list of as many keywords you can find in about 10 to 15 minutes, then as you are writing or using them just go through and pick the ones that are the longest and make the most sense for someone searching to purchase. This is how you can get HUGE conversions without having to worry about the numbers.

    Benjamin Ehinger
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  • Profile picture of the author MrPolarZero
    I agree with you guys, the competition is not really important. One should focus on how to make it on the first page.
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  • Profile picture of the author clickbump
    Originally Posted by CMCarlin View Post

    ... but as I learned more and more about IM I started to realize what is really more important: the top 10 competition and what they are doing. To me, this is WAAAYYY more important and I'm sure many of you agree.
    You said it all right there. All that matters is the top 10 spots, unless of course, you are competing to beat out the guy at position #200, #2,000 or perhaps even #20,000
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  • Profile picture of the author timpears
    If you can beat any of the top ten, then you have beaten all those that follow them. So, that should tell you that the only ones that you need to concern yourself with are those on the first page. All you have to do is find one that you can beat, and that can be your signal to go for it.
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    Tim Pears

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  • Profile picture of the author John Williamson
    Originally Posted by CMCarlin View Post

    Hi all,

    One of the first things I learned in IM from various guides, ebooks etc etc is to look at the number of competing pages in google's index. Some say look at number of broad match, phrase match, all in title, all in url. And on and on. All of the major keyword tools use these figures too.

    At first it made sense to me, but as I learned more and more about IM I started to realize what is really more important: the top 10 competition and what they are doing. To me, this is WAAAYYY more important and I'm sure many of you agree.

    But I'm also sure that many of you still look at the number of competing pages (whether thats broad, phrase, all in title....).

    So to those of you that do, please help me understand the importance of this number. Using analogies may help me understand

    One analogy that I like when looking at the top 10 and SEO is to look at it like an MMO. In an MMO the strongest characters are the ones that have the most time, energy and resources put into them. It doesn't matter how many players are on that server (or world or realm or w/e). What matters is how much time you put in compared to the top guys.

    But, since a lot of respected marketers still preach using number of competing pages, I want to know why.

    Please help me wrap my head around this.
    You hit the nail on the head. All I care about and pay attention to is the top 10 - that's who you're trying to beat...
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  • Profile picture of the author CMCarlin
    I was positive that there would be others that would agree with me. I would still like to know where the number of competing pages falls in a much larger strategy. For instance, a higher number of competing pages could indicate that there is a larger number of people actually trying to rank for the keyword phrase, which could indicate that the market is established, which could indicate that there may be some big players in the niche. Of course, this would only be one piece.

    And of course it's all speculative. Is there really any reason to filter out a high number of competing pages in a keyword tool before digging any deeper?
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    • Profile picture of the author Jordan Kovats
      Originally Posted by CMCarlin View Post

      I was positive that there would be others that would agree with me. I would still like to know where the number of competing pages falls in a much larger strategy. For instance, a higher number of competing pages could indicate that there is a larger number of people actually trying to rank for the keyword phrase, which could indicate that the market is established, which could indicate that there may be some big players in the niche. Of course, this would only be one piece.

      And of course it's all speculative. Is there really any reason to filter out a high number of competing pages in a keyword tool before digging any deeper?
      I think that the higher # of competing pages ONLY has to do with pages and keywords or keyword phrases. I have a site that ranks #1 for a 2 keyword phrase with 383 Million competing pages. Problem is, it get 6 hits a month, as that phrase is not being searched whatsoever.

      Regardless of the number of keywords, or keyword phrases you are going after, the answer is the same for the number of competing pages. That is 10. And to be more realistic, it's more like 3.
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      • Profile picture of the author JeffreyKang
        As we all know, Google's algorithms are changing all the time and probably will for as long as there are spammers. It's extremely difficult to quickly rank high for a keyword that shows up on millions of webpages in a short period of time, but trying is not worthless. It can be done, but as we've seen by JCPenney's recent stunt, if you get 2000 backlinks directly to one site in a couple months, Google will blacklist you. Since you want a real business that's supposed to be profitable in the long run, it's important to pay attention to your direct top 10 competitors as well as the other 49,990 potential competitors - your site will likely change ranks day to day as Google's algorithm changes.
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      • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
        I look at the number of competing pages, but with the opposite philosophy. If there are a lot of pages, then there are probably a lot of people trying to rank which means it is probably a good market.

        If there are fewer competing pages, either I stumbled on something great or my research sucked, nobody is looking for this crap, and I need to start over.
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    • Profile picture of the author timpears
      Originally Posted by CMCarlin View Post

      I was positive that there would be others that would agree with me. I would still like to know where the number of competing pages falls in a much larger strategy. For instance, a higher number of competing pages could indicate that there is a larger number of people actually trying to rank for the keyword phrase, which could indicate that the market is established, which could indicate that there may be some big players in the niche. Of course, this would only be one piece.

      And of course it's all speculative. Is there really any reason to filter out a high number of competing pages in a keyword tool before digging any deeper?
      Way back in my early days of mail order, prior to the internet, they would teach us to advertise where your competitiion is, because that is where the customers are. So the more advertising a publication has, the more prospects there are. Same goes for the internet, the more competition there is the more peoplee are looking for that type of information. Of course, that means it is harder to beat out the leading sites. But there usually is one site in that list that you can beat out if you put some work into it. But for the most part, the competition njmber isn't that big of a deal when it comes to picking a keyword to go after. Look at the strength of the sites and how many back links they have. Use the competition number to indicate if the nich is popular with your prospects.

      Hope that made sense. I started going round in circles I think.
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      Tim Pears

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