How to measure the difficulty of a keyword

30 replies
  • SEO
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So I have a long tail keyword and I would like to measure the difficulty it would take to rank on google in the first 5 positions for it.

1. So how to measure the difficulty ?
I go through the search results manually, check the first 10 sites manually and see their PRs, onpage seo strengths and then think if my own site is better than them.
I would also do intitle, inanchor tests to see volume of search results.

What else can be done ?

I am considering this keyword for example

##
install apache tomcat on ubuntu
##

There are lots of blog posts, upto 5th page that have a post on this topic, and most being wordpress blogs, they are well optimised.

If my own website has a higher pagerank/backlink count than those appearing on page #1, can I still write a post and make it to the first page ?

Most tutorials say that I just need to outperform the first page competitors and the number of competitors does not matter. Mathematically that sounds correct, but is it equally easy to achieve practically ?
#difficulty #keyword #measure
  • Profile picture of the author seoace
    Use Market Samurai or Traffic Travis. It will be too troublesome to do it manually because you have to check PR, on page seo, keyword density, no.of links pointing to that page, authority of links, anchor text for those links, no.of index pages on the domain and a whole lot of other factors.

    If my own website has a higher pagerank/backlink count than those appearing on page #1, can I still write a post and make it to the first page ?

    My answer: No, it's not so simple. Google has 200+ algorithms in place so you can't guarantee that if you got +1 backlinks to your competitors, you will outrank them or if you got PR5 and your competitors got PR4 you will outrank them.

    Most tutorials say that I just need to outperform the first page competitors and the number of competitors does not matter. Mathematically that sounds correct, but is it equally easy to achieve practically ?

    Correct. But no.of competitors does not show the true difficulty of a keyword.
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    • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
      Originally Posted by seoace View Post

      Use Market Samurai or Traffic Travis. It will be too troublesome to do it manually because you have to check PR, on page seo, keyword density, no.of links pointing to that page, authority of links, anchor text for those links, no.of index pages on the domain and a whole lot of other factors.
      Market Samurai and Traffic Travis don't tell you anything useful. Horrible suggestion.

      Keyword density is a joke. Number of links doesn't matter. MS and TT tell you nothing about the authority of the links. Nothing about the internal structure of the site.

      You're wasting your time with those tools.
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      • Profile picture of the author chris_87
        Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

        Market Samurai and Traffic Travis don't tell you anything useful. Horrible suggestion.

        Keyword density is a joke. Number of links doesn't matter. MS and TT tell you nothing about the authority of the links. Nothing about the internal structure of the site.

        You're wasting your time with those tools.
        Hey Mike, what approach would you recommend for keyword research? What I have been doing is researching the site on Ahrefs and analyzing the quality of back links. Plus whatever they may be doing onsite. But I dont think that is enough.
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        • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
          Originally Posted by bluehabit View Post

          Hey Mike, what approach would you recommend for keyword research? What I have been doing is researching the site on Ahrefs and analyzing the quality of back links. Plus whatever they may be doing onsite. But I dont think that is enough.

          Ahrefs is great at finding links, but tells you basically nothing about the quality of the links. You need to import those into something like SpyGlass to get a better analysis.

          Other than that, you need to use your eyeballs and investigate the top 3 sites. See what they are doing onsite.
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      • Profile picture of the author JSProjects
        Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

        Market Samurai and Traffic Travis don't tell you anything useful. Horrible suggestion.

        Keyword density is a joke. Number of links doesn't matter. MS and TT tell you nothing about the authority of the links. Nothing about the internal structure of the site.

        You're wasting your time with those tools.
        Traffic Travis helps give me a general overview of the top 10 competition for a ton of different keywords at once. So I'd say it has some value. It's fairly vague though. So I make sure to do some manual research on the keywords that look promising.
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      • Profile picture of the author indiana jones
        Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

        Market Samurai and Traffic Travis don't tell you anything useful. Horrible suggestion.
        Agree with you. But what is your suggestion? Buy lottery tickets?
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        • Profile picture of the author silverm
          Originally Posted by indiana jones View Post

          Agree with you. But what is your suggestion? Buy lottery tickets?
          I have also seen that automated computation of search ranking difficulty does not work very well. Measuring keyword difficulty manually is far easier, since its easier that way.

          For my niche for example I can quickly look at the first 10 results of a keyword and predict if I would be able to rank quickly or not. And the more I do this, the more expert I get at this.
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          • Profile picture of the author indiana jones
            Originally Posted by silverm View Post

            Measuring keyword difficulty manually is far easier, since its easier that way.
            ... I can quickly look at the first 10 results of a keyword and predict if I would be able to rank quickly or not.
            Suggestion that you measure manually way says nothing.
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            • Profile picture of the author silverm
              Originally Posted by indiana jones View Post

              Suggestion that you measure manually way says nothing.
              For my own niche I do it somewhat like this. Lets say I have a keyword phrase to write a post about. Then I would check these

              1. Are there other blog posts on the same topic ?
              2. Are there too many of them ?
              3. Are all of them using the same keyword phrase in a very optimised manner ?
              4. Are there just few forum links ?
              5. Are the google results falling short of accurate matches for the given keyword. This means that no one else has written on the topic so far.

              So basically I would check how many other people have written strong, keyword focussed content on the same keyword/topic. If there are few then I have a position in the first page to occupy.

              Getting the idea ?
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  • Profile picture of the author Henlus
    You just have to focus on the first 10 results. Ignore all those intitle and inurl advice.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ben Acharyaa
    As Mike said Trafic travis/Market Samurai tells you very less about the competition. it generally tells you about the PR of the sites ranking in the first page, whether they've used keywords in the title, desc etc or not and the number of backlinks they have. Its basically very less information to tell about the competition.

    On page doesnt always mean title and description tag. you also have to look at the site structure. A lot of sites rank in google just because of their strong internal linking. they just funnel the link juice within their site and rank a page for certain keywords very easily. there's no way MS or TT can tell you that.

    You could use SEO spyglass to look for the backlinks of your competitors ranking in the first page. you have to determine how strong are those backlinks. The number game is always confusing, it has always been about quality not quantity. Your competitor might have thousands of crap links but you only need few high quality links to outrank him.
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  • Profile picture of the author Hansons
    Mainly those sites, which are in top 3 spots they may have good pr because of traffic they get from searches.

    But check if they are optimized for the keyword - on page optimization..

    Check other top 10 sites, their on-page optimization factors..

    If they are too strong.. they have gotten page rank too.. then they are in competitive niche.

    If majority of sites have pr0, pr na, pr1.. then there is less competition as well.
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    • Profile picture of the author Ben Acharyaa
      Originally Posted by Hansons View Post

      Mainly those sites, which are in top 3 spots they may have good pr because of traffic they get from searches.
      Traffic is what determines PR?:rolleyes:

      But check if they are optimized for the keyword - on page optimization..

      Check other top 10 sites, their on-page optimization factors..

      If they are too strong.. they have gotten page rank too.. then they are in competitive niche.
      So On Page optimization also plays a very important role in determining Page Rank? :confused:
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  • Profile picture of the author sackboy127
    A good indicator could also be checking whether homepages or inner pages are in the top 10. It's nowhere near the best way, but it's quick and can give you a rough idea.
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  • Profile picture of the author Backlinko
    Here's a little checklist that will give you some idea of how competitive the keyword is:

    Page PR
    Domain Authority
    # of referring domains
    On-page metrics

    And a thousand other things. But there's no "magic number" that will encompass all of these metrics. As someone said, big G uses over 200 ranking signals. Most tool only take 4-5 into consideration: and even then they're not even remotely perfect.
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  • Profile picture of the author linkassistant
    Silver Moon, here is what else you could look at:

    - how old those sites are
    - how relevant their backlinks are
    - how diverse their backlink profile is
    - what kind of sites their best backlinks come from
    - what pages those backlinks are pointing to (homepage, deep pages)
    - whether authorship is attributed to the page that ranks (it may be a small thing, but increases CTR)
    - if it's a blog post, I'd also check how many social share, bookmarks or comments it has.

    By the way, our SEO SpyGlass software lets one compare the backlinks of several competitors at once (in the Project Comparison tab).
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  • Profile picture of the author dexture
    I think if you want to measure the difficulty for any keyword you can use google keyword toll
    type the keyword , and check the results compeition. higher the competitin more difficulty you will face, lower the competition means their are low number of result against that keyword and you can get on top easily.

    Thats what i used to do. i dont know what others guys prefer
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    • Profile picture of the author godoveryou
      Originally Posted by dexture View Post

      I think if you want to measure the difficulty for any keyword you can use google keyword toll
      type the keyword , and check the results compeition. higher the competitin more difficulty you will face, lower the competition means their are low number of result against that keyword and you can get on top easily.

      Thats what i used to do. i dont know what others guys prefer
      Bad advice - the competition shown is for adwords bidding and placement - it's got nothing to do with the organic SERP's other than it might SUGGEST more people would try to write for that term due to it's possible commercial viability.

      But the chart is based on adwords data, not SERP data.

      @ the OP - I would suggest you stop looking for hard-and-fast rules. What you 'Know' today can be irrelevant tomorrow when the way the factors are weighted changes. There are some commonly agreed upon factors, but IMHO you are wasting your time looking for the 'one right way.' It's simply not that cut-and-dry.
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      • Profile picture of the author dexture
        you make me confuse , the adword toll say about keyword how much its famous how much peolple searching about it monthly basis (is it not true ?).
        i
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  • Profile picture of the author godoveryou
    Searches numbers are fine, but not entirely accurate.

    You made a comment in regard to competition that was incorrect, that's all :p
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    • Profile picture of the author nik0
      Banned
      Imo kw research is heavily over rated in most cases, especially in todays Google landscape where you have to be careful to not over optimize and especially in most local business niches as for most business there are only so many keywords available with an amount of searches like:

      - niche + city
      - city + niche
      - niche in city

      In case you build some Adsense/affiliate type of site and you haven't made up your mind about a narrow niche yet then tools like Market Samurai can be useful for a first impression but I would ignore most of the data that it pulls and only look at the pagerank of the ranking page. Simply cause it doesn't provide any other useful data.

      And if you value your time it makes not much sense to check every keyword in a service like SEOmoz offers to check DA/PA as that's incredibly time consuming.

      What I always do is decide on a niche that I think can be profitable, my first affiliate site was about hair dryers, simply cause common sense tells me that women love to buy personal care items. Obvious you ain't gonna promote some brands that no one ever heard of or that you can't find an affiliate deal for so you automatically end up with the main brands so logically you get keywords like:

      - best hair dryer
      - hair dryer reviews
      - conair hair dryer
      - babyliss hair dryer
      etc.

      Then you put the main kw "hair dryer(s)" in Google Adwords and filter on amount of exact searches and you'll find some longer strings like "best hair dryer for thick hair" etc. and you'll get some kw's with decent amount of searches and of which you know that they are not too tough to rank, without using any kind of tool besides Google's tool.

      My point: In most cases you can ignore kw research completely and just use Google to get an impression of how often certain terms get searched for and when deciding on a niche look at how likely it is that people buy such thing online. For Adsense niches you can obvious ignore the likeliness of buying and get an idea of competition by using Market Samurai but in fact when you try to build a somewhat decent site the structure of your site already decides what kw's you have to use, at least if you want to cover each topic about the niche.

      In case of seo providers that guarantee results it's sometimes a bit different as you get kw's throwed at you that you have no clue about so then a tool like SEOmoz to get an idea of internal juice flow can be very handy. Market Samurai would be a total waste of time and should only be used in case of huge volumes to pre-filter stuff.
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    • Profile picture of the author dexture
      if google is not accurate in his own search calculation , then what i should expect to be accurate?
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      • Profile picture of the author godoveryou
        Originally Posted by dexture View Post

        if google is not accurate in his own search calculation , then what i should expect to be accurate?
        Is this the first time you've been introduced to the fact that Google's displayed search results aren't accurate? :p

        Verify it by throwing an ad up on adwords and bid the first page. See how many impressions you get over a week - you then have a real number to work off of.
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        • Profile picture of the author dexture
          Originally Posted by godoveryou View Post

          Is this the first time you've been introduced to the fact that Google's displayed search results aren't accurate? :p

          Verify it by throwing an ad up on adwords and bid the first page. See how many impressions you get over a week - you then have a real number to work off of.
          yes first time thanks
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  • Profile picture of the author Svetislav
    I usually use niche finder to find out difficulty of a keyword's...
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  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Maguire
    Originally Posted by silverm View Post

    So I have a long tail keyword and I would like to measure the difficulty it would take to rank on google in the first 5 positions for it.

    1. So how to measure the difficulty ?
    I go through the search results manually, check the first 10 sites manually and see their PRs, onpage seo strengths and then think if my own site is better than them.
    I would also do intitle, inanchor tests to see volume of search results.

    What else can be done ?

    I am considering this keyword for example

    ##
    install apache tomcat on ubuntu
    ##

    There are lots of blog posts, upto 5th page that have a post on this topic, and most being wordpress blogs, they are well optimised.

    If my own website has a higher pagerank/backlink count than those appearing on page #1, can I still write a post and make it to the first page ?

    Most tutorials say that I just need to outperform the first page competitors and the number of competitors does not matter. Mathematically that sounds correct, but is it equally easy to achieve practically ?
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8307257].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author shmeeko69
    Originally Posted by silverm View Post

    So I have a long tail keyword and I would like to measure the difficulty it would take to rank on google in the first 5 positions for it.

    1. So how to measure the difficulty ?
    I go through the search results manually, check the first 10 sites manually and see their PRs, onpage seo strengths and then think if my own site is better than them.
    I would also do intitle, inanchor tests to see volume of search results.

    What else can be done ?

    I am considering this keyword for example

    ##
    install apache tomcat on ubuntu
    ##

    There are lots of blog posts, upto 5th page that have a post on this topic, and most being wordpress blogs, they are well optimised.

    If my own website has a higher pagerank/backlink count than those appearing on page #1, can I still write a post and make it to the first page ?

    Most tutorials say that I just need to outperform the first page competitors and the number of competitors does not matter. Mathematically that sounds correct, but is it equally easy to achieve practically ?
    I've always said "Keep It Simple, Stupid the KISS approach works well, Why do people make things more complex than they have to be?

    Use the free Google keyword tool (avoid captcha code with free Gmail account), type in a list of relevant keyword phrases for your niche, choose the one's which have low competition or even limited data and preferably with a decent amount of monthly global views 3000+ and that's it.

    Apply this to anything whether your choosing a new domain name, your own product, or an affiliate product with Amazon and/or Clickbank.

    Once you find a formula that suits you best just rinse and repeat and believe me the commissions will start coming in, as you'll be enjoying decent rankings on Google for a variety of product keyword phrases.
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    • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
      Originally Posted by shmeeko69 View Post

      Use the free Google keyword tool (avoid captcha code with free Gmail account), type in a list of relevant keyword phrases for your niche, choose the one's which have low competition or even limited data and preferably with a decent amount of monthly global views 3000+ and that's it.

      Apply this to anything whether your choosing a new domain name, your own product, or an affiliate product with Amazon and/or Clickbank.
      That is pretty bad advice on keyword research.

      First of all, the Keyword Tool tells you nothing about the SEO level of competition. It has to do with the level of competition among Google AdWords advertisers. Nothing to do with the organic SERP.

      On top of that, if the competition is showing as 'low' in the Keyword Tool, it very well be because there is no money to be made on that keyword, so nobody is bidding on it. If the competition is 'high', you can usually assume there is money to be made there.

      For search volume, it really depends on what you are selling or providing. If I am selling something that makes me a profit of $1000 per sale, I probably won't mind going after a keyword that may only get 100 or even 50 searches a month.

      Sticking to hard and fast rules like XXXX number of searches a month really is a foolish in my mind. What you should be looking at is how much traffic you need to make money, then based on that which keywords might or might not fit.
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