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Keyword Selection for SEO Part II: Analyzing the General Competition

Jason Roy

Once you have chosen the core keywords to optimize (See Part I of this Series) your website for, there are still a few important factors that you must understand about a keyword before you begin building your marketing campaign and strategy for search engine optimization. One of these things is the type of competition that is advertising for that particular keyword. This will give you a better idea of how successful that keyword has been for other people and can help you to devise a plan as to how you should proceed. The following article will provide you with solid information on how you can analyze the competition for a specific keyword and uncover insights that can save you a lot of trial and error in optimizing your site and building your marketing plan.

Beginning Your Analysis

To begin your analysis of a specific keyword, simply type it into the Google search bar and see what kinds of results come up. The following are the five different types of search results and what they tell you about the competition for that keyword:

Half Dozen or Less Sponsored Ads on the Right Column Only

This means that this keyword is not attracting a large number of paid advertisers. While there is still a good chance that the market which the keyword represents is profitable, it is wise to proceed with caution and to perform additional analysis (keyword cost analysis, etc.), before building your website optimization theme around that keyword. 

High Number of Advertisers, But Constant Churn

This situation can take several weeks or even a few months to discern. If you see that there is a high number of advertisers on the search results, but that there is also a high turnover rate in the companies which are advertising, this means that businesses marketing with this keyword have a high failure rate. This is very common for keywords like: “home business opportunity,” “make money online” and “make money working from home.” In this kind of a market, look for the few advertisers who seem to be sticking in it for the long run and look for three things in their marketing approach:

  • How they are different from their competitors
  • How they are Positioning Themselves as an Expert
  • Their Marketing Approach (see our article on marketing funnel)

If you find that you can equal (or top) these companies when it comes to these three dynamics, then and only then should you proceed. Even when you do, it’s crucial that you have a solid marketing plan and that you never divest yourself of the habits of split testing and creating high profit back end sales strategies.

Lots of Advertisers, But None in the Three Premium Spots

This is where the search results show that there are lots of advertisers on the right-hand side of the first page of the search results, and the second page and onward, but there are none in the top three premium positions. The premium positions are just above the organic search results inside a peach-colored box as in the diagram below.

This indicates that there are a lot of people advertising in the market, but that there are none whose quality scores are qualifying them for the premium positions. This is usually an indication that people searching for these keywords aren’t clicking on the sponsored ads that often, but that there is some money to be made in the market. Most likely, this represents a market where other groups of keywords might be better suited for reaching qualified customers or speaking to their specific needs.

For example, if these kinds of results appear for “dog training,” it might be a good idea to come up with some other keywords in the dog training niche and perform a market analysis on them to see if that keyword is batter targeted for the dog training market.

Multiple Pages of Ads, and Three Premium Positions

This is an ideal situation and a sign that the keyword is attracting plenty of qualified web traffic. This is where you see multiple ads on the right for the first three pages of search results as well as three ads in the top premium spots. This is a healthy and competitive market that has plenty of customers to support the marketing dollar which is being spent by advertisers. Of course, more competition does mean that you have to have a well-defined marketing strategy, a strong unique selling position, and that you have to be consistently testing and refining your marketing approach. But these kinds of search results are a clear indication that a creative, persistent, and diligent approach will not go unrewarded.

The Next Step

If you have found a good healthy market, the next step would then be analyzing the marketers who are achieving the premium spot by means of higher quality scores, but also examining the other competitors and discovering what they are doing to get their results. Look for common keyword themes and marketing approaches and this will give you a clue as to what is already working. More important, search for unfulfilled needs within that same niche and see if you can find additional keywords that could be used the reach the same audience.

It’s also important to pay attention to trends in keyword popularity to determine whether or not those keywords are growing or declining in popularity. There are times when trends can be indicators that there are opportunities arising (or disappearing) for a specific keyword.

Conclusion

While there are other important factors when it comes to choosing keywords for your website, this kind of analysis will provide you with insights that might save you hours of trial and error. It might also keep you from building an entire marketing strategy and product line around something which won’t sell and which will cost you precious time and money which could have been spent on more profitable ventures.

Resources

Tools for analyzing the keyword density of your competitors:

http://www.seoquake.com/

http://seopen.com/firefox-extension/index.php

http://www.websiteoptimization.com/services/analyze/

Google Keyword Analysis Tool

https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

Premium Keyword Market Analysis Tool

https://www.elegantthemes.com/blog/marketing/keyword-research-tools-for-seo

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