Getting things done for free is great but what if you could get things done for free and done well? Below is a guide to analysing keyword competition in a ton of detail without having to pay a penny.
Before you start reading about free keyword competition analysis you probably want to get some keywords to analyse. If you already know what keywords to target then go ahead and skip that part.
The Case Study
Our new website sells a wide range of novelty hats but we have no idea if SEO is an option. From the keyword research that we did, we found that ‘funny hats’, ‘silly hats’, ‘novelty hats’ and possibly even ‘stupid hats’ (this one might not convert so well) were worth going for.
The traffic numbers aren’t huge but, for the sake of this post and being able to stick with the funny hat idea, the price of our hats start at £1,000 each – meaning that low traffic equals big bucks!
There is a limit to how much you can analyse just by doing things manually. The two tools below will help you to follow this guide and it’ll make your life a whole lot easier too.
If you’re not too familiar with SEO then SEO Quake is probably going to melt your mind. Not all of the numbers that pop up are particularly useful but below are the few that are and what they stand for (click the image to expand).
Where to Look & What to Analyse
The above image is a pretty huge generalisation but not a bad place to start. If the first page of results is full of PR 0-4 sites that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, but would definitely warrant a closer look.
Let’s go back to the case study. I’ve made a quick query on Google.co.uk for ‘funny hats’ and the first result (including magical annotations) is:
- The most important on page element, the title, is the exact match of what we want to rank for. Already we know that there is a degree of competition but how much?
- The domain is old but this isn’t necessarily an issue. If our domain (the one that we’re optimising) is more than a few years old it’s not going to matter. A newer site would need to think about spending more time optimising.
- This website is huge. With over 20,000 indexed pages we need to have a quick look at the substance (content) of the pages and whether they are scraping (copying) content from other websites. Sites that scrape large amounts of content are known as content farms and their days are numbered. It turns out though, that this website is legitimately massive.
- Page URL isn’t exact match /funny-costumes-funny-hats.html is not ideal if they wanted to target just ‘funny hats’. It turns out they’re not ranking anywhere for ‘funny costumes’ – the URL is not optimised.
- With just 14 links to the page, we know that they are not doing any off-page SEO for this particular URL.
So why is this page ranking so high?
Almost all the authority for this page is pretty much coming from the root level (homepage). So now it’s time to take a look at that. First of all, let’s see if they’re actively perusing an SEO campaign.
Queue Majestic SEO.
After signing up and using the free backlink history tool we can begin to analyse whether they have ever actively built links. You will see two graphs; backlink discovery and referring domains discovery. We use the referring domains discovery because (in its simplest sense) 1000 links from one website is no where near as powerful as 1000 links from 1000 websites.
The above graph is not too promising for us. While the last month’s data is extrapolated, the few months previous to that have shown a clear break from the norm. It’s pretty likely that there has been some kind of active link building campaign.
HOWEVER the page that we’re trying to beat is not the homepage (otherwise we’d be in desperate need of an SEO company!) and so all is not lost. We need to take a look at how well the root domain is passing PageRank (through internal links) to the /funny-costumes-funny-hats.html page! Load up SEO Quake, enable it and head over to our competitor’s homepage. At the top a whole bunch of stuff will load and we want to see how many links are pointing further into the website (internal links). Take a look at the internal/external link ratio at the far right – it looks like this:
That’s 283 internal links (pointing deeper into the same website) and 9 outbound links (3 are nofollow). The fact that there are 283 internal links means that the homepage PR is being split up between all of them. More links pointing to the page that we are trying to beat will mean more PR is passed, but there is only 1. And it’s positioned far far down the page in some content that is not the main navigation.
Does this Analysis mean we can Rank #1?
Based on this basic keyword competition analysis we can say yes. There are some holes in the on-page SEO of our competitor and any page specific SEO is pretty much non-existent. While we’re looking at competing with a website that has a huge amount of authority for its domain, we are in a position to out rank them in time.
But how much time? To find out would require expensive SEO software, dedicated resources and an expert understanding. Or, if you’re serious about SEO, you could just get some internet marketing experts to do it for you for free.