May
18
2016

5 Tips for Analyzing SEO Keyword Difficulty

When you are starting out, you need to find keywords which are relatively easy to rank in search engines. To do this you should analyze the keyword in terms of difficulty for ranking in search engines. The goal here is to find a keyword with a large number of monthly searches, but is still relatively easy to rank highly in search engines.

Do a Google Search

Perform a search in Google for your chosen keyword and look at the type of search results you get. For example, local searches (those which contain a place name) will get a map on the results screen. Similarly, names of famous people may produce a short biography of that person.

You'll need to see what type of results you get to optimize your page to rank highly on the type of search results provided by Google. Depending on the type of results, you might need to include Rich Snippets or Schema in your code to optimize your page for these types of results.

Most results will just produce a top-10 list of related websites. In some instances, you'll find images and videos in the search results. Look at the type of websites that are ranking for your particular keyword. Are they e-commerce websites, blogs, business listings, or something else?

You'll want to ensure that your page reflects the kind of search results provided by Google and the other search engines.

Domain & Page Authority

The first thing you should check is the domain and page authority of of the top 10 results; if they contain many well-known websites such as Amazon, eBay, CNN or similar sites, then it will be difficult to break into those rankings without a lot of work.

Google used to use PageRank to analyze the reputation of domains and pages. However, because it no longer does so, it is unclear how Google recognizes the authority of any particular website.

Tools have been developed to assess domain authority and page authority in order to give you a good idea about the SEO strength of pages and domains. The most popular tools available to give you an idea of authority is Moz's Open Site Explorer, which tells you Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA).

On a 100-point scale, the higher the number, the more authority that page or website has, and the harder it will be to rank.

Assess the Competition

You should also look at the sites individually to see what they have offer and assess them individually. Examples of things you should be looking at include:

  • What is good and bad about each site?
  • What could you do better?
  • Why are they ranking highly?
  • What type of content do they have?
  • What are their social signals like?
  • How many likes or shares do the page have?
  • How long are their articles?
  • Does the page contain information relevant to the search?
  • How many backlinks does the page have?
  • What SEO have they done?
  • What is their on-site SEO like?
  • What is the title of the page?
  • Hold old is the domain/website?
  • What is the DA/PA?

By analyzing each site, you can get a good idea of how to build your page and optimize it so that it stands out from the competition.

Exact Title Match

Exact title results are also important. This means that pages or websites have the exact same title as the search term (keyword) used.

More results with the exact title will mean that a keyword is more difficult to rank. On the other hand, if none of the search results offers a website precisely related to the search term, then it should be easier to rank. This needs to be assessed in conjunction with the authority of the competition.

This check is becoming less important as search engines get better at using related synonyms and semantic keywords in their algorithms.

How Many Results?

Next, you should take a look at number of results. When you do a search, the total number of results will be displayed in the top left corner under the search navigation bar. Usually, the number of results is in the millions.

Take a note of this number and then do a search using Special Google Operators. The three operators you will need are:

  • allinurl: my keyword -- this will produce results where the keywords are featured in the URL.
  • allintitle: my keyword -- this will produce results where the keywords are used in the title.
  • allintext: my keyword -- this will produce results where keywords are used in the text of a page.

Again, make a note of the number of results; the lower the number of results, the greater chance you have ranking highly. Similarly, the higher number of results that contain your keywords in the URL, title, and text will mean there is more competition and therefore more difficulty in ranking.

All of the variables outlined here are dependent on each other, and therefore must be considered in conjunction with one another in order to accurately assess the difficulty of each keyword. You might find only a handful of pages that are using your keyword in the URL, title and text. However, they all have extremely high PA or DA. In this instance, it will be harder to rank.

There is a lot to consider. After you have some experience with SEO and checking keyword difficulty, you will quickly start to see why some keywords are more difficult than others.

As is usual in SEO, there are many things you need to consider when analyzing your competition. The best keywords will depend on your website and the type of visitor who you are trying to target.

It's important to assess keyword difficulty as accurately as possible; you can even rank some keywords with little or no SEO work. A well-built site, with good on-site SEO and well-planned keywords, may be able to rank on the first page without backlinks, increased social signals, or anything else.

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