Keyword Research – Understanding Ranking Difficulty

Today, I’m going to show you how to determine ranking difficulty for a keyword. This will help you understand how hard it will be to rank high in Google for your target keywords. Let’s get started. So when it comes to ranking in Google, you need to understand who you’ll be up against before you target a keyword. Otherwise you could be entering a battle you won’t be able to win. From an ethical perspective, competitors are pages in websites that rank at the top of Google for your target keywords. So that means your competitors can be different for every single keyword you target. So there are three main things you’ll want to consider before you decide to pick a fight. And those are search intent metrics of the top ranking pages and websites and topical authority of the top ranking websites. Now, as we go through these points, we’re going to create a list of self check questions which should help you make informed decisions in your keyboard targeting. Also, in order to see things like metrics of top ranking pages, you need an SEO tool since Google won’t show you data on other pages. So I’ll be using keywords explore throughout this lesson. Now, if you don’t have an account, you can use our free search checker tool, which will give you data on the top three pages. All right, let’s start with search and. The first thing you need to do is look at the search and ask yourself, do some of the top ranking pages fail to closely match search content?

To find this out, you can go through the three C’s of search content, as we discussed, in less than two of this module. And by the looks of it, they’re all listicle blog posts using the freshest angle. So they do match it. Also, pay close attention to the titles and you URLs of the ranking pages. In general, if the top pages include the primary keyword or a variation of it in the title and or you URL, they’re likely targeting that keyword. For example, all of the top ranking pages for the query How to Save Money are exactly about that. Whereas a query like best convertible car seats for small cars is a bit mixed. As you can see, some pages have gone specifically with the angle for small cars. As a result, it’s probably matching searcher intent better than the more broad posts about the best convertible car seats for any car. This is a sign of weakness in the SERP because it means there’s probably a lack of rank worthy content out there about the best convertible car seats for small cars. Now, I don’t want you to take this as advice that you must include the exact keyword phrase in your titles and or you URLs with this example, finding convertible car seats for small cars is actually a very specific need for a specific person. All right. Let’s talk about the metrics. The first metric to look at is the number of websites that are linking to the page at HFS. We call this referring domains. As I mentioned, in Module one, Bucklings are one of Google’s most prominent ranking signals. So if a page has a lot of quality links pointing at it, then it’ll be more competitive to rank. So before choosing a keyword, you need to ask yourself, can I get more quality back links than the top ranking pages? Now, at this point of the course, we haven’t talked about the attributes of quality backlands, but our link building module that’s coming out in a couple of weeks should help you answer this question. The second metric is website authority at HHS, we call this domain rating, which represents the overall strength of a website’s Backlund profile. Very generally speaking, you should be going after keywords where your websites, D-R is in a similar ballpark range as the top ranking pages, or at the very least, one of the top ranking pages should be in the same range as your website. For example, if all of the websites that rank in the top 10 have hiders and you have a D.R of, let’s say 10, then you may want to consider competing when you’re at a similar level. So let’s add that question to our checklist. Is my website in the similar D-R range or higher than the top ranking websites? Again, this is a very general recommendation, but still a decent one to follow. If you’re a beginner to SEO to see the domain rating of your own site, you can enter your domain inside Explorer and see it here on the overview page, or you can enter your domain in our free website authority checker. I’ll be leaving links to all of these tools in the description.

All right, let’s move on to the third part, which is topical authority of the top ranking websites. Google wants the rank pages from authoritative sources, and this goes beyond backlands. For example, if we look at the search for how to unclog a toilet, you’ll see that this D-R 42 site is outranking much more powerful websites with significantly more referring domains. Well, this page comes from a website that’s just about plumbing, so it’s likely more authoritative on the topic. So the question you need to ask yourself is, is my website equally or more topically authoritative in the top ranking websites? If the answer is yes, then that’s a positive thing for you. The easiest and quickest way to find out is to just look at the domain names and use some common sense. For example, looking at the search for best convertible car seat for small cars, you’ll see sites like Experience, Mommy BabyCenter Parenting Pod, Baby List and other relevant sites that talk about products for children and for domains that aren’t as easily distinguishable. Like eight hundred. Buckle up, dog. You can just visit the site, hit the about page and get a general idea of what the site is about. In this case, you’ll see that they talk about car seat recalls in review car seat brands. So yes, it is topically authoritative on car seats. All right, let’s look at our full list of yes or no questions. As a very general rule of thumb, the more yes you can check off, the better your chances of ranking. Again, very general, because SEO is quite nuanced. With that said, let’s go through a couple of hypothetical examples for our golf site to set the scene. Let’s say you have a website that’s about golf instruction and you also review golf equipment and your website’s domain rating is low at around fifteen. All right. So the first example is for the best golf grip’s. Let’s start with the first question. Do some of the top ranking pages fail to closely match search content? From the looks of it, they all look decent. So check the no box. Next up, can I get more quality back links than the top ranking pages? Again, we haven’t covered anything about quality back links yet. So for now, let’s just look at quantity. Most of the sites have very few referring domains. So I’d say this is a yes. Next question is my website in a similar D.R range or higher than the top ranking websites based on the SERP? There are a few sites with similar website authority, so let’s give this a yes as well. And finally, is my website equally or more topically authoritative than the top ranking websites? Well, all of the top pages are from golf sites and so is mine. So let’s give this a yes as well. So based on our analysis, it looks like this will be a topic worth going after. All right. The next analysis is for the keyword best putters.

Looking at search content overall, it looks like the majority of pages are good. So I’ll check the no box. But I do want to touch on this page on the best blade putters. This is more of a focus post and they’re likely ranking high for this because of all of the other factors, like hi website authority, lots of referring domains and topical authority. So I would actually exclude them from the rest of this analysis. All right. Next up, can I get more quality back links in the top ranking pages? Again, just looking at the quantity of links to these pages, the answer would likely be a yes, seeing as we’re still looking at about a dozen referring domains. But it’s important to realize that getting more links than the number one page probably won’t happen in the near future, meaning getting the top ranking spot will be tough. Next is my website in a similar type range or higher than the top ranking websites? The answer is no. And finally, my website is topically authoritative, so I’ll give this a yes. Now it looks like we’re at a tie between yeses and no’s, and this is exactly why I said as a very general rule of thumb, the more yeses you can check off, the better your chances of ranking again. So is nuanced. Plus, you need to weigh out some of the other principles to be discussed, like traffic potential and business value. And the best way to make sound judgment calls is through experience. So it will take time to hone your skills and gain a better grasp of keyword analysis. So, as you can see, understanding how hard it will be to rank and Google will be a key skill to your success in search. Why? Because it’s the first step to getting predictable results. After all, if you know what it’ll take to rank ahead of your competition, then it all comes down to execution.

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