Do a search on Google, and you’ll see ten organic links on the first page. Almost nobody clicks over to the second page, so your goal as a business is to replace one of those links on the first page with a link of your own. It probably won’t be easy, but you’d like to know what you’re up against, and how hard the climb is to page one.
Guess what? Not all of your competition is on the first page. Most Google searches not only return the most relevant results for a particular keyword; they also tell you how many pages use that keyword in a way the search engine considers relevant. So a search for the key phrase “golf swing” might return those ten organic links on the first page, but Google will tell you right at the top that there are about 70,500,000 results for that term.
As if that’s not depressing enough, one also needs to consider how many searchers are actually using that keyword. There are ways to find this out using various tools. For the sake of argument, let’s say that 18,000 searchers in the United States search for “golf swing” every month. That’s a respectable number, even with so many pages chasing the term.
At this point, you could plug these two numbers into a mathematical formula often referred to as the Keyword Effectiveness Index, or KEI. This formula compares the number of monthly searches on a keyword with the number of pages that use that keyword. The result gives you one measure of how hard it will be to rank for that keyword in relationship to the potential volume of that keyword. Ideally, one looks for keywords with lots of searches but relatively little competition.
KEI does not show you the full picture, however. Say there is very little competition for your keyword in relation to the number of searches for it. But say you’re competing against strong, trusted, well-respected, authoritative websites that have been in existence for a long time. The KEI formula does not take that into consideration. Say those ten organic links on Google’s first page for your key term are all the equivalent of ten members of the Pro Golf Association going head-to-head with the weekend golfer. You have quite a fight on your hands – especially if your website is not as authoritative or well-trusted by Google as their websites.
But this brings up an interesting question. Are these websites ranking for your search term because they are actively trying to rank for that term, or simply because they are generally authoritative in the field? Believe it or not, there are ways to determine this, and it certainly affects how much of a fight you’ll have on your hands trying to climb to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs). You can sometimes beat Tiger Woods on your best hole of your home golf course.
A good SEO company takes these factors and more into consideration when helping you to rank for the keywords that will bring you the most traffic…and the most business. Knowing the competition is half the battle on the way to the green.
Written By: Terri Wells – SEO