Number of Search Results is a Poor Keyword Competitiveness Metric

Number of Search Results is a Poor Keyword Competitiveness MetricAuthor: Jeremy Biberdorf

Too many amateur internet marketers make the mistake of relying on number of search results as a metric of how competitive a keyword is. This is a big mistake that can lead to targeting keywords that are too competitive. As a result, you may either never get decent rankings or it might take a very long time to rank well.

Do You Really Care About Every Competitor?

When you enter a search term in Google, it brings back every webpage that is somehow relevant for that search term. Those webpages either have those words on their page or they have links with those words in their link anchor text. There will be a wide variety of website types, from multi-billion dollar companies to small personal websites. Not all of them are even targeting that keyword though.

Some of those webpages may have merely mentioned that keyword in their page content, without bothering to optimize the page around that phrase. The keyword might not be in key page locations such as the page title, meta tags and headers. These webpages might be targeting a completely different keyword or no specific keyword at all. It doesn't matter how many webpages like this exist, as passing them in the search rankings may be as simple as putting the keyword near the beginning of your title tag. These are not serious competitors. Depending on your keyword, fifty percent or more of the search results could be sites like this.

The next step up is websites who managed to put the keyword in important spots on their page, but didn't get any links targeting that phrase. These sites are just relying on on-page factors that won't get them very high in the rankings. To pass these websites in the rankings, you usually just need a few good links using the keyword as anchor text. Sometimes these pages are relying on the strong link profile of their domain. Unless that is a very strong domain, you can easily pass these websites too.

Which Competitors Actually Matter?

The competitors that actually matter are the ones who aggressively target the keyword through both off-page and on-page efforts. These are the well-optimized websites that know what is involved in getting to the top of search engine results. They are whom you would be competing with for page one rankings. Some of these websites may not have optimized their page very well for the keyword, but their links might be compensating for that.

In most cases, the competitors that you have to worry about are the ones already ranked on the first page. If you're not on page one of the search results, you simply won't get much traffic from that keyword. For a very high volume keyword, you might get some traffic on page two, but most of those people would've already visited your competitors on page one. To really go after a keyword, you should be aiming for top 3 rankings. The higher in the rankings you are, the more traffic you will get and the more conversions you will make.

So How Do We Properly Measure Keyword Competition?

Instead of simply checking the number of search results, there are better ways to check how competitive a keyword is. Some keyword tools list a KEI (Keyword Effectiveness Index) score for competition level. Unfortunately that is merely the search volume divided by the number of search results. So it is just as ineffective as just looking at the number of results.

To get a quick gauge of how competitive a keyword is, you can try using Google search commands such as inanchor and intitle. These commands will tell you how many webpages use that keyword in their title or in the link anchor text. Use them together in the same search to see how many sites are actively targeting that keyword through links and on-page optimization. Unfortunately this only tells you the number of active competitors. Among those active competitors, there may be a lot of websites with only several links or websites who have not optimized their entire page for that phrase.

For a more detailed competition analysis, you need to take a good look at the top ten websites. You should be checking how many links those websites have, both to their homepage and to the specific ranked page. Then check how strong those links are. Analyze the PageRank of their links, the relevancy of the link pages, the number of links per page and the usage of the keyword in their link anchor text. Also analyze those competitors for on-page factors such as their keyword use throughout the page.

Doing this kind of analysis manually can be quite time consuming. To speed up the process you might want to install the SEO for Firefox browser add-on. This will display useful stats about each website within your search results. You may also want to use paid software such as SEO Elite to fully analyze a website's links. This will provide a very detailed breakdown of what kind of links they have and what keywords they are optimized for.


If keyword competition level is important to your marketing efforts, you need to ensure you are going about it correctly. The search engine optimization industry is full of misguided advice. Many people still tell you to check the number of search results, but this is a poor recommendation. Checking competition levels all comes down to determining just how strong the top ranked websites are. Although it sounds nice to say you outrank millions of competitors, in reality you are only trying to outrank the top ten websites.

Article Source:

About the Author:

Jeremy Biberdorf is an internet marketing professional with over 10 years of experience. Check out his website for low priced keyword service. If you'd rather handle keyword research yourself, you might be interested in a free keyword research tool or a paid keyword research tool.

Join our Facebook fan pageFollow us on TwitterWatch us on YouTubeSee us on PinterestSubscribe to our RSS news feed


I want to let y’all know that we are very pleased with the website. I do appreciate the communication, training and service that was offered. Thank you very much!
Keith Harless, Manager of Engineering/Sales, Antelope Oil Tool & Mfg. Co.
The folks at Pro Epic sat down with me, and listened, while I described my business; really caring about what would be the best for me. They are not just out there selling their business, but offering advise on how to bring the public to a better awareness of how I can serve them. Pro Epic is very professional, and at the same time helped me feel at ease answering all of my questions. I truly recommend their services to help you increase your business.
Teresa Gilbert, Owner, Less Stress Massage, Weatherford, Texas
Pro Epic's professionalism, service, and creative abilities are unequaled in my experience. Their ability to produce materials (website & brochure) presenting our company in a manner which, so accurately reflects the character of our brand is amazing. We appreciate their high standards and desire for excellence! We couldn’t be more pleased! Texas Saddlery has found a home with Pro Epic!
Rory Boren, Co-Founder, VP, CFO, Texas Saddlery
We have had so much positive response regarding our new web site! It has generated new business for us and the blogs that we are adding are driving people in that direction too. Pro Epic has done everything they said they would do, on time, on budget and the follow up afterwards has been wonderful. I have referred Pro Epic to many other clients, including the Weatherford Chamber of Commerce and everyone has been pleased.
Paul Paschall, Owner, Paschall Insurance Group, Weatherford, Texas
Thank you for your hard work. Mostly I notice that you really are sincere about giving your customers a Website that reflects their vision AND that your communication and efficiency is terrific. In this day and age it is unusual to find. I've enjoyed the process.
Linda Kessler, Owner, Barefeet Yoga, Mineral Wells, Texas
Pro Epic delivered a beautiful website, on time, that functions and looks just the way we wanted it to. Their personal training on how to use our website was outstanding and communication was excellent throughout the whole process. I highly recommend their services! Top qualities: Expert, Good Value, Creative
Kira Connally, Owner, Spectacles West, Weatherford, Texas
Pro Epic is awesome at what they do. Give them a chance to help you grow your business.
Constance Frantz, Wright Chiropractic Health Center, Weatherford, Texas
I'm a VERY picky business owner who values communication and professional thoroughness in the companies I deal with. Pro-Epic wins hands down. If you want a website, I highly recommend this company.
Heather Wright, Owner, Wright Chiropractic Health Center, Weatherford, Texas
Pro Epic Technology Solutions

190 N. Rambling Fork St.
Weatherford, TX 76087
Toll Free 1 (866) 580-3617