How to analyze top 10 competitor on Google

Understanding how difficult it is to rank in the top 10 of Google for your chosen keyword is probably the most important skill you can acquire when it comes to building niche websites.  Unfortunately, it is also the most difficult skill to learn.  Bar none, picking keywords that are too difficult to rank for are the #1 reason why websites fail.

Most people just do not have the ability to effectively analyze the top 10 results in Google OR do not have the discipline to only go after low competition keywords. Luckily, this skill can be acquired with experience, serious study, and effort.  In my post today, I hope to shed some light on how you can effectively analyze how difficult the top 10 results in Google are for your keyword.


Here are the criteria that I look at to Analyze the Competition:

    1. Relevant Content.As we all know content is king.So main factor that will  clarify your primary possibly.
    2. Optimized Title Competition- Is the keyword used in the title and well optimized?
    3. Page and Site Links. How many links are there to the ranking PAGE and ROOT domain?
    4. Authority Site and Links. Are there .edu, .gov, DMOZ, or Yahoo Directory links?
    5. Google Page Rank. What is the Google PR?
    6. Using Keyword Root Domain or URL? Is the ranking page a root domain or a URL ?
    7. EMD. Are the site is Exact match domain.
    8. Site Age. How old the site is?
    9. Type of site. Is the ranking page a weak type of site like: article directories, forums, Yahoo Answers, other Q&A sites, social sites, or other user generated type sites?
    10. Existing sites.Site which is not ranking well on top 10 yet; i mean ongoing project to spy.

Here is one of my sample example of analyze top 10 competitor on Google

my competitor analysis sample

my competitor analysis sample

You could certainly go alot deeper and start looking at things like whether or not the ranking pages have links pointing to them that use the keyword in the anchor text, etc – but that gets pretty cumbersome.  And because I like to find ranking pages that have fewer than 10 links or even NO BACKLINKS many times, I don’t worry too much about the anchor text.  This is because I go for very low competition keywords.  If you are looking at more difficult niches, you may need to do more analysis than I discuss here; but most people will do just fine finding low competition keywords using the criteria I have listed above and will discuss further below.

 Importance of Relevant Keyword

You will notice that the first 3 ranking factors that I mentioned deal with relevant content on the ranking sites.  I stress the importance of determining whether or not a ranking site is actually targeting your keyword or whether they just happen to mention the keyword in passing.  The reason is simple, if a site is ranking for a keyword almost by accident (because they simply mention a keyword in their content) – then you can feel confident that you can outrank them with more targeted content and links.

Importance of Back Link

The next 3 items I discuss for analyzing the top 10 competitors in Google is links.  I look for less than 10 links to the page if possible (I look at the Yahoo Page Links).  Links to the page are MUCH more important than links to the root domain.  Each page of a site ranks individually, so the page links give you a better indication of how strong the ranking page is.

If the competitors in Google have relevant Titles/content and have lots of links to their pages then you shouldn’t be targeting the keyword.  You can determine on your own how many links is too many for you, but I like to find results with 10 or less links to the page.  Again, I don’t stress out about how many links are to the root domain, unless the resulting page happens to be the root domain.  In that case, a root domain that is optimized for your keyword and has lots of links built to it – is exactly what you want to avoid!  You will typically want to stay away from these keywords.

Most of the time you don’t need to worry about .edu, .gov, or DMOZ, or Yahoo Directory links.  I will typically look at these just to make sure the ranking page doesn’t have any.  Most of the time these type of links only become a factor when you are targeting higher competition keywords or looking at beating root domains.  So, if you see ranking pages that do indeed target your keyword with relevant titles and content, and they have lots of .edu or these other authority type links, you should probably just move onto something less competitive.

Google Page Rank

I won’t go into great detail about what Google PageRank (PR) is other than to say its a number assigned by Google from 0 to 10 that shows how much authority a page has.  Pages or sites can also sometimes have a dash (-) which simply means there is no page rank assigned (this is a good sign for you!).  I like to see ranking sites with a PageRank of 0 or – if they are targeting my keyword.

However, if they are not really targeting my keyword well (like in my “spencer likes honeycombs” example), then the PageRank really doesn’t matter.  So, don’t get too hung up with PageRank – unless its obvious that the ranking page REALLY is targeting your keyword.  If so, remember that lower pagerank is better for you.  You can certainly still outrank sites with a Pagerank of 3 or 4, but for the low hanging fruit you should really focus on the PR of 0 sites.

Other Important Factor

Root Domain or Subpage?

If the top 10 competitors of a keyword are all root domains, I would probably avoid this.  This usually means that their entire site is targeted and optimized for your chosen keyword.  However, if all the ranking pages are something like: – this is what you want to see.  The long URL is a good sign for you when looking at the top 10 competitors.

Site Age

Older sites tend to have more authority.  I usually only worry about site age if I am targeting a more difficult keyword and need to do some more in depth analysis of the difficulty of ranking for a keyword.

Type of Site

As mentioned in my original list above, I like to see certain weak types of sites like article directories, forums, Yahoo Answers, other Q&A sites, social sites, or other user generated type sites.  The reason for this is that these types of sites are usually not very good at targeting a specific keyword.  Article directories might mention the keyword in their title, but they usually don’t have any backlinks to the ranking page.  Some of these other types of sites usually just happen to mention the keyword somewhere in the content, but don’t have an optimized page or any relevant links.  Hope that makes sense why these are types of listing you WANT to see in the top 10 (easy to outrank).


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