How to Find Keyword Competition – Not Just a Numbers Game

how to find keyword competition

I’ve learned a lot in the last week about how to find keyword competition. Before this, I thought it was simply a matter of looking at your tool and checking out the number of competitors (Quoted Search Results). No. This is far too simplistic and ignores the relative STRENGTH of the competition.

I honestly hadn’t even thought about competition in this way before. Now that I know this, I realize why some killer keywords I’d found weren’t getting me anywhere.

Keyword Reseach Tools – the Basics

Firstly, each tool has different indicators to help decipher the competitiveness of the keyword.  I tend to use the Wealthy Affiliate Keyword Tool, simply because I am a Wealthy Affiliate member and it comes free with my membership.  I also really like to use Jaaxy, but I’m still using the free version there.  Why not test out Jaaxy and follow along?


In the Wealthy Affiliate Keyword Tool, to view “Competition”, we have to click View Result.  A box pops up and Google runs a search and the number that appears is our “Quoted Search Result” or number of pages that specifically use the keyword we are targeting.

Here is an image to make things a bit easier to understand:

how to find keyword competition

Notice that this is the title of this blog post.  A QSR of 9 is excellent!  You’d think it would make it easy to rank for, right?

Sadly that’s not the whole picture.  You can’t just go off the bare numbers.  You have to look at the strength of your competition.  I’ve been told many times now that outranking an e-commerce site is very difficult.  It will be very tough to outrank an authority site of age, e-commerce and potentially Amazon.  It could be that the reason your keyword appears to have low competition numbers is because the strength of that competition is phenomenal.


What do you think, Google?

My next step is to see what pages appear on the first page of Google when I do a natural search for how to find keyword competition.  And here it is:


how to find keyword competition 2

A couple of ads (means it might be a profitable keyword) and several sites I need to analyze.

How to Analyze the Competition

This is a two step process.

  1. How well optimized is the page? Basically, what I’m looking for is how the keyword is being used. Does it appear in the url? In the title? In the description?  When I use the keyword in my blog post, I’m going to do all three so I hopefully am in with a chance if the others aren’t.
  2. How strong is my competitors page and domain? I determine this by checking for their Page Authority and Domain Authority.  This is very simple.  I go to Open Site Explorer and pop in the URL.  It then tells me the Page Authority, Domain Authority and age of the site.  I have my fingers crossed for under 30.  The lower the better.

how to find keyword competition 3

Boo. The number one result has a Page Authority of 61. Never say never, but I don’t think I’m going to be out ranking that site any time soon.

A quick check of the first 10 sites and this keyword is pretty much a no go.  Oh well.  I’m writing it anyway because its a useful topic.  It may not bring any visitors to my site specifically but its helpful.

Curveballs and Other Factors

Apparently, the click through rate a site gets for a keyword matters.  If a site appears at number 3 or so, and gets no clicks for a particular keyword, Google will rethink its position as it is not meeting the user’s needs.

Apparently, content that is dated (such as blog posts, Facebook posts etc) is easier to outrank because Google sees it aging and not being updated.

The Wrap

It certainly pays to check out your competition for a keyword before committing to writing an article or a blog post about it.  For me, I believe this is the missing piece of the puzzle.  I’ve long enjoyed finding long tail keywords that seem to have low competition (QSR), but have never really understood why some keywords never succeed.  This is why.

If you’re interested in learning more about keyword research, I would encourage you to jump onboard at Wealthy Affiliate.  I’ve been going through the Live Video training recordings recently and when this topic popped up, I knew I had to watch it immediately.  And you know what?  There’s so much more for me to learn too!

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6 thoughts on “How to Find Keyword Competition – Not Just a Numbers Game”

  1. Nice content but there’s only one downside to this process – the moz explorer for sites ( which is completely worthless at the best of times ). One of my top ranking websites draws in 1000’s of organic visitors daily and is followed by 1000’s of subscribers in a geeky niche. It outranks all the competition out there. Want to know the score moz gives most of it’s pages? 10!! Yep 10. Page Authority hasn’t been counted by the Big G now for nearly 15 months so I have no idea why this tool still (attempts yet fails) to use it. The rest of the process seems pretty sound though – why don’t you just use the research function of jaaxy to do this type of work? Moz is antique these days?

    1. Hi Chris,

      Thanks for your comment. It sounds like you are doing well.

      I must admit that I haven’t been spending too much time with Moz lately. I recently tried Long Tail Pro which has a competition analysis built in, which was nice.

      Now that you’ve mentioned it, I will have to test Moz Vs Jaaxy. At the end of the day though, this process is never going to be totally accurate as there are so many factors big G takes into account that we simply have no way to access.



  2. Hi there Cath,

    Thanks for the great information here! I’ve used keyword tools myself to find keywords around which I can craft a post, but it doesn’t seem to work very well just yet, and I’ve always wondered whether I’ve been missing a step.

    Great introduction to Open Site Explorer as well – I’ll remember to use it in conjunction with my keyword research in future. Is it free to use though? I see something about “Moz Pro subscribers” in your screenshot.

    Thanks again!

    1. Hi Raze,

      Thanks for checking out my site 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      You know, I had much the same experience when I was first getting started. And I was baffled as to why I still wasn’t ranking in Google. It seemed sort of hit and miss. This was my missing piece of the puzzle. If you haven’t already watch the Live Video Class on Keyword Competition Analysis I suggest you do ASAP! It just made everything fall into place for me, and I hope it does for you too.

      Open Site Explorer is great – it is definitely free to use. I ended up signing up for a free account as they only allow you so many searches without an account. I think with a Pro account you get more information, but I don’t find that I need access to it yet. Perhaps in the future, but for basic Keyword Competition Analysis, the free account is sufficient.



  3. Hello Cathy
    Im new to online money making,as im still struggling with keywords or how to find the right keywords im just so happy to have found your site.
    You have gone into detail and explained very well how keywords work and how to check for competition.
    I^ve heard that every post need a keyword, but i did not know i need to check keyword competition.
    Thanks to your well written post I have learned much more about keywords, not only that but checking the competition which i think is a must if im going to rank high in the search engines.

    1. Hi Roamy,

      Thanks for stopping by. I remember the struggle well when I was getting my head around keywords and how to find the right ones. I picked out lots of bad ones to start! Whoops!

      I hope my post helps you improve your keyword research skills. It definitely is a must to check out your competition before writing an awesome post or article. How disappointing if you write something amazing but no one ever gets to read it because its buried at the back of Google.

      If you want more information about keyword competition analysis, I suggest you watch this Live Video Session from Wealthy Affiliate – Keyword Competition Analysis. Its a real eye opener.



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