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How To Check If A Keyword or Keyphrase Has High Competition

Updated on August 21, 2015
WryLilt profile image

Susannah is a Journalist and Blogger with a total social following of over 25,000 people & whose content receives over 15,000 visits/day.

How To Check Competition For a Keyword (And how to find the darn things.)
How To Check Competition For a Keyword (And how to find the darn things.)

If there are hundreds of other websites, who are both older and better established than yours, chances you'll never rank higher in Google than they do for a keyword.

It's pointless writing in a topic which everyone else is writing about!

Here's a guide to scoping out the competing sites for a keyword so you know if you can beat them for their own keyword.

I'm sharing some of my secrets to choosing topics too, so pay close attention!

So, Should You Do Keyword Research? My Secret.

I don't do keyword research using the Google keyword tool or any of those fancy SEO tools, ever!

And last time I checked, I was averaging between 10,000 and 15,000 views a day across all my online content.

My method of finding topics that will get good ongoing traffic? It has four parts. Here they are:

  1. I USE Google Suggest to find topics which people are Googling OR I write about any topic I'm searching for myself and can't find the answer to on Google. I look at the first ten results on Google (using the method at the bottom of this article) to find out if I can rank well.
  2. I USE keyword friendly titles. Titles are 90% of your SEO. And you don't need to use special keywords, you just need to use as many relevant words as you can, that people will be Googling in connection with your topic, while avoiding non-relevant words or looking spammy.
    BAD TITLE: Best Potato Bake
    GOOD TITLE: Vegetarian Paleo Four Ingredient Potato Bake Recipe
  3. I GO Niche. Don't use broad topics, go with specifics.
    BROAD: What Allergies Do Tomatoes Cause?
    NICHE: Sinus Allergies Caused by Tomato & The Deadly Nightshade Family
  4. I USE retroactive SEO. What's that? Basically I follow the first two steps outlined above, then I publish. After a few months I check what keywords people are using to find my content then either update my title to include those words or write a whole new post on the topic, because it usually means that no one else is answering whatever question they're Googling!
    EXAMPLE: I wrote a hub once on how to play Farmville on Facebook. I got tons of people searching for how to DELETE Farmville! So I wrote a hub on that and it got far more traffic than the first one.

To analyse the competition for a keyword or Google suggest topic, you need to look closely at the first ten results that Google gives you. Results often change based on your search history, so it's a good idea to use Google Chrome Incognito or clear your browsing history and cache before searching, to get more accurate results.

  1. Exact Match. Do the competing search results match your keyword exactly? For instance if your keyword is "Red Striped Hats" and the top results have titles such as "Blue Striped Hats" or "Red Spotted Hats", those websites are not optimised for that keyword and should be easier to beat.
  2. Type of Page. Different types of websites have different degrees of quality in search engines. If the keywords are merely mentioned in a Yahoo Answers question, Wiki Answers or in a forum post, then they'll be easier to outrank. Google has more respect for sites with authority, which means sites which are related to one major topic and written with relevant information instead of just a few spammy sentences or a few lines in a forum. So real articles, vs a few lines!
  3. Location of Keyword. Is the keyword mentioned randomly, just once in title or text? Is it in every second sentence? Google doesn't like pages which don't properly optimise for the keyword OR repeat the keyword too much (keyword stuffing.)
  4. Content Quality. When visiting the competitor's page, how many words are on the page? Google prefers 500-1,000 words minimum. Is it full of adverts? Google does not like a lot of adverts, especially in the very top of the page. Does it appear low quality and unmaintained? If you answered yes to any or all of these, chances are it should be easy to outrank in Google.


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    • K S Lane profile image

      K S Lane 13 days ago from Melbourne, Australia

      I always get scared when people mention keyword research because it sounds so techy and complicated, but apparently it doesn't have to be! Thanks for enlightening me.

    • pen promulgates profile image

      Imran Khan 5 months ago from Mumbai, India

      Wonderful. I have a question though.

      You said you can change the title as per the trend, but in HP even though your title changes, the url remains the same to original. There is a clash that way. What to do in such a case?

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 2 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      Thanks for the advice. I found it very helpful.

    • profile image

      nitikaa 2 years ago

      Useful tips . Great article!

    • younghopes profile image

      Shadaan Alam 2 years ago from India

      Really a wonderful and useful hub Wrylilt, Can you tell what to do if we have more of ecommerce sites like amazon, ebay on the first page for our title? Does it mean we cannot rank for that keyword then?

    • Felisa Daskeo profile image

      Felisa Daskeo 2 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      A must read hub. I am so thankful that I found your hubs and read them.

    • sheilamarie78 profile image

      sheilamarie78 2 years ago

      These tips are extremely helpful. Thanks so much.

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 2 years ago from Minnesota

      Thank you for the tips, Wrylilt. I will give your method a go.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 2 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Is retroactive SEO still working for you? I just checked 5 of my hubs, over 700,000 page views, and all came back "No search information available". Most were published in 2013.

    • tlcs profile image

      Trudy Cooper 2 years ago from Hampshire, UK

      I have taken some wonderful advise from this. Thank you.

    • WryLilt profile image

      Susannah Birch 3 years ago from Toowoomba, Australia

      Linda, the keywords quoted in the article are examples only :)

    • LindaSmith1 profile image

      LindaSmith1 3 years ago from USA

      I don't understand 1. Red striped hats.

      I put red striped hats into search bar. I got drop down list of red striped party hats, red striped beanies, etc.

      I did an actual search and all I got was red striped hats.

      I also did it like this: "red striped hats" and got 46 results.

      I also did it like this: allintitle: red striped hats 8680 results

      allintitle: "red striped hats" 19 results

      red striped hats over 10 million but titles had words striped this or that, red this or that, etc. Nothing for simply red striped hats doing it this way on first page of google.

      Google keyword tool, and Google trends doesn't help other than give me some other ideas.

      What am I doing wrong?

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Your tips from experience are precious. I was glad I came across your hub. I now have to review my titles and be more careful next time.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Susanna, this is one of the most helpful and easy to understand articles I've read on choosing good keywords and keyphrases. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • mickey1985 profile image

      Pam 3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida

      Thanks!! This is really helpful. All this (keyword) SEO stuff is confusing. I will be using your tips. Keep them comin'

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      Excellent information and tips. Looking forward to reading more of your How To articles. Thanks so much.

    • NateB11 profile image

      Nathan Bernardo 3 years ago from California, United States of America

      Very helpful. And a relief. Kind of tired of messing with Keyword Planner, need a new avenue for topics. Was considering subscribing to a keyword tool and that was giving me a headache just thinking about it.

    • Torrs13 profile image

      Tori Canonge 3 years ago from California

      Very useful tips! I feel like I learned a lot from this hub and will definitely be applying some of that information in the future. It's always a nice feeling when I see one of my articles on the first page of a Google search!

    • Robie Benve profile image

      Robie Benve 3 years ago from Ohio

      Great tips, practical, useful, and simple enough. Thanks. :)

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Very helpful information Wrylilt. Very informative hub, thanks. Voted up.

    • Easy Exercise profile image

      Kelly A Burnett 3 years ago from United States


      What a wonderful hub! I had wondered about this and now I know. Being first really does make a difference to Google? Fascinating. I love how you shared writing another hub to address the questions being asked - this is invaluable.

      Beyond the keywords,does cross linking help? You probably have addressed this question in another hub. So glad you are a part of HubPages - thank yo so much for sharing!

    • American_Choices profile image

      American_Choices 3 years ago from USA


      Your information is always golden. Amazing. I learned allot. Thank you for another outstanding, educational hub.