On Google Keyword Tool (only keyword tool I've ever used): I understand that competition for that word you're looking for should be low, so that you aren't vying for the top search results with that word; but I don't totally understand what you should look for in terms of global searches for that word; I've read that the number of searches should be high, but not too high; what exactly is that number? I find some words often have between 20 to 40 thousand searches; others have between a few hundred and around a thousand. What exactly is a good number in terms of searches? And is this number related to a subject being saturated, having too much written on it? How do you know which subjects are saturated?
An opinion only: Global searches for the exact term that are less than 500 or more than 40,000 are probably not going to work. The first won't produce enough searchers to justify the time it takes to write a hub, the second is probably saturated.
Having said that, I have written several very successful (by my lights) hubs with only 200 or even less searches, by incorporating several longtail keywords into the hub. And I have found a very few topics with large numbers of searches to be productive as they are not saturated yet.
Given that you have a keyword in mind, search for it. If you find 80 million competing articles, forget about it. If you find 4 thousand, go for it. Assuming, of course, that top results are not going to be impossible to beat out. Somewhere in between is a line where it becomes unlikely to succeed; personally, I am unlikely to write on something with 5 million competing articles unless those top results are something I feel I can beat pretty easily. eHow articles, Q&A answers, etc. Put Amazon, govt. pages, wikipedia and news organizations in the top half dozen spots and I won't even try.
Yes, one reason I asked this question is that I had a rather successful piece on another site and the keyword had low competition but also rather low searches; I think the number of searches was in the hundreds, I know it wasn't much more than a thousand if it was that high. I'm speculating it's a temporary success, but the traffic shot up quickly at some point, now it trickles in. I still do not totally understand what is longtail keywords. I've read this term before but don't fully understand it. Also, are the number of searches an indication of how many articles are out there? I always figured low competition meant not that many articles are out there and global searches meant a lot of people are looking for that subject of the keyword. This is where I get fuzzy.
Longtailed keyword = a phrase of two or more words, collectively termed "keyword". "Puppy" is a keyword, "Brown shaggy puppy" is a longtail keyword.
You are correct on the meaning of competition and searches; searches is how many times the phrase has been entered into a google search over the month. Competition is how many articles using those keywords are out there. (The column in the google keyword tool labeled "competition" is NOT referring to what a publisher views as competition. Ignore it)
That clarifies it. What I'm not sure of is where to find the level of competition. I'm pretty sure I've been looking at the column labelled "competition" on the keyword tool.
Don't do that. That column is intended for use by advertisors; it is a rough indication of what an advertiser has for competition for placement of their ad.
Do a google search, an ordinary search, for your proposed keyword. Look at the top where it will tell you how many articles google has found using those keywords - that's your competition, not how many advertisers are wanting to put an ad on those articles. Now look at the top half dozen results; where are they from? Are they will written? Does the title have your exact keywords?
There is a section in the learning center on finding and using keywords...
I would add that the number of results that Google displays at the top of search is not that good a guide to the number of competing pages. The words can be anywhere on the page and completely unrelated to the phrase you want to rank for, so many of the results are not direct competition at all.
If you want a more accurate guide, use the allintitle command to see how many pages have the keyword phrase in their titles: http://www.googleguide.com/advanced_ope … allintitle
Personally, I mostly use the first page or two of search results as my guide to competition. I look at the results for quality of the info provided, the strength of the domains, whether the results are from other user generated content sites, forums etc.
I would disagree in using the allintitle search. Another article does not need to have your keywords in the title to outrank you - to push you far down the SERP's. While google will pay more attention to keywords in the title, that is far from all that it looks at.
Even if those keywords are used in a different way, and the topic is far different, it won't matter if your hub cannot be found because that other article has outranked you.
Of course, if such a thing happens with many other articles, all using the keywords differently than you, it is a good indication that google does not understand what your topic is about and has put your hub in the wrong search.
I wonder if you've tried using allintitle instead of "number of results" to gauge the number of competing pages? Both are methods of estimation, but one is a vast exaggeration and the other is an under estimation.
I've tested them both and found that allintitle gives a much better indication of actual competition.
EDIT: A good analogy is the difference between broad match and exact match in the keyword tool. Neither is 100% precise, but one gives a figure much closer to actual than the other.
To be honest, I don't pay a whole lot of attention to the number of competing pages. At 80 million, I probably won't try to compete but even then it would depend on the quality of the competition on first page.
That quality is, IMHO, far more important than how many there are. That, and do those competing pages talk about the same thing I will be - if not google is putting a different definition to those keywords than I am and I need to find different keywords.
I don't pay much attention either - my gauge is the search results.
After doing this for years now, I can usually do a quick scan of the 1st page of results and determine how much work it's going to take to rank for what I want (or in most cases nowadays, what's going to be good for a client's website).
I don't think I would have that kind of intuition though, if I hadn't initially learned through pouring over stats and data, testing different methods out for myself and hadn't kept up to date with everything SE related.
I was taught by others to test, test, test - never take what someone else says as gospel. And it's good advice.
That's making a lot of sense to me right now, especially after testing this out and seeing results pages; seems I was always seeing lots of results, but the articles varied in terms of words in the articles, quality, relevance, etc.
This mega article on SEOmoz (now simply called MOZ) is a fantastic resource. I think you'll like it:
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