Ok, I should be working but I thought I'd get this subject going :rolleyes:
This is how I do competitive keyword analysis, I'm interested to see how other people do it, how I can improve it, what I'm doing wrong, what I'm doing right etc. Maybe together we can come up with a guide to add to the FAQs.
Keyword count strength analysis
Ok, I've done my keyword analysis and got my seed list of highly relevant keyword phrases from all the various keyword suggestion tools. There might be 200 keyword phrases on it, for example. I have them in a column on a spreadsheet.
Wordtracker has the least skewed search counts so I use that as a rough guide to find out how many people are actually searching for my keyword phrases. I use to use Yahoo as well but it's out of date now. I add the search counts, actual and estimated in two columns to my spreadsheet.
I get rid of all the keywords below a certain number of searches which will vary depending on how many searches the most searched phrases are getting. If some keyword phrases get low search counts but are very relevant and might convert really well, I keep them for the next phase anyway, I'm not just going for the big numbers, anything that might convert well and is competitive is a contender. I might be down to 60 or 70 phrases at this point.
Keyword competition analysis
For the remaining phrases I look at Google (because it accounts for 76% of UK daily searches) and I look to see how many pages return for each and every keyword phrase and enter that figure into the next column on my spreadsheet.
Then I do an intitle:"keyword" search for every keyword phrase and make a new column for that figure.
Then I do an intitle:"keyword" & inanchor:"keyword" (both together) for each keyword phrase. Any page that has my keyword phrases in both the Title and an on page link is likely to be optimised for that phrase so they're my assumed optimised competition, I'm hoping to see low numbers for this particular search (under 30 is good, under 10 is great, I'm not looking to go head to head with loads of optimised competition).
I score each keyword phrase using an algorithm I made up that uses a logarithmic weighting for each of the values (search count, total pages, keyword in title pages, keyword in title & anchor pages) and gives each keyword a score (kind of like KEI, I just improved the original idea a bit)
Depending on the scores, I carry through maybe 20 keywords phrases that scored the highest to the backlink analysis. The algorithm is design to score the phrases on their competitiveness so even low search count keywords can do well if there is little optimised competition.
Competing pages BackLink analysis
- I Google each keyword phrase again but this time I'm looking at the top 10 returning pages and analysing the strength of their incoming links. I take each page and use Yahoo's Site Explorer to look at all their backlinks. What I'm looking for in particular is the use of the actual keyword phrase in the anchor text. I don't look at every single IBL, just enough to get a feel for whether or not they're optimised for that phrase in particular. Sometimes, I'll even look at the backlinking site's own backlinks but I don't usually have time for that depth of analysis, gotta keep the client's costs down....
I also use Google's PR figure to get a very rough idea of what Google thinks of the quality of their IBLs. I add all the link numbers to the spreadsheet and average them out to get an idea of how competitive each phrase is for IBLs, are there a lot for this phrase or is the average quite low? It's just an general indicator of whether I can compete or not though and the important thing is the individual pages and their IBLs. I want to get into the top 5 minimum so those competing pages get the most attention usually.
Choosing the keyword phrases to recommend
I usually end up with a handful, 5-10 keyword phrases that have good search counts and a low number of optimised competing pages. From those I choose 3 or 4 that I think I can get the client a high ranking for and that most importantly, are likely to convert to a sale.
All this usually takes about half a day, another half day to implement on-site changes and build up some relevant backlinks and a further half day to monitor, report and tweak over the next 6 months. I think that's pretty good value for money. I give the clients all the keyword analysis data so that they can see what they paid for and sometimes even to understand how I did it (except for the algorithm which is the only bit they couldn't get for free off any search engine).
And that's it.
[I haven't gone into much detail on why each step is important, I'm assuming a basic knowledge of how search engines work and the importance Google places on back links and relevance, I can't wait to see what people would change or add to this, get posting guys :)]