How to Choose a Niche Website: SEO Competition
Continuing where we left off on the keyword research post, by using Market Samurai we determined that we were going to try and target the term “clearance baby clothes” as our primary keyword phrase for our new site and as a backup we have “vintage baby clothes”. What we want to do now is size up the competition and see what we’re up against. We will be able to see at a quick glance whether or not we can compete for that phrase, or if we’re better off trying another keyword phrase.
If you followed along with the last post and installed the 12 day free trial of Market Samurai, great! You’re all set to continue on with this module. If not, click that link and put in your name and email address to get a link to download the software. You should receive an email right away. As a reminder, the software is available for both Mac and PC. Click the link in your email, follow the instructions to download/install the software and then double click the Market Samurai icon and we’re ready to get started.
I won’t re-post all the screen shots from the keyword research post, you can go through those steps for both “clearance baby clothes” and “vintage baby clothes” separately as your keyword search terms. Once you’re at the results screen, all you need to do is click on the SEO Competition option on the left hand side of the screen and then click the Generate Results button.
I have the SEO Competition results screens for both phrases below. Similar to the keyword research post, I made sure the details of this post were relevant in Feb of 2014, for Podcast Episode 2 on Keyword Research. If you are following along, your result screens will have different results, but the process is the important part and that remains the same.
The results show the top 10 sites ranking for our two keyword phrases. Those are the sites that show up on the first page of Google when you search for that particular keyword phrase and that is our direct competition, since the first page is where we want to be. That is because 95-98% of all traffic for a particular keyword search phrase goes to the first page of results on Google.
There are basically two separate categories of items in the SEO Competition charts. On page and off page. On page items are exactly that, making sure you have your keyword phrase on your main page in your blog/site title, description, URL and header tags.
Those are all items you have control over and can easily modify/keep in mind up-front. The off page items are things like links to your main site or individual pages from other websites, the age of your domain name and your site being listed in the DMOZ or Yahoo directory, etc. I’ll get into more details on those items below.
The first several items below are all off site items.
The first column in the chart is DA, or Domain Age. That is how many years that site has existed. The older the domain name the better. The only way to compete on Domain Age is to purchase a preexisting domain name rather than registering a new one. That can be far more costly and it’s not something I would do just starting out.
The second field is PR, or Page Rank. Everything in that chart factors into the Page Rank. The higher the Page Rank, the better and the scale is from 0 to 10. No on knows for sure exactly what weighting each item on this page gets as far as calculating the overall Page Rank, but I will provide some tips along the way.
The next category is IC, or Index Count. That is the number of pages from that site that are indexed by Google. Basically the amount of individual posts or pages you have on your site. The more quality content the better.
The next 4 categories are all inter-related RDD, RDP, BLP and BLD. They are Referring Domains-Domains, Referring Domains-Pages, Backlink-Pages, Backlink-Domains. My interpretation of those items are that the first two, RDD and RDP are links to your site that come from the main page of another site and link to either your main domain name or a specific page. BLP and BLD would be individual pages on those sites linking to your domain or individual pages on your site.
The semantics of each aren’t of major importance in my opinion, but the overall importance of these 4 items is. The more links you have to your site/pages from other sites, preferably popular/high Page Rank sites, the higher the value that Google will rank your site over time.
Do what you can to get links back to your site, whether it is from creating amazing posts that people just can’t help but link to, commenting on other blogs/forums on sites that allow you to provide a link back to your site, having others add your blog/site to their blog roll, etc.
BLEG is an acronym for backlinks from a government (.gov) or educational institution (.edu) domain. Google places value on having a link to your site or individual pages from .gov or .edu sites. That is most likely because .gov and .edu sites do not typically provide an easy mechanism to get a link to your site, such as through a forum or comment post. So if you can, get a link to your side from a site that ends in .edu or .gov and the more the better.
DMOZ and Yahoo Directory are two internet directory listings of sites that are or were maintained by humans manually entering sites to their directory. These came about because companies or website owners were frustrated back in the day that their sites took forever to appear in search engine results and no one could ever find their sites. This was an attempt to get around that and they still exist today and Google places value on having your site listed on those two directories.
You can submit to have your site added to DMOZ for free at that link, but it’s not likely to happen. I submitted to get this site added to DMOZ on 1/14/2012 and it never happened. Yahoo now charges $299 to be added to their directory. Not worth it for me right now, but if you are interested here is a link to add your site to the Yahoo Directory.
That ends the off site category of items. The following are on-site categories that you can control yourself if you have your own domain name. They are Title, URL, Desc and Head. That just means that you want to have your Blog name/keywords in your Title field, in the domain name, Description and Header tags on your main site page.
For WordPress, I recommend using the premium Thesis theme, which is the theme that I use for all of my niche sites. The Thesis framework provides built-in SEO optimization right out of the box and allows for easy customization without the need to do any manual coding. If you do not wish to use Thesis, you can install the All in One SEO Pack plugin as an alternative.
Getting back to the on-page items, for the URL field, if you don’t already have a domain name for your site, you want to try and pick a name with your keyword phrase in it with the least number of extra characters.
The Head, or Header item, refers to whether your keywords appear in <h1> <h2> <h3> tags within your main site. That just involves having sub-headings within your posts/pages like this below which is an <h2> heading:
SEO Competition h2 Heading Example
Now that you have an idea of what the SEO Competition items are all about, let’s check out our results for clearance baby clothes and vintage baby clothes. You’ll probably have to click the images so that you can see the results in more detail. However, you can tell from the color coding that there is a pretty good amount of red boxes on both, with clearance baby clothes having slightly more. Red means that it will be difficult to compete in those categories.
If you look closer at the particular sites that rank in the top 10 for clearance baby clothes, you will see Kohls, Overstock.com, Walmart, JCPenney, Carters, ToysRUs, Target and Big Lots. I’m pretty sure you realize that competing for a spot on the top page of Google would be pretty close to impossible with those retail powerhouses at the top of the list.
Based on the keyword term clearance baby clothes, we would probably expect that. So, despite the good results from our keyword research, clearance baby clothes is not a phrase we would want to target, since the overall goal is to have a reasonable chance to rank in the top 10.
Looking closer at the vintage baby clothes output above, we see a similar amount of red boxes, but not a lot of big name retailers. We do have eBay, Etsy and Amazon in the rankings, but we have several other lesser known names as well. There are also several sites that do not have an outrageous number of pages/backlinks and several page rank zero sites.
If it were me and I had a serious passion for vintage baby clothes and was determined to setup a highly successful niche site on the topic, I would attempt to go after either the #1, #5, #8 or the #10 spots. Those sites have the least number of web pages (IC) and backlinks. And if you look closely, only the #1 ranked site has the words vintage baby in it. None of the sites have our actual keyword phrase vintage baby clothes in the domain name.
Clicking over to the Domains module very quickly and typing in vintage baby clothes and clicking Find Domains, you see above that as of this posting, evintagebabyclothes.com is the best choice and it is available or you could also go with myvintagebabyclothes.net.
That is just one example of the entire process from start to finish on how you can come up with an idea, identify relevant/profitable keyword phrases to target, size up your competition to see if it is possible to compete and pick a great domain name to go along with your phrase. All through just one product, Market Samurai.
You have seen that not only does Market Samurai set you up with an excellent chance of success, but if you do the full analysis as we just did, you are also setting yourself up with a much smaller chance of failure from either trying to enter an over-saturated market or targeting keywords that you cannot compete against. That right there is priceless.
If you have your own idea(s) and would now like to register a domain name, sign up for a web host and setup your own site/blog, check out my domain registration and web hosting post for full details on how to get started.
Also, check out my latest post on how dig deeper into the SEO Competition module of Market Samurai to see exactly where your competitors are getting their backlinks from. That post will provide you a road map on exactly where you can go to start building your own backlinks to duplicate their success. Of course you’ll want to have some epic content created ahead of time, so you better get started!
I’d highly recommend you download the 12 day free trial of Market Samurai and go through several of your own examples to get a feel for things while they are fresh in your mind. It is a great product and one I’m glad I found when I did, at the beginning of my online adventures, rather than later. The sooner you get started, the better foundation you’ll have for future success.
In full disclosure, I receive an affiliate commission if you decide to purchase the Market Samurai software, at no additional cost to you. You will also be eligible for a 35% discount if you sign-up during the first 6 days of your free trial, which is exactly what I did when I purchased the software myself. If you do decide to purchase the software, thank you ahead of time. I truly appreciate it.