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How many sites compete for a keyword (and why you want to know)

Posted By Darren Rowse 21st of November 2006 Search Engine Optimization 0 Comments

Reader-Quick-TipsThis reader Quick Tip was submitted by Moshe Morris from SEM Basics. Moshe has submitted 3 tips to this series – I’ll run the next two later today as they are all SEO related.

In SEO it is extremely helpful to know how many sites you are actually competing against for a particular keyword, for this us helps determine how diffiicult it will be to rank well in the major search engiens for that keyword. Currently, the best way of determining the number of sites that you actually compete against is to run an intitle/inanchor search on Google. This search tells you how many sites include a keyword both in the Title Tag of their webpage and the anchor text of a link which points to that page.

Placing ones keywords in the title tag and anchor text are two of the most important strategies in SEO. Knowing how many sites do this for a particular keyword indicates how many sites are being optimized for that keyword, thus indicating the number of sites you are competing against.

To perform a intitle/inanchor search for an individual keyword go to Google and type in: intitle:”keyword-phrase” inanchor:”keyword-phrase”. To perform this search for a large number of keywords use Keyword Elite (currently, Keyword Elite is the only program which offers this option, to the best of my knowledge).

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. What is your idea of a ‘competitive’ keyword? I did a couple searches using the suggestions you made and found that some keywords I optimized had as few as 700 competitors, but many had over 50,000. What are your thoughts?

  2. Good tip by Moshe. Hadn’t considered that type of Google search query before. Guess my blog needs some investigative spy work. :)

  3. Hello Dustin,

    The idea of using inanchor/intitle is simply to help us weed through large keyword lists. For instance, imagine if you have built a keyword list of several thousand keywords. Ideally you should analyze each and every keyword by looking at the top 5 – 10 results in the major search engine and seeing how well they are optimized for the keyword in question. That, however, is not usually realistic, so it is helpful to have some sort of means whereby you can decide which keywords to analyze first, which ones second and which ones to leave off for a later time. I find that intitle/inanchor is currently the best means of doing that in that it gives you a sense of how many sites you are competing against. From there I infer the level of real competition. Of course, given that there are MANY more factors which determine the search engine rankings this method is not perfect and it is not at all unreasonable to find that at times it will be easier to rank well for a keyword with 50,000 “competitors” than it is for one with 1,000 “competitors”. In other words, inanchor/intitle search is a helpful tool in certain situations, but it is not sufficient in and of itself as a means of fully analyze the competitiveness of a keyword.

    For more information, see my tutorial How To Analyze Your Keyword List.

    Hope that helps.

    All the best,


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