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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Check out the Competition

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After you have determined that there is adequate demand for your category, it’s time to evaluate the competition. There are two methods that I use to evaluate the competition.

Method 1 - Check the Competition in Paid Search Listings

One of the best ways to check out the competition is to review the paid search listings in the top search engines (Google, Yahoo, and MSN). Paid search listings appear at the top and the right side of the search results page. They’re generally marked “Sponsored Results”.

To check out the competition in the paid search listings, take the keyword list that you used to evaluate the demand for your category and enter these same keywords into the respective search engines.

Yahoo Paid Search Example:

Yahoo offers one of the most helpful tools for evaluating the competition. Yahoo has developed the View Bids Tool (http://tinyurl.com/6pg2a), which allow to perceive the bid (price per click), and the position
for all of the advertisers for a keyword.

Let’s use the keyword “slr camera” from our previous example.

Figure 2.2.3.a Yahoo View Bids Tool


To keep this page short, I only displayed the top 3 advertisers bidding on this keyword. There were actually a total of 29 advertisers bidding on this keyword. Their bids ranged from $0.10 cents to $0.44 cents per click. As you can tell this is a somewhat competitive keyword. The bids aren’t especially high because it’s a generic keyword, but there are a lot of competitors.

If you do a more specific search, you will find that there are less competitors. Now do a search for “EOS Rebel T2”. This is a specific camera that is made by Canon.

Figure 2.2.3.b Yahoo View Bids Tool


In this example there are only 10 competitors, and their bids range from $0.10 cents to $0.54 cents. This is a more specific keyword, so it doesn’t get as much search volume as “slr camera”, but it is a better keyword because it’s more specific.

After performing a few searches, you will begin to understand who some of the competitors are, what they are bidding, and some of the strategies they are using to promote their websites.

Google Paid Search Example:

In order to try this next example, you will need to have a Google AdWords account. If you don’t have a Google AdWords account follow along anyway. Later, you can sign up at https://adwords.google.com/select/. The Google AdWords signup takes less than 5 minutes, and requires a $5 deposit, which will be applied to your advertising campaigns.

The Google AdWords Keyword Tool is very useful for evaluating the competition on Google. The tool can be found at https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordTool. As I mentioned earlier, you must be logged into your Google AdWords account to use this tool.

To be consistent, let’s go ahead and use the keyword “slr camera” for our next example:

Figure 2.2.3.c Google Keywords Tool


This screenshot shows related keywords, advertiser competition, and search volume. As you can see, the generic keywords have more competition and higher search volume, while the more specific keywords have less competition, and less search volume. There is definitely a great deal of opportunity with some of the low-volume keywords related to digital cameras.
What You Need to Look for When Sizing up the Competition in Paid Search

  • What keywords have the most competition?
  • What keywords have the least competition?
  • What keywords have the highest bid prices (Yahoo only)
  • What keywords have the lowest bid prices (Yahoo only)
  • How many competitors are showing up for various keyword searches (Yahoo only)
  • Which competitors are showing up consistently during your keyword searches?
  • What types of competitors are showing up for your keyword searches? Are they manufactures, resellers, or affiliates?
  • Do you notice any strengths or weaknesses in your competitors?
  • Can you find any hidden opportunities in this category?
Method 2 - Check the Competition in the Natural Search Listings

In addition to evaluating the competition through the paid search listings, it’s also a good idea to see which competitors are showing up in the natural search listings. Advertisers cannot pay to be at the top of the natural search listings.
Natural search listings are determined by the search engine’s own algorithms. Natural search listings appear in the main body of the search results page.

Don’t be worried, but there are available to be a lot more outcome viewing up in the natural search listing than paid search listings. This is because the search engines are obtainable to show every web page that mention the keyword that you have typed in, as well as blogs, forums, classifieds and other non-commercial outcome. Mainly of these websites will not be opposing straight with you, so don’t be unsettled by the number of outcome return.

Google Natural Search Example:

To determine how many pages are showing up in the natural search listings, all you need to do is type your keywords into the search box of your favorite search engine. If your keyword contains more than one word, you should place the entire keyword in quotes(“”). See the Google example below:

Figure 2.2.3.d Google Search Results Page


This example shows nearly 6.9 million results being returned for the keyword “slr camera”. This is a very competitive keyword in the natural search listings. Clearly there is a lot of interest in “slr camera”.

Now let’s do a search for the keyword “EOS Rebel T2”, which is the Canon SLR camera we used in our previous example:

Figure 2.2.3.e Google Search Results Page


This example shows only 182,000 results. That’s only 9% of the results that were displayed for the more generic keyword “slr camera”. Just as I had pointed out earlier in the paid search example, there is less competition for more specific keywords.

What You Need to Look for When Sizing-Up the Competition in Natural Search

  • How many results are returned for each keyword?
  • Which keywords display the most results?
  • Which keywords display the least results?
  • Do you see any competitors that are consistently showing
    up for your keywords?
  • What types of competitors are showing up for your keyword
    searches? Are they manufactures, resellers, or affiliates?
At this point you are just trying to get a feel for the competition. Don’t be intimidated when you do a search for one of your keywords and it returns 182,000 results in the natural search listings. This DOES NOT mean there are 182,000 competitors jockeying for top position in the search engines. It just means the keyword is mentioned in that many places on the web.

Advanced Tip:

Another way to determine how many competitors you have, is to search for
your keyword with Google’s allintitle operator (allintitle:”keyword”). The
allintitle operator will tell you how many web pages use your keywords in their
page’s title tag. The title tag is commonly used to optimize a web page for
a particular keyword. For example, let’s do a search for EOS Rebel T2 using the allintitle operator. This search returns only 995 results. This number more closely represents
the number of competitors you may have.

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