How I Analyze the Google Competition – Video!

Yesterday, I made a brief video that showed the keyword generation function of my new software Long Tail Pro.  You can watch that video here.  Today, I made a follow up video to look at some of the keywords that were generated and to walk through how I analyze the Google competition for those keywords.  This is the exact process that I use to find low competition keywords.

As you are all probably aware, I have about 200 websites and make a full-time living from Google Adsense on these niche websites.  I simply say that because I have been doing this for a long time, and I have seen a lot of financial rewards from the analysis that I have done on various keywords.  This step of keyword research is BY FAR the most important factor for doing well with niche websites.  WAY more important than link building in my opinion.

So, I really feel like this video can be beneficial to many of you as I discuss exactly what I am thinking, and what I am looking at when I analyze the top 10 results in Google.  This is a pattern that you can follow as you do your own analysis.

In the video, you will see me using one of the features of Long Tail Pro – the competitor analysis function.  This makes it quick and easy to pull in the most important ranking factors including Titles, URLs, site age, Page Rank, Total links, links to the page, and much more of the top 10 sites in Google.  I do my best to verbally and visually show exactly how I am looking at these factors and what is helping me make a final decision.

In the video, I actually find 3 potential keywords that someone could build a niche website on!  So, check it out – I don’t think you will be disappointed.

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And of course, as stated yesterday – Long Tail Pro is available for purchase right here.  Its still technically in beta – so you can get it at a discounted price.  Although, as I have shown in the videos the software is fully functional.

Overall, whether or not you ever use Long Tail Pro I hope you will find these past couple of videos useful.  I go over the exact criteria I use to find low competition keywords and hopefully you can replicate the process on your own after watching this video.

If you have any questions or comments – I encourage you to leave them below!

Search Engine Optimization

By Spencer Haws
October 31, 2014 | 62 Comments

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That’s really useful Spencer as it is something that has so many variables so very useful and going to look at that in a few mins … I was thinking at some point it may be good to have a competition … find a really easy to rank keyword but one with no real financial reward and run a comp to see who can build a site (or single page) that ranks the highest by a certain date .. could be fun … or not 🙂


Sounds like an interesting competition!


I just wanted to add that I’ve noticed my gadget and tech related sites have horrible click through rates even with the same site template compared to other niches.(1-3 clicks for 1,200 page views)

So, even if the keyword has a low competition, high search volume and high cpc, the techie visitors don’t seem to be adsense clickers (in my experience).


Its certainly true that certain types of keywords get better CTRs than others.

Patric H

I have experienced similar to this in the past as well. What I found is that the more tech savvy web searchers usually can spot ads a lot easier and many of them use an ad blocker in their browser as well. So a lot of them never even see the ads in the first place.

The further away you get from savvy searchers the more clicks you will get. If you are trying to monetize a tech related site, run an advert that is super targeted to the searchers and that will benefit them, then you will get some clicks.

[email protected]

I now get it. Some people dwell on just the number one result, but you have made it clear to me that I look at the top ten. That has opened my eyes.


yes, I definitely look at the entire first page. I’m looking for clues that will let me know I could rank well.

Patric H

Hey Spencer,

First of all, I loved the video it was very helpful and gave us kind of an insight into what is going on in your brain as you are doing your keyword research. I do have a few questions for you though, and I think a few other people may benefit from the answers to these as well.

So, for example lets use the keyword “briefcases for men” which was talked about in the video there.

1. I know you touched on it being fairly low competition etc., but if you were running Long Tail Pro looking for a new project, would that particular search term be one that goes off in your head as a “oh I better snap that one up”, or would it be more of a fallback option if you couldn’t find something easier?

2. If the .com, .net and .org are all unavailable for briefcases for men, what would be your very next option in your day to day business? Would you immediately look for a hyphenated version or stick the word reviews on the back or something?

3. What o you see that particular keyword being as far as project length for you personally? I know there are so many variables that go into play here, but when I am looking at a keyword I can and do, usually pinpoint a rough time frame for a keyword. So I might say to myself ahh, I could hit top 10 for that in 2 months give or take, which is usually based on similar competition and my ability to rank a search term. Where are you at with that keyword?



Great questions Patric! I’ll do my best to answer here:
1. I usually go through serious episodes of keyword research. In other words, if I’m using long tail pro – I might do keyword research for a couple of days straight and simply write down all the keywords that I feel have good potential – such as “briefcases for men”. At the end of the 2 days I will look at my list of 10 or 15 keywords and narrow it down to my top 4 or 5 perhaps. So, I rarely snatch up a domain right away – I usually build a list of potential keywords and then narrow it down based on how many websites I want to build that month.
2. If the exact match domain is not available – I will just add a suffix usually. In this case I would go something like:,, or maybe Lots of exact match domains are not available these days – but I still will go after the keyword whether or not the domains are available.
3. I usually estimate about 90 days before I start to see real results on my sites. Obviously with the right keyword and the right promotional methods this could be much quicker. But I kinda use 90 days as my rule of thumb before I really know if the website is going to be a winner. So, in this example – I would slowly build links for about 90 days and then hope to be near the top in Google.

Hope that helps!

Patric H

Yep, that helped a lot and thank you for the answers! Let me drill down on you here in regards to question number 1 again, and its only because I enjoy the analysis! lol

Based on the criteria and competition that was shown on briefcases for men, in your research phase do you think that would make the cut as a top 4 or 5 keyword? Or, is it a little more competitive than you will typically go for?

The reason I am so interested in this particular aspect is because in our conversations before I have seen keywords to me that are like “wow that looks easy” but your response was kind of a “ehh, it looks moderately competitive”. And I know everyone has different opinions of difficulty, but I have a superman complex when it comes to ranking keywords and I am trying to break that “mold” I have created for myself.

So basically, looking at “briefcases for men” in your eyes on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being oh god it doesn’t get any easier than this, where are you at? I see that particular keyword as about a 2 because of the lack of backlinks, etc.

Hopefully, all of the above makes some sort of sense. lol



It might make the cut. I would maybe give it a difficulty of 3 out of 10 simply because it could be easier for a couple of reasons. First, the types of sites in the top 10 could be easier – such as article directories, yahoo answers, forums, etc. If I had more of these types of listings, I would be much more excited about it. Finally, the title competition could be even weaker – although as is only a few of the site are using the exact keyword in the title. So, yes its low competition – but it could certainly be lower! So, this indeed might be a keyword that I would target.


Hey Spencer,
Where do you get pictures for the websites that you create?
I have used pictures off of google images, but don’t want to be violating any copyright violations.

Thanks again for all of the in depth information and videos.


Here is the link to resources:


Another thing to look for is once you have found a keyword which you are pretty sure you can do well for (like I just have) is to pop it into google and see what the quality of the ads are like. I know it will vary depending on location but for eg the one I selected pulls up zero ads and I’ve checked on a site or two for the same keyword which uses adsense and nearly all the ads are rubbish. So although I’m sure I could hit the top ten, there probably isn’t any point … or would you disagree?


I agree. You want to make sure there are advertisers in the market. I go through a similar analysis as you just described. However, another thing to consider is the overall niche you are in (not just the keyword). Some niches will always pay alot – no matter the targeted keyword. Like anything debt or finance related – and many other markets as well. So, that is also something to keep in mind. So, even though no one is targeting to advertise about your keyword of “debt in the jungle”. You site will probably still get lots of well paying ads because advertisers will be targeting “debt” – which you also happen to discuss. Anyway, just some more things to think about…


Yes I agree and for eg a keyword surrounding for eg high blood pressure is likely to pull in related ads such as high cholesterol which is likely to relate to the viewer too . .. sadly this one doesn’t really and would end up with loads of filler ads .. so in the bin it goes 🙂


quick question .. is it an adsense toc to have a contact page on a site or isn’t it necessary ?


I don’t think its required by adsense tos. I always do have a contact page though.

Dave M

Hey Spencer,
Thank you! As always, great info! So how important do you think site age is when considering the top 10 and all factors as a whole? Do you worry with site age when many pages are pr 0 or no pr?

Also, would you lump store pages in with sites like wikipedia as being tackle-able? Say, Best Buy’s product pages were ranking first page but with pr 0 and no page links?


I think site age is important. If you see lots of new sites in the top 10, then chances are that it doesn’t take much to rank well. However, links and content relevancy are more important that site age. I often find store pages to be weak. Wikipedia tends to be a little more difficult. If best buy is in the top 10 with no back links and a pr0 – I can’t see any reason why you can’t outrank them with a little effort.


what if the top 10 results are all the big storefronts: amazon, overstock, toysrus, walmart – would that be a keyword to shy away from?


I should clarify this more – the top 10 meet your competition criteria (low or no backlinks, 0 PR, some results have keyword in title, some don’t) but are all big storefronts. If the competition were not storefronts it would be a no-brainer, I think. But if they are do you think differently?


If they are all big storefronts and are no backlinks, 0 pR, all like you mentioned – I would be excited! This is a LOW competition keyword.


No, not necessarily. Remember Google ranks pages individually. So, if you build like you can build a stronger page than the ranking pages, then go for it – these sites you mentioned can certainly be beaten and often quite easily.

[email protected]

Though I can pick a low competition keywords but after 3 months, the ranking of my blog still not stable, it still experiencing google dance. There are time it goes up to page 1, no4, but 2 days later, it dropped to no.100 or so. What should I do to make the ranking stable?




Every situation is different – so its hard to say. But your rankings should stop jumping around after a little while. If you are doing a lot of link building this can often cause lots of ups and downs. However, Google also is constantly changing how they rank sites which can cause lots of movement. Finally, lots of new sites are constantly created as well which causes some sites to drop in rankings.


I had mini-site dancing for over 6 months until finally settled.


Hi Spence (hope I can call you with this name)… Its a great video and I could understand how you organize your keyword research… These are the doubts that usually pops up in my mind If I see a big site like amazon (a subpage of amazon) or wikipedia… I lose my hope as I feel that they are too difficult to beat… What is your take on this…Are amazon subapges (say a product page) is beatable or should we avoid them!!Also what is your take on TLDs do they really matter ?


Amazon subpages are definitely beatable. Look at the number of links; Page Rank, and other factors I mentioned in the video – just because its called amazon doesn’t mean it can’t be beaten. I always use .com, .net, and .org. I haven’t done enough testing to say whether other TLDs would make a difference.


Are the rankings (1 to 10) displayed in your video different than the actual google search due to the phenonemon stated by david?
I ask because all the keywords you show in your video display different results in … I really want to buy LTP but obviously I need to be sure all results are accurate 🙂


Jim – David mentioned sites jumping around – so yes sometimes rankings change. But believe it or not it is very common for different people to see different rankings (even if looking at the exact same time). This is because Google shows different results based on where you are located, your search history, and other factors. If you are logged into a google account, you will often get very different results than if you are logged in.

So, the results are accurate for Long Tail Pro.


Google data centers are also at play. You search from proxy though to see local results.

Hetal Shah


This is truly useful post and it was totally amazing. I am following niche site hub closely to built my first niche site. So far I have bought my niche site domain and now building content for it.

This Video has help me a lot to judge my niche and domain I have selected. It looks like I have selected right niche after seeing this video (I think so) 🙂

lets hope for the best..
Waiting for other posts of niche website hub eagerly..
Thanks a lot..


Great! I hope you picked a great niche!


Thanks Spencer, great to see how your mind works when looking at keywords.

I must admit I am surprised that seeing root domains in the top 10 isn’t an instant veto of that keyword as that is the impression I had gotten from your previous articles and your niche site challenge blog. I have found a number of keywords with root domains in the top 10 and discounted them immediately even though the root domain might have been weak as I thought it made ranking too tough. It’s good to know that a ranking root domain does have to mean instant death for a keyword. I think I’ve got a few keyword to revisit!

On an entirely unrelated note, what do you do about SPAM comments on your sites? My first niche site has been up for a couple of weeks now (already ranking #16 in Yahoo!) and while it’s not seeing much traffic yet (not that I expect it to) I am getting at least one spam comment a day. It’s annoying to have to admin this so is there any way to stop it?


Rory – I don’t think I ever said that a root domain is an instant “veto” for a keyword. Its just one of the factors. If ALL of the ranking sites are root domains, then chances are its a difficult keyword. But if there are only 2 or 3 root domains, you should dig a little deeper and look at the other factors.

I turn off comments on most of my niche sites – so I don’t have to deal with spam.


In a previous post you had mentioned that you
Make most of your monry from only a small
Portion of your sites. If you have a total of 200
Sites, wouldn’t that make your process rather
Unsuccesful? Say if 20 sites make up your bulk,
that’s would mean that 90% of your sites “fail”.

If you have 200 sites, what’s the content quality
In them. I personally dislike what basically turns
out to be useless content.

I realize I’m being very critical, and obviously
Your method gets you money but I’m not a hater,
Your site is very useful.



Hey Lucy:

I think a critical mind is an active mind – so I actually like the way you are thinking! Everyone should always question whether or not a business model is right for them – so bravo for doing that – seriously.

90% of my sites are definitely not failures. Do my top 20 sites earn a big portion or my money? Yes. But most of my site below my top 20 are STILL profitable. Meaning they make more money than they cost to make. I still have plenty of failed sites for sure. If anything was guaranteed then eveyone would be wealthy (or noone?)

So, is my process unsuccessful? Well, if judged by the normal business worlds definition of success (i.e. profits) then I have to say its extremely successful. Do I have some failures along the way – absolutely. But by and large I have more successes than failures, and the profit margins are very high.


Spencer, I just bought your long tail pro software. I have to say doing so was a mixture of seeing that it is a really useful piece of software. and part of it is my way of saying thanks for this blog and sharing all of the info that you do and responding to all of the questions.
I have certainly gotten more value of it than the cost of the software.
thanks for everything!


Thank you Andrew!


Hey Spencer, like a true IM’r, you got me. I like this blog and I like you – that’s enough to get me to buy your software. Seems to be unavailable at the moment but when you get everything sorted out – I’m in.


Its not available on right but Its available at the link above in the article or right here:


Hi Spencer,
Thanks for the video, another great explanation of your processes. I am currently finishing off some other projects, but have purchased Long Tail Pro and excited about getting some more projects going!


Sounds good Kaz!


Question (open to all) … I think we all agree roughly on the keywords for building sites. But I wonder what people’s thoughts are as to whether it would be a succesful model to go after very low hanging fruit .. say 500 or so local monthly searches and rather than build a website, use either an article directory such as squidoo or alternatively have a multi topic site of your own.

Just thinking because with a site, it takes time to build it and then there’s the domain cost and maybe a bit of hosting. It takes me several hours to build a site but I can rattle off an article in 20 mins or so …

Do you think this would work as a business model?


OR .. have a large website focussing say for eg on Finance (not what I’m thinking of) and then subdivide that into pages relating to Loans, Mortages etc etc




I don’t like the article directory idea (i.e. Panda Update). However, I think a large niche site is a good idea. So, you would just pick a broader niche and then you could write about 1000 different keywords but all related. A few niche examples might be – college scholarships, football, celebrities, ipads, android, starting a business, home repairs, and the list could go on and on. In other words you still should have an overall theme to your site rather than trying to pull off a Squidoo or something similar…


yes .. that’s what I was thinking .. I’ve been writing a lot of copy for a guy for his websites and it’s a high cpc topic so I thought it made sense to build one based on that so I’m going to give that a try .. thinking it will be easier to build links too.

that said I do have a multi topic site which only has around 7 posts so far and it does nearly as well as my mini sites .. early days yet though -)


Don’t forget that this route is about relying on web 2.0 websites and building other people’s business, which means you have no asset and no full control over your account and webpages your content is published on.

Jay Dee

HI Spencer,

Any chance you could provide a breakdown (percentage wise) across your network of sites.

Maybe a nice bar graph or something similar

e.g. out of 200 sites
* top 12% of my sites earn me 70% of my total monthly income
* next 80% earn me 25%
* bottom 8% earn me 5%

I’ve got about 60 sites at the moment. And similar to you, most of monthly income comes from my top x5 sites. I’d be interested to see what your experience is with this.



Jay Dee – I think that’s possible! I will have to look at adding this to one of my future income reports or perhaps just a separate posts. I have had this requested a couple of times – so its certainly on my radar.


i have 108 sites, 80 percent of my income comes from 6 sites -yeah spencer a graph would be great!

Chris Miller

The only problem I see with doing this in LTP (which I own) is that once you do an exact match search, and then click on the keyword for analysis, that screen is NOT doing an exact match search. So the results are skewed.

I’ve tried adding quotes to the term which then pulls up the correct results but keep an eye on that or your research is a mess. 🙂

I friggin LOVE this software though!

Chris Miller

Oh and how the heck can i subscribe to comments on your site, and get notified when someone replies? Can’t keep up with what I have replied to. 🙂


Hi Spencer,
I have a question regarding how you view big online retailers in terms of assessing your competition.

As an example, let’s say I’m looking at a keyword which is a brand name for a type of running shoe, e.g. Nike Rhubarb Shoe (err…before anyone looks it up, I made that up!).

If the top 3-5 competitors are say,,,, etc…even though the actual product pages have 0 or just a couple of backlinks – do you consider this high competition because of the domain age, pagerank, sheer massiveness of these retailers?




Hi Spencer- just following up on my last question regarding how you view competition from large online retailers.


Hi Spencer,
Do you look at Exact Phrase Count when analyzing how competitive a keyword is?
Thanks, Lisa


Is it hard to rank before brand websites.

For example if you want to rank a keyword which is a tool and there is 4 or 5 brand websites with this tool in the first positions but links are very low and pagerank is poor.

And same question for Wikipedia that I see in half of the interesting keywords. Is it easy to rank against this type of site ?


I don’t want to rank with a brand keyword but on some keyword where brand websites are in the first positions.
So I wanted to know if it is harder to rank with this type of sites that have a huge number of pages.


Spencer & Followers,

I’ve been building niche websites using your methods and tools and have had some confusing and mixed results. A handful of what I consider EXCELLENT candidates leave me scratching my head!
For example I have found kws that perfectly filter for emd, url, title, <10 backlinks, low comp PR and etc….. But have found it hard to still get to page 1. Here is an example that seems prime (I'm not going for it but just an ex:, anyone feel free to test it out if you wish it could be a money maker!)
KW: emerald cut engagement rings
CPC $3.84 @ 8100 local searches per/mth
EMD avail: yes – .org (as of posting)
Stats from LTP:
URL's & Titles 50% optimized,
Descp & Kw 0 optimized,
3 No PR's and 1- 0pr on 1st page serp.
6 of top 10 have less than 10 backlinks. 8 have less than 21.
Seems like an ideal kw? Except…..

I always check the emd's that arent' available. Even though they may not be in the top 10 I like to see the effort they put into their sites and possibly why they aren't ranking. For this example-
This site is certainly optimized for the kw, has more back links than most on 1st page results and plenty of content w/ 55 pages indexed.
Any ideas why this site may be so far behind the serp's?
I have a list of 40+ meeting the same criteria, but do to mixed results I'm unsure about targeting them.
I'm open to thoughts, critiques or anything. This could be a great learning experience for all of us.

Spencer Haws

Google’s algorithm is complicated. Even though might have more links, it might have low quality links. 1 good quality link will outrank thousands of low quality links (think Penguin). Also, the content on the site might be over-optimized or poor quality (think Panda). Without looking at each example, this is likely the issues.

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