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Video 4: Estimating Keyword Competition for Insurance Terms

February 3rd, 2011Posted by akassover in Google, SEO, Videos

Here’s the Keyword Research Spreadsheet I mentioned that will calculate a weighted ranking based on search volume and competition.


Hi, this is Aaron Kassover from AgentMethods.  Yesterday, I talked about how you can use Google’s keyword tool to see how many people are searching for specific search phrase in a month.  That’s a great way to see if a search phrase is going to produce some volume.  There’s another side of the coin, which is how much competition is targeting a search phrase.  So I want to talk to today about some tools you can use to estimate competition to see if, not only does the search phrase have enough volume, but it’s one that you can cut through the competition and rank for.

Obviously, a lot of searches doesn’t mean that you’ll rank, but if you look at the competition and find those keywords that have fewer sites optimizing for them, you have a better chance for success.  For our example, let’s use the phrase Texas health insurance.  Texas is a nice big state.  It has a lot of people.  A lot of people are looking for insurance, obviously.  It gets about 2,400 searches a month for the phrase Texas health insurance.  That’s pretty good.  If we can rank on the first page of Google or Yahoo, we’ll get some pretty decent traffic and we know that they’re looking for what we’re selling, which is health insurance in Texas.

The first thing that you can do is you can go to Google and you can just search for the phrase Texas health insurance.  Just type it into Google, and you’ll see that there are almost 10 million sites that come up.  That’s a lot.  Now just because there are 10 million sites doesn’t mean they are all really about Texas health insurance or actively optimizing themselves for the phrase “Texas health insurance.”  In fact, of those 10 million sites, all Google is saying is there are 10 million web pages that have these words “Texas health insurance” somewhere on them, really in any order; they might be split up apart, and really they are not necessarily optimized for this phrase, and it doesn’t mean that we have 10 million competitors.

The second thing we can do is we can add some quotes around the phrase.  So we can type in Texas health insurance in quotes and do a search for that.  And what we see in the results is that we are now down to about 190,000 sites, which is a pretty big decrease from 10 million.  By putting quotes around a phrase, we’re looking for that exact phrase.  Remember yesterday the ‘Exact Match’ that we did; we’re now looking for pages that actually have the phrase “Texas health insurance” together in that order, somewhere on that page and 190 thousand pages show up.  Doesn’t mean they are still optimized for the phrase “Texas health insurance;” it just means there are a 190 thousand sites out there with this phrase on it somewhere.

What we really care about though is how many sites are actively trying to rank for the phrase “Texas health insurance.”  How many sites are putting this in the right places that tell search engines that this is what their site is about?  So the best way to look for that is on the page’s Title tag.  Title tag is probably the most important part of a website for indicating what the page is about.  The first thing you usually do if you’re optimizing a page for a search phrase is put that exact phrase in the Title tag.

What we can do now is go back to Google and do a search using a qualifier, which is ‘Allintitle’ – Allintitle and then a colon and then again in quotes “Texas health insurance.”  So we do this search and it’s going to go to Google and it’s going to look for how many websites have the exact phrase, this is an exact match “Texas health insurance” in the pages title.  Now, we can see that we’ve gone from 10 million results to 14,700 results, which is a lot less.  It’s still a big number, but it’s much more manageable than 10 million.

Now, some things to keep in mind about this.  The first is that numbers are relative, so if you decide to use Exact Match and quotes or not quotes or if you’re using Yahoo instead of Google, that’s fine.  There’s lot of different ways you can get this data, and you’re going to find that it’s not going to be exactly the same across search engines and if you change the way you do your search, it doesn’t really matter because as long as you’re using the same way to compare keywords, you are using the same relative baseline, and so you can see which ones are more competitive versus less.

The other thing is that not all competitors are strong and not all competitors are weak.  You might find that there are tons, 14,000 competitors, but very few of them are actually doing a very good job optimizing their site.  It could be really easy to rank for a phrase even though there are lots of competitors.  On the flip side, there might be just a few competitors; maybe there’s 10 that have the first page of Google search results who are really hitting it out of the park.  They know exactly what they are doing, they have optimized their site very well, and they are very locked in their spot, and so you might see a small number in competition, but it doesn’t mean that competition is necessarily stronger or weak.

The final thing is that monthly search volume is really more important than competition because a page that has low competition and low search volume will still – while you can get ranked easily, not going to produce much results.  Whereas a page with very high search volume and moderate competition, if you do the work, you’ll see much more benefit.  So when I’m ranking search phrases using search volume and competition, I use a formula that puts more weight on search volume than it does on competition.  And I’m going to link in the comments a spreadsheet I put together where you can just go and type in your search phrases, you can type in the number of searches per month and the number of competitors, and it will do that ranking for you so you can see a weighted average or a weighted number across your keywords.  So you can really see which ones have the best benefit.

With that, you can now go see search volume for phrases and you can go and take a look at the competition.  So go ahead and a few of those phrases that you think you are targeting, do those two things.  Look up the volume, look up the competition, start an Excel spreadsheet to keep a list, so you can really find those hidden gems of keywords that can really produce some great traffic for your site.

That is all for today.  Thanks and I’ll see you again tomorrow.