Check keyword competition with Google

So you want your web page to appear at the top of Google results. Yes, we all want that, it means lots of free traffic! However, it is not an easy task. There are many variables involved. One of them is the number of pages that have the same keywords as yours. In other words, the more pages that target your keyword phrases, the harder it is for your article to appear on the first page of Google results. Therefore, good keyword research is the key to success. Unfortunately, the best keyword research tools out there are expensive for those just starting their online business. In this article, I’ll show you how to search for keywords using the Google Keyword Planner and assess the competition using the Google search box.

get the real numbers

When you search for something on Google, the search engine is not able to display all the results on a single page. Even if you did, it would be very awkward for you to scroll through so many results. We tend to look at the first few results and ignore the rest, unless we can’t find the answer we’re looking for. In that case, we look further down or refine our search terms. But I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t read every single one of the 102,234 results available! That is why everyone competes for the first places, otherwise your page will be buried where no one will find it.

Google faces a big challenge, that is, deciding which pages are most relevant to the user. If Google starts showing garbage to its users, soon, no one would use Google anymore. I think Google is doing a wonderful job ranking content and showing the most relevant and authoritative. Of course I’d love to see my page ranked number 1, but I think it’s only fair that a better and more relevant page should rank there.

Sorry, I love to talk. Let’s see what happens when we do a Google search. I’m going to choose a key phrase that I think will give me very few results: “how to draw monkey faces”. I’ll enter the phrase in the Google search box to see what I get. Note that I’m putting the phrase in quotes, because I want to find pages that contain that exact phrase. At the top of the page you can find the following information:

Approximately 1500 results (0.53 seconds)

I really don’t think there are 1500 pages that contain the exact phrase “how to draw monkey faces”. This is just a very bad estimate given to you, because the search engine won’t go through all the pages to give you the exact count. At the bottom of the page in this particular example, there are only 3 pages, which means that there are less than 30 results available. That’s because each page has 10 results, 3 x 10 = 30.

You can confirm this behavior by going to the last page. Now, you can see, the following information appears at the top of the page:

Page 3 of 22 results (0.41 seconds)

Wow, only 22 results. As you can see, it would be quite easy to write a page that gets ranked #1 because there are very few competing pages for this particular keyword. Of course, you would have to check if there are people searching for this phrase, otherwise it wouldn’t be worth the effort. Most of the time we have more than 10 pages of results. It would take a long time to find the last page to find the exact count. But here is a shortcut. Write the following code in the url box (not the Google search box):

https://www.google.com/search?pws=0&as_epq=how+to+draw+monkey+faces&start=990

Notice most of the signs between the words. The &start parameter indicates Google’s display results starting at element 990. Because there are fewer than 990 results, Google will give you the last page with the exact result count at the top. Google never shows more than 1000 results. And this is how you would check the competition for that particular keyword.

Manual keyword research step by step

So now you may be wondering how to apply this technique in a real world situation. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Get keyword ideas from the Ad-words Keyword Planner tool. It is free and very easy to use. Go to ad-words > Tools > Keyword Planner > Search for new keyword and ad group ideas. After you get the results, go to the Keyword Ideas tab. Choose keywords that have between 50 and 300 monthly searches if you are a beginner.
  2. Using the code provided above, get the exact result count for each keyword you found with Keyword Planner. Stay with keywords that are below 100 results, that is, 10 pages.

These numbers may seem too low to some marketers. A lot of people don’t care about low-traffic keywords. But think about it, it’s better to rank #1 for multiple keywords than to have no traffic at all. Of course, you would need to target a lot of those low competition phrases. If you are just starting out, this is the best way to achieve success. You’ll find that plenty of small successes here and there will keep you motivated. Frustration and failure at the beginning is what makes internet marketers quit. When you get better at that, you can go for more difficult keywords.

In summary

We have learned how to use Google search to check keyword competition. I recommend sticking with keywords with monthly searches between 50 and 300 and less than 100 competing pages if you’re a beginner. You can always try more challenging keywords once you get the basics down. I hope you enjoyed this article and I look forward to hearing your success stories.

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