Keyword Difficulty: How Hard is it to Rank in Google? [3.4]
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#4. How to determine your chances to rank in Google As you can tell.
#4. How to determine your chances to rank in Google As you can tell, analyzing the search traffic potential of your article idea is a very simple and straightforward process. A much bigger challenge is to determine your chances to outrank the existing articles with your own one and get all this traffic to yourself. The truth be told, no one really knows for sure how exactly Google ranks pages in their search results. Google is using hundreds of different ranking factors, and they are mixing them depending on the search query. A lot of people, who are new to SEO, are often looking for some magic tool, that will give them very specific recommendations on what they need to do in order to rank #1. Or even better... a magic tool that will do it for them. But I'm afraid such a tool doesn't exist. For many years Google was pouring billions of dollars into building the most sophisticated search engine on the planet. So there's no way for some third party tool to crack their algorithms and give you the power to effortlessly get your pages to the top. But what we can do is get clues from pages that already rank at the top of Google. We can analyze them from different angles, compare them between each other and make assumptions on why certain pages outrank others. And there are only two sources of information for us: It is The page itself And Links to that page from other websites. I'm going to cover the on-page factors later in this course. So for now let's just assume that all the top 10 ranking pages for your desired keyword are equally awesome. And your own page is no exception. The content of your page is 100% relevant to that search query. It helps searchers with whatever they were searching for. It loads fast. It is optimized for mobile. It provides great user experience and it is visually appealing. And I have a perfect example to illustrate such a situation. Take a look at my guide to keyword research that was published at Ahrefs' Blog. This article is clearly relevant to the topic of keyword research, and I doubt that you need more than two seconds to realize that.
But if you google for "keyword research," our article only ranks #3.
But if you google for "keyword research," our article only ranks #3. While guides from Moz and Backlinko rank #1 and #2 respectively. If you take a look at their articles, each of them has it's pros and cons. So it's really hard to tell if our own article is better or worse than theirs. Especially it is hard to figure out if you're a machine, and not a human being. So why does Google put us at position #3 and puts Moz at position #1? Well, like I mentioned earlier, they may use a ton of different factors, to identify which page deserves to rank higher. For example, guys from Google have recently admitted that they track how users behave after clicking on a certain search result. How long do people stay on that page? Do they close it immediately after visiting? Do they browse deeper into this website? Or do they go back and refine their search, because they didn't find what they wanted? But think about it for a second... In order for Google to measure how people behave after clicking on your page in the search results, that page should somehow rank in the top 10 search results in the first place. So how do you get in the top 10? Links from other websites is what gets you to the front page of Google. You can think of links as votes. When some website links to your page, they are telling Google that out of all pages on the same topic they like your page best. And the more of these votes your page will get, the more Google will respect it. So, as a general rule, the more websites link to your page, the higher it will rank in Google. Now, back to my example. If you examine these search results in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer tool you'll notice that the article from Moz has vastly more backlinks than our own article. It is much shorter and therefore not as deep as our own guide. But the huge number of links tells Google that it must be somehow better nevertheless. That's why they rank #1. But I'm sure you've noticed that this relationship is not linear. I mean some of these pages have more backlinks than our article, but they don't rank above us. Well, like I said, Google is using hundreds of different factors in their ranking algorithms,
And the raw number of linking websites is just one of many.
and the raw number of linking websites is just one of many. But it's a rather strong factor nevertheless. We did a cool research last year across 2 million random search queries. We wanted to study the correlation of different ranking factors with the position of a page in Google. And out of all ranking factors that we have studied, backlink factors had the strongest correlation with Google ranking. Correlation is not causation, of course. But any SEO professional knows that links are uber-important for SEO . If the search results for your desired keyword have links from hundreds of websites, there's a very slim chance that you'll be able to outrank them, unless you get the same number of links to your own page. Let me show you another cool case. Let's look at the search resuts for a keyword "chocolate lab:" What you can immediately notice is three outlier pages with tons of backlinks, that rank among pages with just a few backlinks. And the next thing you notice is that these three pages aren't perfectly relevant to the search query. I mean the other seven pages are clearly about chocolate labradors, you can see that just by looking at their titles. But these other three are about labrador retriever dog breed in general. How come they rank between perfectly relevant pages? That's because they have too many links to ignore them! And if you were attentive, you might have also noticed that these three pages with a ton of backlinks rank for a ton of keywords and generate a ton of search traffic. We didn't study this at scale yet, but I'm pretty sure that the number of links to a page and it's total search traffic are well connected. That is why I always look at the total number of the linking websites to the pages that I want to replicate on my own blog. Remember my document with content ideas? I always put the number of linking websites next to each URL. My goal is to then cherry-pick the content ideas that get the most search traffic with the least backlinks. So I advice you to pause this video and review the content ideas that you have shortlisted so far. Put the URLs of the articles that you want to replicate into Ahrefs' Site Explorer and
Note down the number of referring domains in your document.
note down the number of referring domains in your document. Hopefully they don't have a lot of websites linking to them, so you'll easily get your own article to the top of Google with just a few backlinks. But that was a very simplified look at the concept of keyword difficulty. If you want to dive deeper, I have published a cool article at Ahrefs blog, titled "How to Gauge Keyword Difficulty and Find the Easiest Keywords to Rank for." Which I highly recommend you to read. And before we wrap up this lesson, there's just one last thing left to discuss.
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