Yesterday we discussed how the number of results in the search results and
the number of queries conducted were good ways to determine how complex it will
be to garner high rankings at popular search engines. Today let's look at the
variables of the website that you will be competing with and how their strength
(or lack thereof) plays a role in the difficulty of ranking for specific
keywords. Two very important factors are the age of the domains on the SERPs as
well as their overall link strength.
Age of the Domains: Gone are the days when registering a new website
and appearing a few days later for competitive keywords was possible.
Increasingly, the age of domains is playing a significant part in how well (or
more precisely how quickly) sites will rank for competitive terms and
phrases. If you plan on launching a new site, keep your fingers crossed that
your domain (or the domain you are working on) is at least several years old, or
that you've been aging domains properly the past few years and that you can
leverage one for a specific keyword if necessary. To find out how "aged" the
domain you are competing against actually are, use this
Whois Domain tool or the
Magazine Whois Domain Tool and look for "record created on". That will give
you a good idea of what you are up against when it comes to keyword difficultly
and domain age.
Overall Link Strength: Google has made link building a business in
itself. If you didn't know, there are people in the SEO world whose sole
function is to acquire links from related properties for the purpose of moving a
particular site up in the search results pages. Over time, these link builders
realize that the links they build must be of high quality, for example a link
from Wikipedia and DMOZ are incredibly valuable. As such, the Google PageRank of
websites you are competing against is an important measuring stick in
determining how difficult it will be to generate high rankings. One popular free
way to get a handle on the overall link strength of a site is
MarketLeap, a free tool that
helps web professionals benchmark against other sites when it comes to inbound
link popularity. Website Magazine also has made available a tool to
determine overall link popularity at Google, MSN and Yahoo.