It’s one of the most common questions we get asked here at Searcharoo.
And while we can’t guarantee any specific number, whether it’s about the links you’ll need or the rankings you’ll get, we still want to see your sites get insane results.
If you get good results, we get better business. Everybody wins!
That’s why we want to show you the process we use for site competitor analysis on a specific niche to understand better what we can achieve with the budget our clients agree to.
So, we’ll cover the most important aspects of relevance, competitor analysis and apply all of that to some examples.
We must clear something before we begin
Table of Contents
The focus here is on improving ranks in a given SERP so that site traffic will become secondary. Fluctuations can be heavily influenced by the keyword you are ranking for currently.
That doesn’t mean your traffic can’t improve by following the right analysis process and implementing changes.
With that out of the way, if your site’s rank has decreased, the first thing you need to do is analyse the keyword you’re going after and the page you’re trying to rank for said keyword. Doing this allows you to know where your site currently stands in that SERP.
How? By checking how many referring domains you have linking to your domain and how many to the page you’re trying to rank.
Then you take a look at what RD’s your competitor’s domain and specific page have. And by competitors, we mean a site with the same or similar levels of domain relevance to your niche.
The goal is to check if your site should have been ranking for that SERP in the first place and evaluate the reason behind your site’s decrease, such as the SERP slightly shifting towards authority over relevance or vice versa.
Evaluating the SERP helps you abandon the wrong notion that your site should rank just because it once did.
Relevance and Authority
Relevance is the value that states the usefulness and thematic similarity when ranking for a specific keyword—a SERP’s signal for individual links and domain to determine your site’s traffic relevancy.
For this guide, we’re focusing on domain relevance and not individual links.
Authority refers to the number and rank power of the referring domains a site’s domain or a specific page has compared with the domain of competitors and their specific pages ranking for the same keyword or niche.
TL, DR: Relevance and Authority are the main pillars of SEO. This brings us to the main things we keep in mind when analysing:
Domain relevance when compared to a competitor of a specific SERP.
- Domain authority (RD’s to your site) compared to a competitor ranking on the position you want.
- Page authority (RD’s to a specific page) compared to a competitor ranking on the position you want.
Site Ranking Difficulty
Ranking Difficulty is inextricably tied to the main pillars of ranking sites from a SERP’s perspective.
So, you already know that relevance and authority are the main things that go into what makes a site rank. Combining these two things helps a search engine establish a score on each of your site’s links based on how high your authority and relevance are.
The better you understand how a search engine favours these signals, you’ll better understand your site’s ranking difficulty versus its competitors and how much you’ll need to improve these two metrics to climb the SERP.
You might have lower RD’s than a site but a higher domain relevance in, or you might have higher authority, but you’re going up against more topically relevant competitors.
You need to measure and tip the scales of these two aspects of your SEO so you can climb your way through the SERP.
Finding & Analysing Competitor Sites
Finding competitor sites essentially means looking for a site as or similarly relevant to a specific keyword as ours. This helps us compare apples to apples regarding relevance and focus on just the authority side of things.
Now, on to the example.
Let’s say our target keyword is “Best wet dog food”, and our domain name is dogfoodadvisor.com. This would give our site a one keyword relevance for this term in our domain name.
So, we load up the imaginary Google SERPs for this example, and lo, and behold our top 3 results:
- walmart.com/dog-food (general website)
- dogloversdigest.com (keyword relevant)
- wellpet.org (category relevant)
Then we compare our site to the only keyword-relevant site in the results (dogloversdigest.com) since comparing it to walmart.com or wellpet.org isn’t give us an effective comparison.
Why? Well, since our site will have higher relevance due to our domain name, even if the others have higher authority, we won’t be able to compare links to links effectively. This can work both ways, meaning that even if we have a single keyword relevance in our domain, other sites can have a higher keyword relevance than ours
For instance, result No. 4 could be an exact match domain, bestwetdogfood.com. And since they have more keywords and topical authority regarding this SERP than our site, they would need much less authority to compete.
Time to apply all we have learned
The first step is understanding the exact keyword we’re ranking for and seeing what results from Google are shown while keeping in mind our overall domain RDs and specific page RDs.
After this, we look for the closest ‘competitor sites’ ranking on the first page to compare against our site and better understand its current standing.
For this, let’s revisit the “Best wet dog food” example.
We have our imaginary site: dogfoodadvisor.com – which has 0 links to the target page you’re interested in ranking for (dogfoodadvisor.com /best-wet-dog-food) and a total of 400 referring domains linking to your site.
Top 3 results in google:
- walmart.com/dog-food (general website) – a total of 6.7M RDs linking to the domain – 0 to the specific page.
- dogloversdigest.com (keyword relevant) – a total of 200 RDs linking to the domain – 6 to the specific page.
- wellpet.org (category relevant) – a total of 1000 RDs linking to the domain – 0 to the specific page.
What do we do to improve our ranking?
Let’s look for our competitor site (dogloversdigest.com). We’ll notice that we have the same site keyword relevance, higher domain authority but lower page authority. Our competitor site currently has six links to their inner page, while we haven’t built any yet.
Improving our ranking in this SERP is very simple; we can beat them with a few links to our internal page. Since we have the advantage in our higher domain authority, we don’t even have to build more links than them; six will be more than enough.
What do you need to do to improve your SERP’s ranking? The most important thing is to understand if you need page power, root authority, or a mix of both, and THAT will help you determine how many links you will need to rank higher.
Go deeper than what we have detailed here and understand how good your competitors’ links are by analysing them individually. This will give you a clear view of the SERP and the info you need to have the whole picture to improve your rankings for the keyword you are going after.
So, we hope this helps you and gives you an honest, transparent, and conclusive answer on how many links you’ll need!
If you still have questions, send us an email or hit that free strategy call button down there and we will help you out and get back to you.
Database Management & New Link Acquisition at Searcharoo. Also, self-taught content creator, community manager, and marketing researcher/reviewer, savvy in SEO, product marketing and brand conceptualization, social media and communication campaigns.