Step 3: Check out the competition
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The next step involves checking out the competition. This is probably going to be the most time consuming part of the process but the more you do this, the quicker the process will become so stick at it.
‘Checking out the competition’ means determining whether each of the products you have chosen are ones that you can easily rank for in Google. Your goal is to get your product reviews on the first page of Google for all of the keywords in your list but if there are too many other strong websites trying to do the same thing then it will be a lot harder for you to compete.
Now there are a few ways to do this and what you read here may be contrary to a lot of other methods being touted out there but this is how we do it and it’s what works for us.
Firstly, we don’t use quotes around our keywords in Google search to determine the number of competing websites. In fact, we don’t really care about the NUMBER of competing websites. We are really only interested in those websites on the first page of Google for our keyword phrases. They are the websites we want to beat so we’re not concerned about the thousands or millions of other websites on page 2 and onwards.
Let’s use our Panasonic drill keywords as an example of how we go about this. If I take one of the keywords on our list ‘Panasonic ey6432gqke’ and type that into a Google search I will end up with the following results:
The first three websites displayed are the sites you want to beat to get into one of those top three positions in Google for the keyword phrase “Panasonic ey6432gqkw”.
So let’s take the first link on that page which is a link to Amazon and is coincidentally a link to the product we want to promote.
Now you might think that Amazon would be tough to compete with but I can tell you now that we easily outrank Amazon for a lot of keywords. They are not that difficult to beat.
I now click on that link…
…which takes me to the Amazon website where I copy the URL at the top of the screen.
Then I head over to www.yahoo.com and paste that URL into the search field and in front of that URL I type in the word ‘link’ with a colon after it so it looks like this:
link: http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-EY6432GQKW-15-6-Volt-2-Inch- Cordless/dp/B00009KDGX
Using the word ‘link:’ in the search field before the URL gives us the number of websites that are linking to that Amazon page.
The reason we want to know the number of websites linking to this Amazon page is that Google ranks pages in their
search engine based on a number of criteria one of which is the number of links (also called backlinks, inlinks or backward links) that are pointing to that page.
Google thinks that if a lot of quality websites are linking to a page of content, then that page of content must be important so they rank it higher in their search results.
Once I hit the ‘Web Search’ button I get the following results:
As you can see the results are showing 700 links coming into that page. So there are 700 websites (or more specifically web pages) linking to that Amazon page. That on its own looks like quite a lot but what those results are showing are the links coming into that page from both external and internal websites.
In other words, Amazon has linked to that page from other pages on its own site – these are called internal links. What we really want to see are the links coming in from external websites only as these types of links carry more weight than internal links.
To see the external links only, we select ‘Except from this domain’ from the Show Inlinks drop down box (see image below).
Now this is looking a bit better with only 9 links displaying. This means that only 9 other external web pages on the internet are linking to that Amazon page. That’s great news! The less links pointing to that page the better as it means we will have less work to do to match that or beat it.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves because those 9 links might look easy to beat but it’s all about the quality of the links rather than quantity. It’s not just a matter of getting 10 external web pages linking to our web page for us to beat them into that number 1 position…that would be nice, but unfortunately it’s not that easy.
Those 9 websites linking to that Amazon page might be poor quality websites or they might be strong solid sites and the stronger those websites are then the stronger that Amazon page will be and the harder it will be to beat them.
Now let’s just stop for a minute here as some of you may be feeling a bit confused at this point…that’s understandable. Google uses a number of criteria to rank pages in their search engine and unfortunately nobody really knows exactly what that is, which makes it confusing for everyone.
The main thing to remember is that one of the most important criteria for ranking a page of content on a website is the backlinks coming into that page. Google assumes that if other websites are linking to that page then it must be important so it ranks that page higher than others in the search engine. So if you have really strong websites linking to your page then that is much better than the number of websites linking to that page.
Quality is always better than quantity.
So let’s get back to our example…
We now need to see if those 9 websites are strong sites. How do we do that? Well there are two ways to do this – one is a long convoluted way which would take us forever but probably would be a lot more accurate. The other is a quick and easy way that isn’t as accurate but gives us a basic idea. Don’t ask me how to do it the ‘long convoluted’ way because I’ve never bothered with that method. I am not one for making things more difficult than they need to be so I always choose the easy way and it is the one I am going to share with you here.
What I use is the Google pagerank toolbar as my gauge. If you don’t have this on your computer you can download it from here. Make sure you enable the pagerank so that it displays on the toolbar. To do this, just click the little spanner looking icon on the toolbar once you’ve downloaded it and select the Tools menu option….you should see a checkbox in there for Pagerank (see image below).
Google pagerank is not something you want to treat as gospel. We just use it simply to give us a basic idea of the strength of a website. If you have the Google pagerank loaded take a look at the pagerank of www.google.com for instance.
If you hold your cursor over the little green bar you will get a little pop-up that shows the pagerank of that page. Google has a pagerank of 10 (see image below).
That is the best pagerank you can possibly get and shows an extremely strong site. Most websites have pageranks that range from around zero to a six with six being very strong.
So basically, the higher the pagerank the better.
Now we need to take each of those 9 web pages and determine their pagerank.
To do this we take the first URL from our list on Yahoo and type it into the Google search to bring up the page.
This one is interesting. The URL is http://amzn.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=561138 . It looks like another version of the Amazon website…perhaps a mirror site. It doesn’t matter really as all we are interested in is the pagerank which when I hold my cursor over the pagerank bar I see that the current page is not ranked by Google. That’s good news – Google doesn’t even recognize it as having pagerank.
Now let’s try the second url.
Again we are directed to the Amazon site and we have another pagerank that is not recognized by Google.
In fact, as I move down my list 8 of the 9 sites are the Amazon site itself and none of those 8 pages have any pagerank. Excellent news! And the final website when I check it has a pagerank of zero.
This is great! We could easily beat this Amazon page and get into that top position simply by getting some good quality backlinks to our own review page. We’ll go into more detail on how to do this further in this ebook.
Once we have completed this exercise we need to move on to another keyword in our list and go the through the whole process again. Yes, it’s a lot of work but keep thinking of that recurring income. Do the work once and sit back and reap the rewards.
For this exercise we are only went through the first search result but you would also need to go through the same steps for the other 2 websites in the top 3. And personally, if they look too competitive I would look at positions 4 to 10 as well as you can still get some nice traffic from being in any of those other spots.
Fortunately, this example only had 9 web pages to check for pagerank. However, you may come across ones that have hundreds of websites that you need to check. So do you go through each of those hundreds of websites to check out their page rank? Seems like a lot of work doesn’t it?…I’m not going to lie to you, it is.
But there are easier ways. You can use tools like Mass Pagerank for instance – http://www.masspagerank.com/. This is a free tool that allows you to check the pagerank of up to 50 website urls at a time. I am sure there are others that do a similar job, simply have a search around in Google.
So What Does This All Mean?
Just remember that your ultimate goal with this step is to see if you can get your own product review page into one of those top 3 spots in Google for a variety of different keywords. So let’s look at it this way:
- If those 9 sites we just found all had pageranks of 6 (indicating very strong sites) then I would know that it would take a heap of work to beat that Amazon page for that keyword.
- If they all had page ranks of 2 or 3 then I know it might take a little work but I know I could beat them.
- If they had a combination of high pageranks of 5 and 6 and low pageranks of 1 or 2 then it might be tough but doable.
- If none of those nine have any pagerank (which is the case with our example) then I would go ‘Woohoo, I can beat this easily!’