A lot of people have asked me how difficult it would be to rank a website in a certain niche. It always depends on several factors. What I normally do is take a look at some of the major searches that I would try to rank for and analyze the top 10 results. Here is a list of the things I consider when deciding what it would take to rank in the top 10.
Domain authority (DA)is a great indicator of the power and trust of a domain and is a good proxy for deciding how well a website should rank. All other things considered, if website A has a 40 and website B has a DA of 35, website A should outrank website B. There are ways to boost your domain authority, but that discussion will be had in other blog posts.
A lot of times you will see big DA sites like Yelp and Amazon show up on the 1st page for certain searches. Most of the time the sites will have a Page Authority of 1. This is another metric produced by Moz that indicates how well they think a certain page will rank. The fact that Yelp shows up on the 1st page with a PA of 1 shows you just how important domain authority is for ranking well. However, if I see a high DA site with a PA of 1, I know that I can still beat it in the rankings.
If two sites have a similar DA, then the higher PA should win out, all other things aside.
You can tell pretty quickly how well optimized the competition is. I look at the URL structure, title tag, header tags, content, etc. If I don’t see a lot of good optimization, I’ll know that I have a good shot at beating those sites in the rankings (provided the DA of the site isn’t too high).
Quantity of Content
If I really want to dig into the situation, I’ll see how many pages of content each site has. If a site has 5 pages of content total versus a site that has 500 pages, generally Google will view the 500 page site as a bigger authority on the topic. Doing this also gives me a decent idea of how many pages I can expect to need in order to rank well.
I will probably talk about the importance of website structure in a different blog post, but I generally see if a site has good inner-linking and a logical structure that is Google-friendly. If it doesn’t, I’ll know that it will be that much easier to beat the site in the rankings, all other things held constant.
Combining Everything Together
All of these individual factors need to be considered together. For example, a site with a very high DA can get away with having poor on-site optimization and still rank well. A site with perfect on-site optimization and lower DA can still rank well too. You have to consider all these factors as a whole to really tell how hard it will be to rank.
That’s a brief overview of what I do to analyze SEO competition. It’s not a perfect science, as there are so many factors that play into how easy it will be to rank (domain age, for example, is another factor you could look into). Hopefully this helps!