While optimization techniques can boost your rank in the search engines, this doesn’t make much of a difference if they keywords you’re going after aren’t worth the effort. This is why you need to employ a competitive Keyword Opposition to Benefit analysis (competitive KOB analysis).

The two questions you should be asking yourself before you both trying to rank for any given keyword are:

How Strong is the Opposition? – Is the competition beatable? How much work would it take to rank well for the keyword based on the strength of your competition?

What is the Benefit of the Keyword? – Is the keyword popular enough that it will be worth your efforts to rank for it? Does it attract the kind of visitors you are looking for?

If you could answer these questions definitively you would never waste time on a keyword that wasn’t worth the effort, and you would quickly become an influential presence on the web. While definitive answers aren’t possible with today’s tools, competitive KOB analysis does make it possible for you narrow down your choices and reduce waste.

Measuring Competition

How can you size up your competitors? Use the following tactics.

  • PageRank – The importance of PageRank to the Google algorithm is evidently on its way out, but it is one of the few signals of authority that the search engine is willing to share.
  • Link Analysis – How many people are linking to the site, and how quickly have the links accumulated? Would you be able to accumulate a similar number of links in the same amount of time, and would they be of the same quality?
  • Common Sense – Can you genuinely provide better value than your competitors, or at least provide value to a different kind of audience?
  • Traffic – Alexa’s traffic ranking system is far from perfect, but it can give you an idea of the genuine popularity of the site.

Measuring Value

Visit the Google AdWords Keyword tool and multiply the amount of exact searches by the average cost per click of advertisements for that keyword. This should give you an idea of the relative values of keywords.

Deciding exactly which keywords to go after is still a process that will require some experimentation and a willingness to let go of the keywords that aren’t gaining traction. For more quantitative analysis, you will most likely need to rely on website audit services that have more tools under their belt. Website audit services have the experience with the industry necessary to save you a great deal of time.