BLOG

Attainable SEO: Page Strength Vs. SERPs Difficulty

By

SEO

linkscape

It’s a sad fact of modern SEO life. You can’t slay a dragon with a sling shot and ya’ can’t rank for for Las Vegas Hotels with a brand spankin’ new domain. Life just doesn’t work that way.  It only makes sense that measuring which keywords a page can reasonably expect to rank for, in this competitive Internet age, is now an essential aspect of keyword research.

With improving accuracy, it is now possible to evaluate SERPs  (search engine results pages) competitiveness for a given keyword, evaluate the strength (and future predicted strength) of the page one wishes to get ranked, and base keyword selection on what is reasonably attainable for that page’s strength.

SERPs Competition & Page Strength
Google has never been willing to provide webmasters with useful measurements of either SERPS competition or page strength. Apparently to do so, would somehow subvert the Google black box mentality, which leaves many SEO ranking factors to speculation. Not revealing the information keeps SEOs from knowing too much about the sacred algorithm, and therefore supposedly makes organic SERPs less vulnerable to manipulation.

Unfortunately PageRank, that elusive pixel green fairy dust, is the best Google gives us. Generally considered obsolete before each Google quarterly update, PR sometimes determines advertising rates, who gets to keep their job and what businesses are ruined based on this crude clue regarding Google’s public expression of respect for any page.

Listening to Matt Cutts, Google’s affable ambassador to the SEM community, talk about PageRank is like listening to Nancy Pelosi explain earmarks. It’s always something like “Don’t worry your pretty little head about it and trust us. We have your best interests at heart.”

Google toolbar PR is best served with lamesauce. It’s better to have toolbar PageRank than not. Still PR observed on the Google toolbar is not always a definitive expression of Google’s respect for a page’s authority. Google just doesn’t want you to know.

Enter LinkScape
SeoMoz’s brazen new flagship LinkScape, seems to be the. best fledgling “open” rank available to measure SERPs competitiveness and page strength. Having crawled over 38 billion URLs across 240 million domains, LinkScape reveals metrics that Google refuses to reveal like domain trust, domain rank and whether links are do or noFollow.

With its index catching up to Yahoo in girth, LinkScape is the anti-Google for SEOs. Ironically the tool  has angered some SEO heavies, because LinkScape lays bare previously hidden link building strategies some SEOs don’t want you to see.

In a weighting an average of Google PR (which can’t be completely ignored) and mozRank, we’ve had good luck determining SERPs competitiveness and page strength with this formula:

  • Turn off personalized search, to the greatest extent possible. SearchWiki is the unfortunate wildcard.
  • Search for a target keyword for evaluation of SERPs competitiveness.
  • Start by averaging the PageRank and mozRank of the top 5 Google organic results, including Universal Search results into an aggregate number. (((Result 1 (PR*.4) + (mR*1.6)) / 2) + ((Result 2 (PR*.4) + (mR*1.6)) / 2) + ((Result 3 (PR*.4) + (mR*1.6)) / 2) + ((Result 4(PR*.4) + (mR*1.6)) / 2) + ((Result 5 (PR*.4) + (mR*1.6))/ 2))) /5 = SERPs Competitiveness Index for the Keyword
  • Not quite enough huh? We feel your pain…try factoring in any other of the reputed 200 (known and black-box) SEO rank attributes.  See what you see and form your best opinion of what PageStrength and SERPs competitiveness works for you.  Mix and match.
  • Compare that 0-10 number with 2 decimal places to the averaged PageRank and mozRank for the Page Strength of the page you’re trying to rank in the SERPs
  • If the page strength is above the Competitiveness index, then the page has a decent shot at ranking.
  • We use various method to predict the future page strength, by evaluating the history of similar pages in the site hierarchy. We’ll save that for another post.

Once we know what keywords have a reasonable chance to rank given SERPs difficulty and page strength, then we can choose SEO targets based on what is attainable. It only makes sense.

SEO Metrics & API Mania
Google’s AdWords API provides access to most functions available the Google Keyword Tool. Rand Fishkin recently announced free LinkScape API. It’s easy to crawl a page to determine phrase density. Connect the dots and you’ll join legions of technical SEOs who are working to evolve SEO into more of a predictable mathematical endeavor.

SEO metrics will replace Google’s purposefully oblique PageRank in time, as third party tools like LinkScape hack ever-deeper in to the Internet’s pathology of trust, authority and citations. Stay tuned.

-->

7 Comments

  1. Karl Foxley on March 8, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    A very interesting post. Thanks for posting the links above, you have given me some interesting avenues of research to pursue… ;)

    Thanks for posting.

    Karl

  2. Dharmesh Shah on March 9, 2009 at 5:07 am

    Great article. It’s nice to see Rand and the SEOmoz folks take on the noble cause of providing an alternative to PageRank.

    In terms of your approach to determining the PageStrength (by averaging PageRank and mozRank), the one challenge here is for pages that don’t have an assigned page rank yet (because the page is now). These pages will generally be assessed as not being able to rank for the given keyword, even though the true PageRank might indicate that they’ve got a shot.

  3. Daphne Talbot on March 9, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Just an fyi…I tried to run a domain url through linkscape and it failed.

  4. Leadsmarketer on March 17, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    How can SEO and a search engine marketing campaign improve Leadsmarketer website position in the search engines? Our marketing and sales department invested a lot of resources in writing all the content for our web site but we just can’t seem to be ranking high enough in the engines, while our competition is on top. Do we have to re-write it all over again?

  5. Marty Weintraub on March 17, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    @Leadsmarketer: There can be many reasons why a site does not attain organic prominence. We suggest you hire a company to audit your SEO and provide instructions regarding how you can work towards better success.

  6. Internet Strategist on April 7, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    I hope you’ll consider additional posts pertaining to best practices related to benchmarking and measuring SERPs. Before business owners can see the wisdom in hiring someone to do this for them they need a better understanding of how it is done and why it is important.

  7. jason on October 24, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    great post – it will be interesting to see what happens when PR goes away

Post a Comment

*

*