You may have noticed in a recent Keysearch update we are now showing the number of search results when checking the keyword difficulty.
This has always been a factor in our algorithm and now we’ve made it easy to see. The question though is what type of attention and importance should you place on this number?
Well, let’s start with some history. A few years back many SEO’s swore that you could judge the difficulty of a keyword by using the allintitle: search operator. If a keyword came back with very few results, then you knew it was easy to rank. Even if searching the keyword without the allintitle: operator showed many results. I never thought this was a great way to judge difficulty but I will admit a few years ago it was a decent technique.
These days though, search engines have gotten much better. For example, search for some long-tail keyword phrases. You’ll notice many of the first page results don’t even include all of the words in the keyword phrase on the first page. Google has gotten very smart. They know the meaning and relations of words and phrases. So worrying about how many results show up for the exact keywords you are searching with allintitle: is just an out-dated method. With that said though, we still believe that the number of results does hold some weight when it comes to keyword difficulty. We just don’t worry about any search operators like the allintitle:
How Our Algorithm Sees Number of Results
What we’ve found is that the number of results can definitely help us figure out if a keyword is fairly easy to rank. If a keyword has a weak to moderate top results, and the amount of results is very low you’ll have a much better chance of pushing yourself onto the first page than a similar keyword with a lot of competing results. It also helps us better understand whether those first page results are just there because Google needs something to show, or whether Google actually finds these top 10 results very relevant to the search query.
On the other end though, the amount of results does not really help us determine if a keyword is very difficult to rank. There are many easy keywords with tons of results competing for the keyword. I know that may sound confusing so let me clarify all of this so that it makes a bit more sense.
If the number of results is low it’s usually a good indicator that there is very little competition for a keyword. If the number of results is high it doesn’t really mean much for the competition. We factor it in a bit when the number of results gets high but not as much as we factor it in when the results are low.
You may find certain keywords that have an extremely low number of results. Sometimes less than 5000 and even times under 1000. If you are lucky enough to come across a keyword in your niche that has some search volume with such a little amount of competing results then GO FOR IT NOW! With these type of keywords, you can usually rank very quickly as long as the first page result URL’s aren’t insanely competitive. Most keywords with results this low will not usually have tough competition on the first page.
A Good Indicator For Local
The number of results can also be really helpful when eyeing up the competition for local keywords. This is because the number of results is usually much lower for local keywords. If you have a few keywords that are all very similar in difficulty, the number of results may give you a little better insight as to which ones will be slightly easier to get onto the first page. All else being equal if the number of results is less than I’d go for the keywords with lower competing results.
Although keeping an eye on the number of results can help in some situations, the majority of situations they aren’t much of a factor. Maybe just in a tiebreaker sort of situation. So don’t get too hung up on the result count, but if you find a gem remember to GO FOR IT!