Analyzing keyword supply and demand figures

Thu Jan 06, 2005 4:30 am

I received an email today from an affiliate who is researching keywords. If you're new to this stuff, you might find my answer helpful.

Here's his question and my answer (expanded a little.) It applies to anyone using SBI or Wordtracker's KEI:

I'm a bit confused about what is a good "supply" vs. "demand" within the SBI program.

Here are the numbers:

Demand: 2,895,763 Supply: 751,000

...Is it possible to win a keyword and rank high in the search engines with numbers like this?

I don't know because those facts aren't enough for me to
be able to tell. You need to do more research.

The way I see things, the demand figure is fascinating. The supply figure
is interesting, but much less useful. All the supply figure tells you is
how many pages on the Internet contain your key phrase. They're not
really your competitors. Most of them have just mentioned the
phrase somewhere. They haven't optimized the page for that phrase.

To find your real competitors, go to Google and type in your phrase.
Try using quotes, and not using quotes. The top 10 sites are your real
competitors. They're the ones you have to outrank.

Now go to and type in your phrase.
This gives you a fast way to find out the PageRank of your top 10

[UPDATE, 2007: The following PageRank checking tool seems to be more reliable:

Another very useful tool to examine potential competitors is the Page Strength Tool

In 2007, Google attacked sites that were selling text links, manually downgrading their visible PageRank. Some innocent sites were affected. So viewing visible PageRank is now less reliable than it used to be.]

For example, if you type in "web hosting" you'll see that there are
a lot of PageRank 8 sites in the top 10.

PageRank is an indication of the number and quality of the sites
which link to yours. To rank well in search engines, you need
links to your site, preferably from sites which have a lot of
sites linking to them. (Do you have any friends who have
sites with high PageRank? If not, start making friends! I'm
not joking.)

The PageRank system is exponential. It's easy to get a PageRank 3,
you have to work to get PageRank 4, it might take your six months
or a year to get PageRank 5 for your main page and you're a serious
marketer if you've achieved PageRank 6.

You might work hard for several years and not achieve a PageRank 8. has a PageRank 6.

Now, before you get depressed by the challenges you face,
consider this...

You don't have just one key phrase in mind when you create
a site. You want a list of dozens of phrases you hope to
rank well for.

A successful website is found in search engines via hundreds
or even thousands of phrases. When you're starting out, it's
quite likely that you will NOT be found by people typing your
main phrase into search engines. You'll be found via many
less competitive phrases - one that no one has deliberately

The more pages you build, the wider the range of phrases
you will be found for - phrases you did not deliberately target.

Gradually, as you create more pages and get more links to your
site, you'll start ranking more highly for slightly more competitive
phrases. It might take you six months or a year or longer before
you achieve a high ranking for your main phrase (the one you
chose to optimize your main page for).

Planning a site is not all about choosing one good phrase. You
want a long list of good phrases.

Note that because you have a list of phrases, your top 10
competitors are different for each phrase.

As well as looking at your competitors' PageRank, you can
also look at the number of sites which link to them. These
are called backlinks.

DON'T use Google for backlinks research. Google doesn't show you
all of them.

The most accurate way I know of is use Yahoo! Site Explorer to search for backlinks.

Here's how:

Go to
(You may have to set up a free account.)

Type the URL of the site you want to explore.

Click on "Explore URL".

Click on "Inlinks".

Modify your search to make it more useful. Select the
options to show Inlinks "except from this domain" and
"entire site". This will exclude internal links and
show you all external links that Yahoo! knows about
to ANY page of the website.

How to find backlinks to an individual page

At Yahoo! Site Explorer, type in the URL at the top
of the page. Click on "Explore URL".

If you were researching "web hosting" for example, you'd see that is in the top 10 at Google.

If you search for inlinks to at Yahoo!
Site Explorer, as described above, you'll see that has 305,288 sites linking to it (up from
105,000 when I first wrote this post). That's scary!
I wouldn't want to take on the task of trying to
outrank that site.

Instead I'd start looking for a less competitive niche, or I'd start
researching sub-niches within that niche, trying to find an
angle where I faced weaker competition.

Or I'd want an awfully clever gimmick or marketing plan which
was going to attract a lot free publicity and links to my site.

I hope you've also considered the value of your keywords.

As I explain in my free Affiliate Program Tutorial - ... m-tutorial -
I believe it's essential that you research the value
of the keywords you'll be targeting. I won't go into that here,
because it's explained in the tutorial.

While you're planning your site, you want to ask yourself:
"Am I building a site that other people will want to link to?"

Specifically, WHO will link to you? Why?

Don't start building your site until you've thought very carefully
about those questions.

Lots of affiliates rush into creating their first site and build a crappy
"How to make money on the Internet" site, find almost no one
wants to link to them, except perhaps a few other crappy "How
to make money on the Internet" sites. They fail to rank well, get
no traffic and wonder what they did wrong.

There are far too many bland, boring sites on the Internet.
Don't add to them. Build an interesting and useful site and
people will voluntarily link to it. It you can achieve that, you
have an excellent chance of having a roaring success.

If you want to delve deeper in keywords research, read this discussion:

The Burns Index [keywords research - keywords priorities]

Here's an article I've written which I believe is essential reading for anyone choosing a niche:

Have you chosen the right affiliate marketing niche? ... ing-niche/

My business partner, Jay Stockwell, has written a much more detailed introduction to keyword research here: ... h-Concepts

[Updated to add links to free tools, and info on Yahoo! Site Explorer.]
Last edited by AllanGardyne on Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:39 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Thu Jan 06, 2005 4:35 am

Great post, Allan!
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analyzing keyword supply and demand

Thu Jan 06, 2005 9:20 am

An excellent post Allan - BUT! as always I can never work out how sites with NO PR and NO LINKS constantly get in Google's top ten. It seems to turn everythings that is said about achieving a good position on its head. Whenever I look at the top ten in my field I see the same thing, at least a third of them with no or tiny PR and either no links or just some of their own. Its a bit disheartening when I keep trying with all the best advice I can find!
What's your view on this?
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Thu Jan 06, 2005 10:00 am

Some of your competitors have no backlinks and no PageRank? I'd say how extremely fortunate you are! What a wonderful position to be in.

Keep building high quality, useful, interesting, keyword-rich pages and getting links to your site with your keywords in the anchor text and you'll win in the end.

You could get a link from this forum simply by clicking on Profile and adding a signature. You can get links by writing articles and contributing them to article sites and other sites. Look for niche directories to submit your site to. You can even add comments to blogs (except ones like that use link redirects) in your industry and and get a few links that way.

No PageRank? As you probably know, there's a difference between real PageRank and visible PageRank, which Google updates occasionally. So perhaps some of those pages you've seen really do have PageRank.

No links? I hope you're checking backlinks in Yahoo!, not Google.

You really are very fortunate.

[Typing errors edited.]
Last edited by AllanGardyne on Thu Jan 06, 2005 7:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Thu Jan 06, 2005 10:14 am

Thanks Allan. Very helpful, but my concern is that Google are still being fooled by cloaking practices. This is a very competitive market I'm in and I cant see how the sites would be there by good luck.
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Thu Jan 06, 2005 1:06 pm

Any page in the top ten of Google for a search for a competitve keyword almost surely has PR. The display of PR on Google's toolbar is only updated quarterly, and that schedule may change any time. But rest assured that the actual PR is being calculated constantly on Google's back end and that it has a major effect on their rankings.
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Wed Jan 10, 2007 3:13 am

For a clear backlink check use yahoo & msn. Google only gives a fraction of the backlinks it has actually found.
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Thu Jan 11, 2007 3:41 am

That cleared up A LOT of cobwebs!

King Conga
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Wed Apr 11, 2007 2:00 pm

mikelombardy wrote:For a clear backlink check use yahoo & msn. Google only gives a fraction of the backlinks it has actually found.

I would use msn only.... you can see the most backlinks there.
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