How can I use search engines to research ranking strategies?
This is a question that I get asked quite a bit. A lot of people getting started online, even if they aren't directly interested in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) will naturally gravitate toward this question (or one like it) sooner or later.
It's probably no surprise that the best way to research target phrases is with the very tool that you're trying to rank within.
Search engines give you various commands that can help shed light on particular areas of interest.
Commands like "related" sites. That often overlooked powerhouse command is typically useless on new pages, primarily because Google doesn't know what the site is about yet.
But when your site does ultimately get the "related" functionality attached to it, then it means:
1) You are now on your way to becoming an authority in your niche
2) You will get to see what sites the big G thinks your site is like
Point 2 can yield some pretty interesting insights.
Other commands that are useful are the "site", "inurl" and "intitle" commands.
Many (if not most) already know about the "site" command which can give you insight into the pages from your site that exist in the search engines, for an example, go to Google and type: site:myDomain
Hint: You need to type that without any spaces and include the colon. Of course, replace myDomain with your actual domain including your domain suffix (com, net, org, etc...).
Often times the best way to determine how to rank for a lower competition keyword, is to examine higher competition keywords to see what is missing.
If you are interested in more information, a deeper dive is located at: Search Engine Optimization Command Tips, Tricks and Hacks
A lot of people will look up their target keywords and key phrases in a keyword lookup tool, and then maybe do a quick search in Google.
If that's all you are doing and you really want to rank well for a keyword, then you're leaving a lot of insights around site and search facets out of the equation.
I'd urge you to take a little more time, get to know your tools and do a little more due diligence around different site search facets to really hit those keywords you truly care about.
When everything else is the same, these types of considerations can mean the difference between a position 7 ranking, and a position 1 ranking! ;)
Know your tools, you have countless tools at your fingertips that cost nothing.
I hope you found this helpful!