Gauging the real competition of your intended article is way more important than knowing how many inferior articles on the same topic are out there on the internet. This post will help you choose which topics are worthy of your time and which should just be left unwritten.
What is QSR?
QSR stands for Quoted Search Results. It’s the number of results using a particular keyword/key-phrase that pop up in a Google search. But is it important? No. You’ll find out why in just a minute.
What are Keywords?
Keywords are the words and phrases that people use when they want to find information on the internet. But people seldom use complete, grammatically correct, sentences when they search on Google. Seriously, how often do you or your target audience use complete sentences when searching? We just type the main keywords into the search box to try to find the answers to our queries.
So, when you think about writing an article on your website you’ll want to know if there are real people who will want to read it. Are people actually searching for the information you are intending to provide? Or are you likely to get onto page one of the SERPs for something that no one is looking for e.g. ping pong for pygmies?
Yeah, you do need to know if people are searching for articles using your intended keywords. So you need a keyword tool.
Among others, Jaaxy can be an excellent SEO (search engine optimization) tool to estimate how many people are searching for a particular search term (keyword/key-phrase). It also suggests additional keywords that you may not have considered which can be great information for latent semantic indexing (LSI). (More on LSI later.) And there’s the Alphabet Soup option; another useful tool.
You can get 30 free searches using Jaaxy when you click on this link. And members of Wealthy Affiliate have unlimited free searches using Jaaxy Lite as part of their premium package.
But many people using Jaaxy rely on the QSR column to determine if a keyword is worth writing about. If the QSR is high then those people may shy away from writing an article that could, if comprehensive and well written, get onto the first page of Google’s search results. And if the QSR is low then they could be writing about something that actually has extremely high real competition.
What is QSR anyway? It’s Quoted Search Results. It’s how many articles on the internet in which the exact words in your search term appear, together and in the same order. Precisely as when someone puts quote marks around their search term. Or, as the tool-tip in the image above states “Quoted Search Results: the number of competing websites ranked in Google for this exact keyword.”
That’s how Quoted Search Results works. But it’s not how the search engines work.
You’re a real person. Your target audience is real people. How often do you use quotes when you query Google? And how often is your target audience going to use quotes when they search? Personally, I only use quotes when I really want those exact words to be together, in the same order. Such as when I’m trying to find who to attribute a particular quote to.
People want answers to their questions
And if people are looking for answers, not questions then they want to find the answer, not the question. So they search using the question and the search engines list the articles that provide the answers. QSR is just going to tell you how many times the question appears on the internet, not how many times it has been answered.
People are looking for answers, not questions.
Check Jaaxy for the term “what is jaaxy qsr” (without the quotes) and you’ll find the QSR is about 10 or 11. That’s the same result I got when I searched using quotes in Google.
But when you type “what is jaaxy qsr” (this time without the quotes) into an incognito window you’ll get a totally different result.
That is what your intended audience is going to see when they ask the question. That is your real competition.
Is Anyone There?
More important than QSR is the average number of searches for a particular query. If no one is looking for information on ping pong for pygmies then it’s not worth writing about. <10 means less than 10 average searches per month. The exception to this rule is when you’re going to write about something so new that no one is searching for it yet.
So it really doesn’t matter how big or small the QSR is, what matters is whether there is a target audience, what your real competition is, and whether your article is going to beat at least one of the articles on page one of the SERPs.
Your Real Competition is Just…
…whatever appears on the first page of the normal (not quoted) results for your search term.
People only go to the second page if they can’t find what they’re looking for on page one. The 3rd page of Google is a good place to hide a body because no one ever goes there.
The 3rd page of Google is a good place to hide a body because no one ever goes there.
Google knows your browsing history. So do the search yourself using an incognito/private browser window. Check the results on page 1 so you can see what the real competition is. It may surprise you.
And it may help you determine if that particular search term is worthy of your time writing about it.
Page #1 Results
If it’s a very popular search term then there will be 4 ads above the results and 4 ads underneath. And there will be ads on the next page too.
There may even be Google’s shopping results if it’s about a product.
There will also (usually) be 10 organic results. Are all the organic results on page 1 from high authority sites? Is your site also an authority site? If not, shy away. Find a different subject to write about.
But, if the competition looks weak then you’ve got a good shot at having your article appear on page 1.
If quora or reddit answers are on page one then the competition is definitely weak.
Read the articles currently on page one. If you can provide better, more comprehensive information then start writing.
Is there a featured snippet? Does the featured snippet give your searcher everything they need to know without visiting a web page? If so, then it’s not worth your time.
Do images or videos appear on page one? This is your clue that most people are looking for visual results for that particular search query. Consider having an infographic, photo, illustration, and/or video on your page to boost your rank.
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)
It’s not just about the keyword/key-phrase that you are focusing on, it’s everything you write.
When you write, try to cover as much as you can about the main topic without becoming repetitive or boring. If you’re writing about purple widgets then your audience may also be interested in blue and pink widgets.
But don’t get side-tracked and start talking about purple whatnots as that’s not what your audience is interested in.
Use your common sense 😎
The more comprehensive your article is, the more likely it is to land on page one. Not just for one search term but for several. Google recognizes that some words mean exactly the same as others. Synonyms. That’s what latent semantic indexing means. Search for “reviews” (plural) and you’ll get results with “review” (singular) in the title.
QSR doesn’t take LSI into consideration. But the search engines do.
Your main focus should always be on your primary topic. But keep latent semantic indexing in mind when you plan your article and use appropriate sub-headings and synonyms.
You’ll get lots of ideas on how you can benefit from latent semantic indexing from the suggestions you’ll find in Jaaxy and Google alphabet soup.
Do your research. Read the articles that are already on page one. You’ll learn more about your subject and you’ll be able to gauge the real competition. And you’ll be less likely to waste your time landing on page three.
P.S. I published a shorter version of this article at Wealthy Affiliate recently but it was removed by management within hours even though it received 68 (favorable) comments and 78 upvotes.
Please leave a comment, ask a question, or share something. I read all comments personally.
8 thoughts on “Ignore QSR, Your Real Competition is Just…”
I appreciate your post, Marion. I have never comfortably settled into the Jaxxy QSR dictating what I could write. So I come up with keywords based on what my audience might need or what is trending with them, check to see what I learn about those keywords on Jaxxy, and then decide what to write.
Thanks for writing this! You always have helpful tips. 🙂
Thank you Marion. I always feel like we have to use our own brains and common sense. Everything cannot always be found in an algorithm or automated results.
I am glad you mentioned this on Simone’s WA post today so I found it!
I am amazed, Marion! Thank you very much! I always was thinking I do look for the wrong keywords using Jaaxy! Now I know how to use it! 🙂
I learned a few things today. I am book marking this article because I won’t remember all of this otherwise.
I’m really happy to have you share your wealth of experience.
This has definitely opened my eyes and will change the way I blog.
Hi Marion, I always use keywords with intention. I wonder: “What will my visitor ask?” and “Which keywords will they put into the Google search bar to end up on my article?”
I have access to Jaaxy, and I use it more to check up my keywords, than to find keywords. Jaaxy does supply new ideas though.
Thank you for writing this article, it confirms that I am doing things right:)
ps: I love the “Please tell me when you’ve written a new article and send me a free gift.” Very good!
Thank you Marion, this is invaluable advice, so the key takeaway from this is that the most important “number” from Jaaxy is the Average Number of Searches?
Yes, it doesn’t matter how many inferior posts are out there the only ones that are our real competition are the ones that appear on page one. We want to get our posts on page one or at least page two. If the competition is too strong then write about something else.
Spot on, Marion. I’ve always believed this approach to be best, and been suspicious of the QSR figures. (Also known by other names, depending on what tool we use)
As usual, you share very useful information, in an easy-reading format.