So here in TDN Towers, we’ve  been busy bashing the keyboard creating a tool that may revolutionise the way you assess the work to be done in ranking a site.

It will assess an industry for how competitive it is and what it will take for you to take your, or your client’s site, to stand a good chance of ranking at the top.

It’s purely related to the off site factors and doesn’t take into account the prerequisites for success… a great site, at least as good as the competition currently ranking in the top spots etc is the minimum standard.

But you know that already, let’s dive into the tool itself.

The details of how this system works are based on a post we made detailing the process that has been proven and provided consistent results, predicting the work to be done for well over a decade.

The post was well received by the SEO community but one overwhelming message came back….
“Jason, this is bloody hard to do.”
“Excel won’t work at these scales “and
“I can’t get the data easily, and I don’t know what to do!”

So Richard and I decided to sit down and create something that does this all for you… It wasn’t easy, it isn’t cheap, but it bloody well works and does so extremely easily.

The bottom line is simple… If you want to rank, this tool helps you define the level of link building that you’ll need to perform to get to the top.

Let me be clear though, this system is imperfect… but it is the least imperfect method I know for assessing your competition in the SERPs!

So let me tell you about the flaws that you need to be aware of and understand so that it’s limitations can be appreciated when you see anomalies or enter data to be analysed that gives you results you wouldn’t normally expect.

First of all I strongly suggest reading the blog post above. The link again is:

Now… onto the geek heavy stuff.

When using the system it asks you to choose 5 options…

TDN.Comp.Analysis.keyphrase selection.png

  1. Search Term
  2. Your Domain
  3. Language
  4. Geolocation
  5. Google version

All 5 are important.

1. Your Search Term.

When using this system, please think of it as a way of understanding a marketplace as a whole and not a specific keyword.

We’ll return data for [buy little green widgets for sale in London] but [green widgets] is likely to be the better term for you to ascertain how well you’d do and what it would take to become the [green widget] master and rock n roll with all the big [green widget] sellers out there. You want into the [green widget] seller’s club and want to be there at the very top

Our presumption is you don’t want just one keyword, but want to be competitive across the board for ALL keyphrases that the companies currently ranking, have search referral traffic for.

If you only search for one small word or phrase, then although we’ll return data (and charge you for it) the tool may well give you back results that are inappropriate for that term.

IE, Seeing Amazon and eBay appearing and us analysing all their backlinks, when you really only want to compete with local retailers…

It’s for this reason we display the results and allow you to deselect inappropriate competitors to analyse against in the next stage….

2. Your Domain.

This should be self explanatory. It’s your or your client’s core web site, the one you wish to rank… Get this wrong, and everything else will be a waste of time!

3. Language
4. Geolocation
5. Google Version

Language, Geolocation and Google Version are important, especially when you get unusual combinations…

If you work in travel you’ll know this very well as a foreign language term to what you’d normally expect for an IP and/or Google version can be a great signal of a traveller.

For example –

Now I don’t speak French, but I believe that the phrase [de voiture londres] is French for [car hire London]

This is a pretty strong signal that a French visitor to London wants to  hire a car and the PPC guys have done superb work here, showing adverts in French to increase likelihood of conversion.

The language is French, the originating Google version is .fr, which is what this traveller would have set as default on his phone or laptop, but his Geolocation is in the UK… Likely in London.

Similar can be done for SEO too. As I am sure you can imagine, the competition may well be lower if you try to rank a German phrase in Argentina and provide results in German…  The search volumes may be lower but the conversions are likely to be through the roof!

Next stages….

Behind the scenes we will go off to Google and grab the top 20 results for your query, based on the criteria you set.


Here is where another imperfection jumps into play. Our results are naked, not logged in, brand new user, never performed a search for before.

This is a false base… Almost every single one of your potential prospects will have personalised results, are likely to be logged in etc.

So, the results we get and report back to you are likely close, but not exact, as those that your prospects will get.

With that said I do believe it is the least imperfect baseline to work from and at present is the same process and flaws that all public rank checking services such as SEMRush, Moz and and every other suffer from.

The next stage shows you a list of domains that are reported.


You can select or deselect any particular hostname from the records which is the data we’ll be using to build the comparisons for and analysis with.

We show the subnet backlink count to you here and this is so you can look for anomalies to be excluded from the research. We automatically exclude what we believe are obvious stand out anomalies but you can place them back into the report by clicking the check boxes.

Then we go and get lots and lots and lots of data… almost all of it comes from Majestic, which in our opinion is the most comprehensive publicly accessible link resource on earth, outside of Google.

You may have to wait a few minutes while we’re doing this work but we’ll notify you once your report is ready.


I can hear you now… “But Jason, we love Ahrefs” or “Jason, we want Moz data”

Look… I am not going to get into the upsides and downsides of saying why we use Majestic, but I  will say this… We analyse billions (possibly trillions????) of rows of Majestic data. In fact we pull so much data from them they had to give us our own server to connect with as we are data hungry!!

I know the system and data well… and the overwhelming takeaway is that when you look at the web as a whole, and not any specific section or subsection, the Majestic data is the freshest, most comprehensive and accurate snapshot at that particular point in time.

Also, and this is extremely important, no other data source has the historically accurate data of the web. No one…. Not one single competitor has this important data….. And to understand how sites build links over time, you need the history!

Majestic is imperfect, but it is the least imperfect of all options, including the brands I spoke about above.

So what do we do with all that data from Majestic and our other internal sources?

We do mathematics with it… Lots and lots of lovely number crunching… creating information for you to hopefully tell you what it’s going to take to rank…

Now… we’re onto the report itself….

Here’s the biggest caveat to understanding the data and the reports….

I’m going to get it out there and be blunt about it!

It treats many of the links as equal…and this is rarely the case.

however… over time and within industries you’ll find that patterns of types of links, quality of links and overall theme of link appear.

We include all this information for you to view, breakdown and analyse in the report so you can ensure you get not just the quantity of links, but the right type of links…..

Whether that be

  • Thematically related (*HINT* It’s ALWAYS the right answer to go thematically relevant )
  • Powerful
  • Weak
  • Country version etc etc etc

Ultimately though it’s about how many links to build and over what period of time….

It’s all about the link growth rates over time…

This is probably the most important factor to look at…. It helps answer the inevitable question:

How many links should I be building to compete and/or win?

The data we include shows link growth rates, link loss rates, normalises and builds over time and helps form a picture of what is normal within the industry you’re analysing.

It then compares that against your current link profile and if you are lower… which is likely, otherwise why are you using the tool?,…. It will project forwards into the future…

Not just your links but competitors and average (median) counts of everyone and everything….

Here is another flaw in our system….
We project forwards based on historical data.
It is a projection only, and presumes that your competitors will continue in the same way they have in the past.

It’s the best we can do until time travel or a crystal ball become commonplace.

N.B. If you have a C version of the crystal ball please do get in touch 😀

The downside of course is if your competitors up their game…. The numbers are off.

If your competitors let the ball slip, then it may be easier….

So my suggestion is to use our reports, as you should with any rapidly changing data, as accurate at the specific point in time it is created…. And refresh them often to make sure you’re staying on track.


Anyway… link growth rates…

You will have some options and these will change our suggestions…

  • Do you want to catch up with the average or top spot?
  • Do you want to build links and be competitive within a certain timescale?
  • Do you want to build links at a certain rate above the average to see how long it would take you to be competitive?

It is an immutable law that if you are below the average that you must always grow at a rate that is above the average link growth rates of your competitors if you ever want to rise to their counts.

But the rate above that level, and whether to go for the very top or just to stay in the game, is up to you…

If you want to project forward and get there in a short period of time… Click the button in the report
If you want to project forward and get there by growing at a certain rate over the others – Click the button in the report

There is an area that is often overlooked though, and that’s the costs, and to work out the costs you need to understand the quantity of links you’ll need and in what timescale, so you can work out cashflow budgets.

Can you afford to play?


And the extremely important yet often overlooked factor

Will you hit critical mass levels within a time frame that you can manage financially?

This is probably the most important question to be answered….

If you don’t hit that critical mass level you’ll never see the returns you aimed for…
Even worse is getting within a week or two of hitting that magical place and giving up….

You’d be so near but never see a return!

This report helps you avoid both those problems, either choosing to avoid a niche or not giving up when you are just on the cusp of success…

So…  if you want to take advantage and learn what it’s going to take to rank, then simply login to the TDN system and find your way to where you can run these reports right now!


I'm just an old SEO :)

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