Everywhere you turn in the digital marketing world, you’re hearing the same thing; search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial to your business’s success. The fact is that over 90% of traffic comes from the first page of a Google search results page.
There are over 1.5 billion websites on the internet and although fewer than 200 million are active, the numbers paint a clear picture. Even considering that only a fraction of these websites are in your niche, competition to rank on Google is stiffer than ever.
In order to be successful with your SEO strategies, you need to forget about competing for short-tail keywords. It’s just not practical to compete at a level where you’re facing up against not just the world’s biggest companies but sites like Wikipedia as well.
Read on to learn about the benefits of low competition keywords and how to find them.
What Are Low Competition Keywords?
We mentioned the number of websites that exist in the introduction, but that only gives you a small idea of the competition you’re facing as a webmaster in charge of your company’s SEO strategy. The thing is, Google and other search engines don’t rank websites. Instead, they rank web pages. This is precisely why an emerging business can succeed with an SEO strategy of targeting low competition keywords.
The term refers to exactly what it sounds like, keywords that have fewer searches than their more popular counterparts. The exact numbers that make something low competition will vary per industry which is something you will monitor as you do your keyword research.
Now, we realize it may seem counterintuitive to target keywords that are receiving fewer searches but nothing could be farther from the truth. In this case, targeting long-tail low competition keywords versus high competition keywords means going for quality traffic to your website versus quantity.
In the next section, we take a closer look at the benefits of low competition keywords and why they should be the focus of your SEO strategy.
The Benefits of Low Competition Keywords
There are two main benefits of low competition keywords. One is that they are easier to compete and rank for. With fewer web pages competing for the same term, you have a much better chance of reaching that coveted first page on Google
Take the following as an example. The short-tail keyword “NYC hotels” brings back 562,000,000 results. The long-tail keyword “soho boutique hotels” returns 9,450,000 search results. Finally, the keyword “hipster soho boutique hotels” returns just half as many results with 4,400,000 pages. And while we’d still consider those long-tail keywords as high competition keywords, you can see that the competition drops off precipitously. A webmaster who can find low competition keywords will be able to take advantage of niche marketing and surge in the SEO rankings.
The other benefit of targeting long-tail keywords is that users searching for these terms are closer to making a purchase than someone making a more generic search. Let’s return to the example from earlier.
A user searching for “NYC hotels” is still in the information gathering stage. In fact, they may not even be sure if they will go to New York City. If they’re early in the planning stage, they may be looking at hotels in different cities. On the other hand, a user searching for “hipster soho boutique hotels” knows exactly what they’re looking for and is clearly ready to make a purchase.
Understanding the benefits of low competition keywords is well and good but the next thing you need to know is understanding how to find them.
4 Strategies for Finding Low Competition Keywords
Usually, keyword research starts with tools like Google Keywords Planner or one of a hundred other similar tools. While these tools certainly serve a purpose, it’s better to look elsewhere when researching low competition keywords. The problem is that every digital marketing specialist around the world uses these same tools and ends up targeting the same keywords.
Instead, when developing a niche marketing strategy, try alternative methods of sourcing keywords.
1. Talk to Your Current Customers
When you work in an industry for a long time, it’s easy to adopt the slang and industry terms as everyday phrases.
Of course, customers do not think (or search!) using these same industry phrases. Set up a form on your website where current and prospective customers can ask you questions about your product or the industry. Additionally, encourage commenting on the blog posts on your company websites.
These pop-ups can ask also directly ask customers for feedback. You may want to ask customers about the pain points they face when making a purchase or the factors that help them decide on their final purchase.
When reviewing this data, you not only have information that will help you make your website and product better, you’ll get some idea for long-tail keywords as well.
2. Put Yourself in Your Customers’ Shoes
As digital marketers, the tendency is to revert to keywords that have a wide appeal. Unfortunately, this puts companies in the position of all competing over the same keywords.
Consider that approximately 20% of Google searches are brand new. This means that they use keywords that have never been searched for before. By putting yourself in your customers’ shoes, you’ll be able to think like them and how they would enter their search queries.
3. Use Social Media to Research Your Keywords
When you monitor social media for mentions about your brand or product, you don’t have to imagine what they’re saying or searching for. The language is right there in front of you. Use groups on Facebook or communities on Twitter to get a feeling for what people are asking for and how they’re phrasing those questions.
Remember what we said that Google ranks web pages and not websites. Use this information that you gather from social media when you’re planning your future content calendars. For example, when we saw that many people were searching for different types of keywords, we knew that a blog post on low competition keywords would help our clients.
4. Use User-Generated Content Websites to Research Keywords
User-generated communities are websites like Reddit and Quora. If used properly, these are a goldmine for keywords straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were.
People post questions and topics in either industry-specific categories or to a wider audience, depending on the content. The OP (or original poster) then gets responses from the community ranging from links to other websites to memes.
As a digital marketer, these user-generated content sites give us unprecedented access to potential customers. They allow us to be a fly on the wall in these conversations about our niche. Savvy marketers will use this tool to not only brainstorm low competition keywords but as ideas for content to create and optimize as well.
Testing Low Competition Keywords
Once you’ve gone through these four methods to find low competition keywords, you’ll need to check the monthly search volume of each keyword. Use a keyword planner such as the Google Keyword Planner Tool and separate your list into two categories, one for keywords that have over 1,000 searches per month and the other for ones below 1,000.
You want to keep both lists because low competition doesn’t have to mean high search volume. While the high search volume, low competition keywords are the golden standard, you will still need more low competition keywords to build out your SEO strategy. Once you’ve created that list, it’s time to research the competitiveness of your keywords in Google itself.
Conduct “inanchor” and “intitle” Searches
First, create a spreadsheet and set parameters for different levels of competition. Next, do a cursory general search on Google. If your keywords have over 100 million pages then you can’t very well consider them “low competition”. On the other hand, keywords with fewer than 1 million results are good candidates to move forward with.
Next, conduct an “inanchor” search by searching inanchor: “keyword”. An inanchor search will find all the web pages that are using this keyword as anchor text pointing to their website. Finally, conduct an “intitle” search using the same format. Google will return web pages that have the keyword in the title. These searches will give you an idea of the volume of sites that are directly competing for this keyword phrase.
If you can find keywords that have fewer than 1,000 results than you’ve successfully found a low competition keyword.
Be Patient When Executing Your SEO Strategies
It’s important to remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was the first page of Google. Creating content, optimizing your keywords and building backlinks all take time. That said, targeting low competition keywords will help you reach your SEO goals faster than the alternative.
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