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Everyone wants to rank for competitive keywords, but sometimes, it’s just not possible in the short term. And that’s why everyone loves low competition keywords.
They’re easy to rank for. You don’t need many and in some cases, any backlinks to the page, and they send you a decent amount of consistent search traffic month over month.
So in this post, I’ll show you how to find low competition keywords and to confidently determine if they are indeed low competition.
First, let’s get on the same page and talk about what a low competition keyword is.
What is low competition keyword?
You can simply say, it’s a keyword that is easy to rank for.
with so many different factors that go into ranking on Google, people generally think of low competition keywords as topics that don’t require a lot of backlinks to rank high.
But the thing is ranking high on Google isn’t always just about backlinks.
So for the rest of this tutorial, we’ll go through a 5-step process which will help you find low competition keywords and more importantly,
validate that these keywords are indeed easy to rank for. So let’s start with the first step
How to find low competition keyword
1. Brainstorm a list of topics.
So the first step is to brainstorm a list of topics. And when I say topics, I’m talking about broad keywords that are related to your niche.
These are called seed keywords. For example, if we have a site on parenting, some broad keywords might include “parenting,” “stroller,” “pregnancy,” “babies,” and “car seat.”
Try to think of 5-10 broad topics within your niche, but try to be specific enough that the keywords can’t be interpreted in too many different ways.
2. Expand your topic with keyword research tool
Alright, step 2 is to expand your topics with a keyword research tool.
Keyword research tools give you information about how often words and phrases are searched. They’re also the main way SEOs generate keyword lists.
And the one I’ll be using is Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer.
So to get started, enter your list of seed keywords you just brainstormed and then run the search.
Next, go to the Phrase match report.
Now, with well over 3 million keyword ideas, we’ll need to narrow this down.
This brings us to step 3.
3. Filter keywords for low difficulty scores.
A lot of keyword research tools provide some kind of ranking difficulty metric.
At Ahrefs, it’s called Keyword Difficulty or KD. The KD scores run on a scale of 0-100 and tries to determine how hard it’ll be to rank in Google’s top 10 results for a given search query.
And the way it’s calculate is based on a weighted average of the number of websites that link to the top 10 pages.
This means that the top 10 pages for low difficulty scores won’t have many linking domains pointing at them.
So let’s set a Keyword Difficulty filter with a minimum value of 0 and a maximum value of 20 in Ahrefs. And now we have over 160,000 potential low competition topics.
The key word here is “potential.” Again, ranking isn’t just about backlinks.
There are lots of other things you need to consider. And we’ll go deep into some examples of “false positives” in a bit.
For now, let’s move on to the next step.
4. Check if you can match searcher intent.
Search intent tells us the reason behind a searcher’s query. And if you can’t match searcher intent, you won’t be able to rank – even if the query is so-called “low competition.”
For example, when someone searches for “best baby strollers, are they looking for blog posts, product pages, or ecommerce category pages?
The easiest way to find out is to just Google the query and look at the top-ranking pages for what we call, the 3 C’s of search intent.
The 3 C’s of search intent.
The first C is content type:
so from the search query for ‘best baby stroller, are the top- ranking pages blog posts, product or category pages? In this case, they’re all blog posts.
The second C is content format.
So are they listicle type pages, how-tos, opinion pieces, or step-by-step tutorials?
For the query for ‘best baby stroller’, they’re all listicle-styled posts.
And the third C is content angle.
This is the dominant selling proposition that the top-ranking pages are using.
In this case, they’ve gone with the “freshness” angle, seeing as the top pages are using the current year in their titles.
Assuming you have a blog, you should be able to match searcher intent.
Now, what about a query like “baby strollers?” Looking at the top pages, you’ll see that they’re mostly ecommerce category pages.
So if you don’t actually sell baby strollers, it would be tough to rank. There’s more to search intent than the 3 C’s but this should be enough to get you set on the right path.
But I highly recommend reading the article on search intent from our SEO course.
Alright, the final step is probably the most important, and that’s to;
5. Assess whether the query is actually low difficulty.
Metrics like Keyword Difficulty and Referring Domains can only tell you so much.
And while combining these metrics can be helpful, they don’t always paint a full picture.
For example, the query, “compact flash card reader” has a low keyword difficulty score.
And if we scroll down to the SERP, you’ll see that the top 10 pages don’t really have that many links pointing at them.
But that doesn’t mean if you can get more links and match search intent that you’ll be able to outrank these sites.
Now, you might be thinking… well, it’s because all of these websites have high authority.
Well, in my opinion, more than DR, it’s about brand equity. Sites like Amazon, Best Buy, and BH Photo Video are places people trust and want to buy products from.
They’ve built trust and topical authority in the area of electronics and photo and video gear. And I won’t even get into on-page considerations like facets.
So is “compact flash card reader” a low competition topic?
Definitely not unless you’re an equal to one of these brands. The big thing to take away from this is that there’s no tool that can accurately determine ranking difficulty with a 1 to 3 digit number.
With that said, you need to manually assess each individual SERP to understand whether the query is indeed a low competition topic.
Now, we’ve looked at an example of a “false positive,” so let’s look at an example of an actual low-competition topic and how we come to that conclusion.
So the keyword we’ll be looking at is “best convertible car seat for small cars.”
Looking at keyword difficulty (KD), you’ll see that it’s relatively low.
So what that tells us is that the top-ranking pages, for the most part, don’t have many referring domains pointing at them.
So that’s a good sniff test, but nothing more. Let’s scroll down to the SERP.
Now, the first thing I’m going to look at is whether I can match the dominant search intent because if I can’t, then there’s no point in looking further.
And you’ll see that they’re all listicle-styled blog posts, which would be easy to match.
Next, let’s do a quick check of the DR column. And from the image below, it looks like there’s a mixture of both low and high DR sites, which is promising because it tells us that the query probably isn’t going to be a matter of just brand.
And the fact that very low authority websites were able to penetrate the top 10 tells us that our hypothetical website could probably compete too.
Now, let’s look at the domains that are ranking to get an idea of topical authority.
Meaning, do these sites likely have lots of content related to babies, parenting, or baby products like car seats? And it looks like they all do.
Now, assuming our site is related to babies, baby products, parenting, or whatever closely related topics, then we’d likely be on a similar playing field.
The next thing I’d want to look at is relevance of the top-ranking pages.
Looking at the top page from the image above, the title specifically says “best convertible car seats for small cars.” It exactly matches the query.
Now, it’s not to say that they’re ranking higher because of an exact-match keyword, but convertible car seats for small cars actually serve a very specific need.
And this is likely why some of these lower authority websites with low page authority are ranking ahead of bigger players.
And finally, let’s look at the Referring Domains column.
As you can see from the image above , the top-ranking page only has a handful of referring domains.
In fact, if we click on the referring domains number for the page, you’ll see that all of the links come from relatively low-authority sites.
So assuming we can outdo these pages on the content side of things, this to me looks like a low competition keyword.
As a final tip, I want to show you one super-cool trick to find low competition keywords with high traffic potential.
Not just that, but it’ll help you find totally new groups of low competition keywords in virtually any niche.
So to get started, go to Ahrefs Content Explorer, which is a searchable database of over five billion pages.
And since we’re working on a hypothetical parenting site, set your query to “parenting” and run the search.
You need to set a few filters. First, set a referring domains filter with a maximum value of something low like 10.
Next, set an organic traffic filter to show pages with a minimum of at least 500 monthly organic visits.
And right away, you’ll see over 3,500 pages that mention parenting, get at least 500 monthly organic visits and have 10 or fewer referring domains.
Now, it’s just a matter of looking at the titles for topic ideas that would be appropriate for your site.
If you happen to be in a niche without a ton of low competition keywords or you just have an unhealthy obsession with easy-to-rank- for topics,
then you can use these keywords as new seeds and go through the first steps I showed you in the tutorial again.
While low competition keywords are great to target when your website is fairly new or has low authority, they shouldn’t be the only strategy you use.
Higher competition topics generally lead to more traffic and links, two things that all SEOs are after.
Plus, competitive topics usually have higher commercial value.
So it’s worth going after competitive topics but you should set your time horizon realistically.
Now, go and try this out for your site and if you enjoyed this article, make sure to share and subscribe for more actionable SEO and digital marketing tutorials.
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