How to Boost your SEO Strategy with Low Competition Keywords

Shaun H. Ruff


When a website is new or relatively unknown, it can be difficult to rank well for competitive keywords. And writing content and developing a strong online reputation can take time that you don’t have. So why not consider including low competition keywords in your SEO strategy? In this article, we get into what you need to consider when building a low competition keyword list, and how to search for potential high-volume, low competition keywords.

What are Low Competition Keywords?

Low competition keywords are keywords you can rank for with little effort, as they have not been competitively used. With these keywords, you don’t have to build many links or have a high website authority to get organic traffic to your website. They are a good starting point for a new SEO strategy.

Build your Keyword List

One of the steps to a successful SEO strategy is building a keyword list. This can be done by looking at competitors’ keywords, then filtering and selecting those with a low keyword difficulty (KD). You need to source keywords from at least five domains to find long-tail queries and more keywords with low difficulty ratings.

Use this list of keywords to find phrase matches and related keywords, and once again source those keywords that have a low keyword difficulty rating. And we get it—this seems labor-intensive but at the end of the day, it will give you a comprehensive low competition keyword list you can use.

Find High-Volume but Low Competition Keywords

A business owner will start getting impatient when their digital marketing investment does not show quick results. One way of combating this is to find high volume, low competition keywords to use on their site. It will also serve as a basis to go after more challenging, volume-rich keywords in the future. But how do we find high-volume, low competition keywords to use in an SEO strategy?

Use Google SERPs to reverse-engineer results

When you want to use Google’s search engine result pages (SERPs) to reverse engineer results, start by identifying the keyword phrases you, as a potential user, would type in. Find keywords that consider the purchase intent and keywords that include complementary aspects of your offerings. Then analyze the title tag, URL, and meta description that appear in the SERPs.

Use keyword software to target specific topics

There are multiple keyword software tools on the market that will provide you with keyword data, including volume, difficulty, cost-per-click (CPC), and other in-depth information on each keyword.

Research competitors

Your competition is a good source for potential keywords. Look at businesses with a similar target audience and offerings, then find the keywords they use to rank in their SERPs. From these keywords, you can research more potential high-volume, low competition keywords.

Estimating Keyword Difficulty

Keyword difficulty (KD) assesses how challenging it would be to take your competition’s positions in the Google Top 100 with a specific keyword. There are multiple search engine optimization (SEO) tools, and each uses a specific formula for its keyword difficulty score. Because Google employs hundreds of ranking signals, it is challenging for a third-party SEO tool to compute an absolutely accurate keyword difficulty metric.

The following difficulty score from the Semrush SEO tool describes their assessment values, rated in percentages from 1% to 100%. A higher percentage shows the effort it will take to outrank the competition for targeted keywords.

  • Above 69% – You will have to use extensive link-building efforts, time, and search engine optimization (SEO) to enter the Google top 20. These are highly competitive keywords and not a sensible target with a new website.
  • From 50% – 69% – It is challenging to get in the Google top 20 with these keywords, but with high-quality content and relevant backlinks, you might take your competitor’s position in time.
  • From 30% – 49% – When you start using keywords in an SEO strategy, these keywords are possible to rank for.
  • Below 30% – The easiest keywords to rank for. They probably have a low search volume or very specific search intent.

If you find a list of relevant high-volume, low-competition keywords and use them throughout your site, there is an opportunity to rank high in the SERPs.

Estimating PPC Competition Level

To find a balance between a keyword’s search volume and competition level, you need to look at the keyword difficulty and the pay-per-click (PPC) competition level. The PPC competition level shows the number of paid advertisers using a specific search phrase for their advertisements. Although it refers to competition in paid search and not organic, it is a good indication of favored keywords from where one can build a low competition keyword list.

Using the same SEO tool as a reference, let’s look at how one can estimate the PPC competition level by using their decimal metric between 0 and 1, with 1 showing the highest number of advertisers bidding on a keyword.

  • Above 0.80Very competitive keywords between advertisers and will send traffic to your website page. With this density level, the user search intent is to make a complete purchase or make a final decision.
  • From 0.60 – 0.80Keywords with a standard number of advertisers competing for them. One could consider advertising on these keywords if the organic process does not work, but it will not be a swift win.
  • Below 0.60Very few advertisers are bidding for this keyword, either because it is not profitable, or a word not previously considered.

Consider Search Intent and CPC

Besides considering keyword difficulty (KD), and the pay-per-click competition level, you also need to look at research search intent and cost-per-click (CPC) to shape your low competition keyword SEO strategy. Search intent is the purpose of the user’s search and is sometimes called the audience, user, or keyword intent. Cost-per-click is the amount an advertiser pays when a user clicks on their advertisement, and the keyword influences the cost.

Search intent: There are four types of search intent—informational, navigational, transactional, and commercial. Informational search intent is the user trying to learn more about something (“What is a good software package?”), and navigational search intent is the user trying to find something (“Microsoft website”). Transactional search intent is the user trying to complete a specific action (“Buy the new Microsoft software”), and commercial search intent is the user trying to learn more before making a purchase decision (“Microsoft 10 vs 11”).

Cost-per-click (CPC): When a keyword is very relevant to your site and has a low search volume but a high CPC, you might consider using that search term, despite the cost. Particularly when you want to build interest around a niche product or service.

WSI developed in-depth knowledge of digital marketing over the 25 years of our existence. We published three versions of our Amazon best-selling book, “Digital Minds” and have an extensive network of industry thought leaders. We also managed more than $150 million in advertising spend over the last five years. Are you interested in working with our network of digital marketing consultants? Then contact WSI today.


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