Focus on keyword phrases where you can compete

When we have come this far it is time to focus on keyword research and finding keyword phrases where we can compete.

We have already created our framework.

The domain name is registered, website hosting is in place and we have have installed WordPress as our Content Management System.

Now our focus will shift towards how to create great content that will also allow us to compete.

In this part of the process we look closely at how we use keyword research to find those less competitive long-tail keyword phrases where we can compete.

To be successful we must focus on offering solutions to problems.

We need to make sure that we are publishing answers and solutions that people are actually looking for.

And since great content will mean nothing unless it can be found we need to make sure that we can compete in the search engines for the keywords we select. This is why thorough keyword research is so important for you to succeed.

Given the above me know that

  1. our content needs to offer solutions to problems
  2. people must be looking for the solutions we offer
  3. we need to make sure that we can compete for the keywords we select

All three points are important, but please take some extra time to investigate whether it is feasible that you will be able to compete for your chosen keywords.

Too many people start writing about the most competitive keywords and then get discouraged when they do not rank for months to years.

For us to be successful with a new website we need to focus on less competitive keyword phrases.

We never focus on single word keywords. We target long-tail search phrases consisting of at least 3 words.

A search for “Tomato” gives us no clue if the searcher is looking for an image, gardening tips or maybe simply checking the spelling of the word. We much prefer “how to grow tomatoes indoors” –  here the search intent is clear.

So let’s look at how we can use keyword research to better choose keyword phrases worth targeting.

How do we find long-tail keyword phrases?

We use the Mozbar Domain Authority (DA) to analyse level of competition and the Keyword Surfer to see search volumes.

Keyword Surfer is a free Chrome extension that allows you to see search volumes directly in the Google search result pages.

For every search you perform you will among other things see search volumes, keyword suggestions, related terms, visibility metrics. The number of searches are easy to see in the top search field. In our example below the number of searches is registered as 1300 in the US. You can of course change the region for search volumes for other geographic regions as needed.

Keyword Surfer Chrome extension shows estimated number of searches per month

Keyword Surfer also gives you suggestions for related keywords or Keyword ideas as they call it. The default is set at 5 suggestions per page but you can use the dropdown to see more suggestions.

Keyword ideas shown to give you ideas about content to produce

If you feel that you want more keyword phrases in the Keyword ideas box you can try to put your search term inside inverted commas.

How to grow tomatoes inside

changes into 

"How to grow tomatoes inside"

Using Keyword Surfer in combination with Mozbar we can quickly build a list of relevant Keyword phrases to target.

Pro tips: If we for example preface our searches with "How to..", "How do I..", "Review.." or "Best.." we quickly find ideas where we can be of assistance.

Now, it is really important to keep an eye on the Mozbar DA value when we build our list of keyword phrases. Remember, we need our content to be found to have an impact.

When we are first starting out we are in need of an audience and we are up against established websites with years of experience, so called Authority sites.

These Authority sites are trusted by search engines and the cruel reality is that these established authority sites will have an advantage over us – at least when we first start out.

So how do we attack and solve this problem?

The short answer? Focus on keyword phrases where at least some of the top 10 results on the Google results page DAs of less than 20.

But there is more to it. So please read on.

The answer lies in Keyword selection and Sub-niches.

We do not just build one list with Keywords offering the perfect ratio of search volume vs. level of competition.

Instead we work smarter and build two lists of Keyword phrases. We rarely focus on single keywords as they are ultra competitive and too ambiguous with regard to search intent. 

Mozbar Domain Authority (DA) and Keyword Surfer search volumes give us values we can work with. The values allow us to compare keywords and keyword phrases. We are dealing with probability; not absolute truths as values will differ from one provider to another.

List 1: High search volume / lowest possible competition

These are the keywords and key phrases that everyone is competing for. They are hard to rank for. We will produce content for these keywords but it will take time to rank well.

List 2: Low to moderate search volume / low competition

Keywords and key phrases with less search volume and the added benefit of low competition. We start writing superb content that offers solutions and answers to these questions to give our content pages the best possible chance of ranking well.

Please note that we are not guaranteed to rank well just because we choose keywords with lower search volume and low competition.

But we increase our chances and all things being equal it will be less difficult to rank as there is a lower level of competition.

How many searches do you need per month as a minimum? If you want the short answer I would consider anything with a registered search volume when you are first starting out.

You need to get visitors to your website to show the search engines that your website is great. You see with visitors other metrics come into play. Search engines love to look at metrics like how long long visitors stay on your page and if your website is the last they visit to find their answers.

And since you are producing great content your metrics will be great. But you need visitors to prove it.

Not all keywords are created equal

There is one more distinction that needs to be made when we categorize our keywords.

There are four different types of Keywords

Keyword typeDescription
Navigational keywordsSearcher looking for address, direction, location or home page
Informational keywordsSearcher is looking for more information
Commercial keywordsSearcher is is researching a product, service or company
Transactional keywordsSearcher is ready to initiate a transaction

Informational keywords perform as service to our readers in that they educate and inform the reader when want an answer to a question or a solution to a problem.

Commercial keywords are searches where a person is researching the best or most suitable product, service or company before making a purchase.

Transactional keywords are on the other hand keywords that signal the visitors intent to make a purchase. These keywords may be phrases that include words such as “Buy”, “Purchase”, “Book” or “Discount”.

Transactional keywords are typically more difficult to rank for directly. And as the search intent signal that the searcher is prepared to make a purchase we should not use transactional keywords for “How to” type blog posts.

Transactional keywords are most suited ecommerce stores or blogs selling their own products.

As content drive website developers we instead focus on informational and commercial keywords.

We use informational and commercial keywords to rank. We use these less competitive keyword content pages to pre-qualify visitors while linking to our pages created to present our affiliate partners.

We inform and educate our readers, link to our partners with clear calls to action and leave the “heavy selling” to the them.

To summarize our keyword strategy is focused on two core principles

  1. keywords need to offer solutions and answers
  2. content needs to be found to have an impact

To secure a varied approach that maximises our chances of success we follow the 3 rules below:

  1. focus on both high and low competition keywords
  2. we work with both informational and commercial keywords
  3. we only consider keywords with an existing search volume

With our lists of keywords at hand it is finally time to start looking at “Writing content that makes a difference”.


Meet the author: Mattias (Matt) is a serial entrepreneur and travel industry expert with more than 20 years of experience in business and web development. Mattias identifies with self-starters and entrepreneurs, loves to garden, and believes everyone needs a game plan for financial independence.