How to find low competition keywords

Written by
Yulia Deda
Aug 21, 2023
15 min read

Let’s face it.

Finding the right keywords to target is more difficult than ever before. To stand out and attract the right audience, concentrating solely on generalized keywords may not be the most effective strategy anymore, especially for new or smaller websites. Instead, with low-competition keywords, you can gain a competitive edge in your industry and easily enhance your online presence.

In this article, we’ll explore the ins-and-outs of low-competition keywords, their significance in SEO and Google Ads, and, most importantly, how to find and secure them.

What are low-competition keywords? 

As the name suggests, low-competition keywords are search terms that have a relatively small competition level compared to other keywords, which makes them a great opportunity for both SEO purposes and Google Ads campaigns. Since it’s way easier to rank for low-competition keywords in SERPs, you can hit the traffic jackpot by targeting them. 

Despite the common belief that low competition keywords = long-tail keywords, this is not always true. While short-tail keywords are typically very competitive, you can still find fairly reachable short- and middle-tail keywords for your website. 

To choose the right keywords, consider search volume and specificity. For example, long-tail keywords tend to be more specific and niche-oriented, so content created around them has the potential to attract a target audience that is more precisely defined and way further down the buying cycle. 

Even though long-tail keywords often appear to have ‘low search volume’, they can still be a great source of traffic. Instead of focusing on a singular high-volume keyword, you can target a bunch of smaller volume keywords that can get you the same amount of traffic. In fact, the traffic generated by five good niche keywords could rival the traffic you’d get if you were to rank for a generic high-volume keyword. This is especially true for Google Ads.

On the other hand, short-tail, high-volume keywords may also have a low competition level. This typically happens when a keyword is not targeted strategically by other websites. 

Consider the following explanations for this occurrence: 

  • Niche targeting: These terms may not match the products or services offered by others.
  • Seasonality: Think of a high-volume keyword that is less competitive at off-peak times. 
  • Emerging trends: Keywords related to emerging or new trends may not have gained much attention yet.

How to find low-competition keywords

Now that you understand the importance of low-competition keywords, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of finding them.

Step 1. Build your initial keyword list 

Begin by identifying seed keywords that correspond to the core purpose of your business or content. These key terms will act as your guide, helping you set the stage for more targeted and refined search terms when conducting any future keyword research.

Take time to think about any broad themes associated with the products/services your business offers. For instance, if you’re a fitness company that sells sports equipment, the most relevant seed keywords for your business might be “fitness equipment,“ “gym gear,“ “exercise machines,“ “weightlifting gear,“ “home workout tools,” and “fitness accessories.” These seed keywords will serve as the basis from which to expand upon when creating a list of keywords that people might use when looking for fitness products.

Collaborative brainstorming with your team is another good way to build a list of seed keywords. Place yourself in the shoes of your potential customers and predict the types of phrases they might use to find solutions to their problems. 

Let’s consider the aforementioned example of a company offering sports equipment. In this context, concepts like”athletic equipment for kids,” “affordable fitness accessories,” “portable gym equipment,” and “winter sports equipment,” could materialize. 

Now, there’s no need to collect a large number of seed keywords. If selected carefully, a few main search terms can form the basis for a comprehensive list of keywords that have the potential to attract the right audience. This is where you’ll need to prioritize quality over quantity.

Once your list of seed keywords is ready, you can use SE Ranking’s Keyword Tool to build a comprehensive list of search terms. This tool not only provides a list of similar, related, and low search volume keyword options, but also allows you to analyze each search term using a set of essential SEO metrics, including search volume, CPC, competition, and difficulty.

Enter a search term and find untapped keyword opportunities to make your site more visible in search.

Let’s take a look at how this tool works. We’ll use the sports equipment company example above for added context. So, when building the initial list of keywords, we identified a bunch of interesting queries, including “portable gym equipment.” 

Let’s use SE Ranking’s Keyword tool to analyze this query further.

Keyword Research Tool

As you can see in the screenshot above, “portable gym equipment” has a low difficulty score of 26 and a relatively high search volume of 320 in the US. This indicates that it won’t take much effort to target it with your content and generate traffic. 

But let’s not stop here.

Let’s identify even more valuable opportunities based on queries like this. Simply navigate to the Keyword Ideas section and take a look at the list of Similar, Related, Question-Based, and Low Search Volume keywords.

Within the Similar section, you’ll find alternative search queries bearing semantic resemblance to the analyzed keyword (e.g., best portable home gym equipment). 

In the Related section, there are keywords that share common pages ranking among the top 100 search results on Google (e.g., equipment for home gym). Take a look here at the Relevance column, as it represents essential data into how well the keyword matches the analyzed term. The higher this metric, the higher the keyword’s relevance.

Keyword suggestions

What’s more, this tool gives you the opportunity to perform bulk keyword analysis. Let’s say you’ve come up with a list of dozens or even hundreds of search terms during your initial research and want to evaluate their SEO performance. In this scenario, you can import them through .TXT or .CSV files, or manually input them. In a matter of minutes, the tool will analyze the search queries and deliver a comprehensive report brimming with valuable SEO data on all of your keywords.

Step 2. Expand the list 

Now you have the initial list of keywords at your fingertips, but there’s still more work to be done. It’s time to expand this list with related keywords, long-tail variations, and more specific search terms that people are using to find content similar to yours. 

To identify more low-competition keywords, you’ll need to explore your competitors’ websites and examine the keywords they are targeting. This can provide valuable insights into untapped opportunities within your niche.

To make things easier, you can use SE Ranking’s Competitor Website Analysis Tool. This tool helps you see the list of search terms your direct competitors rank for. Just type their domain into the search box, and you’ll get a eye-bird’s view of their visitors, backlinks, ad strategies, and most importantly, the keywords they use to attract and convert leads into customers.

Competitive Research Tool

The Competitor Comparison section of this tool allows you to compare your website to any two domains. You can compare their semantics to determine if there is any keyword overlap. This helps you find keywords your competitors are using that you’re not targeting yet. 

Competitive Comparison section

You can compare all three domains. For example, you can compare domain 1 vs domain 2, domain 1 vs domain 3, or domain 2 vs domain 3. Also, this tool allows you to discover search terms that are unique to each domain.

After selecting the best keywords for your marketing goals, you can export them in .XLS or .CSV format. You can also put them in a special Keyword Manager List or your project. Then you can track their performance over time.

Who are your closest rivals and how do they position themselves in search? It's time to find out.

Step 3. Filter for low ‘difficulty’ keywords 

The last important step in finding low competition keywords is applying filters to narrow down your search. Identifying keywords with a lower difficulty score means you are more likely to attract the right visitors who will benefit from your content and offerings.

Whether you use SE Ranking’s Competitive Research Tool or Keyword Research Tool, you can easily filter lists of keywords within a few clicks. Just click on the Filters button, then tailor the difficulty score to your liking by selecting a specific range, ideally aiming for low competition keywords within the 0-10 score range. Your keyword list might look like this as a result:

keyword difficulty filtering

To narrow down your list, you can use a mix of parameters to find the right keywords. For example, you can filter keywords by search intent (e.g., transactional), or by the minimum number of words in the phrase. To illustrate this example, you can identify long-tail keywords by applying a filter to search terms that consist of three or more words. You can also filter keywords by difficulty score (e.g., no more than 50), and high search volume (e.g., starting from 100 monthly searches).

keywords filtering

Understanding keyword competition 

Now that you know how to find low-competition keywords, let’s move on to keyword competition metrics. We’ll determine how the competition metric correlates with other metrics, and look into how it is measured by different tools. 

Keyword difficulty vs competition

Let’s first consider that the terms we use here are specific to our own tools, but they may have some semantic overlap with alternative tools in other contexts. Now that we know that, let’s take a deep look at the differences between keyword difficulty and keyword competition.

Long story short, keyword difficulty can be defined as a measure of how difficult it would be to rank for a given keyword in organic search. Keyword competition, on the other hand, reflects the same data but for paid results. 

The difficulty score is usually used in SEO and mostly determined by the authority level of websites targeting this particular search query and their backlink profile. A low keyword difficulty usually indicates that it will be easier to get into the top positions of SERPs when targeting certain keywords. 

Still, keep in mind that different tools often yield different results for keyword difficulty. This is because they operate based on different algorithms.

Here at SE Ranking, we calculate the difficulty score based on the top 10 search results for a given query, considering the quality of domains and their backlink profiles. As keyword difficulty rises, so does the amount of effort needed for optimization.

Using our unique algorithms, we provide a keyword difficulty scale ranging from  0 to 100:

keyword SEO difficulty ranges

On a related note, the keyword competition metric typically shows the level of competition in Google Ads for a specific keyword. This metric helps advertisers gauge how challenging it would be to bid on a particular search term.

We source competition data directly from Google Ads and categorize it into three main blocks, ranging from low to high: 

  • Low competition: Score of 0 to 0.3 
  • Average competition: Score of 0.3 to 0.7 
  • High competition: Score of 0.7 to 1 

When Google lacks sufficient data for a keyword, SE Ranking displays a dash (-) to indicate the absence of information. 

The same categorization principle is used in Google Ads’ Keyword Planner, with competition scores ranging from 0 to 100. To calculate this value, Google divides the number of filled ad slots by the total number of ad slots available.

High keyword competition results in higher bids and higher CPC, while low keyword competition can often help you save on your campaign budget. To prevent fruitless spending, consider checking keyword competition before running your ads.

Keyword competition and search intent 

Even if a keyword has low competition, targeting it just because it corresponds to certain numbers is not the best idea. In fact, after conducting keyword research, your next step should be to create high-quality content around the identified search terms. What’s even more important is aligning it with the intent of your target audience. 

For example, you can target navigational keywords related to other brands, pushing your content up to the top 5 of organic search results. But people may not click on your results if their primary intent is to visit this particular brand’s website.

To ensure you’re headed in the right direction and select the right keywords for your website type, pay special attention to the search intent of potential keyword opportunities. One way to identify the search intent type behind search queries is by looking at their modifiers:

  • Informational: “What is…?”, “How to…?”, “Meaning of…?”
  • Navigational: “Official website of…?”, “Location of…?”
  • Transactional: “Buy…?”, “Deals on…?”, “Price of…?”
  • Commercial: “Best…?”, “Review of…?”, “Compare…?”
  • Local: “Near me”, “Local…”, “City name + service/business”

You might also have a list of dozens or even hundreds of keywords, so going through each of them would be too inconvenient and time-consuming. To streamline this process, you can refine your search by filtering keywords that match your search intent. 

To illustrate this, when using SE Ranking’s Keyword or Competitive Research Tool, you can go to Filters and select one or more user intents by pinpointing them. 

search intent filtering

And there you have it—a keyword list with terms that are perfectly aligned with the desired search intent.

There’s also an alternative option. You can identify keywords with a specific search intent by filtering queries using the phrase match method. So if you want to find informational keywords, click on the Filters button and input the “how to” keyword into the Include field. This will help you discover keywords that match a specific search intent using the above-mentioned modifiers.

search intent filtering by modifiers

Keyword competition and domain trust 

When analyzing potential keyword opportunities for your website, you need to know the relationship between domain trust (DT) and keyword difficulty/competition. Domain trust measures how strong your backlink profile is. And while SE Ranking’s keyword difficulty metric largely relies on the backlink analysis of URLs within a particular SERP, the domain trust metric is based on the overall assessment of a specific domain in terms of its referring domains and their quality.

This might put you in a situation where a keyword initially appears to have low difficulty, but a more in-depth analysis using our SERP Checker reveals a different picture; each domain appearing in the SERP has a particularly high level of domain trust. This implies that the keyword won’t be able to get into the top 10 results.

Typically, websites with a high DT are way more likely to secure rankings for both highly competitive and less competitive keywords compared to new or smaller websites. Let’s say you’re launching a blog that provides valuable information in the technology sector. You’ve created high-quality content around low-competition keywords and expect to get a boom of organic traffic, but then you notice that TechCrunch has published an article using the same search terms. Even if TechCrunch builds zero backlinks to this page, it will still outrank you. Why? Domain trust and having a website with a strong overall backlink profile is the answer.

But it’s still useful to target low-competition keywords even if you have a lower DT than bigger online players. Since there are over 200 factors that can affect SERP performance, even websites with lower DT can easily outrank competitors with a higher score. 

The beauty of low-competition keywords is that you can often outrank big brands with robust websites simply by offering impeccably optimized, higher-quality content.

And if you have no idea what your DT is, you can use our Domain Trust Checker to check your score.

Closing thoughts

Low-competition keywords are indispensable for SEO and Google Ads campaigns. But if you want to find the most profitable options that align with your marketing goals, you’ll have to invest some time into advanced keyword research. Rest assured, this process will pay off in the long run. 

Now, building a list of low competition keywords is only the first step to attracting the right audience. Your next task is to produce high-quality content that resonates with the needs of your audience, which is another story entirely.

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