How Google Works And Why It’s Important To Target Low Competition Keywords
When you start a blog you don’t have too much authority in the eyes of Google. Your site will be placed in what we call the Google Sandbox and it will take time until you will see some organic traffic coming in.
That time can be over 6 months and depends on many factors like your niche, competition, incoming links to your articles, the amount of content that you publish, and so on. Read more in this study.
In order for your site to get authority, you will need to have good content that will help your readers and links pointing to your site. The more links you have from other useful sites the better.
Usually, inbound links will start to grow organically as you start to gain some traction on your site. Other people are doing this artificially with different link building methods.
In this article, I won’t talk about link building strategies because I don’t do that for my blogs and I don’t have too much knowledge on the subject. Fortunately, the internet is a resourceful place and you can read about link building in the following articles:
- The Noob Friendly Guide To Link Building [Ahref Blog]
- Link Building Techniques [AuthorityHacker]
- Link Building Plan For Niche Sites [Niche Site Project]
- The Beginner’s Guide To Link Building [Moz]
Be careful though, if you take the link building route and you mess things up Google can penalize your site.
So how your site will get some traction in the beginning when you don’t have too much authority? The answer is in low competition keywords.
In this article, I will show you exactly how I do my keyword research to find these low competition nuggets.
I will give you some real examples (with screenshots). I will show you different methods for finding those keywords by using free and paid tools.
And one important aspect I will show you how to do the search analysis and you will decide if a keyword is a low competition one and if it’s worth going after.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What Are Low Competition Keywords?
- Search Analysis And How Low Competition Keywords Looks Like?
- Different Methods I Use To Find Low Competition Keywords
Low competition keywords are those underserved terms or queries that people are searching on Google and they will get back low-quality results as in articles or pages that don’t answer their question.
In short, keywords that are not targeted by big sites, niche sites, or keywords that Google will show up in the top results poorly formated, ugly and short articles, user-generated content like forums, Quora answers, Reddit threads.
I will show you in the next section how low-quality results look like.
So why Google is showing these low-quality pages to users? The answer is simple. There is no better information on the internet that Google can show to the searcher. Basically, the search engine will show as an answer to the search query whatever it thinks is the best resource out there.
This is where you and I with our blogs come and fill in the blanks. We will give Google and people that are searching for these queries the best possible answer. And we will write an article on that topic. Google will like it, most of the time, and the article will show up in the top results.
NOTE: When your site is new, even if you target these low competition terms it can take some time to rank in the top 10 spots. At the start, you will rank somewhere in the 20-100 positions.
Finding keywords, in general, is not that hard. There are a lot of tools and methods that you can use to get ideas and search for those keywords that will end up in an article.
Finding those low competition keywords and deciding if a keyword is worth going after was one of the things I struggled when I started my blogging journey.
So let me show you how a low competition keyword looks like and in the next section I will teach you all my methods for finding those keywords.
I will pick a random niche and work on it as an example. Let’s say we want to write some articles on a website in the pet niche. More specifically about a certain type of pet: “Russian tortoise”.
If we go on Google and we type “russian tortoise” we will end up with the following result:
As you can see the top results are from authority sites like Petco.com, Wikipedia, and PetMD (spot number 4).
TIP: When I do my I like to change the Search Settings in Google to the United States (as my default region is not the US). Click on the Settings button under the search bar and change this option from there. Or you can use a VPN.
We will not target this keyword but instead, we will use it as a seed keyword that will help us to find underserved ones like the one in the picture below “how old is my russian tortoise”:
As I promised I will show exactly how to find low competition in the next section. Now I just want to show you how a low competition keyword looks like.
We can notice in the picture above that Google is showing as a snippet some content from Wikihow.pet but the article is a general one about tortoises and not optimized for the specific question we asked for.
The next spots are user-generated content from some pet forums. If you open those forum pages you will see people posting a picture with their pet and asking others to identify how old is their tortoise is.
And this is not what the Google searcher wants to know. With this particular question, they are trying to find out how they can identify the age of their russian tortoise.
This example is the perfect one for a low competition keyword that I would target if I had a pet blog.
I would write an entire article that will be helpful and good looking, with tables, images, and so on.
Because the content in the top spots is underserved I’m sure that Google will put my article in front.
Making this search analysis decision is almost like a gut feeling and you will get better and better at it.
Now that we know what we have to look for let’s see some methods on how we can find low competition keywords.
The Google Autocomplete Method (also called Alphabet Soup Method) is an easy and free way to make keyword research and to find keywords, queries, or phrases that people are searching on Google. Also, you can use this method to find subtopics or subheadings to use in the outlines for your articles.
Did you notice that every time you try to search something on Google a small drop-down list appears with some suggestions that Google thinks is what are you searching for?
The more words you type the more refined the suggestions are. See the GIF below as an example:
We can use this little helpful tool for keyword research. It is easy, simple, and free.
I usually do this. I have my seed word “russian tortoise” and I put in front of it a question modifier like “how”, “can”, “do” and try some letters. My searches will look list this:
- “how a russian tortoise”
- “how b russian tortoise”
- “how c russian tortoise”
and so on. Every time I change the letter the autocomplete will change.
In this way, I can get keyword ideas for free (keywords that real people are searching on Google). For each one that you find you should make the search analysis that I talked earlier in the article.
NOTE: I don’t use this method anymore to find my keywords because it is very slow. But I still use it to validate the keywords I find using the other methods. I really need to be sure that there is a Google Autocomplete for those keywords.
This is one of my favorite methods because I can get a big list of queries in a very short time. It is very easy and straightforward.
First thing is to put a seed keyword into Google search bar. Our example is “russian tortoise”. In the picture below you can see what we will get.
As you can notice there are only 4 results. If we expand some of the results (clicking the down arrow) more and more will appear.
I usually expand them like crazy and Google will show other related queries to the question you just expanded. When I get “bored” I select them all and copy-paste in a sheet file (I use Google Sheets).
- Don’t just click expand-shrink on only one query because you will end up with a lot of duplicates and not so diverse results.
- Also, be sure the one that you click on is something relevant to your niche. Sometimes Google will pop up results that are for something else and if you keep clicking on those you will deviate from your niche.
- Be sure before you copy-paste them to shrink them back (the end result should look like in the picture above).
- Some times I open some of the questions in a new tab by clicking the link next to Search For.
I repeat this a couple of times with different seed keywords related to the niche. Sometimes I can end up with thousands of queries.
The next step is to clean the sheet. I sort everything A to Z and remove duplicates (in Google Sheets click on Data->Remove Duplicates).
And it’s DONE! Now I have a big list with long-tail keywords that I can do the search analysis and pick the low competition ones to use on my blog.
I used to do this type of keyword research using the People Also Ask section a lot in the past. I’m still doing it from time to time but lately, I find it easier to use Ahrefs.
In the next section of the article, I will show you different strategies to use Ahrefs for keyword research.
Ahrefs it is a very good all-around SEO tool that I use everyday on my blogs but mainly I use if for keyword research. You can also use it to check your rankings or other websites rankings and check the backlink profile for your site or your competitors
But in the following section, I will talk about using the Ahrefs tool for keyword research. The most straightforward way is to use the Questions section in the Keywords Explorer.
With this method, you will get similar results as you would get with the People Also Asked Method but way faster.
Go to the Keywords Explorer section in Ahrefs, put your seed keyword(s) there, and hit search. A dashboard will appear, scroll down to the Question section, and click View.
A list of queries will appear. Click on the Export button on the right side.
You will have a list of queries from your seed keyword(s). You can open or import this list in Google Sheets or Excel and start doing the search analysis.
And it’s DONE!
If you do the search analysis on the keywords that you find using the methods above you will notice that sometimes different forums in your niche will be top results. Sometimes they can be Reddit posts, Quora answers, and so on.
I usually like to find a couple of these low competition sites and put them in a separate sheet and do a reverse engineering search on them.
Using Ahrefs for this is super easy.
As an example, I will use the low competition keyword I showed you in the search analysis section: “how old is my russian tortoise”. The second result for that query was a page from “tortoiseforum.org”
So I will plug this forum into Ahrefs Site Explorer and see for what keywords it is ranking.
You can filter these results as you like. For this one, I would show only the 1 to 5 position and filter to include only the “russian” word.
You will end up with a list of low competition keywords that already have the search analysis done. But I won’t take them as they are and I will manually search them on Google to see the exact ranking situation.
You can use this same method to find keywords on user-generated content sites like Quora and Reddit. The problem with them is that they are not niche-specific so you have to filter the results using some seed keywords.
Basically you will put quora.com or reddit.com or any other site you want to use this method on and some seed keyword filtering.
You will end up with some results like in the screenshots below:
I hope the article was useful for you and it will help you to get traffic faster to your blog.
Don’t worry in time you will do it over and over and you will get better at it. Like everything in life.
If you have time please also check Phil’s article on keyword research.
And if you have any questions join r/NicheWebsites on Reddit and ask them there. I will reply for sure.
Disclaimer: This article is a learning resource and I can’t guarantee that will get any kind of results with it.
Thanks for reading!