Should I Go After Competitive Keywords On My Blog?

This is a crucial question for bloggers, especially new ones who are setting their site up and want to know the best way to start driving traffic to make money online. But is it actually a good idea to go after really competitive, top keywords in your blog niche, and if so, how are we meant to do this?

Whilst it is possible to rank for competitive keywords in your niche, it is only recommended to attempt this once your blog has some credibility and authority on Google. At first it is best to target and rank for lower competition keywords and slowly build up to the more competitive keywords, once your site has ranked for some less competitive search terms.

In other words, the order in which you write the content on a new site is very important in determining whether you even stand a chance of competing for the toughest keywords in your niche.

It is a very common mistake among new bloggers to immediately go after the really competitive keywords and search terms, thinking this is where the “real big bucks” are.

Whilst this is true, if you just write articles targeting these super-competitive keywords right off the bat, without first having proven yourself with some wins on lower competition seaches, then Google will not rank the content, because it has no reason to trust your site over all the others.

Building up authority on a new (or existing) blog requires that you write your content in a very specific order:

  • Low competition keywords – Super specific, low competition, lower volume searches with average or poor search results. Short, quick, response posts.
  • Medium competition keywords – More broad, moderately competitive topics with some results from other sites. Needs more meaty content.
  • High competition keywords – Very broad, short tail keyword searches in your niche, very high volume and very high competition, with lots of high quality results from well known sites. Requires very long, detailed content to compete. Only go for these terms after you’ve written some articles in the first two categories.

Let’s break down each of these steps in more detail, examining how to find and produce content that fits into each of these 3 categories.

How specific vs general/broad a search term is often determines how competitive it is

Step #1 – Target Low Competition Keywords

Before you even think about going after really competitive and profitable keywords in your niche, you need to score some wins with lower competition, very specific keyword searches.

This tells Google that you have some credibility in answering smaller queries in your niche, which allows them to then give you a shot with more competitive keyword searches.

For existing sites, the strategy is the same, especially if you have really well written content for competitive keywords that hasn’t ranked. You should make sure you have ranked some content for less competitive queries, and then republish your pillar content with a new URL, redirecting the old to the new.

The order in which you publish content on a new blog is very important in determining how much trust Google gives you for more competitive keywords (Income School’s “content mix” concept).

But how exactly do we find these low competition keyword searches to start out with? Our favorite approach is that of the guys at Income School – of simply playing around with auto-complete searches with Google and analyzing the results to find lower competition searches in your niche where you can score some easier wins.

See the excellent video below where they show you how to do this. They don’t use keyword tools, since they rarely give accurate search volume. It’s a more manual and common sense method, but still works great.

Some Basic Keyword Research From Income School…..


Here is a summary of what you’re looking for, for the low competition keyword searches:

  • More specific, longer tail searches, really asking a specific question and drilling down 2-3 layers into a topic.
  • Returns results from unknown sites – short articles.
  • Sometimes returns very old, out of date results.
  • Returns results from forums, Quora or Reddit.
  • Content is usually very short and thin. Not very detailed or thorough.
  • Results are sometimes not even directly answering the question, but only answer related questions. Not directly on point.

Here are some examples of some of these types of specific searches:

  • “How long does it take to change brake pads Ford Ranger”
  • “Fixing PS4 Error CE-34878-0”
  • “Is it legal to fish at night in Washington State”
  • “How many times can I reset skill points in Diablo II”

These aren’t great examples – I couldn’t think of any off the top of my head – but hopefully you get the general idea. You are looking for very specific keyword searches asking a very specific question about something in your niche.

If the results for these searches are not very good, or not on point, and you know you can write a much better resource answering that question in more detail, then these are the low competition keywords you should go for first on a blog. Forum results, especially older ones, are great search terms to target.

Aim for shorter posts of 1000-1500 words that directly answer a specific question.

They will not be hard to rank for, and once you do, Google will give you a shot with some slightly more competitive searches, which we’ll go into detail about now.

If you’d rather not spend time doing keyword research this more manual way, or are struggling to find good openings in your niche in terms of low competition keywords, then there are some freelance services available that will do keyword research for you.

Spending a little bit of money to make sure you get this initial aspect of keyword research right can be well worth it on a new site, since it is crucial to gain some early “wins” on Google with low competition keywords before they will start to trust you with higher competition searches.

Step #2 – Target Medium Competition Keywords

Once you’ve published some of these lower competition keyword articles, you can move up to something more competitive.

Medium competition keywords are defined as something a little more broad and general in your niche, and return some slightly more authoritative results.

Here are some common features of medium competition keyword searches:

  • Often slightly shorter, broader search terms.
  • Returns results from more authoritative sites, or longer articles from other blogs in your niche.
  • An article from a big authoritative site which is only very short, or doesn’t directly answer the question, could also be put in this category.
  • Existing content is of better quality, so you need better articles in order to compete.
  • “How to….”, “Can I…..”, or “X vs Y” comparison posts often fall into this category.
  • Some “review of …” posts also fall into this category, though some are high competition as well.
  • Some “Best X for Y” posts fall in this category, though sometimes they also fall into the high competition category depending on the length of the content.
  • “Top 10….” or “Best 5 ways to…..” posts also often fit in this category.
  • In general, the existing content is decent, but you are still confident you can write a better resources for that search term, covering the topic from more angles.

Some examples of medium competition keyword searches:

  • “Path of Exile vs Diablo”
  • “When is it cheaper to build a home?”
  • “Best 5 ways to cook salmon”
  • “10 biggest cities in the Netherlands”
  • “How many times can you bleach your hair?”

Again sorry, they are not great examples, but you can see that we are moving up to a slightly more competitive set of keyword searches in your niche, that will require a better, longer and more detailed article in order to compete with what already ranks for that term.

More Keyword Research From Income School…


As a result, aim for articles of 2000-2500 words for these keyword terms. Cover the topic from more angles, and make it engaging, well formatted and shareable.

These will take longer to rank for, but as long as you write a good resource and have already scored some wins with the lower competition keywords we covered above, you should also bring in traffic for these queries as well.

Now let’s move onto what our readers are really looking for – the high competition keywords in your niche.

Product reviews for very popular things like the iPhone are very competitive keywords

Step #3 – Target High Competition Keywords

Once you’ve ranked for the low and medium competition search terms, this is when you can go for the really competitive keywords, that can bring in a lot of traffic and make you some serious money online.

Remember, don’t go for these ones first though, without having proven yourself to Google with the lower competition ones we covered above.

Make sure you’ve followed the first two steps above, especially on a new blog, and then move on the the really high competition search terms.

Here are some common features of high competition keyword searches:

  • Shorter, very broad searches
  • eg “Best Xs” or some “Best X for Y” searches, if the results are very high quality.
  • Some”Review of X” posts are also high competition.
  • Top results are from big, authoritative sites that are well known in your niche (sometimes household name sites).
  • Top articles are very long, well presented and thorough resources for that term. As a result, you’ll need to produce a very good article to compete.

Some examples of high competition keyword searches:

  • “Best Netflix Series”
  • “How to Play Poker”
  • “iPhone 11 Review”
  • “Best Electric cars 2020”
  • “How to make money online”
  • “How to lose weight”

As you can see, you are moving up to really general, broader questions within your niche, that really need a long, in depth post to properly answer from all angles.

For these searches, aim for long posts of 3000+ words, matching and surpassing what the competition is doing.

Look to create a super useful, very detailed resource that thoroughly answers every aspect of the question.

With these posts, you also need to pick your battles. There are some of these high competition terms that it may not be worth going for, since in some niches you may be going up against too much competition to rank, even if you produce the best resource you can.

If the first page of the results is literally full of articles from big authoritative sites, or household brand sites like Forbes, then you may need to leave that keyword alone, because there’s no realistic way of competing against the domain authority of these sites, even if you do everything right.

If the first page has a few very good results, and then starts tapering off, then it may be worth a shot. Carefully assess the quality of the results and go after the ones you can at least match.

Once you start ranking for these super competitive keywords, then you know Google has started to really trust your site, and is prepared to give it a shot among the bigger sites in your niche.

This is how you build domain authority and grow traffic on a site without backlinking, though as we have kept emphasizing, you need to write the content in the right order for this strategy to succeed.

Summary – A Content Plan For Success With Competitive Keywords

Let’s summarize everything we have covered so far into a quick content plan for getting your blog content to rank for the really competitive keywords.

If you publish your posts in a very specific order, you will in time get Google to start trusting your site with very high competition keywords, which can bring in a lot of traffic, even if you don’t rank number one.

Here is the strategy in brief again:

1. First Batch of Content – Shorter articles answering very specific, low competition keyword searches with poor quality results, especially forums.

  • Publish 10-20 of these types of posts.
  • Aim for 1000-1500 words.
  • Quickly answer a very specific query.
  • Publish these before anything else on your site.

2. Second Batch of Content  – Longer articles, covering more general, in depth topics in your niche that already have some decent results.

  • Publish at least 10 of these posts
  • Aim for 2000-2500 words.
  • Go into more detail on a topic.
  • Use tables, images, videos and bulleted lists when appropriate.

3. Third Batch of Content – Very long, in depth articles, covering big topics and keywords in your niche that already have very good results from big sites in that space.

  • Publish at least 10 of these posts.
  • Aim for 3000 words+
  • Really create a definitive resource for that topic/search term.
  • Try to anticipate all the different reasons someone may search for that term (searcher intent). Provide information that satisfies as broad an audience as possible searching for that term.
  • Having original research helps with these types of posts.
  • Some of these keywords may need to be left alone in the most competitive of niches. Go after ones where you stand some chance of ranking in the top half of the first page.

If you are wanting to follow a successful team of internet marketers who use this exact approach to build authority on blogs and compete for tough keywords, then Jim and Ricky from Income School are the guys to listen to.

Their Project 24 course has a specific module on search analysis, that goes into this process in more detail, teaching you how to find good keywords in each of these three categories and produce content for them in a way that builds trust and authority with your site on Google.

See the seminar below where they go through this approach – what they call their content mix.

See the 15 minute mark for more on the content mix.

What If I’ve Written My Content in the Wrong Order On An Existing Site?

We wanted to create a small section for readers who may get what we are saying about the content mix, but already have a site that’s been online for a while, where the content has been published in the wrong order.

In others words, they did try and go for the competitive keywords first, without having built up some authority with lower competition terms first, and as a result the content they published for the competitive keywords didn’t rank, even if it was very good.

If this is the case with your site, then here is a simple guide to fix it:

Step #1 – If you haven’t already, go a find at least 10 lower competition keyword search terms as we showed above, and write content for them.

Step #2 – Do the same for medium competition keywords, if you haven’t done so already.

Step #3 – For the high competition keywords posts you wrote, if the content is genuinely good quality content, but was just published too early in the site’s life, then simply re-publish the post with a new URL and title.

Copy and paste over the old content, make any minor adjustments and improvements as needed. Publish the new post, move the old one to trash to avoid duplicate content, and redirect the old URL to the new one using a 301 redirect plugin. Only do this after publishing lower competition keyword content as per steps 1 & 2.


I like to draw on my own experience to help new bloggers and other digital marketers solve common problems encountered when working and making your money online

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