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How to Find Low-Competition Keywords with SEMrush [Spoiler Alert - It's SUPER easy]

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This post is in English
Luke Harsel updated
This post is in English
How to Find Low-Competition Keywords with SEMrush [Spoiler Alert - It's SUPER easy]

When entering a new market with a new website, you’re gonna want to find the absolute best keywords for your SEO strategy.

While building your list of the most relevant search terms, keep in mind: At this very moment, your competitors are doing the same! Moreover, your strongest online rivals have already ranked not only on the first page of a search engine results page but in its top positions.

Do you have any chance of overrunning your competition? Definitely! But, you have to be smart - and start by targeting the keywords with the lowest competition.

More on this How to Use SEMrush for Keyword Research Post Nikolai Boroda Learning how to do keyword research is essential for businesses. Just be careful when choosing them. Before you begin placing search terms you believe your potential customers would use to find your services or products on your site, make sure you have chosen enough low-competition keywords.

Low-competition keywords are indispensable for boosting your website’s rank. How can you find them? Follow the instructions below.

1) Build Your Initial Keyword List

Go to Organic Research, then enter a competitor’s domain name and click Search. You will get a list of keywords your competitor’s website is ranking for in Google’s top 100 organic search results.

build-initial-keyword-list

Use filters to find keywords that are most relevant to your business. For example, here’s how it looks with a filter for “vegan.” 

image.png

Generate an Organic Search Positions report for multiple domains, and export the results into an XLS or a CSV file. Plan to consolidate all exported files into a single file in order to have all relevant keywords in one place.

You can also use the Keyword Gap tool to view unique keywords per domain and export your results. To collect as many keywords as possible, enter your site and four of your competitors into the input fields and scroll down to set the table filter from “Shared” to “All Keywords”

image.png

For example, we took the following five domains: fitmencook.com, sweetpeasandsaffron.com, projectmealplan.com, workweeklunch.com, and flavcity.com. In a few clicks, we built a list of over 140,000 keywords for the food blogging industry.

Tip: If you don’t know 5 domains that are in your website’s industry, use the Competitors report tab in Organic Research.

Export this report to another XLS or CSV and combine the list with your other exports so you can keep a master list going. The next step will help you find even more keyword ideas to add here.

Keyword Magic Tool

An Easy-to-Use Keyword Research Tool

Please specify a valid domain, e.g., www.example.com

2) Expand Your Keyword List

The goal of keyword expansion is to augment your initial keyword research with search terms and phrases you might have overlooked. After expanding the list as much as possible, we’ll go back and filter it down to find the most accessible targets for your site. 

  • To find phrase match keywords, go to the Keyword Magic Tool, enter a term from your initial list of search terms and click Search. You will get a list of expanded keyword phrases that include your queried term.

    image.png

  • To find related keywords, use the Related filter. This will list phrases that are semantically related to a particular queried search term and may not share the same phrasing but have similar search results. You’ll want to add some of these to your plan as well to cover your bases.

  • To find question keywords (which make for great content topics) use the Questions filter. This will display only keyword phrases that include who, what, where, when, why, or how. 

image.png

Again, export your results and continue collecting them into a consolidated file with all the other keywords you’d like to target.

3) Discover High-Volume Keywords with Less Competition

The average monthly search volume for each keyword shows you how much potential traffic you can receive. The higher your rankings for high-volume search terms are, the more traffic will be driven to your website. But unfortunately, competition for most high volume keywords is very high.

There's no sense in trying to rank for keywords you have no chance of ranking for; that’s why you need to find the right balance between a keyword’s search volume and its competition level.

To help you with this step, SEMrush has two main ways of filtering out keywords that are too competitive:

  1. Keyword Difficulty - an estimation of how difficult it would be to outrank the current websites and webpages ranking in the top spots on Google for a particular keyword.

  2. Competition Level - the density of advertisers using a particular search phrase for their ads. Although this metric refers to competition in paid search, it can be somewhat representative of organic search competition as well.

In all of your exports (or in the interface), you should be able to locate a column for these two metrics. Both metrics will help you find the best keywords to start targeting to find success. 

Estimating Keyword Difficulty

The keyword difficulty (from 1-100%) shows you an estimate of how difficult it would be to seize your competitors’ positions in the Google top 100 with a particular keyword. The higher the percentage, the more effort you’ll need to outrank your competition for targeted keywords:

  • Above 80%: The most difficult keywords. You’ll have to invest a lot of SEO and link-building efforts, as well as time before you’ll be able to enter the Google top 20. If you have a new site, you shouldn’t focus on highly competitive keywords.

  • From 60-80%: Keywords with average difficulty. Entering the Google top 20 with these keywords won't be easy either. However, with high-quality content and relevant backlinks, you'll be able to seize your competitors’ positions in time.

  • Below 60%: Keywords that are the easiest to rank for, but the most difficult to find. Discovering low-competition, high-volume keywords will require hard work and patience. But if you are lucky enough to find a strong list of these search terms and implement them throughout your site, you’ll have a very good chance of ranking high for these high-volume search terms.

Estimating Competition Level

For estimating Competition Level, we can assume the scale is roughly the same. The main difference here is that the metric is a decimal between 0 and 1 and that it measures the density of paid advertisers. 

The closer the score is to 1, the higher the amount of advertiser density and therefore the harder it would be to stand out in the search results.

  • Above 0.80: These keywords are highly competitive among advertisers and therefore likely send traffic to paid results. You could infer that if a keyword has a high density of advertisers, the search has some intent on making a transaction. 

  • From 0.60 - 0.80: Keywords with an average density of advertisers. You could experiment with advertising on these keywords if your organic efforts don’t work out, but it won’t be a quick win on any of these keywords, either.

  • Below 0.60: Keywords with the lowest density of advertisers. This could either mean that they are under the radar of most competitors that advertise in your niche, or they are simply not profitable to advertise on. Keep this in mind when dedicating 

Learn more about SEMrush metrics

in the SEMrush Knowledge Base

Please specify a valid domain, e.g., www.example.com

4) Filter your master list to find low-competition keywords

Now, once you understand the range of difficulty you want to attack, it’s time to dive into your master list and filter based on these competitive metrics. 

Start with a filter for KD to only look at keywords with a KD score less than 75. This should still allow you to find some high volume targets that won’t be extremely difficult to rank for. 

filter keyword difficulty

Use the Keyword Difficulty Tool

A quick way to estimate the competitiveness for keywords in bulk is by using the SEMrush Keyword Difficulty tool.

Perhaps you have a previous list of keyword targets or a list of keywords your site ranks for exported from Google Search Console. You can drop that list in here and quickly see how we rate the difficulty of each keyword. 

In the Keyword Difficulty Tool, you can view the keyword difficulty of up to 100 keywords at once. Enter one search term per line, and click the Show Difficulty button.

SEMrush keyword difficulty tool

The report will give you the KD scores of your unique batch of keywords. 

Spot Featured Snippet Opportunities

While you’re in the Keyword Difficulty Tool, you should be able to see which keywords trigger SERP Features like Featured Snippets or Instant Answers. Featured Snippets are those pop-up answers at the top of the search results page that gives searchers an answer before having to even click on a result. 

These are HUGE for SEO and you should take note of each keyword in your plan that has a Featured Snippet. If you compose your content in the right way, you just might be able to take over the Featured Snippet with your link. 

SEMrush difficulty tool Featured Snippet

Recap

Learning how to do keyword research is essential for businesses. To do it well, you just need to be careful when choosing your targets. 

Believe in your SEO success, and follow these steps:

  • Analyze competitors and build an initial keyword list;

  • Enrich it with related keywords, phrase match keywords, and questions;

  • Estimate your competition and your competitors’ keyword difficulty;

  • Implement keywords through your website;

  • Conduct research of low-competition keyword regularly;

  • Track your rankings to see if they’re growing!

Get a free 7-day trial

Discover your organic competitors

Please specify a valid domain, e.g., www.example.com

Luke Harsel
SEMrush

SEMrush employee.

I write articles on the SEMrush Knowledge Base and blog to show people how the tools on SEMrush can make it easier to participate in digital marketing. When I'm not at work I like to write music and spend time in nature.
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