If you’re entering a new market or starting a new website, you’re gonna want to find as much low hanging fruit for your SEO strategy as possible.
In terms of SEO, the low hanging fruit is low competition high traffic queries.
Searches in the sweet spot of being not popular enough to be overly crowded with competitors, but still common enough to send your website traffic.
This sweet spot is where you find your best opportunities to start getting organic search traffic to your site.
With Semrush, you can quickly find long-tail keywords and specific questions people search for online that will be easier to rank for with our metrics like keyword difficulty, competitive density, and volume.
In just three easy steps, Semrush can be used as a low competition keyword tool — even if you’ve never used Semrush before, this process can be done in a matter of minutes.
Follow the instructions below.
Step 1. Build Your Initial Keyword List
Start with: Organic Research Positions.
Here you have to:
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.
We’ll use the healthy cooking niche as an example so a competitor would be fitmencook.com.
Now, you can dig through their performance and see the keywords where they are getting traffic from search engines.
Take note of the KD% (keyword difficulty) column. This is our way of measuring the difficulty of competing for this keyword if you’re starting from scratch.
We’ll talk more about KD% below in this post.
You can also use filters to find more specific search terms that are more relevant to your business. For example, here’s how it looks with a filter to find keywords that include “vegan.”
Add additional filters for KD%, volume, or even number of words per phrase (for example, keywords containing 4 words or more) to find low competition, long-tail keywords that you can add to your list.
Repeat this process for multiple competitors and send the keywords you like into the Keyword Manager where you can save a master list of up to 1000 keywords.
Pictured above is an example of an Organic Positions report getting filtered by KD% and then sending the top 100 keywords to a new list in Keyword Manager.
Next report to use: Keyword Gap
Go to the Keyword Gap tool to compare keywords between domains to find more long-tail queries
Enter your site and up to four of your competitors into the input fields and hit the compare button
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 healthy cooking niche.
Tip: If you don’t know 5 domains that are in your website’s industry, use the Competitors report tab in Organic Research.
Now export the keywords you like from this report to the Keyword Manager to combine the list with your other exports so you can keep a master list going.
Use the missing, weak, and untapped filters to find the best opportunities for your site.
The next step will help you find even more keyword ideas to add here.
Step 2. Expand Your Keyword List
Report to use: Keyword Magic Tool
Now it's time to expand your low competition high traffic keyword list with more phrases you might have overlooked.
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.
Next, use the Related filter to find related keywords.
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.
If we’re looking at this list of keywords in the image above — KD% is still pretty high. So if you see KD scores like this you’ll want to add a filter for lower difficulty. More on this in step 3.
Again, send your desired keywords to the list in Keyword Manager with all the other keywords you’d like to target.
Step 3. Filter for 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.
Yet, competition for the most popular keywords is very high. There's no sense in trying to rank for keywords you have no chance of ranking for. You need to find that 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 high competition keywords:
Keyword Difficulty — an estimation of how difficult it would be to organically (using SEO) outrank the current websites and webpages ranking in the top spots on Google for a particular keyword.
Competition Level — the density of paid advertisers (using PPC) 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 our keyword research reports as well as the Keyword Manager, 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, focusing on highly competitive keywords might not be a reasonable idea.
From 60-79%: 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 might be able to seize your competitors’ positions in time.
From 40-59%: Keywords that are possible to rank for when you’re starting out.
Below 40%: Keywords that are the very easiest to rank for, likely with low search volume or highly specific search intent.
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 number of advertisers currently bidding on this keyword. 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.
Again, you can refer to the suggested ranges above but the best opportunities to start with are keywords with KD% less than 60. Start looking for those keywords in the 50s, 40s, or below that are relevant to you and then build up from there.
Measure Difficulty With the Keyword Overview Report
Another quick way to estimate the competition for keywords in bulk is with the Semrush Keyword Overview. You can enter a list of up to 100 keywords from this tool’s main page.
Perhaps you have a list of keyword targets or a list of keywords your site already 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.
From the Keyword Overview homepage, you can view the keyword difficulty of up to 100 keywords at once. Enter one search term per line, choose your regional database, and click the Analyze button.
The report will give you the KD scores, along with other metrics like volume and CPC, of your unique batch of keywords.
Bonus Tip: Spot Featured Snippet Opportunities
While you’re in the Bulk Keyword Analysis, you can also 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.
A low-difficulty keyword that has a Featured Snippet on the SERP would be a great opportunity because you could:
Take up more real estate at the top of the SERP
Give your audience information faster and look trustworthy to them
Theoretically acquire this more easily than a high-difficulty keyword
For tips on acquiring a Featured Snippet, check out How to Target and Win SERP Features.
Learning how to do keyword research is essential for businesses. To do it well, you just need to be careful when choosing your targets.
Download our checklist at the top of this post to make sure you follow along when doing your keyword research.