A.J. Ghergich

On-Page Boot Camp: How To Identify Striking Distance Keywords

Businesses may operate differently based on their industry or market share, but when it comes to SEO, everyone is the same. No matter the size or the nature of your company, its website still needs to rank well on search engines, and benefit from high visibility and traffic.

In this series of four short videos, A.J. Ghergich, an SEO pro and founder of Ghergich & Co., will explain how the combination of simple techniques and the SEMrush toolkit can help you gain relevant traffic. The first video in the series is about finding the pages on your website that have the best shot at ranking on the first page of a SERP, as well as picking the right keywords and filling in content gaps. — SEMrush Team.

Video Transcription

“The Human Torch was denied a bank loan.”

What is up SEMrushers? My name is A.J. Ghergich, and I am the founder of Ghergich & Co. I am really into content marketing and SEO (as you could probably already tell by my flannel shirt.)

I’ve been in SEO since 2004, and started my own agency, Ghergich & Co., in 2012. We focus on creating high-end SEO assets and doing the outreach: getting social engagement and links for those pieces of high-end content for brands like Petco, Quicken Loans, a sister company of Staples right now, Quill, Salesforce, as well as many small- and medium-sized businesses.

SEMrush came to me and asked if we could do a quick series — four videos, all short, all actionable — on how I use SEMrush to get actual results for our clients. So, these are the topics we are going to cover, starting with how to identify striking distance keywords in hubs. It’s an honor to be here.

Enough yakkin’. Let’s dive into the first video.

Okay, let’s talk about how to identify striking distance keywords and use them to fill content gaps that you currently have with your competitors.

Striking distance keywords are simply keywords you rank for — but you rank for, you know, page two, page three, and not where you want to be, which is (of course) page one. So the idea is that they’re in striking distance of your goal.

I am currently on energizer.com. They’re not a client of mine, I picked them as an example site, because we’re both headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri.

1. Find the pages with the best potential

So if they were a client of mine, this is what I’d do. One of first things I’d do is to get a quick win, and that is to identify these keywords they’re ranking on page two and three with SEMrush. And go about a simple system to boost them over the course of couple weeks — not months, not years.

I would go over to SEMrush, I would go into the Domain Analytics, into the Keyword Positions section, and I would see that they have 30,000 keywords.

They’re a large brand, that’s not surprising, but obviously it’s too much to wade through. This is where SEMrush really shines for me is its ability to take large amounts of data, like 30,000 keywords, and allow me to really focus in on what I care about right at this moment. Now you’ll see I have a ton of filters.

Essentially, I use these filters to show me stuff on page two, and page three, with a little bit of transactional value.

I have it very low because batteries just don’t sell for that much (they’re not expensive), and little bit of volume, and actually a pretty high score for keyword difficulty. But this is a large brand, so they can handle that. If you were dealing with a local automotive repair shop, you might want be in the twenty or forty range on where you feel comfortable with keyword difficulty.

Lastly, I have a number of keywords. I am looking to reduce the noise since there are so many keywords. I am looking for phrases with three words and up.

So, what happens here is that we’ve got way less results. And again, we’re looking for striking distance keywords.

2. Find your hub

But what I am actually looking for, and I’ve found one right that piques my interest right away: ‘hearing aid batteries’. It has one of the highest volumes, but it has the ability to become a hub. So, what I am actually looking for is, yes, striking distance keywords, but I am also looking for keywords that could become a content category or a hub with lots of other terms around it. So I could lift that whole category up.

So, what we’ll do is we will add the word ‘aid’, and what you want to see at this point is lots of keywords on page two and page three. If you do, which we are seeing right here, are just tons of keywords on page two and page three. I mean that’s just potential right there, just waiting to be tapped.

3. Refine the pages

So, once you see that, you know that you’ve found your hub. But the first step is just to gather my assets. In this case there is a page on hearing aid batteries. It’s really just a single page, that’s it. There is no hub here. Then, what we are going to do is a very simple three-step process.

1. Increase internal links to your pages

You’re going to want to increase the internal links to those assets. I’ve checked, and this page has about 600 internal links, but there are thousands and thousands of pages on Energizer, so they could easily bump that up.

2. Refresh existing content

Then, the next thing you want to do is refresh the existing content. So you might wanna work in some of these new keywords, some semantically related language, and be more helpful to the reader and answering these questions that you see keywords are uncovering.

Wait, isn't there a tool for that in SEMrush? Right! It's SEO Ideas.

3. Create new content

Lastly, is create new content. Since they really only have the one asset, this is what I would do. I would create a hub that looked something like this: ‘batteries/hearing-aid’ or ‘hearing-aids’, and off of that I would have a ‘reviews’ section. I would have a ‘recycle’ section, because there are a ton of keywords in there about ‘how do you recycle?’. Then, there were tons of questions about how long these batteries last. And also people looking for charts, and size charts and comparison charts. Group these keywords and make a comparison chart section so you can compare the different battery sizes.

Stop right there, is there a tool in SEMrush that could help with that, too? No way, SEO Content Template

Give it a try!

Okay, so go ahead and give this a try. You can connect with me on Twitter, I am @SEO. And let me know the results you were able to achieve. Our next video is coming out really soon. I am really excited because I get to show off my favorite SEMrush tool, which is Keyword Magic, and walk you through my process for finding and earning featured snippets.

Find striking distance keywords!

SEMrush Keyword Magic tool

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Impressive!Thanks for the post
Very useful tips. I will try them out. Thank you A.J.
Awesome read! Thanks semrush! [link removed by moderator]
Great post! Will have to try that. Nice tips to read as I'm new to SEMRush.
great video, lots of actionable info. Looking forward to the next in the series, maybe 'I'm A.J. Ghergich???'
'when it comes to SEO, everyone is the same'
- No they are not! I know number of business which are alive just because they are invisible. Once they exposed to google – they 're fked.
Hi A.J.,
Good stuff, question for you. You say to create a "hub" do I move existing content to the hub and 301 the old urls? Or just refresh the old content where it is and create new content in the hub (with links from the old content to the hub)?
Gregory White
I would move the content and 301 in most cases unless you already have great rankings. When you move it is a great time to refresh that content as well. If you don't have a lot of content you can just do this all on one page with sections as well.
A.J. Ghergich
Will do! One more follow-up, I have over 6,000 pages on my site, how many internal links should I establish beyond my normal navigation to each page/keyword that I am trying to boost up? Is a couple of dozen per page/keyword a good start or should I be thinking 100+?
Gregory White
Try this, divide your keywords into 3 tiers.

Your top tier 1 should really be pretty small like 10 to 25 pages. Obviously, adjust this advice per site/niche. Those pages should get links from just about every single page you have.

Tier 2 is where you might get 25 to 100 internal links from relevant blog posts, sub categories, and related products etc...and that would be hard for me to say without seeing the keywords how many you should group in there but it will probably be pretty logical to tell.

Teir 3 are keywords you are much less concerned about but still going for. These are usually low competition SERPs and can get by with 5 to 10 internal links.

Again, this is just really generic advice so adjust accordingly but it really comes down to how many keywords are out there your site matches search intent and can provide value to the searcher.
Being relatively new to SemRush, this segment was extremely helpful. I didn't use the filters as shown, and finding that hub was key also. Thanks and looking forward to what's next.
John Kelly
That is awesome to hear! Very happy you found it actionable.
I have tried plugging in your filters for some smaller clients and I am not able to get many results. What is your method for the smaller companies vs larger ones that don't have as many keywords.
Have you tried it on their competitors? If they client does not have a lot of rankings you can be better off trying it on a competitor or similar national brand.
The other option is to just loosen up the filters a bit. For them maybe top 30 keywords are within striking distance. And you may be ok with no CPC costs and so on. Smaller clients usually have less competitive keywords overall if they are local or in a niche. Happy to peak at one if you have an example.
Hi, Nice article however I won't recommend to break it into 3-4 different articles, The only section that might deserve a different url is the reviews section as it's not related to the other parts of the article(recycle, how long) a user that is interested at recycling and in the length of batteries is interested will prefer to get the whole info at one section and more likely to share it as it will be more impressive especially with a comparison chart.
amir raguan
Thanks Amir! Yeah, I agree that a single page with all the info is also a very viable option. It really just depends on the amount of info you have. Typically I would use the main page as the hub with a sample review or testimonial then link to the actual reviews page. But honestly, there are many ways to tackle this and site owners should experiment.
A.J. Ghergich
Great stuff... When is the next series going to be out? We've had a terrible time with a site ranking on page 1 (local SEO work), and when I floated this by other pros, nobody can give us a clear picture as to why it's not ranking, other than domain age. Driving us NUTS! So I'm hoping this series can give us some insights as to how to improve.
Eric Caldwell
I feel ya, Local SEO can be frustrating to dissect. I assume you have already collected a ton of citations and got the client NAP using tools like https://whitespark.ca/local-citation-finder/ all perfect across the board?
A.J. Ghergich
For NAP we use YEXT to keep all that straight and still fighting to get the GBD listing clean from the last SEO company. They refuse to release control so, time for yet another call to Google to have them release everyone from ownership so we can reclaim it. The last SEO company set their location to deliver services and goods so, their address doesn't show in the topX. UGH.. I'll look into WiteSpark. How does it compare to YEXT?
Eric Caldwell
Man sounds like they last agency put them in a bad spot. This is a year or so old but still pretty accurate https://www.brightlocal.com/2016/11/02/moz-local-vs-yext-vs-brightlocal-vs-whitespark/ Whitespark is great for agencies and would allow you to cut your per site costs in half most likely. Just my 2 cents, I have no affiliation with them.
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