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Method #1: Find the intersection of high search volume and low competition

Step 1: Find seed keywords

The first step is to come up with a list of “seed keywords.” Seed keywords are simple terms that answer basic questions about your business. By answering the following questions, you should end up with a strong list of seed keywords to get you started:

  • What do you do?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What problem do you solve?
  • What results do you get for clients?
  • What topics do your target clients like to read?

Once you’ve answered those questions with a few words and phrases, drop those seed
keywords into Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer tool. Click the search button.

Step 2: Locate keywords with low keyword difficulty (KD)

After you’ve entered your seed keyword(s) into Keyword Explorer, click the tab “All Keyword Ideas” in the left column.

This will generate new similar keywords based on the ones you came up with. For most agencies and freelancers, some of these keywords will be really competitive — and therefore, hard to rank for.

So our next step is to eliminate the hard-to-rank-for keywords, so you’re just left with the simplest ones.

For this, click the dropdown menu labeled “KD” and set the maximum difficulty to 25. This will provide you a list of high search volume keywords, with low rank difficulty. The next task is to comb through these keywords to eliminate the ones you know are irrelevant.

In this case, we’d avoid using “mighty fine” because that’s a branded keyword for another copywriter. You want to save the most relevant keywords to your keyword list. Just click the checkbox beside every keyword that sounds relevant to what you’re targeting.

Step 2: Locate keywords with low keyword difficulty (KD)

Now you can investigate some of these keywords more closely. Simply click on a keyword to open a screen with more details about it.

Scroll down to the bottom of this page to find the list of top pages for your keyword.

Open each of these pages to investigate.

Even if competition is low for the keyword you’re targeting, it’s worth looking at the articles and webpages currently on the first page for that search term.

Remember: there’s a reason Google is ranking them in the top spot. By reading each top article, you might be able to borrow their secret sauce — and make your articles twice as good.

Just a few things to look for as you browse competitor articles:

  • Title
  • Article structure
  • Headlines
  • Length (word count)

Reading the top-ranking articles will also teach you a thing or two about searcher intent, helping you answer the question: Why did someone search that term in Google?

The more you know about search intent, the easier it is to write quality content that solves the reader’s problem.

Method #2: Competitor keyword research

The second approach is to discover what keywords your competitors are ranking for — that you are not. Here’s how you do that using Ahrefs.

Step 1: Write down your main competitors

Competition is a weird subject in the professional services business. There may be thousands of people offering similar services to you. Still, you’ll never compete with most of those professionals, because there’s so much work to go around.

So how do you nail down competitors to find keyword opportunities? In our case, we decided to define our competitors by who’s ranking for the most copywriting-related content on Google. Whose names keep coming up for Google search results we want to rank for?

We Googled terms like “SaaS copywriter” and “software copywriter” to see which names appear.

You can do the same for your business. Write down any competitors who come up again and again.

Step 2: Insert competitors into Ahrer’s Content Gap tool

In the Ahrefs dashboard, start by typing your business URL into the search bar and click search.

Click the Content Gap tool.

Begin listing the selected competitor URLs into the respective type boxes on the next screen.

The content gap tool lets you compare your website’s search ranking with the search ranking of your competitors, looking for keywords where they rank and you don’t.

Click “Show keywords,” and consider the list.

You’ll get a long list of keywords. These include keywords your competitors are ranking
for that you should set your sights on. You can use this list to decide where there may be
opportunities to compete head-to-head.

Like we mentioned in the first keyword tutorial, the KD dropdown will help you limit
the keywords you view by their ranking difficulty. That way, you don’t waste your time
scrolling through the most challenging keyword opportunities.

Content marketing (and SEO) best practices

The fastest way to rank high is to publish more content. It’s basic math. The more blog posts you publish, the more keywords you naturally start ranking for.

If you write one post per month, you’ll have 12 posts that might get ranked by the end of the year.

If you write one post per week, you’ll have 52 posts that might get ranked by the end of the year. Basic arithmetic.

Sarabeth and I have always been pretty bad at writing for our own blog. We publish about one article per month. Dean recommends at least one blog post every two weeks — but ideally, we should publish once per week.

Great ideas are often better than finding the right keyword

If you have a great idea for a blog post, sometimes it’s better to punch out the great post instead of always diving into keyword research. Great ideas can spread on social media, driving more traffic — and possibly backlinks — to your website.

Writing about ideas that get you excited makes them easier to write. Often, that enthusiasm can also be sensed from your readers, which allows them to share in your excitement in the subject.

In addition, unique ideas help develop thought leadership. You can add new ideas to your larger industry conversation. Instead of simply writing about what people are already curious about, you can give them a new framework or idea that they didn’t know they wanted until they read about it on your blog.

Plus, you can start with writing a powerful blog post and then do keyword research to make sure you can optimize your idea.

Use other forms of distribution

Don’t limit yourself to just search engine optimization. Even if you’re writing for search, it’s
important to distribute your content far and wide using other channels.

Here are just a handful:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Quora (answer questions and post in Spaces)
  • Reddit
  • Medium
  • Hacker News
  • Zest.is
  • Your newsletter
  • Partner newsletters

If you feel like this is out of your league, or you feel like your ads just aren’t performing… remember to always e-mail us for some free advice. Click here and we’ll answer any queries you may have!

Originally written by Dean Yeong for Sumo.