In the world of SEO, rule #1 is always to seek out the low hanging fruit when it comes to targeting keywords. We are taught to never target high competition keywords and instead to seek out long-tail keywords and build our websites around that.
However is there a time that we should ever target high competition keywords? The answer is absolutely yes!
Why We Should Target High Competition Keywords
So why are some keywords harder to rank for than others? Well it comes down to how much search volume they have as well as their commercial value. The higher the value of each of these factors, the more competitive the keywords will be to rank in Google.
However this is exactly why we should target high competition keywords because they are valuable and can drive large amounts of traffic, yet people in the SEO world just completely ignore them.
It’s Not What You Think
Now when I talk about “targeting high competition keywords” I’m not referring to actively trying to rank your website for that given keyword. Usually that’s just going to be a waste of time.
When I talk about targeting these keywords, I’m referring to creating content around them on your website.
For example if you owned a health and fitness website, a popular diet plan these days is the “keto diet”. However from an SEO standpoint targeting “Keto Diet” or “Keto Diet Plan” would be absolute insanity due to the competition.
Here is a screenshot from Ubersuggest (Neil Patel’s tool I highly recommend for keyword research):
So we see the far right column “SD” represents the SEO difficulty as assessed by Ubersuggest. This is on a scale from 1-100 with 100 being the toughest, so as you can see “keto diet” and “keto diet plan” is a 66 and 71 respectively.
Now conventional SEO wisdom tells us that we should not try to rank for these keywords at all, and from an SEO standpoint that would be absolutely correct.
However if you notice under the volume column, the monthly search volume for “keto diet” is 1 million while “keto diet plan” is 90,500. If you own a health and fitness website, these are keywords that your target audience are probably interested in, so at the very least you should have an article on your website about it.
Remember we create websites for people, not search engines. Sure trying to rank for “keto diet plan” will probably be a waste of time for most people, but you should at least take 10-20 minutes and maybe write a blog post about it.
You are going to be providing value to your readership, and you may not rank for the keyword ever, but by providing content people are actually looking for it will only help you in the long run.
You’ll Still Pick Off Some Traffic
By writing an article around a high competition keyword you’ll still likely reap some traffic. For example using our “keto diet” scenario, sure you may not rank for that keyword, but you may pick up traffic from some obscure long-tail variations of it.
Maybe you’ll rank for “best keto diet with cauliflower recipes” or “keto diets for people with egg allergies” or something like that. The massive search volume gives you a high probability of your site peeling off some of this type of traffic, so again you should definitely consider creating content around it.
You May Get Lucky One Day
If you create a quality website and your backlink profile starts to grow, there is a chance that one day you could get lucky and end up ranking for that high competition keyword.
However this can only happen if you actually have a page on your site that targets that keyword. If you don’t play, you don’t win. So give yourself at least a shot by creating an article on some of these high competition keywords.
Furthermore you never know where that random high value backlink will come from. You’d be amazed at how random people from high quality websites find your articles and link to them. I’ve had websites receive links from places like The New York Times, Forbes, various universities etc. that caused my site to skyrocket in rankings.
This can happen especially if you’re active on social media. You never know who is out there following you. You could have a Harvard Professor that follows your cooking blog then all of a sudden links to it randomly from Harvard.edu. Yes it sounds far fetched, but it does happen, and probably a lot more often than you think.
When this occurs, now all of a sudden you could go from page 20 to page 1 for that high competition keyword, but again this can only happen if you have created an article around that high competition keyword. No article, no chance at rankings.
So to conclude should you ever target high competition keywords? Absolutely yes, but with content, not an active SEO campaign. These keywords are high competition because people are interested in them, so do yourself and your readers a favor and create some content on it. Trust me one day you’ll be glad you did.