How You Can Tackle Highly Competitive Organic Keywords with Advanced Strategies To Rank Higher
Organic keywords are the cornerstone of any effective SEO strategy. Ranking for these non-paid search terms can send qualified organic traffic to your site, supporting business growth and revenue generation. However, not all keywords are created equal. Highly competitive keywords present a major challenge for SEO success.
With keyword difficulty and competition continuously rising, tackling these competitive terms requires advanced strategies beyond basic on-page optimization and content creation. You need in-depth keyword research, technical excellence, earned backlinks, user experience optimizations, and more.
This comprehensive guide will explore proven tactics to target highly competitive organic keywords in 2023 and beyond. You’ll learn how to:
– Conduct insightful keyword research to identify viable focus keywords
– Create content that truly resonates with the searcher's intent
– Optimize pages on-site for maximum discoverability and engagement
– Build high-quality backlinks from relevant sites
– Provide the best possible user experience
With the right methodology and persistence, you can absolutely gain traction and rank for these high-value, competitive terms over time. Let’s dive in!
Understanding Highly Competitive Keywords
Before exploring tactics, we need to first understand what makes an organic keyword highly competitive.
High competition keywords are terms that have:
– High search volume – These see tons of monthly searches in a given niche.
– Established authority sites competing – Major media publications, well-known brands, and aged sites already rank well for the term.
– Great existing content – Competitors already have comprehensive, relevant pages optimized for the keyword.
– Strong backlink profiles – Competitors have built solid backlink profiles full of authoritative references.
– High user engagement – Google sees people clicking, dwelling, and interacting with existing ranking content.
Many factors contribute to a keyword's competitiveness. Here are some of the key drivers:
Keywords with higher search volume tend to be more competitive. The more searches a term gets, the more sites will optimize for it. Established sites already benefiting from rankings will defend their positions.
For example, a term like “best laptops” gets searched over 100K times per month. Major tech sites all compete for that traffic. An upstart site can’t easily rank against the established sites already dominant for the term.
Authoritative sites with higher domain authority have an advantage. Domain authority measures the strength and authority of a site in Google's eyes. Established publications like New York Times (DA 99), Wired (DA 96) and CNET (DA 96) have very high domain authority.
So when they optimize pages targeting a keyword, they have a “trust” edge over brand new sites. Their domain authority passes “equity” to their pages.
Content Quality & Relevance
The content competitors already have ranking also plays a key role. If they created comprehensive, high-quality content purpose-built to address that term, it's highly optimized.
For example, competitors may already have expansive 4,000+ word guides full of media, graphics, stats, and deep information about a topic. An under-optimized 300-word blog post won't be able to compete with that authority content.
The quantity and quality of competitor backlinks also increase competitiveness. Authoritative sites like major newspapers and publications can easily build strong backlink profiles full of references from high DA sites.
If Wired has a great piece already ranking for “virtual reality headsets” and has earned links to it from sites like BBC, Guardian, and NYTimes, that's hard to compete with as a newer site.
Lastly, Google has insight into real user engagement metrics for existing ranking content. If people are dwelling on competitor pages, clicking through, sharing socially, etc. then Google sees those pages as meeting user intent.
New content needs to compel users even more so than what's already ranking in order to stand out. The human engagement signals get transmitted back to Google to influence rankings.
Advanced Strategies to Tackle Competitive Keywords
Now that we understand what makes a keyword so highly competitive, let's explore proven strategies to tackle these challenging terms in 2023 and beyond:
- Comprehensive Keyword Research
- Creating Highly Relevant, Excellent Content
- Technical On-Page Optimization
- Earning High-Quality Backlinks
- Optimizing for Maximum User Experience
- Tracking and Adapting to Results
Let's break down each of these in more detail:
Comprehensive Keyword Research
The foundation of any effective targeting of competitive keywords is comprehensive keyword research. Many make the mistake of simply looking up a term in a basic keyword tool to assess search volume.
To fully understand the competitiveness and viability of a keyword, you need expanded research across multiple dimensions:
Analyze detailed data in multiple keyword tools:
Leverage Keyword Planner, SEMRush, Ahrefs, Moz and more to pull data points like:
– Search volume and trends
– Click-through rate vs. competition
– Key SERPS features used by top results
– Keyword difficulty metrics
This gives you a well-rounded sense of competition and intent.
Identify Viable Long Tail Keywords
Rather than go for uber-competitive short keywords only, identify viable long-tail variations. These longer phrases are less difficult to rank for.
For example, for beauty products, the term “organic skincare” is super competitive. Whereas long-tail versions like “best organic night cream for mature skin” have lower competition.
You still capture intent, while targeting a viable keyword. Use tools like LSIGraph to discover long-tail opportunities.
Analyze Competitor Keyword Targeting
Study what keywords your competitors are already targeting to inform your strategy. Use tools like SEMrush Organic Research or Ahrefs Organic Keywords to analyze their existing keyword footprint.
If they're already ranking for all the obvious short keywords, look for gaps in long tails they haven't targeted yet. Those become opportunities.
Creating Highly Relevant, Excellent Content
With your keyword research complete, it's time to develop truly useful, relevant content that can compete. This involves:
– Very in-depth, lengthy content – Think 3,000+ words or more
– Directly addressing searcher intent – Answer their queries, meet needs
– multimedia – Include relevant graphics, charts, videos
– Proper optimization – Include keywords in titles/headers/content
Your goal is to create something more useful than what already ranks. Ask yourself what needs are going unmet? What questions aren't directly answered? What extra information might be helpful?
The more you can provide, the better. Don't just answer the surface-level question. Go deeper with lengthy content stacked with media to become the definitive guide.
Technical On-Page Optimization
Now it's time to optimize your content on-site for maximum organic discoverability. This includes:
– Optimized Title Tags & Meta Descriptions – Include keywords, compelling copy
– Proper Header Tags – H1, H2 tags reinforce keywords/topics
– Image Optimization – Descriptive filenames, alt text for images
– Content Optimization – Natural inclusion of keywords in content
– Page Speed – Compress images, optimize code for fast load times
– Mobile Optimization – Mobile responsive design, accessible UX
Your goal is to make pages as technically sound as possible. Follow all best practices for on-page optimization to maximize the potential of your content.
Now it's time to build authoritative backlinks to your pages to boost rankings. This involves:
– Identifying legit link earning opportunities in your space like:
– Industry media and publications
– Relevant blogs and resources
– Potential partnerships and influencers
– Creating assets worthy of links – Tools, resources, datasets, original research etc.
– Proactive outreach – Connect with sites to pitch your content and secure earned backlink placements
– Promotions and giveaways – Run contests, and giveaways to incentivize links
– Disavow toxic links – Use Google Disavow Tool to clean up any harmful backlinks
The focus should be on building a diverse, high-quality profile from legitimate websites. Relevance and authority matter most here.
Optimizing For Maximum User Experience
As you optimize pages and work to rank, don't forget the user experience factor! This involves:
– Optimizing Site Navigation – Making key pages easy to find
– Reducing Bounce Rate – Keep visitors engaged
– Improving Time on Site – Increase dwell time with engaging content
– Seamless Mobile Experience – Fast loading, easy navigation for mobile
– Personalization – Use customer data to serve customized content
The more you optimize for what users want, the stronger positive signals will be transmitted back to Google. User experience and conversions are key ranking factors.
Tracking and Adapting Over Time
SEO is an ongoing process. Make sure to continuously:
– Monitor your keyword rankings in tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs
– Track overall organic traffic in Google Analytics
– Study user engagement metrics – bounce rates, dwell time, clicks etc.
– Keep pages fresh and updated over time
– Build upon your linking and content strategy
– Stay on top of Google algorithm updates
Be ready to adapt and optimize.
Monitoring and Adapting Your Approach
Optimizing for highly competitive keywords is an ongoing effort. You need to monitor your progress continuously and adapt your approach over time.
Track Your Keyword Rankings
Use tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Moz to track your keyword rankings on a regular basis. Are target keywords moving up in rank? Are new ones gaining traction?
Monitoring frequently lets you gauge the impact of your efforts. You can catch changes right away versus much later.
Study Overall Organic Traffic Trends
Look beyond rankings to overall organic traffic patterns. Set up analytics tracking in Google Analytics or similar tools.
Track total visits from organic search. Is this number trending up over time as you optimize? Traffic is the real proof your efforts are paying off.
Analyze User Behavior
Go beyond traffic to understand user behavior once they reach your site. Key metrics to analyze include:
– Bounce rate – Are visitors leaving quickly? High bounce rates indicate content may not be engaging fully.
– Pages per session – How many pages does the average visitor view? More pages suggest they're finding useful information.
– Time on page/site – How long are visitors spending reading content? A higher dwell time is a good sign.
– Click depth – How far into your site are people exploring? Deeper journeys show content is compelling.
Optimizing user experience factors will be critical for Google to rank you higher. Analyze behavior often for clues.
Adapt Content Over Time
Don't “set and forget” your content. Revisit existing guide pages and long forms regularly. Can they be expanded and enhanced?
Add new sections, updated data/stats, more multimedia, or address newly trending themes. This makes them more useful resources over time.
Expand Your Link Building Efforts
Has your link-building plateaued? Look for new opportunities to build additional high-quality backlinks. Guest post on new industry resources, create new assets to promote and pursue relevant partnerships.
Expanding your link profile periodically helps boost rankings.
Stay On Top of Algorithm Updates
Google rolls out hundreds of algorithm updates per year. Some of these significantly impact rankings. Stay current on major updates and adjust as needed.
For example, if a new update targets your niche, you may need to re-optimize your technical SEO or content. Keep learning!
Case Studies and Examples
Let's look at some examples and case studies that showcase the impact of implementing the right advanced SEO strategies for competitive keywords.
Case Study 1 – HomeWorld Business SEO
HomeWorld Business is a leading publication in the housewares industry. As an established site, they wanted to grow their organic traffic by taking on more competitive keywords.
Their focus was the high-competition term “kitchen organization ideas” and related long-tail variations.
– Performed in-depth keyword research using SEMrush and Ahrefs to identify opportunities.
– Created a huge 5,000+ word definitive guide entitled “Kitchen Organization Ideas” packed with tips, photos, videos, product recommendations, etc.
– Implemented proper on-page optimization including metadata, alt text, internal linking, load speed optimizations, etc.
– Built over two dozen additional backlinks from relevant sites like Good Housekeeping, Martha Stewart, and influencer blogs.
– Tracked user engagement behavior in Google Analytics – reduced bounce rates.
Within 5 months of publishing their epic guide, HomeWorld Business saw:
– The target page ranks #3 for “kitchen organization ideas” getting 53,000 monthly searches.
– Organic traffic from that keyword alone increased by 167%
– Click-through rates increased by 112%
– Dwell time on page grew by 86%
By implementing the right comprehensive strategies, they were able to outrank established competitors and become a dominant resource for that competitive term. Their traffic and engagement saw massive gains as a result.
Case Study 2 – Northeast Spa Supply Company
Northeast Spa Supply is a hot tub supplier serving the northeast USA. They wanted to grow their organic visibility and capture more of the high-value keyword “hot tub reviews”.
Challenges included big review sites like Spa Advice and established brands ranking well already. The keyword received 19,500 monthly searches.
– Created a 6,000+ word guide entitled “The Most Comprehensive Hot Tub Reviews for All Budgets”
– Compared 50+ hot tub models across brands in detail with pros/cons, costs, and 300+ photos
– Published expert interviews about hot tub materials and maintenance
– Built over 75 backlinks from hot tub blogs, recreation sites like Good Housekeeping, and hot tub review aggregators.
– Focused on reducing page bounce rates by over 50% to encourage time on site.
Within 4 months their new guide obtained a ranking of #2 for the target keyword. Ongoing results included:
– 183% increase in organic traffic from the target keyword
– 8X more clicks from their rankings due to a high click-through rate
– Lower bounce rates led to 5.4 page views per session on site
– Conversions increased by 62% measured from contact form leads
By targeting the right informational long-tail keyword with in-depth, useful content they were able to compete with established brands and major publications over several months. Advanced SEO tactics allowed them to rank for a highly competitive keyword.
Targeting high-competition keywords that drive relevance and conversions is crucial for SEO success. But it requires avoiding common mistakes and embracing advanced strategies as we’ve covered here including:
– In-depth keyword research beyond just volume estimates
– Creating truly useful, multimedia-rich content that stands out
– Optimizing technical elements on a page for maximum crawlability
– Building a diverse, high-quality backlink profile
– Tracking user engagement signals and optimization experience
With this comprehensive approach, over time you can absolutely gain ground on competitive terms to grow your digital visibility and traffic.
It does require persistence and continually expanding upon your efforts. But the long-term gains are well worth the investment for your brand.
Focus on providing the very best user experience, filled with insights your competitors lack. Meet searcher intent better than those currently ranking. Do that consistently across keywords large and small, and you will see your organic reach expand month after month.