Keyword Research: How to find low-competition keywords and analyze Google's 1st page for SEO

Understanding how difficult it is to rank in Google's top 10 for your chosen keyword is probably the most important skill you can acquire when it comes to building websites. Unfortunately, it's also the hardest keyword research skill to learn.

Excluding no one, choosing keywords for which it's too difficult to rank is the No. 1 reason websites fail.

Most people don't have the ability to effectively analyze the top 10 results in Google OR don't have the discipline to go only after low-competition keywords.

Fortunately, this skill can be acquired with experience, serious study and commitment.However, before you can start analyzing the competition for your keywords, you need to find those keywords first.So, I'll give you some tips on how to find keywords for your chosen niche with free and premium tools.

So, I hope to shed some light on how you can effectively analyze how difficult Google's top 10 results are for your keyword.This way you can create a blog or website the right way and start ranking sooner or later.


Keyword research is about finding out what terms people search for on search engines.This helps you plan your content and ranking on Google.

Keyword research is important because it's the most effective way you can show on Google.Everything else on your site starts with keyword research.

Your link building, SEO page, internal links, it all depends on your keywords.

This kind of keyword insight helps you find what your audience wants to hear.It's exactly the same as doing market research for any business in the world.


I assume you've already selected a great niche and possibly an existing website.However, when it comes to adding content to your website, it's crucial to select a topic that you can actually showcase on Google.

So, how should you research keywords for your website that you know your site can be easily ranked for?For now, I'll call this the keyword brainstorming phase.

First, you need to brainstorm for keywords.

If you're in the home décor niche, start thinking about things that might be useful for your audience.Sofas, bar stools, design ideas.These are your seed keywords.

Secondly, you will use these seed keywords to find related keywords.Open your favorite keyword research tool (I'll list in a minute, free and paid).You will enter your seed keywords and see what ideas are born.

Third, let's start filtering.You need to analyze the difficulty of ranking on the first page of Google for those keywords.

Let's take a look at each of these in depth.


Finding new keywords will help you understand if your site is new or old.If you have a new site, you can also use this stage to choose your niche.

Whatever your niche (or what you're thinking about), imagine a few things your audience might be looking for.

It could be anything.

Fishermen might look for fishing rods, hunters might look for camouflage, moms might look for baby carriers.

I will use the example of the baby carrier.

Now go to your search engine and type "best [idea per parole chiave]".I'm writing the "best baby carrier".

I clicked on the first result I found and here's what I got:

children's websiteAnd now we will use this website to get some seed keywords.

And there is a motherload:

Categories for childrenWe don't need to use all of these, just a few.

And you can repeat this step for as many websites as you want.You can click on the top 3 results or search for a ton of keyword ideas.

Now it's time to use these seed keywords.


Now let's put these seed keywords into our favorite keyword research tools.I will use Long Tail Pro.

I took some keywords from the site screenshotted above and here are just some of the suggestions I receive:

Long tail pro keywords from seed keywordI came back for a total of almost 1,200.There is plenty to choose from here.

You can repeat this process as much as you want: think of an idea (such as baby carriers, sofas, fishing rods).Use that idea as a seed keyword or Google it to find more seed keywords.

Enter these seed keywords into your keyword research tool.

Most keyword research tools are pretty decent at giving keyword difficulty scores.My employee Brady ran his tests and liked KWFinder (read his KWFinder review) and Long Tail Pro (read my Long Tail Pro review).The other tools tend to go too high, down, or simply aren't consistent.

If you don't want to trust the difficulty score, you can take a look at the search engine results page (SERPs).

I like to look at the SERP.Here's how:


First of all I would like to point out that I am NOT talking about the number of competitors on Google.

For some reason, people keep typing their keyword into Google and look at the number of competing pages to judge how difficult it is to rank a keyword.This is ridiculous!

Even if you are looking at the results of the "exact match", you are still misleading.If you're doing this, please stop now – as this won't tell you anything about how difficult it is to get where you want to be – which is on the first page of Google.

I don't care if there are 300 trillion competing websites for my keyword, if the first page of Google is full of weak websites, I'll try!

Well, now that I've clarified, what exactly am I talking about then?

Well, if you know anything about search engine optimization, you know something or 2 about how to rank a website on Google.So, what we want to look at is how well higher ranking sites are optimized for SEO.

Some of these things that websites do to rank well in Google are as follows: use the keyword in titles, create links to the site, general authority of the domain, and other factors.So, these are some of the things we need to analyze to determine if the competition is weak.


If I could play some trumpets to make you understand how important the following list is, I would.  This is a game changer!

Here are the criteria I look at to analyze the competition for a keyword:

  • Relevant content. Is the keyword in the content?
  • Optimized title. Is the keyword used in the title?
  • Targeted content. Is the entire page about the chosen keyword?Or does the page simply mention the keyword?
  • Links to pages. How many links are there on the ranking PAGE?
  • Domain authority. How authoritative is the general domain?
  • Page authority. Each article on the site has its own "authority".Is this a page with lower authority?
  • Age of the site. What is the age of the site?Is it a newer site?
  • The type of site. Is the ranking page a weak type of site such as: article directories, forums, other Q&A sites, social sites, or other user-generated sites?Or is it an authority site that has a great brand, that follows and receives millions of visits per month with a WordPress theme with a good looking ?
  • Affiliate sites. If you see a lot of other affiliate sites ranking on the first page of Google and you're also building an affiliate site, this is a really good sign for you.This means that Google is willing to rank sites as yours.
  • e-commerce sites. If you see most ecommerce sites on the first page, you might want to reconsider targeting that keyword, if you're building an affiliate site.

I like to find ranking pages that have less than 10 links or even no backlinks many times.This is because I choose keywords with very low competition.

If you're looking for more difficult niches, you may need to do more analysis than I'll discuss here; But most people will do well to find low-competition keywords using the criteria I listed above and discuss later.


You'll notice that the top 3 ranking factors I've mentioned are about relevant content on ranking sites.I emphasize the importance of determining whether a ranking site is actually targeting your keyword or if it just happens to mention the passing keyword.

The reason is simple, if a site is ranking a keyword almost by accident (because they simply mention a keyword in their content), then you can feel confident that you can overcome them with more targeted content and links.

There are really millions of keywords out there that have a ranking of sites that may not even use the keyword in the title of their page.This is a BIG sign of weakness.So even though the site has a high domain authority and has thousands of ranking page links, if the site doesn't target your keyword, you can still outperform them very easily.

To bring this point home, I'm doing a little experiment and giving you an example.I wrote a sentence that no one is targeting right now – "Spencer likes honeycombs" (a true statement by the way).Below is an image of the site rankings for this keyword:

You'll notice that NONE of the ranking sites are really targeting my keyword (of course not!).None of them use the exact keyword in the title of their page and only use parts of it in their content.

So, if this were a keyword I was hoping to rank for, I'd be immediately excited because I would know that no one is actually trying to rank for this keyword!Even if these sites had a lot of links or a high authority, I would still feel confident in my decision (of course it is better to target keywords with weak competitors both in content relevance and links, etc.).

Does that make sense?

So, to make my point even more vivid, I suppose this post will soon reach a very high level (maybe number 1) for the keyword: Spencer I like Honeycombs!The reason?Simply because I'm mentioning the keyword in my article here.I don't need any links or anything, just relevant content.

You can do a Google search and see if I'm right (it might take a day or 2).

Therefore, NEVER forget the importance of relevant content in the article, title, and whether or not the entire site is targeted to your keywords.This is why my first 3 points are about content.And yes!You can still find many keywords that have weak competition in titles or content relevance.

Spencer likes honeycombs!

Update: The previous "Spencer I Like Honeycombs" experiment was conducted when this article was first written in 2011. Here's what Google's results look like in September 2018:

As you can see, Niche Pursuits is currently in fourth place for "Spencer Likes Honeycombs".This is because someone created an entire website to see if it could outdo me.

This actually further demonstrates my point about the importance of relevance.Google is now ranking the new website above mine (even though it has much lower authority) because it's more relevant!The page title includes the keywords, Spencer Likes Honeycombs.

Yes, this is a bizarre experiment because no one in their right mind would ever Google that keyword.But it is extremely clear my point of view … In many cases, relevant content is more important than authority.


The next 3 topics I'll discuss to analyze Google's top 10 competitors are links, page authority, and domain authority.


I look for less than 10 links to the page if possible.Page links are MUCH more important than links to your primary domain.Each page of a site ranks individually, so page links give you a better indication of how strong the ranking page is.

If Google's competitors have relevant titles/content and lots of links to their pages, you most likely shouldn't target the keyword.You can determine for yourself how many links are too many for you, but I like to find results with 10 or fewer links to the page (but 30 or less is an acceptable number in many cases).

Again, I don't emphasize the number of links to the primary domain, unless the resulting page is the primary domain.In that case, it's worth avoiding a root domain that is optimized for your keyword and has many links to it created. Typically, you'll want to avoid these keywords.


I won't go into the slightest details about what Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) are other than saying that it's a number assigned by Moz from 0 to 100 that shows how much authority a page or site has.

I like to see ranking sites with a PA and DA below 30 if they target my keyword.If you can find 2 sites in the top 10 for your specified keyword that both have a DA and a PA below 30, it's a great sign that this could be a low-competition keyword!

However, if they're not really targeting my keyword (as in the "spencer like honeycombs" example), then DA and PA don't really matter.So, don't get too angry with authority, unless it's obvious that the ranking page REALLY targets your keyword.In that case, remember that the lower authority is better for you.


Some other ranking factors I consider when analyzing the first page of Google organic results are whether the results are a primary domain, how old the site is, and the type of site.


If the top 10 competitors of a keyword are all root domains, I would probably avoid it.This usually means that the entire site is targeted and optimized for the chosen keyword.

However, if all ranking pages are similar to: – this is what you want to see.The long URL is a good sign for you when looking at the top 10 competitors.


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(U pdate: this has become less relevant since I originally wrote it in 2011; however, I leave the reference to root domains there since it still occurs in some marginal cases).


Older sites tend to have more authority.I usually only worry about the age of the site if I turn to a more difficult keyword and need to do some more in-depth analysis of the difficulty of ranking a keyword.


As mentioned in my original list above, I like to see some weak types of sites such as article directories, forums, Q&A sites, social sites, or other user-generated type sites.The reason for this is that these types of sites are usually not very good at targeting a specific keyword.

Article directories might mention the keyword in their title, but they usually don't have any backlinks to the ranking page.Some of these other types of sites usually only mention the keyword somewhere in the content, but they don't have an optimized page or relevant links.

I hope it makes sense because these are types of listings that you WANT to see in the top 10 (easy to beat).


These factors that I discussed at the beginning can be many to swallow.But I wanted to give you a short list of some general rules that I use to decide whether to target a keyword.

  • Keyword targeting where not all results use the exact keyword in the title.
  • At least 2 of the top 10 results have fewer than 10-30 links to the resulting page (0 favorite links)
  • At least 2 of the results with less than 10 backlinks also have a DA and PA of less than 30. Meaning 2 results must have a DA and PA of less than 30 AND have less than 10-30 links.
  • Aim for results with weak site types (article directories, forums, etc.).
  • Landing results where classification pages are NOT root domains.
  • Target results where many other affiliate sites rank.
  • Avoid results where many ecommerce sites rank.

So, if you can find a keyword where competitors don't really use the keyword in the title well, 2 results have 10-30 or fewer backlinks to Page And have a PA and DA of less than 30 – then you're MONEY!Yes, this is an ideal and can be very difficult to find, but it is possible.I always look for the ideal, but often settle for something with just a little more competition if necessary.

I can tell you that my sites with the highest earnings met the 7 bullet points I mentioned above.So, it is very possible to find keywords that meet these strict criteria.And if you're patient in doing your keyword research and find these keywords very low-competition, you significantly increase your chances of making good money with niche websites.


I dedicated an entire blog post here written a few years ago to showing both good and bad examples of keywords.I would recommend reading it for a more in-depth analysis of some examples.

However, I also wanted to provide a couple of examples here is 2018. I recently shared that I've almost entered the senior niche, but changed my mind after seeing the Google Medic update.As a result, I'm comfortable sharing a couple of keyword examples from that niche, since I'm not going to target them.


"The best walkers for seniors" – 880 searches per month

(Note, I copied and pasted the factors to look at from my previous discussion in this post).Remember, I'm only looking at the first page results in Google to decide if I should target this keyword!)

I've highlighted the factors in green that show that this could be a good keyword for targeting.I have highlighted in red the factors that show that this may be a more difficult keyword to address.

  • Relevant content. Yes, all Google results seem to be relevant.
  • Optimized title. I see 4 results that don't use the keyword in the currently ranked title.
  • Links to pages. I see 5 results that have less than 30 links.
  • Domain authority and page authority. I see 2 results with PA and DA less than 30. I'd rather see more, but 2 is enough.
  • Age of the site. Only 1 site is less than 1 or 2 years old.
  • Affiliate sites. 4 of the rating sites on page 1 are affiliate sites.
  • e-commerce sites. 3 of the ranking sites are ecommerce sites.
  • The overall KC score attributed by Long Tail Pro is 29

So even if this keyword isn't perfect, it would still be the one I would consider if I wanted to get into the Senior life niche.

"Best non-slip bath mat" – 390 searches per month

  • Relevant content. Yes, all Google results seem to be relevant.
  • Optimized title. I see 6 results that don't use the keyword in the title currently on the chart.
  • Links to pages. I see 6 results with less than 30 links.
  • Domain authority and page authority. I see 3 results with PA and DA less than 30.
  • Age of the site. Only 2 sites are less than 1 or 2 years old.
  • Affiliate sites. 4 of the rating sites on page 1 are affiliate sites.
  • e-commerce sites. 1 ranking site is an ecommerce site.
  • The overall KC score attributed by Long Tail Pro is 29

This keyword is probably even easier to rank than "the best walkers for seniors."


Now, here are a couple of keywords I wouldn't target using my analysis:

"Best Phone for Seniors": 2400 searches per month

  • Relevant content. Yes, all Google results seem to be relevant.
  • Optimized title. I only see 1 result that doesn't use the keyword in the currently charted title.
  • Links to pages. I see 2 results that have less than 30 links.
  • Domain authority and page authority. I see 0 results with PA and DA less than 30.
  • Age of the site. No site is less than 1 or 2 years old.(11 years is the "newest" ranking of the site).
  • Affiliate sites. 1 of the rating sites on page 1 is an affiliate site.
  • e-commerce sites. 2 of the ranking sites are ecommerce sites.
  • The overall KC score attributed by Long Tail Pro is 53

I would stay away from his keyword.Your chances of ranking are almost 0.

"Anti-fatigue carpets" – 12100 searches per month

  • Relevant content. Yes, all Google results seem to be relevant.
  • Optimized title. I only see 0 results that don't use the keyword in the currently ranked title.
  • Links to pages. I see 1 result with less than 30 links.
  • Domain authority and page authority. I see 0 results with PA and DA less than 30.
  • Age of the site. No site is less than 1 or 2 years old.(10 years is the "newest" ranking of the site).
  • Affiliate sites. 0 of the rating sites on page 1 is an affiliate site.
  • e-commerce sites. 9 of the ranking sites are ecommerce sites.
  • The overall KC score attributed by Long Tail Pro is 42

None of this keyword is good.You have 0 chances to rank for this keyword if you are starting a new site, and especially if you are an affiliate site.

I hope these examples were useful!


Initial keyword research could begin in a variety of ways.Below I've compiled a list of several free ways to generate keyword ideas.My employee Brady has compiled a list of the best keyword research tools (free and paid).


Data provided directly by Google for the chosen keywords, along with related keywords.However, this tool was created for AdWords advertisers, not SEOs… So it has some limitations.


This is a great free Chrome extension that will show you keyword search volume as you type them into Google, Amazon, eBay, and many other places.I find this useful on a regular basis.



If you browse categories, subcategories, and individual products, you can generate a lot of keyword ideas that lead to specific keywords or more in-depth searches.


This is the same story as Amazon.


One of my favorite seed keyword brainstorming pages on Wikipedia is their hobby list. Use this as a springboard to find keyword ideas and then use other tools to expand those ideas into specific keywords to write about.


This is a great free tool where you enter an idea for seed keywords and spit out tons of questions that people ask or phrases that include your idea.


This free tool has been around since Neil Patel took over.Ubersuggest now offers what many premium tools require: search volume, CPC, and SEO difficulties.It also provides a more in-depth dive analysis of the top 10 results.(Which as I will explain below is very important).


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Google trends won't really give you a lot of new keyword ideas, but they'll allow you to see what's going up or down.This could help you avoid targeting niches or keywords that are dying.


When you do a Google search, there are "related searches" that Google shows after the first page of listings.This is a great way to get ideas, but also to optimize your content with additional keyword ideas.


Internet forums are a great way to see what people in your niche are talking about.Visit some popular forums in your niche and you're sure to see some relevant topics that you wouldn't have considered for your site.


Once a site is up and running, Google provides data that shows which keywords your articles are ranked for.This can be a treasure trove of new ideas since your content will often be categorized for things you haven't even targeted.Use these new ideas to create new content or update your old content and optimize these new keywords.


This is a fantastic free extension that will show you all kinds of statistics for the first page in Google, including links, Page Authority, and Domain Authority.


Although I haven't used it in a while, this shows results similar to Moz's extension, but using Majestic SEO metrics.


This is a useful tool that helps you analyze the first page of Google.Show PA/DA, word count, page speed and more.


There are hundreds of keyword research tools on the market.Some are free, others are not free.Some will help you brainstorm for keyword ideas, others will help you analyze the difficulty of ranking in Google for that keyword.Others do both.

Here's a list of some premium keyword research tools:


In full disclosure I am the original creator of Long Tail Pro .However, I have since sold the company as explained here.

Long Tail Pro is a great all-in-one tool that will help you brainstorm for keyword ideas, but then move on to the next critical step and help you analyze the difficulty of ranking for those keywords.Long Tail Pro has a "Keyword Competitiveness" metric that will quickly show you how easy or difficult it is to rank for a certain keyword in Google.If the score is 30 or less, this is a keyword considered low competition.

Long Tail Pro is still the main way I do all my keyword research, check it out here.


Kwfinder home page








KWFinder is another great choice for a keyword research tool.It has made the list as one of the best keyword research tools.

KWFinder makes it easy for you to find long-tail keywords.You can find keywords with purchase intent (great for affiliate sites) or informative keywords (great for link building).This tool also allows you to find SERPs, understand what your competition is ranking for, and extract backlinks.

Along with Long Tail Pro, it has my favorite keyword difficulty score.I found it very accurate.

You can check out our full review here.


I love using SEMrush to take a look at what competitors are ranking and then point to the exact same keywords often.It works especially well if you can find a newer or weaker website that ranks for some terms in your niche.If a weak website ranks for certain keywords, you can know for sure that these are easy to rank by keywords.

You can see a full SEMrush review and tutorials right here.


I don't personally use Ahrefs for keyword research, but I know a lot of people who do.I'm including it on this list because I hear good things about keyword difficulty score and more.

I mostly use Ahrefs for backlink analysis, but the tool provides keyword research capabilities, ranking tracking, and more.

Honestly, there are probably hundreds of other keyword research tools out there.However, these are the only ones I use and know of, so I will only keep mention of what I have personally used.


All in all, I've given you everything you need to know to determine if the keyword you're looking at has low competition in Google's top 10.Yes, it takes a lot of analysis and knowing how.That's why only diligent people succeed with niche websites or search engine optimization, there's no shortcut.

I have been as detailed as possible in this post. I am very interested to hear your thoughts on this topic.Are there any other factors you look at to judge Google's competition?What comments or other questions do you have regarding this topic?


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