What Is Keyword Competition, and How Can It Help Your SEO?

You’ve learned about SEO and how it can affect the number of people who find your site. But have you explored keyword competition? It’s a critical concept that can help you choose keywords so your business or blog can rise to the top of relevant search rankings.

Choosing keywords can make a real difference for a site. Take Betsy, a hypothetical business owner. Her new online business sells certified organic fair-trade chocolate sourced in Trinidad. Because of her limited budget, she decides to place a big focus on her website’s blog in hopes that she can drive highly targeted traffic to the website without having to spend much on advertising. This strategy will only succeed if she selects the right keywords.

Short-tail vs. long-tail keywords

Betsy will need to learn about search engine optimization (SEO) and how to create a smart keyword strategy. (“Keywords” are the search queries people type into search engines. Businesses try to have their sites show up near the top of search results.)

Of the four potential keywords listed below, which do you think Betsy should try to rank for?

  1. Candy
  2. Chocolate
  3. Certified organic fair-trade chocolate
  4. Organic chocolate from Trinidad

Sure, her business sells candy. Chocolate, too. The problem with writing blog articles targeting these keywords is that they’re really broad, and lots of companies already rank really prominently on these searches.

Keywords that are that competitive are typically short-tail keywords: one- to two-word keywords that are general in nature. They also tend to indicate low buying intent. It’s virtually impossible for nonestablished websites/blogs to rank for them in search results.

Given how many well-established websites already rank for those two keywords, there’s virtually no way that Betsy can compete. In addition, people looking generically for candy and chocolate may not be interested in her high-quality artisanal chocolate.

“Certified organic fair-trade chocolate” and “organic chocolate from Trinidad” are much better keyword options to pursue. There’s far less competition, and people entering those search terms are more likely to be interested in buying her unique product.

These search terms are known as long-tail keywords: three- to four-word (or more) keywords that are less competitive and more specific. They often indicate a higher buyer intent, since the person knows exactly what they’re looking for. They’re much easier for nonestablished websites to rank for.

Choosing your keywords

Like Betsy, it’s important that you consider keyword competition when coming up with your business’s or blog’s SEO strategy. There’s no reason to devote resources to pursuing highly competitive short-tail keywords when you can target much less competitive long-tail keywords that are specific to your product, service, or area of expertise.

How do you come up with a list of unique long-tail keywords that are likely to make you appear near the top of search results? SEO expert Neil Patel suggests using Google Ad’s free keyword planning tool to find all the long-tail keywords you need.

Once you have an initial list of long-tail keywords you want to target, rank them from highest to lowest priority based on which ones you think you can create high-quality blog articles around. These should be original, authoritative pieces of content with highly relevant content for that specific keyword.

For instance, Betsy’s article targeting the keyword “organic chocolate from Trinidad” might help educate readers about the long history of chocolate farming in Trinidad. Alternatively, it could highlight how the organic chocolate farmers she works with use safer farming practices that are better for the environment.

Keyword and SEO tools

You can use keyword and SEO tools to help your digital marketing efforts. For instance, if you have a WordPress.com website or blog with a Business Plan, you have access to lots of helpful plugins, such as WordPress SEO Plugin by Rank Math, RB Keyword Research, 1SEO, and many others.

By creating long-tail keywords for your site, you’ll ensure that your site will appear at the top of search rankings and will be found by the visitors you want.

Thousands of small businesses and online stores call WordPress.com home.

Whether you’re looking to promote your business or share your story, we have a plan that’s right for you.

Create your own website

Aaron von Frank

Cofounder and CEO at GrowJourney.com, a USDA certified organic heirloom garden seed subscription service. Writer at TyrantFarms.com, Edible Upcountry Magazine, and other media outlets.

More by Aaron von Frank