Rank For Highly Competitive Keywords

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Rank For Highly Competitive Keywords

Controlling the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) of your targeted keywords depends largely on your on-page optimization. Among these factors to consider are URL sequence, Page Titles, and proper coding. This post will focus on a cohesive strategy used to funnel website “link-juice” towards designated pages.  This kind of optimization can be used to leverage SERPS for highly competitive, high-traffic keywords.

Let’s get to the steps:

1. Pick 5 “Dream” Keywords

Make a comprehensive keyword list. From this list, pick five keywords you feel can bring high traffic volume to you or your client’s site.  Dream big! Use a keyword tool and don’t’ shy away from uber competitive terms or phrases. For example, let’s pretend your site sells posters of Rock and Roll Legends. In that case, these five keywords might be:

  • Bruce Springsteen Poster
  • The Who Posters
  • The Beatles Poster
  • Eric Clapton Poster
  • The Rolling Stones Poster

2. Establish one page per keyword or phrase from Step 1.

Think of these pages as landing pages, and therefore a helpful jumping off point for anyone who might search for the highly competitive keyword.  Usually, blog posts are not good for this step. Check with your Google Analytics to see how users are interacting with these pages too.

In our Rock Legends example, a page with all the Springsteen posters with a page title of Bruce Springsteen Posters would be a good choice for the “Bruce Springsteen Poster” keyword.

3. Search your site for any appearance of these keywords.

  • Blog posts
  • Product pages
  • News

Hyperlink the keyword text back to the page chosen in Step 2. The pages will act as the center of your keyword strategy; the center of the keyword wheel with the links acting as spokes.

In the instance of Springsteen posters, I would find all the blog posts and news releases on the site mentioning Bruce Springsteen and link that text back to the page with all the Springsteen posters. This practice leverages content effectively.

4. Vary the text linking back to the keyword pages.

Google’s Wonder Wheel serves as a reliable resource for this strategy. Varying the anchor text will help your site rank for numerous phrases related to the competitive term you selected in Step 1. This is where your comprehensive keyword list will come in handy.

Wonder Wheel

5. Record everything!

At the outset of this strategy, record the SEO strength (SEOmoz Domain/Page Authority) of your keyword pages. Note how many internal links are directed toward the page, weekly pageviews, and which page Google returns for your keywords.


As the weeks go by and search engine bots index the internal anchor text changes, you’ll begin to notice a jump in rankings and the amount of keywords your site ranks for. The five highly competitive terms will take some time to show up in rankings, but in the meantime, you should start to see longtail keywords related to the terms appear in rankings.

In my experience, it took two months before obvious progress appeared. Patience, as with almost ever SEO strategy is vital and must be communicated to your client. Happy optimizing!

Case Ernsting
Case Ernsting works as the Online Marketing Coordinator for LoSasso Advertising Inc., an interactive advertising and marketing agency in Chicago, IL. In addition to posting... Read Full Bio
Case Ernsting

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  • Nick Stamoulis

    Linking horizontally across your site (as opposed to just going from the home page down to internal pages) is a great way to share link juice. It also makes it easier to keep your visitor engaged. If you can give them related content to click over to, you have a longer time to convince them to act.

  • Michelle Licudine

    Even for those of us working in SEO for a while, a nice, basic step-by-step can be a good refresher — and it’s easy to share w/others on the team. Thanks for this post.

    • Michelle Licudine

      Question about the Wonder Wheel: Are the terms it suggests actually related terms with highest search volume, or are they simply related (but with undetermined volume)?

  • Troy

    Of all the keywords you could want to rank #1 for in Google and you select “Bruce Springsteen Poster”?!?

    • Case Ernsting

      Haha, of course! The Boss is the best. A #1 ranking for a phrase like that will generate tons of lucrative traffic.

  • Jackson G

    Informative and Good Article. Thanks for sharing..

  • Viral SEO Services

    Useful resource! Thanks for this post

  • Anonymous

    Indeed an article worth reading for. Great choice of topic and the content are brief and concrete. It really help my research.
    cash advance merchant

    • dissertation service

      agree… quite thought-proving article) gives what to think about) thanks to the author!

    • Aidan Beanland

      I don’t think that link will help you rank and better for ‘cash advance merchant’ buddy 😉

  • Amazon Coupons

    Nice and informative post..Thanks for sharing it will help to maintain site ranking on good position.

  • Aluminium Kozijnen

    Yeah i agree that last point.. Record ans strategy is the SEO strength.. Also we can use Google adsense.. Then we can analyse which keywords having more or less traffic.. After findout that we will start our SEO work.. Thanks for sharing this informative blog with us..

  • Deb

    Thanks for sharing this simple, effective approach to links and SEO. Helpful for small business users. 🙂

  • DebWard

    Thanks for sharing this simple, effective approach to links and SEO. Helpful for small business users. 🙂

  • Wayne John

    The thing that kills me is the time it takes to do all this. I’ve never been patient enough to get this detailed on a single page or site, when in the same time I can kick out another site altogether. Guess it’s a trade off. Good stuff though, I might just give it a run through this weekend.

  • Dave7882

    This is a nice summary. Thanks for the resource!

  • Michael Real

    This is really informative! I learned a lot from this article. It is good to know that the keywords and the specific keyword matching per page is important.

  • variable data printing

    This is great advice. The only thing I would add would be make sure that the keywords you select are long tail, specific keywords. The more specific they are, the less competition you will have to face.

  • Ioana

    Another basic how-to article? SEJ is becoming pathetic.

  • Ankush Kohli

    Case, I’m sure lots of SEO’s already doing this but none post it just to maintain their effects.

    Anyways, nice one!

  • ideq

    So use wonderwheel to find other KW and linked to our main KW? Thats good for me. thanks for the information.

  • Zachari rayenz

    Here information is really best and I think that we use best key-word phrase, do text link building this really best and use specific key-word related your content .

    search engine optimization services

  • Leo Lee

    Very good post and good content as well. Thankyou for sharing this post with us. I suggest all my friends to go for this sites.

  • Seo articles

    really informative article, its always a basic strategy to work on keywords, this article helps a lot to newbies seo .

  • Webelementinc1

    Excellent overview! I liked your way of presentation. And I
    hoping your best work will continue in future also. Thanks for sharing this
    wonderful information with us.

  • manual directory submission

    You have very interesting and useful article describe here for the highly competitive keywords. I have book mark such a great information.

  • Press

    Good article 

  • rebo7

    Some really insightful tips in this article, thankyou.

  • directory submission

    If you want to rank well with highly competitive keywords, then be
    prepared for a long trip and a lot of hard work of their competition
    may have been established for many years.

  • Afghan MP3

    awesome post really good insight but wouldn’t this take too much time for any website? I hear it can take years of hard work to rank for very rough competition keywords

  • Leadership

    Very useful article to learn and get some new good ideas to rank some high competition keywords,

  • Raven


    I’m interested in using this method but I’m unsure of how to go about it. I want to rank for keywords that reference a service/product (digital) what kind of content should I use on the pages? Would related articles work or a description of the service?

    Thanks to any help/advice anyone could offer

  • Keyword Removed

    Just a note: in step 3 where you search your site for any appearance of these keywords, it is recommended post-Panda not to have site-wide follow links with your targeted anchor text (like in the sidebar or footer). Having internal links from your blog posts and other one-off pages is the way to go.

    • John Rampton

      Great catch… yes, only have this on one page.

  • Darren

    Does this also work for a one page website?