Keyword success is about picking battles you can win
As anyone who has tested out the “bigger they are / harder they fall” theory in the school playground will know, victory is more likely when you pick your battles wisely.
This is not to say that taking on a school bully isn’t brave and righteous, but it is often rewarded with a fat lip and a headache rather than the praise and adulation it deserves.
Just as you may steer clear of bigger, tougher opponents in the playground, a similar desire for self-preservation should be at the heart of your keyword strategy.
The organic results of Google and other leading search engines can be intensely competitive. The most valuable search terms can return upwards of 100 million indexed pages and are often dominated by long-established, well-funded and SEO-savvy online brands.
If these brands were 12-year-old boys, they would be a foot taller than everyone else and already showing early signs of facial hair. Unless you’re prepared to commit a huge amount of time, money and expertise, these ultra-competitive terms, just like the back seat of the school bus, are best left alone.
Better results can often be had by targeting the long-tail. This is the term used to describe keywords that are still getting search volume, but at a much lower rate. By finding terms more specific to your niche you can fly under the radar of your sector’s big beasts, as they will be less interested in lower volume terms.
But with lower search volume comes less competition, with fewer indexed pages and less interest from powerful competitors. You may also find that the traffic you receive by ranking well for these terms is more valuable.
If, for example, you run a website that sells shoes, someone searching for a specific brand that you stock is likely to be worth more to you than someone running a broader, more general search. You are more likely to have what this niche searcher wants and you therefore stand a better chance of converting them.
So, don’t try to be a hero and make it to the top of a premium search term. Shape your keyword strategy around battles you can win.