Results-driven marketer with 20+ years of experience with hands-on digital execution. CEO and founder of Twelve Three Media.
Most businesses have a simple goal for their online marketing: to dominate the search results for terms related to the products and services they offer.
For a majority of businesses and marketing agencies, the most common approach for achieving this goal is to develop a general keyword list, create content optimized for each keyword and obsessively track how your website ranks.
Business owners and marketers alike know the frustration of this process. However, a simple course correction — such as targeting low-hanging keywords — can transform your search marketing efforts and start driving higher rankings, more traffic and more leads.
What is a low-hanging keyword?
Although the terminology differs from platform to platform, a keyword can be considered “low-hanging” if your website is within a reasonable striking distance of ranking for it on the first page of search results.
For the sake of simplicity, we will say that a particular keyword is a low-hanging fruit if your website ranks anywhere from position 11 to 30 (the second or third page of organic results displayed by search engines).
A low-hanging keyword is typically a question or phrase that seeks context and clarity — for example, if you own a solar company in Denver, a low-hanging keyword might be: “Denver solar company” or “local solar rebates.”
It’s always worthwhile to capitalize on relevant keywords that you can rank for relatively easily with informative content and targeted optimization. Low-hanging keywords represent an immediate opportunity to show up better for a particular search query or phrase.
Why target low-hanging keywords?
Businesses and marketers in competitive industries know how hard it is to rank on the first page for high-level keywords that are the foundation of most SEO campaigns. And yet many companies and agencies alike treat optimization for hugely competitive terms (e.g., “Denver personal injury lawyer”) as the only option for search engine marketing.
Although ranking on the first page for competitive keywords is important, it’s not the only way to boost visibility and drive traffic and leads via search. More people may search online for a “Denver personal injury lawyer,” but a substantial number of users in Denver may also search for related low-hanging key phrases like: “When should I hire a personal injury lawyer?”
Including low-hanging keywords in your SEO and content marketing strategy has multiple advantages.
First, these search queries and phrases support the priority keywords that you and your competitors are pursuing. If Google determines that your website offers the best information on a given keyword and supporting topics (think questions that appear in the “People Also Ask” box for certain Google searches), you’re more likely to rank first for the keywords you value most.
Second, low-hanging keywords help businesses and marketers learn how potential consumers search. Again, unlike high-level keywords (which usually consist of a product or service term and maybe a location), a low-hanging keyword is typically a question or phrase that seeks context and clarity, which gives you the opportunity to truly optimize your content for what consumers search. If you deliver the best answer for a particular question, a customer is likely to remember you.
Third, because they’re usually structured as questions and phrases, low-hanging keywords often represent the progression of a consumer through the “funnel” of a prospective conversion. Specific questions indicate intent, rather than somebody just getting familiar with an industry and its offerings.
Finally, low-hanging keywords are much less competitive. They’re much easier to rank on the first page for, which represents an opportunity to catch the attention of informed consumers and drive traffic to your website.
How do I optimize for low-hanging keywords?
Another major benefit of making low-hanging keywords a core part of your SEO strategy is that the queries are directly derived from both the high-level keywords you target and the performance of your website. Paid tools like SEMRush or Ubersuggest can help you track how your website ranks for target keywords.
As you optimize your website and develop web content (such as pages for your products and services, blog posts, etc.), you will start to see your website rank for additional organic search terms.
Ranking on the first page for these queries may not be a priority for your business. However, if you’re on the second or third page of results for a term that aligns with or supports your keyword list, it’s worth investing time and effort into boosting your rankings for low-hanging keywords. This may involve publishing new content, adjusting the meta tags on certain pages and more.
You can also leverage Google or free SEO tools to identify additional opportunities. For example, AnswerThePublic shows you the associated queries and phrases related to your target keywords. If you search these terms yourself, you can see how your website ranks and identify potential low-hanging keywords to drive your search engine marketing.
One caveat: It’s important not to go overboard with your keyword list. A recent survey of SEO professionals found that anywhere from 10 to 50 keywords is a good starting point for most businesses.
Developing a focused keyword list makes your marketing efforts more manageable. It will also help you hone in on relevant low-hanging keywords that will engage prospective customers, get them to your website and hopefully earn their business.
Upping Your SEO Game With Low-Hanging Keywords
Most businesses are ambitious in their efforts to rank on the first page for competitive keywords. However, so are your competitors.
With quality content and diligent optimization, you may be able to stand out in competitive search results. However, with only so many spots on the first page, it’s dangerous to rely solely on high-level keywords. Diversifying your strategy with low-hanging keywords is a smart way to pursue priority keywords while delivering answers to the specific questions your customers ask.
In today’s attention economy, the top brands know how to break through the noise and communicate effectively with customers. Your business or agency can do the same with this multifaceted approach to SEO marketing.