A Step-by-Step Guide to Dominating Any Keyword You Choose

Page one, position one.

It’s the ultimate goal of every SEO marketer.

But of course reaching this goal can be difficult, and there is a seemingly infinite number of variables that determine how your content ends up ranking.

And let’s not forget about Google’s fickleness.

Their unending updates can leave you scratching your head as to what your next move should be.

I know that I’ve found myself frustrated more than a few times.

But what if I told you that there was a specific formula you can follow to dominate any keyword you choose?

What if you could knock it out of the park every time and continually outrank your competitors?

Well, there is!

Not to sound like a sleazy used-car salesman or an obnoxious motivational speaker, but there’s definitely a recipe for crushing it with your keywords.

During the years, I’ve experimented with nearly everything under the sun and have come up with a surefire formula for dominating the SEO game by targeting the right keyword and tailoring your campaign to reach your audience.

Here’s how to do it step by step.

Target descriptive phrases

Your first order of business should be to go after long-tail keywords.

As you may already know, it’s extremely difficult to gain any traction by targeting broad phrases.

There’s just too much competition out there, and the top spots are usually filled by the usual suspects—big-name companies with deep pockets and massive brand equity.

But long-tail keywords level the playing field significantly. They’re what lets the little guys hang with the big boys.

I like to think of them as the low hanging fruit of SEO. A top spot in the SERPs is there for the taking.

My general rule for long-tail keywords is that they should be a minimum of four words.

This should ensure that you have a realistic chance of breaking through and at least getting on page one (if not in the top three spots).

Download this step-by-step guide to dominating any keyword you choose.

Here’s a nice graph that illustrates long-tail SEO and keyword length:

image03

Notice that the more words you include in your keyword phrase, the more your competition, cost, and risk shrink while your probability of making a conversion increases.

The best part is that there are plenty of long-tail keywords to choose from.

In fact, they account for roughly 70% of all keywords.

Here’s how the “search demand curve” breaks down overall:

image01

And I know what you might be saying.

Hardly anyone will be searching for super specific keyword phrases. It’s going to negate the entire purpose of going this route if there’s a low volume of users who actually find my content.

But as I mentioned before in another article on Quick Sprout, “long-tails don’t have a lot of search volume. But you shouldn’t worry about this. You’re not going for high volume—you are going for focused intention.”

The trick here is to find a long-tail keyword phrase with minimal competition that still receives enough searches to justify you targeting it.

Let’s go back to the example of long-tail keyword SEO. You would be much better off targeting “red Nike mens running shoes” than “mens shoes.”

Finding low competition keywords

If you’re looking for a shortcut, there’s a simple one on Google’s Keyword Planner.

Here’s what you do:

Click on “Keyword filters” located on the left-hand side of your dashboard.

image06

Then click on “Low,” and it will leave a checkmark indicating that you want all your results to have low competition. Then save.

image00

Your results will be populated only by keyword phrases with low competition.

image02

Note: Sometimes there may be pretty slim pickings for low competition keywords. In this case, you may want to also search for medium competition.

This will save you a lot of time from having to manually sift through the results to find something relevant.

If you’re using some other type of software, just look for a similar feature to streamline the keyword research process.

Ideally, you’ll find a keyword phrase that receives a reasonable number of searches but isn’t completely saturated with competition.

Understanding user intent

Intent is everything.

When creating content, it’s vital that you understand precisely what your audience is looking for and deliver the goods.

Let’s look at two slightly different keyword phrases as an example.

Phrase 1: buy red Nike mens running shoes

Phrase 2: red Nike mens running shoes review

Although both phrases are geared toward the same thing—red Nike men’s running shoes—the user is at two very different stages in the sales funnel.

People searching for the first phrase are further along the sales funnel and ready (or at least close to ready) to make a purchase.

In this case, it would probably make sense to incorporate a call to action (CTA) in your content.

However, people searching for the second phrase aren’t quite there yet and are looking for information to help them decide whether this is a product they actually want to buy.

In this case, you would simply want to provide them with the information they’re looking for and warm them up rather than straight up trying to make a sale.

For instance, you might want to point them to other resources on your site, get them to sign up for your newsletter so you can get them to buy later, etc.

Keep this in mind when creating your content because it will influence your approach and how quickly you go for the sale.

I think this graphic breaks down user intent quite well:

image04

The bottom line is that Google’s mission is to provide users with content that best matches their intent.

If you’re able to do that effectively, you have a high probability of achieving a favorable ranking.

Create epic content

Okay, so you’ve selected long-tail keywords with a reasonable number of searches and minimal competition, and you have an understanding of what your audience is looking for.

The next step to dominating the search results is to create epic content that vastly exceeds anything that the competition is doing.

This is perhaps the most important step in the process and your ticket for getting the results you’re looking for.

In fact, I’ve based my entire marketing campaign on this concept.

And not to toot my own horn, but my ability to consistently create in-depth, insightful, and valuable content has been a large part of my success.

How exactly do I go about this?

Well, there are several things that make content stand out, but from my experience, you should focus on the following:

  • Longform content – just over 2,450 words is the average length of content that ranks number one on Google.

image05

  • Use plenty of high-quality visuals for maximum aesthetic appeal
  • Incorporate videos
  • Sprinkle in data-driven charts and graphs
  • Throw in external links to credible and relevant third-party publications
  • Make it scannable (e.g., use short paragraphs, sub-headers, and bullet points)

But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

I don’t have time to fully launch into all the components that make for epic content here. But you can learn much more by checking out this other post I wrote.

I actually prefer to think of each piece of content I write as “an ultimate guide” instead of just another post.

Having this kind of mindset helps me ensure that I go above and beyond the status quo and increases the odds that my content gets shared, receives mass exposure, etc. so that it inevitably ranks highly.

Circulate your content

Let’s assume your post is in fact epic.

That’s great. But you can’t just sit back and wait for good things to happen.

You need to take action.

But what should you do?

For starters, you’ll want to post it on relevant social media accounts to generate some initial buzz.

If you’ve got a considerable number of followers, that right there should have a decent impact.

But what I really recommend is reaching out to influencers to see if they will link to your content.

If you can make this happen, the number of shares your content receives can skyrocket.

In fact, a study from OkDork and BuzzSumo found that “just having one influential person sharing your content resulted in 31.8 percent more social shares.”

image07

But look what happens as more influencers link to it. The number of shares continues to increase.

Getting five influencers to link to it could be considered the tipping point with a dramatic spike in the number of shares.

For more information on creating content that influencers will link to, just check out this post I wrote.

Conclusion

Let’s recap.

There is a wide array of factors that determine where content gets ranked. However, there is definitely a degree of predictability to the process.

When you use the formula I discussed, you should be able to target the right keywords that you have the best possible chance of competing for.

Then, by building your content around those keywords and following my recipe, you can surpass your primary competitors.

This ultimately translates into a great ranking within SERPs and plenty of highly targeted, organic traffic that’s likely to convert.

What successful tactics have you used to dominate a keyword?

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Comments

  1. Hey Neil,

    The value of your posts is really really appreciated. But for us to experiment these keywords skills we need a blog. And let me recommend a WordPress Theme I’ve built that works best for Marketing.

    https://themeforest.net/item/blomag-wordpress-theme-exclusively-for-marketers/12388965

    Let me know your thoughts, Neil 🙂

  2. Weelytics Blog :

    Hi Neil, This is really helpful another source of good Keywords informations that i use is Google Micro-Moments: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/collections/micromoments.html

    I think this is how people search today. 🙂

    Mohamed Hedi Lassoued
    Cheers,

    • Thanks for the suggestion.

    • How do you use it? Thanks for sharing

      • Great stuff Neil.

        Ranking #1 for a keyword is NOT easy unless you have a solid SEO plan. You need to keep one thing mind: give top priority to your users first.

        Google always gives rewards those who care about better user experience (be it in design, speed, products or content).

        Also getting access to the right tools like LTP, SEMrush can help. They give you a lot of untapped keyword ideas you can use to get better rankings.

        Using the Skyscraper technique is a powerful tactic to get links from other sites. Links are powerful when it comes to getting more traffic.

        Great insights!

  3. Nice article for newbies like me and worth of reading this post

  4. Hi Neil,

    Competition that you mention in the article is PPC competition, which doesn’t equal to SEO competition. For example, keyword “potato” might have low PPC competition but SEO competition is very high. Google’s keyword tool is pretty much useless now for keyword research.

    • Ditto on the keyword research tool being much less useful since the recent update.

      • True-we are just getting general #’s which really sucks! Thanks Google. I get taht they are a business but that tool can lead to business for them, I think if you have had a certain ad spend then you do still see exact figures….
        Facebook is hurting Google I think that’s why they may be tightening their free tools??

        • Does Facebook give you exact numbers Kala?

          Google in a way is helping with ranges as it is more of a fluid number than a fixed number and trends matter 🙂

      • It is not ideal but it should make you look at trends a little more and the overall topic.

    • It does reflect commercial viability for the keyword and that can be a good barometer.

  5. Karanja Joseph :

    Hi Neil,
    I do agree that competing with top brands is a humongous act. Even then, it’s doable. I believe the key lies in learning from SEO supremos like you and taking action unreservedly.

  6. Neil as always a really interesting post. I have to agree that long tail keywords is where you should start.

  7. Neil. Once again a great post . A question : for niche site when launch a new business, I have a brand new social platform for the new site having a few followers. In this case, how can I gain the initial buzz please ? I really want some suggestions from you about initial boost for a brand new niche site. I always build awesome content ( both size and quality )

    • Shamshul, I need a little more information about the brand to give a better response?

      • Basically I do micro niche sites . Product reviews based with lots of informative posts . Average length of content : 2500 words. My current projects are about :1. Kids exercise equipment. 2. A particular type of home appliance 3. Woodworking tools 4. Soccer

  8. Capricorn Traits :

    Hello Neil, informative article again. Thanks!

    Please suggest any tool for finding longtail keywords.

    Secondly a quick question is: how to rank single post on 10 to 15 related long tail keywords?

    Thanks

  9. Extremely happy to hear that creating consistent, in-depth, quality content has been a huge part of your success.

    That’s been my aim for my audience over the past year and just recently started getting some Google love.

    I need to do a better job of long-tail keyword research and influencer reach outs.

    Thanks for the value Neil.

  10. Neil I thought this was an excellent written article on keyword strategies. I love the concept of long tail keywords it helps you to identify the user intent however like the other reviewer mentioned concerning keyword competitions for SEO using the Google Keyword Planner tool is not the best and most accurate tool to use. This tool could give you some indication of market trends as of its popularity for Google AdWords meaning people purchasing the pay-per-click ads. I believe that this should be used for inside only and not to solidify the idea of competition.

    • Adwords usually weeds out the better words so the competition helps, but I would simply gather your research and check what is ranking and see if you can improve upon it.

  11. Sir, but the competition in google keyword tool is for advertisers not us. Having low competition means low advertiser to pay for that keyword and this is bad. Am i correct sir?

  12. Dan Grijzenhout :

    Very good post – thank you. I have been revamping my online assets (videos, webpages, articles, etc.) to incorporate more long-tail keywords as you discuss in this article – and it is working. I find my traffic/views increasing and when I search for some of these long tail keywords on Google, I am actually finding myself on page one in front of millions of other results rendered. So this does work – I reaffirm it!

    Best wishes,
    Dan Grijzenhout- http://howtoguru.org

  13. This is great stuff, Neil. Long-tail keywords is a thing that I’ve known about for a while, but have really not been great at focusing on. Probably because I’m lazy. I need to change that.

    Thanks for the great post!

  14. Thank you Neil for sharing this post. This is very true! I have experimented with 5 to 7 words long keywords with much success. I have noted that bing.com is the first one to rank me on first page way long before google.com does for local searches in my country then as I continue sharing on my social media accounts then google later shows my page on its first page.

    This year you have taught me so much and one of my website is doing great thanks to this resourceful help you share with us. I am so grateful and I am currently tweaking my other websites with the wisdom I pick from the articles you share with us. Thanks a bunch.

  15. Thank Neil, I have recently started implementing the long tail strategy, but I did not realise the length of the content was a deciding factor, I will now try to make posts 2,450 words.

    thanks

    James

  16. Hi Neil,

    As we all know, long tail keywords do really rank high provided that our landing page is of high quality also. Do you have any suggestions on the presentation of our articles? How about the tone?

    By the way, I don’t use Google’s Keyword Planner at all since it is now less useful for us SEO’s. What I am using are https://ubersuggest.io/ and http://keywordtool.io/. Both are really helpful specially in finding a good long tail keywords.

  17. Nice step by step explanation sir, content is the main thing to rank a keyword nowadays. A 1000 to 1500 words article with good on page optimization will work perfectly.

  18. This is another really great post on Content Creation Neil, I would add a great tool https://longtailpro.com/ to the list along side Google Keyword tool as a great way to find keyword gaps and new opportunities in search.

  19. Business Coaching :

    I like the fact that you said “There is a wide array of factors that determine where content gets ranked. However, there is definitely a degree of predictability to the process.”. Most newbies don’t know this, yet anyone who has built a successful search or content marketing campaign understands that keywords are great, but there are other factors.

    There are other elements such as your onpage optimization, links, incorporating multiple synonyms so it doesnt look like you’re keyword spamming, avoiding overoptimization and so much more. However, once you get the keyword research part right, you’re halfway home. Thanks for this excellent piece Neil

  20. Hello Neil, thanks for this Epic Post, Looks like we bloggers cant do without Google Keyword Planner for SEO

  21. Short and sweet information on powering my keywords, Thank you….

  22. Thank you very much for the reminder about longtails. And WOW to 2450 words being the optimum! Time to up the ante! Thanks again, Neil 🙂

  23. Jogos de Moto 3D :

    More important than a first position is to make a good domination on the first page. Thanks Neil for this great step by step guide.

  24. How can I rank a site which is having no content??

  25. Nice Post Neil . Really very helpful to me..!!!

  26. As many saying it’s the competition among advertisers instead of SEO, which tool(free) should one explore then?

  27. Neil, your post really helpful. As per your state, it’s really an ultimate guide for us.

  28. Thanks again Neal. Always useful and appreciated. Is there any way to get actual fifures on search volume rather than those vague, 10-100 things? I was going great with KWR until Google pulled the data from under my feet.

    • The Google search console will give clearer values for what you have but ranges are better for you in the long run.

      It is about pushing the overall topic not one keyword at a time.

  29. Just what I was looking for. Thank you 🙂

  30. Thank you. With the 2400 or so ultimate guide, do you ever fear giving too much information away? Even to competition?

  31. Hi Neil, This is really helpful another source of good Keywords information.

  32. Also are there any blog sharing sites that you recommend other than Stumble Upon? Thank you

  33. I may be too late to get a reply now but I am having trouble creating the content you mention as we have a national cleaning website that we are promoting one area at a time so will be doing local SEO for each place. We are still on our first chosen area and it been a real struggle to get ranked. We are coming towards 3 months we have only just made page 9 even though our site metrics are better than most of the sites on page 1. I know content can help us but I find it almost impossible to write a lot of original content about cleaning. Have you any suggestions for local companies such as ours. I do think it’s easier with services the plumbing as they have lots of different repairs that they can write about or video, but we don’t. How much can you really say about dusting, vacuuming and mopping etc? I would appreciate any suggestions.

    • SEO is great, and Neil’s post is awesome when it comes trying to find keywords to rank for. But as I always like to say, “SEO isn’t everything”.

      If it were up to me, I’d always choose a steady flow of content on blogs, social, email, PPC, mobile, retargeting, and everything else there is to do with digital marketing.

      It’s never about SEO or no SEO, Helen. It’s about how you use SEO in combination with others.

      You can write a lot for dusting, vacuuming, mopping when you get out of the context, step backwards a little, and think about what exactly you are trying to do for your clients.

      Maybe if you thought about cleanliness as a broad enough topic, you could go nuts writing about that alone while including instances of vacuuming, dusting, etc.

      12 Cleaning Mandates Home Could Really Feel Like an Abode
      15 Tricks to Get Every Speck of Dust Out
      It’s Under Your Nose: 17 Facts You Didn’t Know About Dust

      Just thinking over my head, you know?

    • Helen, How about some articles on cleaning for folks with allergies – like using vinegar, baking soda, borax, lemon juice, etc. – Articles about cleaning methods that are environmentally friendly. How to freshen the smell of the kitchen by putting lemon rinds down the garbage disposal; making your own potpourri or scented candles?

      Your business could specialize in using these allergy-free/environmentally safe types of products – and you could write articles about the dangers of “regular” cleaning products.

      How about exterior cleaning – like power washing the entry/walk way, the back patio/lanai/deck?

      How about articles on how to keep stone floors shiny? cleaning laminate floors? [I hate mine!] Reminders to dust the baseboards and sweep/vacuum the walls for cobwebs [“Things We Sometimes Forget To Do”].

      I wish you the best!

  34. Thanks for sharing.

  35. Just because our article ranks high on google for a certain search phrase, how do you know that that’s what people are looking for?

  36. Thank you, Neil!

    Your post encouraged me to write longer articles, today I wrote a 2300 blog post 😀

  37. Mehndi Design Videos :

    Hello,
    You share an awesome guide for keyword research, your post is soo easy to understand because the use of needful screenshot. Thanks a lot for sharing your experience. Please keep posting and sharing for next time.

  38. Hello Neil,

    I must confess, I’m so lucky to follow a great blog like this with valuable info. for newbies like me.
    Question: I blog for audiences that take pleasure in reading short posts rather than long blog posts. With your 2500 average words blog post, how do I handle this?

  39. I started Blogging last October. I usually use long tail keywords in my blog posts but, still not getting satisfactory result, why? I need your suggestion. Thank You

  40. This is so timely, thanks for posting.

  41. Thanks for sharing your Valuable idea here, I think long trail Keywords is A good option for PPC point of view with CPA.

  42. Kessiya Amelia :

    Hey Neil.

    This is great. I love long tail keywords. Thanks

  43. Thanks for sharing such a valuable topi. The long tail keywords are always useful to get rank as well as to get better ROI if you place proper in your website and promote on valuable websites.

  44. Hey, Neil, i am your big fan I really appreciate your blog
    Thanks for sharing this informative blog

  45. Thanks Neil. The post is just great.

    All the posts i read here and in your personal blog change something in the way we see the things.

  46. Thanks Neil for this wonderful post. I was doing lot of keyword research for my clients and I know it is hard to filter out the best of best keywords for their business. Though I used to filter out and all that I felt this post can give me more confidence in my keyword research for my clients.

    Once I download keywords from keyword planner I use an excel formula to filter out not so useful keywords and suggest those keywords which gives benefit for our clients business.

  47. Hi Neil,
    Thanks for sharing your ideas your article is very helpful to all as in search of keywords

  48. Great Post! Thank You very Much Neil.

  49. Competition that you mention in the article is PPC competition, which doesn’t equal to SEO competition.

  50. Thanks Neil. The post is just great.

    All the posts i read here and in your personal blog change something in the way we see the things.

  51. Thanks Neil.. This post was very helpful.

    I will definitely try long tail keywords. 🙂

  52. Thank you Neil for share this informative information.

  53. Modern Technolab :

    Hii Neil,
    Very nice post again, I always use long tail keywords use in any post or blog, the long tail keyword is better ideas to get the successful result. I’m finding for more effective long tail keyword planner tools please give some suggestions. Thanks

  54. Hi Neil,
    I’m curious what your thoughts and/or experience is with content more than 2500 words. I have some articles that are 4000 – 6000 and I’m wondering if that may hurt them in the rankings (or if it will matter at all). Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Jay

  55. Jarvis Frazier :

    Neil,

    Thanks for the great information. I will definitely play around with the long tail keywords and let you know what happens. Great post!

  56. Awesome article, Neil. I have found that the longer the keyword, the better conversion rate, especially with my home improvement contractor clients where there’s a lot of research based searches as opposed to purchase.

  57. I am really Liked your blog. This blog is very informative for everyone. Thanks for sharing this valuable blog. keep it on.

  58. Diseño Páginas Web Salamanca :

    Excellent guide!
    As you said, it is very important to create epic content.

  59. Nice Guide Nail. Long Tail Keywords always converters well. But would you mind to list out the Buying Keywords list which contains any specific characters, help us to filter and use it easily. Thanks!

  60. Neil, again nice article.
    But I have to add few points. New website owner who want to target certain category nearly impossible example in tech field even long tail keywords are so crowded with big hot shot website they did not let any small one to grow.
    Other is problem with traffic. Without organic target we did not get and genuine follower on social site, without social site growth we can not get more ranking in google. It is vicious cycle..

  61. Christian Gatlin :

    Hey Neil,

    Great post! Keywords can be a headache and very confusing. Thanks for creating a step-by-step, detailed guide: these methods are very practical and will benefit all of us in the long run.

  62. Flats in Ultadanga :

    Very useful infomation.

  63. Thanks for this great information

  64. Creating epic content always works. One small insight I would like to share with your audience is, I am working in the travel industry. And most of all targeted kws are ranked by big names.

    What I did is, created long form content having 2k-4k words which gives value to my audience and even without any link building I am seeing good rankings. Some of my content is ranking even for high competition borad kws without any optimization. 🙂

    Hence again proved, content is king and always will be!

    Also it would be great if you can check out the biz I am working for and share your thoughts as well.

    Cheers.

  65. Absolutely true… I always rank higher for my long tale keywords. Nice post

  66. Hey Neil,

    Well, These days, Ranking on any Keyword is not easy, although if we choose low competition Keyword as well as Long tails, then it becomes relatively easier, if we know how it use Social Signals and Backlinks.

    Also, if we can produce in-depth content, then we certainly can rank.

    BTW, Thanks for the Tips.

    ~ Jelina

  67. Great guide as always. I’m finding even ranking for long tails difficult these days since established authority dominate page 1 of SERPs. The only thing that works for me now is creating “epic content” and give it out for free to my target demographic. The days of shady SEO tactics are over.

  68. best wireless router 2017 :

    I am initially focusing on longtail keywords before actually targeting my actually money keywords. Hope this will work.

  69. Narinder kumar :

    Thanks Neil for sharing some keyword research tips and idea for LSI keywords it’s really technical part of SEO.

  70. This was an amazing post and thanks for sharing the vast guide to choose keywords. Great Post! Keep on Updating.

  71. Great post Neil,
    Choosing Long tail Keywords helps in getting top in SERP.
    nice Explaining.

  72. Great piece of content again Neil. Thank you.

    A very good point you raised on understanding User Intent. We sometimes miss this aspect while building the list of our targeted keywords. Will keep this in mind from here on.
    Regards

  73. Dr SEO Malaysia :

    Long tail keyword is really a good way to target the competitive keyword!!

  74. sexy toys fifty Shades of gray :

    Every weekend i used to pay a quick visit this web site, for the reason that
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  75. It is generally easier to target keywords that are longer but that doesn’t mean that it is necessarily profitable.

  76. You made some useful tips here Neil. But I think that the times have changed. It seems that keywords are no longer giving as much traffic as it used to.

  77. Hi Neil,

    Thanks for the great post and site.

    I am a complete newbie and have my blog up, but not really running! I have a baby food recipe site.

    I am completely confused by keywords and SEO.
    1. Should I be using long tail keywords for each separate recipe, or should I use the same long tail over and over? (which I guess would make that a topic then)
    2. Am I supposed to use the long tail keyword in my post several times?
    3. Or do I just put it in the keyword tool that YOAST SEO has?

    I’m sure anyone reading this will shake their head at me. So confused.

    Cheers, Nik

  78. This is the reason why i always visit quicksprout and neilpatel.com, there is always something new to learn. Thanks sir Neil.

  79. SEO Freelancer Bangalore :

    Neil this is your FAN ashray…i have 1 question that in-spite of having genuine content and doing OFF Page techniques why i don’t understand my results are not ranking well…..Do you have feed back…waiting for your message…. please do reply….

  80. Paul Ashworth :

    How do choose which are the best keywords when you have so many different products like on http://www.webrand4u.co.uk

  81. Alexander von beefjerkykaufen.de :

    Really like this a rticle and will try it next time to find low comp KWS!

  82. I like ur articles basically the way u present it Its very interesting n useful

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