Competitive Searches

Of course their are markets and niches where long tail keywords will never be the main target for a company and long tail keywords are viewed merely as “gravy”. Markets such as those in the financial sector like credit cards or banking institutions will prefer to have a more “global” reach in the search engines.

For large financial institutions a generic search phrase such as “credit cards” which generates 201,000 monthly searches is a much more desirable keyword to target than a long tail search.

However, long tail searches such as “low interest credit cards”, which generates a very respectable 9,900 monthly searches, is a great secondary target. Although it should be noted that this search phrase is just as competitive as the first one.

If you are a solo or small seo firm then such keywords are best avoided as it takes a considerable budget, a large skilled seo team and a great deal of work to successfully land a high ranking for such terms.

To illustrate the difficulty of ranking such terms consider that McGrath Enterprise Seo Services offers a competitive annihilator package starting at $10,000 per month which ensures 2 such terms will be secured within no more than a 6 month period.

Ranking Competitive Search Phrases

As we have already mentioned it is not advisable for solo Seos or small seo agencies to target such high-end keywords as those in the financial sector simply because they will not achieve rankings for their clients. The actors in these markets are corporations and financial institutions that have huge marketing budgets in the millions of dollars range.

Small companies simply cannot compete.

Please do not be offended but our advice is simple: save yourself a lot of heartache and a bucket of money and leave these keywords to the big boys.

Do not get us wrong. This does not mean that you cannot operate in competitive niches!

Medium Competitive to Difficult Keywords

The example of the financial markets that we gave is an extreme case of very difficult markets to operate in. These markets are worth billions of dollars per year and this is reflected in the difficultly ranking sites within those markets.

However, there are other markets that are very competitive but still worth targeting. Two examples of very competitive markets that are still worth targeting are weight loss and fitness but there are thousands of others.

It is possible to achieve high rankings in Google for competitive keywords in such markets within a relatively short period of time and in fact it is easier now than it ever has been before.

Simply get your on-page factors right and follow a proven link building plan and be persistent in your efforts.

The only difference between ranking a competitive keyword and an easier long tail keyword is the amount of effort you put into your seo efforts and time.

Keep building links while making sure you follow the rules of Penguin 1.0 and Penguin 2.0 and also ensure your backlinks look natural.

Many times with competitive search phrases Seos start to panic when their sites fail to move after a sustained link building campaign and they start thinking that seo is dead or worse that some new (or old) furry animal has got them.

Google wants Seos to think that link building no longer works bust trust us it does.

Seo is not dead and this “site sticking” effect has nothing to do with Penguin, Panda or any other furry animal…it is completely normal.

Target-sites operating in competitive markets and targeting competitive keywords will often “stick” for awhile and then suddenly jump up in the SERPs as if by magic. This can be so dramatic that many Seos falsely believe that there has been an algo change.

Beware of such false positives!

The Google Dance

Another common occurrence is when you see a target-site experience a massive SERP drop for a keyword you are targeting.

You have been building links and initially see a huge improvement in your target-site. It reaches page 1. Then one day you look at the SERPs and your target site has fallen to the nether regions of Search somewhere like page 5.

Panic sets in and you start going crazy building naked URL links in titanic numbers to dilute your anchor text. You jump to use the Google disavow tool (worse than useless) and generally run about online like a virtual headless chicken throwing caution to the wind and forgetting your seo strategy as you do anything and everything to regain your rankings.


Before you do anything check page 1 of the SERPs. Are the same sites still ranking? If so then no algo change has taken place.

Check your competitor’s backlinks. Have you been building your links following our advice and do your links still match those of your competitors?


Then breathe and relax!

This is the google dance – which can be considerably more volatile post Penguin 2.0 than it ever was before.

In the summer of 2013 we had a site fall overnight from page 1 position 2 to page 28 for a competitive search term. There was no apparent changes to other sites within the same niche and for the target keyword.

This change was so dramatic that we were initially convinced that it had been hit by a penalty.

However, upon closer inspection we could find no indicators of why a penalty would have been imposed on the site.

To our complete surprise over the next 2 weeks the site crawled back to its original position a few positional jumps at a time and due to our continued seo campaign it now sits at number 1.

We don’t work at Google so we have no idea why this happened but we have seen similar (although less dramatic) drops and recoveries (usually in much quicker time) many times since then. If this happens to you do not panic just double check your links, your on-page factors and keep following your seo strategy do not stop as this may be an indicator that you are trying to manipulate the SERPs!

Continuing the link building makes it look like the links are natural as they are continuing to be built even though they are (seemingly) having no effect on your rankings.

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