A lot of SEO specialists don’t go after the high-volume keywords anymore, consigning themselves to the less competitive, long-tail phrases that don’t generate a whole lot of traffic.
There’s a reason for their pessimism:
Competition has gotten fierce.
Seriously, when you target a keyword, you’re not just competing against established companies – you’re going up against those who can afford premium SEO marketing.
They can afford to spend big on SEO talent because of how much they’re making by being on the first page of Google.
Think about it this way: In the U.S., the term “personal loans” is searched roughly two hundred thousand times a month. It’d cost you around $6 a click if you wanted to bid on that term. But, if you were ranking organically, then it’d be like you were making $6 every time someone clicked on your organic listing.
With two hundred thousand monthly searches, there are a lot of clicks up in the air for this term. If you were to rank first for the term, you’d probably be looking at around thirty thousand clicks a month. Since those clicks are worth $6 each if you were bidding on them, the value adds up to about $180 thousand a month. And that’s just for that term. If you’re ranking first for “personal loans,” then you’re probably ranking for a lot of other things as well, which means you can afford the best SEO minds in the business. In fact, you probably can’t afford not to have the best in the business if you want to maintain your SERP rankings.
You don’t have to be first. Even if you rank tenth for “personal loans,” you’re still on the first page. You’d probably be looking at around three thousand clicks a month (yes, it’s a steep drop in clicks from the first to the tenth spot). That’s worth about $18,000 a month.
So, this is the kind of money you’re competing with when you try to get onto the first page for top search terms. You need to realize that some of these sites are making millions of dollars a month off their SEO efforts, which means they’re likely spending big money to make sure they stay on top.
If you want to beat them, you’ll need to devote a few months to the project, and even then, you might not be successful. If you're going to take a shot at it, here’s one strategy.
A Battle Plan for Ranking on a High-Volume Keyword
You probably already have a keyword phrase in mind. If you don’t, your first step will be choosing your keyword. Try to pick a word or phrase with around a 10,000 search volume (remember, “personal loans” has a 200 thousand search volume).
A recent blog from Moz.com pointed out that when choosing a keyword to go after, you should consider what point during the buyer’s journey they would be searching for the word. If it’s closer to the decision stage, then you can probably afford to sacrifice some search volume to go after it.
For instance, if the search volume for “personal loans” is too big for you to go after (and it is), then you might consider “apply for personal loan,” which has a search volume of a little over a thousand, but may be further along the buyer's journey.
Before you choose your keyword, look at the SERPs. When I search “apply for a personal loan,” I see a lot of sites that are going to be impossible to beat. I’m talking about major brands that have been spending years sending the right signals to Google. Ranking on the first three pages would be tough. The fourth page looks possible.
The traffic generated from a fourth-page result probably wouldn’t justify the effort you’d need to go to get there, though.
After you find the right keyword to go after, you need to write the content. We won’t go into too much depth here on how to write quality content, but suffice it to say, you should make it as useful and readable as possible – and don’t oversaturate the article with your keyword.
Once you post the article, you’ll need to get influencers to link to it. That means you need to tell them about your article. How do you find them? Use your competitors. Find their backlinks and convince the other sites to link to you, too.
Several services can help you do this. You simply enter a site or specific page, and they’ll tell you who’s linking to it.
Ideally, you’d be reaching out to hundreds of sites, as you need to maintain a lot of backlinks if you want to keep your search ranking up. We told you this would be a labor-intensive project. Backlinks is when it gets the most difficult.
To rank, you need to write quality content, and then get people to link to it. That takes months if it happens at all.
We hope this article helps you see the scope of going after high-volume keyword terms. It can be a very rewarding venture, but you need to know what you’re getting yourself into.