Why Some Keywords are Not Worth Going After (Or At Least For Now)

In the game of SEO, we are taught to believe that online success is a calculation of traffic: the higher the count of onlookers (i.e. potential customers), the higher the probability that you may convert said onlooker to an active customer. It works this way in retail and other physical locations, so why shouldn’t it work this way on the web? It’s actually a bit more complicated than that.

Just because a keyword generates a lot of interest, and therefore traffic, it doesn’t mean that this keyword is the cash cow you hope to milk for quick increases in advertising. A keyword with an enormously high search volume doesn’t necessarily mean it is worth going after. Maybe at a later point in time, but not right now while you are small and still growing.

A high-volume keyword creates an inescapable pull of competition. What this means is that, along with you, are thousands of others with the same idea of keyword stuffing for larger amounts of customer turnover. What you’re actually doing is damaging your chances at being seen, misusing your resources while doing it, and ultimately wasting your own time. The pond is too big for the fishing line to conveniently fall in front of you. This is especially the case for business owners with low domain authority, or none at all. If your domain authority is not a commanding enough presence, then you would simply be adding to the grand sea in which this keyword is hopelessly drowning in.


For example, the terms ‘debit’ and ‘credit’ may be entirely relevant to the business you hope to conduct, and bank cards are an incredibly promising avenue to market when reaching out for business online. There is no doubt that the searchable terms themselves [credit, debit, banking, etc.] are due to provide a stream of interested customers, but the overwhelming number of suppliers to this specific demand will ultimately rank you lower. There are more competitors to be ranked lower against in this scenario, and that is likely what will happen if you enter into a high-volume search term without the capital to keep up the pace.

Example: A better keyword territory to enter into may be “Tax Collections”, “Debt Resolution”, “Credit Score”, and the like. It sometimes even helps to zero in on a physical location, such as a batch of results that pertain to the San Diego area instead of the State of California as a whole. Find smaller bits of territory on which to build your business.

Basically, you’d be spending all this time and money on ranking high among a search term that is already heavily contested. The better strategy is to plant your flags on smaller slices of land. Find the smaller, more niche areas of interest (and with them, the search terms relevant to them) for what would end up being a shorter road to the top rankings. There is less competition to fight off, and this strategy in tangent with the specific needs you hope to solve for your customers will give you much more momentum. Take over the smaller search terms, rank higher, generate more attention (and therefore, revenue) as a result. Only after this should you revisit the question of higher-volume search terms. Once you’ve created a sturdier leg to stand on, it’s worth considering going after the “big fish” again.

In Neil Patel’s case, his site experiences +9 million visitors while only retaining 0.1% of that. What this means is that 0.1% of these visitors transition into actual paying customers. Numbers can be deceiving like this, and it is important to remember that.

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One failsafe against this issue is the utility of the Rankbrain software. Rankbrain gauges user intent, meaning it configures WHY a term is relevant to the search and how it can be used to solve a customer’s problem. The mark of smarter technology is not just about numbers, but about catering to needs and solving individual problems. Popularity of a term is not always the leading factor.