5 Strategies to Choose SEO Topics You Can Rank For

No doubt, if you want to rank in Google in 2019, you need to create high-quality content. Unfortunately, you can still create incredible content and never rank on page 1!

This is a situation many of our customers at Frase are facing. We’ve provided tools to help you craft great content, but is it actually driving organic traffic?

The reality is that half of your SEO success relies on choosing search queries you can realistically rank for. Given the amount of content published every single day, keyword research might be more important than ever.

By “keyword research” I refer to the process of deciding what specific search queries we aim to rank for. Once keyword research is sorted, we can focus on creating and optimizing content. So, how do we decide what search queries are worth pursuing?

Keyword Research comes first!

In my constant quest to understanding keyword research, I put together a list of strategies I’ve either leveraged myself, or seen others successfully implement.


  1. Long-tail keywords
  2. Commercial queries with low SEO difficulty
  3. Learn what works for competitors
  4. Complex technical topics
  5. Create a new product category

1. Long-Tail Keywords

As defined by Wordstream, long-tail keywords are “longer and more specific keyword phrases that visitors are more likely to use when they’re closer to a point-of-purchase or when they’re using voice search.” These keywords might not carry massive traffic, but they are way more targeted.

In contrast, short keywords usually carry high traffic volume, but fierce competition. For example, “SEO” is an extremely competitive query that gets nearly 1 million monthly searches, and is filled with ads. I am not even gonna try to rank there. Pro tip: use Keyword Everywhere’s Chrome Extension to get quick stats as you search in Google.

So I am gonna try to find more focused, long-tail keywords where I can compete and win. In my case, I am interested in queries such as “how to optimize content for SEO”. As you can see below, Keywords Everywhere quickly shows how this long-tail query has way less competition.

These are 2 tactics I use to come up with long-tail keywords:

  • Ideas from forums: analyze what users are asking in forums and communities. This can help you come up with real-life questions your audience might have. Places like Quora or Reddit are great sources of inspiration for long-tail queries. Questions also have a higher chance of capturing a Featured Snippet in Google. Frase provides a tool to help you find questions across forums.
Screenshot of Frase Question Research tool
  • Keyword research tools: in addition to Keywords Everywhere, I personally use Google Keyword Planner (free) and Kwfinder (starts at $25/mo). I like Google Keyword Planner to identify many keyword variations, while I use Kwfinder to analyze backlinks and domain authority across top results for my keywords of interest. Ultimately, my goal is to find long-tail keywords that have low competition and decent traffic (at least 50-100 searches per month).
Kwfinder aggregates data points from different providers, such as Domain Authority (Moz) or Backlinks (Ahrefs)

If you want to dig deeper into “keyword difficulty”, these are 2 good resources: The Big, Vital, All-in-One Guide to Keyword Difficulty and What is the Keyword SEO Difficulty?

2. Commercial Queries with Low SEO Difficulty

Queries with high CPC (cost per click) usually represent keywords that are driving business to somebody. In other words, companies are betting high on those keywords because they are converting into customers.

If you dig deep into high CPC queries, you might be able to find queries with both high CPC and low SEO difficulty. This means you can potentially rank for queries other companies are paying a premium in ads.

To accomplish this, I would again use a combination of Google Keyword Planner (to make a list of high CPC keywords) and Kwfinder (to identify low difficulty keywords based on backlinks and domain authority).

Google Keyword Planner is probably the most reliable free tool to analyze CPC data

3. Learn What Works for your Competitors

You want to know what queries your competitors are ranking for, both organically and through PPC. Ahrefs is one of the most accurate tools to give you this information. Just enter a competitor domain and Ahrefs will tell you how their website is generating traffic. Magical.

Ahrefs tells you the specific keywords any website is ranking for

Sometimes you want to go deeper than that. While knowing what queries are working for your competitors is crucial, you might want to take a deeper dive into all the topics your competitor is mentioning site-wide. To this end, you need a toolkit that can perform 2 operations:

  1. Crawler: extract all the URLs from a website. The most popular crawler in the SEO world is probably ScreamingFrog.
  2. Topic analysis: analyze titles and clean text from each URL and automatically extract topics. This requires an intelligent tool with advanced NLP capabilities. Frase can help you accomplish this task.
Frase provides tools to crawl websites and do semantic analysis

4. Complex Technical Topics

Many complex terms are initially only used in academia until they become more mainstream topics. In other words, most people outside academia will know nothing about them. This presents an SEO opportunity because at some point someone will communicate those complex technical topics to a wider audience without the jargon. In general, these topics will initially carry low traffic but high growth and low competition.

The search results for academic-oriented topics frequently show results in PDF format, and are usually pay-walled. These two characteristics can be potentially detrimental for SEO purposes as PDF is not the preferred format by search engines. Bounce rates might be higher for paywalled websites. Again, this screams SEO opportunity.

I will use Frase to illustrate this strategy. As you might know, at Frase we work on different NLP/AI problems, including automatic summarization, question answering, or named entity recognition. Some of these terms lean towards the academic side. However, business executives are increasingly interested in incorporating AI into their business. Therefore, they might want to read a plain English explanation of what automatic summarization is.

As we experienced at Frase, these technical topics might represent an opportunity to educate your audience on new topics. Take a look at the query “automatic summarization use cases”. Frase takes over the featured snippet, in addition to the 1st and 2nd results in page 1 of Google.

Create content with an AI-powered Research Assistant

5. Create a New Product Category

Some of the most valuable companies were able to create a new product category. When this happens a new term is created, and therefore, a new potential search query. For example, Drift created the term “conversational marketing”.

conversational marketing google trends
Per Google Trends, Conversational Marketing has experience significant search growth over the last year

This gives Drift an unfair advantage over all the SEO terms related to conversational marketing. They are probably the only company in the world that has been using the term for years now, so Google sees them as the absolute authority.

Just take a look at Google’s page 1. Drift takes 4 out of 10 results, including a featured snippet. I am sure this query brings Drift thousands of qualified leads per month.

Coming up with a unique way to define what you do can be strategic for SEO purposes. You will monopolize the early growth of that term in search engines, and reap the benefits in the long run.