Step-by-Step Guide to Dominating Any Keyword

Last Update: December 19, 2016

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

by NEIL PATEL on DECEMBER 19, 2016

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).

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

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:

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.

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

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

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:

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.

  • 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.”

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.


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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TheTonalDoc Premium
Great explanation of the long tail keyword
viyee Premium
Great training. Very help Thanks PJ.
ecomtom Premium
Thanks PJ. Very helpful post. Tom
ponomom Premium
Awesome information. Thanks for sharing.
KokoO Premium
Thanks PJ, merry christmas
WaltzingGaby Premium
Cindy624 Premium
Good stuff. As a consumer myself, I always type in long tail keywords when searching. Thanks for this lesson.

RisingAbove Premium
Bookmarked and taking notes. Thank you so much, PJ.

DonFranks Premium
I too have bookmarked it. Thanks PjGermain. Niel Patel is one of the greats.
brooksbode90 Premium
That's a great deal of very relevant business education, I find it very helpful, thank you, I maked it for review.
Asir Premium
This article's beyond great, PJ! Many thanks for sharing.
gmegs Premium
Stellar post Pj - thanks again for all you do to help!
... so appreciated, and "right on".
PjGermain Premium
Thanks again, Joanne!
eagleswealth Premium
Extremely valuable information. Thanks for sharing.
PjGermain Premium
Thanks a bunch, Judy!
ArtByHeart Premium
Thnx PJ,

And when you do all that and more and the keywords still don't rank, then what? I am getting seriously frustrated and must be doing something wrong here.

Example. I wrote a post to my site yesterday with a low competition keyword of 58 with decent amount of traffic. The post was definitely one of my shortest, only 1200 words, but the topic is quite narrow as well.

People loved it, so did social media, it was shared all over, initially Google ranked it 124, but this morning, after I added my own original new video from youtube to it, it no longer ranks. This happens to most of the article I make. Initially they rank, but then disappear. This really means that it's not ranked by google. Even if type the keyword, followed by the name of my site, it only finds the tag, my google+ post and you tube video associated with it, not the post itself.

Nobody can or want to help me to figure out what's wrong, maybe you can?
PjGermain Premium
One of the many misconceptions if that "initial rank" people see. That is a temp rank, at best. Then, articles will go into the "real mix" of where is actually is ranking and the work truly begins. I'm sorry to say this as I know it's disheartening at first. It is for everyone. I would suggest a Guest Post or two, especially with highly competitive keywords. This will DEFINITELY help your ranking.
ArtByHeart Premium
well, the keyword wasn't really competitive, but thanks for the explenation anyway.
WilliamBH Premium
This ia annawesome article! Cheers, William
PjGermain Premium
Thanks William!
stn67 Premium
This saves me so I can implement thanks PJ
PjGermain Premium
Thanks Steen!
DarleneB Premium
Awesome stuff as always. Thanks. I'm bookmarking this one.
PjGermain Premium
Thanks again, Darlene!
MKearns Premium
Thanks again PJ .Terrific training on maximizing effective keywords.
PjGermain Premium
Thanks again, Michael!
gappleby Premium
Another delicious serving of awesomeness, PJ.

I love Neal Patel's stuff, too. A lot of his content is kinda advanced. You did a great job of sharing one that applies to all of us. You da Man, PJ!

That “Search Demand Curve” is really eye-popping! The ability to leverage time and resources for max results is the entrepreneur's best friend. That chart quickly identifies where all the leverage is - really valuable insight.

Neal's comment “You’re not going for high volume—you are going for focused intention” is another really golden nugget. Quality traffic is what increases conversion, keeps your business simple to run, and allows you to customize your messages. Clarity of purpose leads to rapid success. We don't need as much traffic as we might think. We need targeted traffic. A little of that goes a long way. There's the "leverage" word again!

Here's one distinction I would make regarding sales funnels, though: What Neal is calling a "sales funnel" is really simply where the prospect is in the "buying process", where he is when he shows up on our site. That's good info, so we know how to react to him. Our job as entrepreneurs though, is to move him into a sales funnel, which is a specific path leading to one or more sales. We want to direct his movements, versus him wandering around the site. If he's in the Awareness stage, we would direct him to general info on our site. If he's moved to the Research stage, rather than waste his time with general info, we might direct him to research, statstics, etc. At Decision, maybe do reviews, comparisons, testimonials. At Purchase - emotional triggers, reasons to buy now, bonuses, testimonials, get the idea. The point is, based on where he is in the buying process, you want to take control of the process by directing his movements down the path that leads to a sale. Left to his own devices, the prospect will wander around forever, and never come a buying decision. Or worse yet, he gets great information on your site, leaves until he's ready to buy... then ends up finally buying from someone else. Ouch, right? Unfortunately, it happens all the time. Sales funnels are designed to prevent that from happening.

Which brings up another point: Neal correctly points out that when the prospect is at the center of the circles and is ready to buy, we should include CTAs (Calls To Action) in our content. I suggest that we add CTAs, or at least OTAs (Opportunities To Act <my words>) regardless of where they are. Yes, the further away from the center circle the prospect is, the softer and less frequent the CTAs should be, and the action you're calling for might vary, too. But you want to keep him on your site, moving in the direction that leads to a sale. Besides, people will fool you, and jump up and buy when the urge hits them, totally out of the blue. Buying is mostly an emotional reaction. Or maybe his kids are pushing him for those Nikes, and he ends up caving to pressure that you didn't even know about, which drives him to buy before he's ready (according to the circles). If that happens, you want a handy-dandy Buy Button right in front of him. "Click Here And Finally Get Little Johnny Off Your Back" :-). Or Joe the Single Man has been Researching ways to lose weight. No hurry...just thinking about it... when all of a sudden Miss Right comes along, and suddenly Joe's mega-motivated, but the circles don't pick it up. He's literally jumped over 2 circles in an instant...from lukewarm to sizzling hot overnight! Ain't love grand? Be sure Joe has a link to clink when that happens.

People buy when they're ready, based on emotion and circumstances, and not on our schedule. SSo sprinkle those CTAs around, OK?

Thanks for sharing an awesome article. Got me good and wound up!

Keep 'em coming, PJ.

The Entrepreneur
PjGermain Premium
Outstanding explanation and addition as always, Gordon!!

JeffDolson Premium
Great info Pj, thanks for sharing.
PjGermain Premium
Thanks again, Jeff!
ShaneWelcher Premium
Great topic, bookmarked for future use.

Thanks for building talent.
PjGermain Premium
Thanks Shane!
StepChook Premium
Brilliant, PJ! Bookmarking this one for referral again.
PjGermain Premium
Thanks again, Stephen
ScottM2 Premium
Thanks what a great presentation that was awesome I'm definitely saving this one
PjGermain Premium
Thanks much Scott!
Timea Premium
This is actually very good ! When I saw that how long is your article I thought : "Oh boy! Here we go again.."
Usually I get lost after a few paragraph because everything I read about keywords before, it was too complicated for me...
But you stated it in a very clear and simple way, so I could understand!
Thank you for that
PjGermain Premium
LOL! I know exactly how you feel, Timea! Thanks a bunch!
MistyS1 Premium
I needed this! Thank you so much for all of this incredible information, it is much appreciated.
PjGermain Premium
Thank you, Misty!
rich6153 Premium
I needed this. How I thank you.
PjGermain Premium
Awesome! Thanks a bunch, Doc!
reanna1 Premium
Great info! Thanks for sharing, PJ! :)
PjGermain Premium
Thanks again, Reanna!
suzzziq Premium
Wow, thank you for this! I was going to redo a post that I had started yesterday, and now I know what is missing:). Thanks for sharing:)
PjGermain Premium
Timing is everything! LOL! Thanks Suzzi!
NRosales Premium
Thank you, PJ for this great information.
GautamWorld Premium
Awesome - lot and lots of useful information. Thank you!
Nenad Premium
Great stuff!!
This one I will read many, many times!
MPollock Premium
Love it and saving for reference thanks, Buddy