It can be very difficult or downright impossible for startups to break into the competitive world of keyword rankings. Even if you’re working with a solid digital marketing strategy, it still takes months or sometimes longer for a new website to start ranking for competitive keywords in their industry. But with business’ growing dependency on digital advertising, there’s really no way of getting around the keyword competition. So how should a startup approach s keywords without spending a fortune on a failing PPC campaign? Here, we’re breaking down tips to finding the best performing keywords with little competition. 

The Issue With Popular (Generic) Keywords

As with any startup, you’ll find that there are plenty of keywords that apply to your business; but these tend to be generic keywords such as “landscaping,” “women’s fashion,” or “Electronics.” The problem with these keywords is that, even if they apply, your new site will likely have zero chances of ranking for them. Why? Well, there are simply too many other websites and companies out there with much more SEO juice and than yours. You could spend a lot of time throwing your money at these keywords without seeing an increase in your ROI. 

Focus On Long-Tail, Low-Competition Keywords

It may seem counterintuitive, but using direct and popular keywords that are high in competition will not serve your website or business in any way except costing you lots of money. Some popular keywords will cost as much as $6 per click, and will likely drain your budget before spurring any new sales. So what’s the alternative? Look for long-tail keywords that are low in competition and high in traffic. This seems like an impossible combination, but it’s not. 

Many searches out there start out as a question rather than a specific single word. For example, someone looking for pizza will likely know not to just type in “pizza” into the search engine. Even the customer knows that this keyword will populate their page with a ton of unrelated clutter from the internet. They might instead type in, “best pizza restaurants in St. Louis.” If you’re a pizza business owner in St. Louis, you may have just hit a goldmine. This type of long-tail keyword is specific enough to target your audience, but unique and long enough to give your PCP ad a chance to compete. 

Finding Low Competition Keywords That Work

Let’s say you’ve identified a keyword you like (more on finding those below), but aren’t sure if it’s worth pursuing. After all, as with many things in life, you might just be getting what you pay for with low-cost keywords. But that’s not always the case. Sure, some keywords have low competition for a reason and simply don’t get enough searches to warrant using them. On the other hand, there are a select number of low-cost keywords that will increase your traffic and conversions – it’s a matter of identifying and testing them. If a keyword doesn’t bring enough traffic or conversions, simply move on and try another one. But you might also be pleasantly surprised by the results. 

Because not every keyword was created equal and will perform for you in a similar way, Look for keywords that have intent behind them rather than just open-ended questions. Keywords such as “top Chicago divorce attorneys” or “top Chicago divorce attorney reviews,” you can pretty well guess that the person searching is in the market for a new divorce lawyer in Chicago. This kind of intent will prove much more profitable than a nebulous search such as “lawyer Chicago,” which could potentially be a person looking for contact information of a specific lawyer or doing some research without the intent to solicit their services. 

Where To Find Low-Competition Keywords

So all this is great, you may say, but where does one actually find these unicorn keywords? While there is some effort involved, you can uncover these types of keywords with a bit of research and by using the right tools.  Here are a few places to start: 

Google Keyword Planner: This is a great place to start when you’re setting out to find your keywords; however, just keep in mind that this tool is accessible to virtually any of your competitors, so it may not provide you with a unique edge over them.

Social Media: Hashtags are another great source of keywords. Just go on a social media platform and search through some relevant, popular hashtags. By starting out with a keyword that already has traction online, you’re setting your PCP ad up for success. 

Google Instant: This is a good way to find some popular long-tail keywords. Simply start typing in a keyword and Google Instant will try to guess what you’re searching for based on other popular searches. 

Google Search Related: Another good way to find alternative keywords that are associated to yours is by simply looking at the related search terms shown to you by Google at the bottom of your search page. 

Best Tools For Keyword SEO

Here are some best paid as well as free SEO tools to help you analyze your keywords. Just keep in mind that some paid SEO tools will likely pay for themselves with their proper application to your digital advertising strategy.


  • LongtailPro :  Great tool for analyzing competitor’s keywords. 
  • SEMrush : Regarded widely as the best SEO Keyword tool on the market.
  • A great keyword finder that combines Google Instant and Google Suggest. 


  • UberSuggest : This tool lets you find those elusive, low-competition, high-traffic keywords. 
  • Google Trends: A great visualization tool for tracking the popularity of a specific keywords over time. 
  • Keyword Sheeter: This tool pulls from thousands of auto-complete Google suggestions to give you fresh ideas of possible keywords. 

We hope these suggestions help navigate your startup through the difficult beginning stages of keyword and SEO optimization. Keep in mind that a digital ad strategy can still take a long time to kick in and start capturing conversions. Don’t get discouraged. Even if your long-tail keywords aren’t successful in driving enough revenue to your site, they’re still helping you build up your site traffic and your business for long-term success.