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How to Rank in a Competitive Niche

By the Rhino Rank team
18th Mar 2024

SEO isn’t as easy as it used to be, so if you want to rank in a competitive niche, you need to use SEO tactics that work.

This guide cuts to the chase with clear, actionable steps that you can take to enhance your website’s SEO performance, boost your keyword rankings, and attract more users to your website than ever before. Expect no-frills advice on market analysis, unique selling points exploitation, backlink building, and more.

Key Takeaways

  • A thorough understanding of competitive market signals, including keyword difficulty and backlink analysis, is essential for developing an effective SEO strategy.
  • Differentiating your brand by promoting your Unique Selling Points (USPs) and leveraging SEO innovations, such as E-A-T and mobile optimization, are key to gaining a competitive edge.
  • Focusing on high-value long-tail keywords aligned with user search intent and engaging in continual backlink building can substantially improve SEO performance in competitive niches.

What Makes a Niche Competitive?

Success in the competitive SEO landscape hinges on understanding your industry and SEO competitors.

So, what makes a niche market competitive? The answer isn’t simple. Many SEO factors come into play, including target audience size, industry trends, keyword search volume, and keyword difficulty rating.

Therefore, to rank in competitive markets it’s important to conduct thorough market research and understand how each of these SEO factors will impact your ability to rank on the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Once you truly understand your industry’s ranking factors, you will then be able to create an SEO campaign strategy that will help you outrank your competitors and boost your website’s online visibility and authority.


Understanding Market Signals

Researching and understanding market signals is the first step toward discovering the competitiveness of your niche. The difficulty of ranking for a specific keyword on Google’s first page can be assessed by understanding the keyword difficulty metric. Keyword Difficulty Score (KD score) is a common SEO metric and is measured on a scale of 0 – 100, with 100 representing the highest level of difficulty. This metric is calculated by assessing:

  • The SEO metrics of the existing top-ranked websites, such as the site’s Domain Authority (DA), Page Authority, and the content quality of the landing page.
  • Keyword characteristics, such as monthly search volume.
  • User behavior metrics, such as search intent.

Beyond keyword difficulty, monitoring keyword trends is crucial for understanding the popularity and seasonal fluctuations of keywords, providing valuable insights to inform your marketing strategy. Some tools that can assist in identifying and analyzing these trends include Ahrefs, SEMRush, and Accuranker.

Gauging the Level of Competition

After reviewing market signals, it’s essential to evaluate your niche’s competitive landscape.

Backlinks and Domain Authority are two of the most powerful ranking factors. Each high quality backlink is seen as a vote of confidence in the eyes of Google and other search engines, and having a strong backlink profile contributes to increasing a website’s overall authority score, which serves as a crucial indicator of a site’s credibility and trustworthiness. Therefore, building high quality backlinks and having a high Domain Authority Score (DA Score) is crucial for any website looking to have a competitive advantage and rank highly on the Search Engine Result Pages.

By utilizing tools such as Ahrefs, SEMRush, and Ubersuggest, you can thoroughly examine your backlink profile and backlink profiles of competing websites, evaluating their SEO competitiveness. Indicators of a highly competitive niche include:

  • High advertising costs on Google Ads for specific keywords.
  • Most keywords have a high keyword difficulty – a keyword with a KD Score of 50+ is deemed to be difficult to rank for.
  • Most keywords have a high search volume.

Crafting Your Competitive SEO Strategy

Once you understand your competitive landscape, it is time to create an SEO strategy.

The core of your strategy should be based on your business’s Unique Selling Points (USPs) and include ways in which you can create, optimize, and create content for your website that will promote your products and services, improve your website online visibility in search engine results, and subsequently attract more organic traffic to a website.

Leveraging Unique Selling Points (USPs)

Unique Selling Points (USPs) in SEO refer to the distinctive features or attributes that set your website or business apart from competitors. Understanding and promoting your USP is crucial in differentiating your business and enabling it to stand out in a competitive industry.

Here are 5 ways you can incorporate USP into SEO campaign strategies:

  • Feature your USP on your website’s homepage
  • Highlight the most unique features of your product or service on your website
  • Feature your USP in the headline or first line of any ads you are running
  • Create a competitor comparison chart to demonstrate your business strengths
  • Using descriptive words like ‘only’, ‘greatest’, ‘best’, ‘first’, ‘favorite’, etc.

Innovating SEO Tactics

Innovation is key in the ever-evolving landscape of SEO. The most recent advancements in SEO include the demonstration of Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T), the introduction of AI content and visuals, and placing greater importance on user experience.

To stay ahead of the curve, it’s crucial to continually adapt your SEO campaign strategy and stay up-to-date with the latest SEO techniques to ensure you can continuously increase your visibility and authority in a highly competitive market.

The latest updates for SEO in 2024 include:

  • Optimizing content for voice search
  • Prioritizing short-form content – both written and visual
  • Creating shareable content and assets
  • Adopting mobile-first indexing
  • Building high quality backlinks

In the world of SEO, ranking in a competitive niche can be extremely challenging. However, with the right strategies and tactics, you can increase your chances of success. Below, we list our top 5 SEO tactics that should be incorporated into your SEO campaign.

1. Creating a Powerful Keyword Strategy

The key to a successful keyword strategy is to focus on keywords that have a good monthly search volume and low keyword difficulty. However, in a competitive industry, those keywords can be hard to find, which is why it’s equally important to focus on long-tail keywords. Combine this with understanding and optimizing your content for user search intent and you’ll be well on your way to unlocking SEO success.

Utilizing Long-Tail Keywords

A long-tail keyword is typically 3 words or longer. Since these keywords are more specific than generic search terms, they typically have a lower monthly search volume but a much higher user intent, meaning businesses can easily identify and target niche demographics. Long-tail keywords are also typically less competitive and much easier to rank for, as they are designed to match user behavior and better reflect the type of queries people search for.

SEO tools like Answer the Public, SEMRush and Google Keyword Planner can all be used to help you identify these high-value long-tail keywords. With the right strategies, such as creating high quality content tailored to the needs of your audience, you can effectively incorporate these keywords into your content.

Optimizing for Search Intent

Once you have identified the long-tail keywords you wish to target, your website content must align with the search intent of your target audience. Search intent, also called user intent, represents the fundamental motivation behind a user’s decision to initiate a particular search. Understanding this intent is crucial for creating content that meets the user’s requirements and enhances your search engine rankings.

Search intent is typically split into four categories:

  • Informational – to learn something new
  • Navigational – to find a specific website
  • Transactional – to buy a product or service
  • Commercial – to learn more about a brand, product to service

Ensuring your content matches your target audience’s search intent will give you a better chance of ranking high on the search engine results pages, boosting your website’s visibility and organic traffic.

2. On-Page Optimization & Technical SEO

Overcoming technical SEO challenges is also part of mastering SEO in a competitive niche. Ensuring that your website has a quick load speed, is mobile-friendly, and has a streamlined sitemap will enhance your SEO performance and can contribute to higher rankings.

Improving Page Load Speed

Optimizing your page load speed is crucial for both user experience and SEO. This is because search engines will prioritize fast-loading sites that provide users with a seamless online experience.

Several factors influence page load speed, including:

  • External factors – server response times, host response times, and network connection.
  • Internal factors – file types and sizes, plugins, widgets, and browser compatibility issues.

Using a tool like Google PageSpeed Insights will enable you to assess your current page load speed, and will provide you with suggestions on how to optimize and improve your loading speeds. For example, to minimize server response time, it is important to use a reliable hosting service, implement an effective bot management solution, minimize resource sizes, and optimize your database.

Ensuring Mobile Friendliness

Ensuring mobile friendliness is a key aspect of technical SEO. With roughly 58% of all online searches being made from a mobile device, your website must be optimized for smartphones and tablets.

You can assess the mobile-friendliness of your website by utilizing Google’s Mobile Friendliness Test. This tool will allow you to quickly identify if your website has any technical or usability issues when accessed by mobile devices. Essential practices for ensuring a website is mobile-friendly include developing a responsive layout, compressing images, and using mobile-friendly fonts and page layouts.

Streamlining Site Architecture

Streamlining site architecture is another technical SEO challenge that needs to be addressed. A streamlined site architecture enhances SEO by facilitating easier crawling of the site by search engines. Improving user navigation through clear and concise navigation bars and sitemaps will also make it easier for users to find information the information they are looking for.

You can optimize the architecture of your website by:

  • Creating a simple top-level navigation menu
  • Keeping URLs short and easy to read
  • Ensuring each page is easily accessible

3. Building a Strong Backlink Profile

    Link building is one of Google’s most important ranking factors. So constructing a strong backlink profile is vital part of any successful SEO strategy, especially when you’re trying to rank in a competitive niche.

    Crafting a Link Building Campaign

    High quality backlinks are a fundamental part of SEO, as they have the power to enhance your website’s authority, which in turn boosts ranking on search engines and increases a website’s organic traffic. This is because each backlink acts as a vote of confidence for search engine algorithms, signaling to them the credibility, authority, and relevance of your website.

    Here are 5 ways you can build quality backlinks:

    • Curated link building (niche edit link building) – Backlinks are strategically placed within relevant and authoritative content, appearing as organic recommendations, and delivering more “link juice” than other types of backlinks.
    • Guest posting – Publishing bespoke blog posts on industry-specific sites enhances and drives topical relevancy signals to a website, boosting the site’s authority and credibility.
    • Visual link building – Visual backlinks pass as much value as text-based backlinks, offering a great way to secure highly relevant links within pre-existing, high authority content.
    • Broken link building – Identifying broken links on relevant and authoritative websites and offering to replace these links with relevant links from your own site is a win-win for both parties.
    • Forum link building – Engaging in forums related to your niche (by answering questions, providing valuable insights, and linking back to your website) is a great way to boost brand awareness and trustworthiness.

    Analyzing Backlink Profiles

    If you want to see the best SEO results, it’s important to analyze your backlink profile regularly. By doing this, you will be able to assess what links are being built to your website, ensure that all new links are of good quality and don’t violate Google’s guidelines, and address issues before they become severe enough to threaten your SEO strategy and damage your website’s reputation.

    By analyzing your competitor’s backlinks, you will be able to assess their link building strategy, identify which content types are attracting the most attention and traffic, and find new link building opportunities for your own website.

    Tools such as Moz, Ahrefs, and SEMRush can be used to carry out competitor analysis, analyze your own backlink profile, and show you the metrics of each inbound link that is pointing to your website.

    4. Writing Relevant, High Quality Content

    Creating relevant, high quality content is the most important factor of any SEO campaign strategy, and it’s even more important if you want to rank well in a competitive niche.

    Creating original and valuable content that benefits the end user is the key to achieving search engine visibility, naturally attracting backlinks, and boosting your website’s authority and credibility.

    Monitoring Industry Trends

    Staying updated on industry trends is crucial for keeping your content fresh and relevant, especially in a highly competitive industry. By understanding the latest trends, you can create accurate and relevant content that aligns with current user behaviors and search engine algorithms, resulting in improved optimization and performance in search results.

    Tools like ContentKing, SE Ranking, and Ahrefs can be used to monitor SEO trends and ensure that the content you are producing meets the needs of your target audience.

    You can adjust your SEO practices based on current content trends by:

    • Optimizing your content for mobile devices
    • Optimizing your content for voice search
    • Leveraging Google Search Generative Experience (SGE)

    Structuring Content for Maximum Impact

    Content structure helps search engines understand the hierarchy and layout of a website, making it easier for them to crawl and index your website pages. Having a website that is well structured will increase your chances of having better search visibility and rankings.

    Structuring your content for maximum impact involves ensuring the content matches the user’s search intent, that keywords and phrases are included in the body of the content, and that the content is easy to read and understand. Two ways you can structure your content for better readability are:

    • Use headings and subheadings to organize your content and create clear sections that are easy to navigate.
    • Use bullet points to further enhance readability by clarifying ideas and making content scannable, catering to users who prefer quick information absorption.

    This structured approach not only improves readability but also signals to search engines that the content is engaging and well-organized, positively impacting your SEO performance.

    Optimizing Product Pages (Ecommerce Sites Only)

    Optimizing product pages is crucial for the success of any ecommerce website. By providing clear product information and prioritizing positive user experiences, businesses can increase their search engine visibility, improve conversion rates, and generate more online sales.

    Crafting effective product pages involves several key strategies, including:

    • Prioritizing buyer intent over search engines
    • Emphasizing the unique benefits of each product
    • Ensuring product descriptions are concise and easy to skim
    • Incorporating social proof, such as client testimonials

    The optimization of product page results will provide you with a competitive advantage in the online marketplace, and offer a seamless and enjoyable shopping experience for your customers.

    5. Cultivating a Robust Online Presence

    Building a strong online presence is another step towards mastering SEO in a highly competitive niche. A strong online presence improves SEO ranking by enhancing visibility on search engines and generating more website traffic.

    Engaging on Social Media Channels

    Social media is a powerful tool for building a robust online presence. Utilizing platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter is a great way to share valuable insights, engage with your target audience, and promote your business’s Unique Selling Points (USPs). By doing this, you will be able to improve your brand visibility through social media channels and attract more people to your website.

    Establishing your brand’s authority on social media can involve:

    • Offering unique opinions on trending topics
    • Providing users with helpful insights and knowledge
    • Connecting and partnering with industry influencers
    • Utilizing employee advocacy

    Additionally, positive user experience and engagement on social media platforms can be enhanced by:

    • Encouraging users to interact with your posts
    • Responding to comments and messages
    • Running contests and giveaways
    • Encouraging customers to share their purchases


      In conclusion, mastering SEO in a competitive niche is a complex task that demands a comprehensive strategy. It is crucial that you understand your industry and it’s unique challenges, and prioritize identifying new opportunities that have been overlooked by your competitors – such as utilizing long-tail keywords, enhancing on-page optimization, regularly building high quality backlinks, and ensuring your website content is relevant, relatable and meets the needs of your target audience. Remember, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Consistency and perseverance are key to achieving success. So, keep learning, keep optimizing, and keep pushing forward.


      Frequently Asked Questions

      What makes a niche competitive in SEO?

      A niche becomes competitive in SEO due to factors like target audience size, market competition, industry trends, and keyword search volume, and difficulty ratings. These elements are crucial in determining the level of competition within a particular industry or niche.

      What are the most competitive industries?

      The most competitive niches to rank well in include the gambling and casino industry, the adult industry, the CBD and cannabis industry, pharmaceuticals, and the finance and technology industry. This is due to industry saturation combined with the unique challenges and preconceptions associated with each one.

      How do you rank in a competitive niche?

      To rank in a competitive niche, focus on producing high quality content that addresses specific audience needs and interests, while simultaneously targeting less competitive long-tail keywords. In addition, you should also work on securing high quality backlinks from authoritative sources and optimizing your site’s on-page SEO.

      What is the importance of long-tail keywords in SEO?

      Long-tail keywords are important in SEO because they capture highly specific search queries and clear user intent. Although they often have a smaller search volume than the generic search terms, they usually have a higher conversion value as they are a great way to target users with a high buying intent.