Updated: Mar 22, 2021
If I had a limited budget, SEO sniping is probably the strategy I would invest in. A good plan executed today is better than a perfect plan executed next week, but what ultimately wins campaigns are excellent plans executed today and over the course of the next few weeks.
SEO sniping is the good plan executed today. It’s a great place to start with SEO for new websites, but I would move on to a different strategy as soon as I had the means to so that my website could have sustained success.
What is SEO Sniping Strategy?
SEO sniping strategy is about honing in on fewer focus keywords rather than casting a wide net and covering all your bases. It’s a simpler strategy that’s easier to write content around, but SEO sniping as a strategy can lead to tunnel vision and missed opportunities in the long run if you’re not careful.
SEO Sniping as a strategy can work well for local businesses or someone in a very specific niche, but generally speaking SEO sniping works better as a move rather than a strategy. While it quickly builds momentum in the short-term, it can keep you locked in place for the long-term.
What is Keyword Sniping?
Keyword sniping is looking at keywords a competitor already ranks for and then trying to out-rank them for that keyword specifically. The alternative is looking at the “market” and trying to rank for frequently searched keywords that are relevant to your website.
Let’s pretend you’re a brand new organic grocery store with a brand new website. You have amazing locally-sourced products, a beautiful website, and everything to be proud of.
It’s going to take a lot of work to get your brand out of the shadow of Whole Foods.
No matter how much Whole Foods gets criticized for not offering truly organic foods, their established online presence is going to make them a tough competitor. The chances of a brand new website outranking them for common keywords like “organic foods” are so low that you might as well invest in lottery tickets.
That said, there are more niche keywords that you can compete for, and out-rank the entire market for overnight. It won’t bring in the kind of traffic that more common keywords bring Whole Foods, but it will bring you something.
And that’s very important for SEO.
How Keyword Sniping Brings You Quick Traffic
Even the biggest and baddest websites who rank for thousands of keywords can’t rank for everything. There are constantly new niche keywords emerging from the woodwork and nobody can predict the future so it’s hard to know which keywords are heating up before they ignite.
Therefore there will always be keywords with high search volume that everyone’s competing to rank for, and there will always be more niche keywords with lower search volumes that companies ignore because it wouldn’t give them a high enough return on investment in terms of traffic.
The latter are what we call low-competition keywords, and sniping out those keywords is a great way to get yourself in front of people who can’t find what they’re looking for in the mainstream market.
If you’re a new website, catering to niches can be a great opportunity for you in the short-term even if you want to branch out into a more general audience down the road.
Here’s why it’s worth your time to go after those SEO niches:
The biggest factor that influences your SEO is traffic. If people visit your website for whatever reason--whether thanks to backlinks, finding you discovered you on Google’s SERP, or divine intervention, search engines will notice.
But chances are, if it’s hard to find you on SERPs it’s hard to find you period, and that means you’re not getting any significant traffic. The 10-50 views per month you get for existing on the internet is not worth much. Who knows if those views are even coming from people and not scammers or robots?
But 10-50 views per month you get for ranking for super niche keywords? It’s much safer to assume those are real people, and that traffic could directly lead to sales.
That’s something we can build off. It’s the snowball that you will start rolling down the hill.
The more traffic you get consistently, the more likely you are to get more traffic. It’s like investing in the stock market with dollar-cost-average strategy--you consistently invest the same amount at regular time intervals and eventually despite some fluctuation in the market, your wealth grows over time.
So by consistently publishing content that integrates low-competition keywords, you’re building a legitimate audience, likely of loyal fans who will be able to say they knew you back when.
Should You Always Go After the “Low Hanging Fruits” in SEO?
Taking a shot at less competitive keywords first is a good way to get the ball rolling as opposed to shooting for more competitive keywords and missing over and over again, or casting a wide net and coming up empty over and over again. I’m not saying always go after low-hanging fruits for your SEO strategy, this is a short-term solution aimed to build momentum.
Eventually as your website grows you will want to go after Whole Foods and whoever else isn’t offering truly organic food, but you have to start somewhere, and you might as well start with a well-placed shot.