How do you tackle SEO within niches with very high competition?

Although there are actually no niches today that have little or no competition, some clearly stand out because of their very high competition. That requires extra efforts in search engine optimization, or SEO. So in this article, I go into that in detail. As an experienced SEO specialist, I know the challenges companies face within competitive markets such as insurance, e-commerce and financial services.

What can you expect from this article? Among other things, I tell you why SEO is so important for businesses within competitive niches. I also explain the biggest challenges in that area and the best strategies to use. Use these strategies to improve your online presence and findability. Whether you are a starter who needs help in gaining a foothold in the market, or a seasoned player looking to further solidify your position, I am happy to be of service.

Dutch niches with high competition within SEO

As I mentioned, actually every niche has competition. Nevertheless, some can be distinguished within which there is very high competition. I’ll give you some examples of that below:

Insurance: the Dutch insurance market is highly competitive. Insurers, as well as comparison websites, are all trying to rank high in organic search results. They seek favorable positions for keywords such as “car insurance,” “health insurance” and “travel insurance.

Online marketing: the online marketing industry is also highly competitive, especially when it comes to keywords such as “SEO,” “content marketing,” “social media marketing” and “Google Ads.

Financial services: within the financial services industry, competition is no less. Banks and other financial institutions compete daily for top positions in search results. Mainly keywords such as “mortgage,” “savings” and “loans” are the focus.

E-commerce: The e-commerce market obviously cannot be left out of this list either. Competition within this industry is highest when it comes to keywords such as “clothing,” “shoes,” “electronics” and “gifts.

Travel: The Dutch are a travel-loving people and that means high competition within the travel industry as well. Travel companies and travel agents are all trying to rank high in search results for keywords such as “vacation,” “airline tickets” and “hotels.

The niches I listed above are just a few examples of markets within the Netherlands that have very high competition. Although it is difficult to gain a firm foothold within these niches, success becomes a lot more likely with the right strategies and understanding of SEO.

SEO within highly competitive niches at a glance

No time for a full article on SEO within highly competitive niches? No problem. Watch the video below for a summary.

How do you determine the degree of competition?

You can accurately determine this by analyzing various factors that affect competition in a given market. What steps you can take to determine the degree of competition, I tell you briefly below.

Analyze search results: conduct a search for the most important keywords in your market and analyze the search results. In doing so, you look at which websites rank high and how many websites target the same keywords.

Analyze the quality of competitors: not only do you want to know which websites rank high in search results, information about their quality is also interesting. Therefore, look at their content, backlink profile, loading speed and other factors that may affect their ranking.

Analyze competitors’ keywords: of course, you will also find out exactly what keywords your competitors are using to rank. Which are common and which are less common?

Look at the ads: include in your analysis not only the organic search results, but also the paid ads. The more ads displayed as the “answer” to a search query, the higher the competition in that niche.

Analyze market size: also analyze the size of the market in which you operate or want to operate. How many players are among them? The more there are, the more likely there is very high competition within this niche.

Analyze price levels: analyze price levels in the market and compare them with those of your competitors. When prices are low and competition is strong, this usually means a high level of competition.

When you consider all of the above factors, you can properly determine the degree of competition within a market. Be aware, though, that you don’t perform these steps once. Regular analysis of these factors is necessary to keep your strategies and tactics up-to-date. This allows you to keep optimal account of changes within the market.

What SEO factors are most essential for SEO within competitive niches?

Getting results with SEO can be very challenging within highly competitive niches. Still, there are ways to achieve the desired results. Be aware that this takes time and energy, but the following tips can help you:

Conduct thorough keyword research: within any niche, thorough keyword research is crucial for SEO. Therefore, identify the keywords and phrases that are most relevant to your niche. You then proceed to optimize your content around these keywords. It is advisable to also use long-tail keywords that have less competition.

Focus on quality content: in a competitive niche, quality is extra important. After all, this allows you to distinguish yourself even more clearly. Therefore, make sure you create quality and unique content for your target audience. In addition to being well written, it should also be well structured and provide valuable information to readers.

Take advantage of link building: link building also remains an important factor for SEO. You obtain high-quality backlinks through guest blogging, collaborations, social media and outreach campaigns, among others. Always make sure the links are relevant to your niche. They must also come from reliable and authoritative websites.

Optimize for mobile: More and more people are using their mobile devices to search the Internet. So one of the most important pieces of advice I can give you anno now is to make sure you optimize your website for mobile devices. This way you improve the user experience, but at the same time it also contributes to better search results.

Monitor your competitors: when you monitor your competitors, you gain insight into what they are doing to improve their SEO strategy. Therefore, analyze their content, keywords, backlinks and other aspects of their SEO strategies. You use this information to improve your own strategy.

Be patient and consistent: I mentioned it earlier. SEO takes time and effort. Therefore, it is not a short-term project that produces immediately visible results. However, patience and consistency are keywords that will help you build strong, lasting results. Throughout the course you will track your progress with analysis tools. That way you can see what works and what doesn’t.

How do you conduct thorough keyword research?

As you may know, thorough keyword research is an important first step in a successful SEO strategy. Let me tell you point by point how best to go about this:

Start by making a list of topics relevant to your business, products or services. When creating that list, ask yourself what people would look for if they were in need of the thing you offer.

Use a keyword research tool, such as Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Moz Keyword Explorer. These tools make it easy for you to find keywords relevant to your business and products(1). You enter your topics into the tool, and it then tells you what keywords and phrases people use to find those topics.

Analyze search volumes and competition for the keywords you found. It is important to choose keywords with high search volume and low competition. This is because these are terms that many people search for but few competitors focus on.

Look for related keywords and long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are more specific and generally have less competition than broader keywords. Using them can make it easier to rank high in search results and generate more traffic to your website.

Analyze the search results and determine what keywords and phrases your competitors are using. This can help you understand which keywords and phrases are most relevant to your niche. Based on that, you can further adjust your strategy.

Make a list of the keywords and phrases you found and use them to optimize your content. When creating content for your website, make sure you have sufficient keyword density, but also make sure your content remains natural and readable.

A keyword research within a competitive niche

Above you were able to read about the best way to conduct a thorough keyword research. In a competitive niche, however, some things require extra your attention. Among other things, you should pay attention to:

Relevance: keywords should be relevant to your niche and target audience. Therefore, research the search queries of your target audience and focus on keywords that are relevant to your products, services and brand.

Search volume: best to choose keywords with high search volume, of course. After all, the higher the volume, the more interest there is for these keywords. Keep in mind that high volume keywords also have high competition.

Competition: analyze the competition for each keyword you want to use. Choose keywords with low competition to increase the chances of your website ranking high in search results. Or better yet, for keywords with the highest possible volume and lowest possible competition.

Long-tail keywords: use long-tail keywords that are specific and targeted to your niche and audience. These types of keywords typically have much less competition than broader keywords. They can lead to more targeted traffic to your website.

Search intent: analyze the search intent behind each keyword. Keywords that have a commercial search intent are more strongly focused on conversions than keywords with an informational search intent. Examples of conversion-oriented keywords are “buy,” “order,” and “request.

Variation: use a variation of keywords. By focusing not only on broad keywords, but also on related keywords, synonyms and longer search phrases, you will be able to improve your visibility even more efficiently.

Local keywords: if you also have a physical location, it is very important to make use of local keywords as well. These are focused on your city, region or country and can help drive more targeted traffic from your local market.

What are the characteristics of quality content?

Quality content is content that is relevant, informative and valuable to the target audience. Moreover, it is content aimed at answering a question or solving a problem. The content is well written and structured as well as manages to provide the reader with a positive experience(2). Quality content, also called qualitative content, meets the following characteristics:

Relevance: the content should be relevant to the target audience and match their interests, needs and questions. It should respond to their searches and problems and provide a solution to them.

Informative nature: content should contain information that is new and useful to readers. Of course, it must be reliable and accurate. Therefore, always base the content on your website on facts and research.

Readability: content should be easy to read and understand for the target audience. Therefore, you use simple and understandable language. Avoid unnecessary technical terms or jargon.

Originality: the content must be original and unique and by no means a copy of existing content on the Internet. Therefore, create the content from your own perspective and offer the reader new insights.

Visual appeal: content should be visually appealing and easy to scan. After all, the eye wants something too! Visual appeal is achieved by using images, graphs, infographics or videos that support the content, among other things(3).

Call-to-action: ultimately, the content should spur your readers to action and help them take the next step. This can be a purchase, but not necessarily. You can also think of an action as filling out a form, signing up for a newsletter or contacting a contact person.

Link building in a competitive market

As with content, within a competitive market, you also need to pay extra attention to link building. Again, the same applies: it takes time and energy, but with determination and a good link building strategy, you can achieve a lot. Below I describe some of the steps you can take:

Make a list of reliable and authoritative websites in your niche. These can be news websites, blogs, forums, directories and social media platforms. Then proceed to analyze their content and research which websites frequently link to these pages.

Create quality and valuable content on your website. This makes it more attractive for other websites to link to it. Valuable content can be a blog post, as well as an infographic, a video or a white paper. Your content should be unique and interesting at all times and focus on the needs and interests of your target audience.

Take advantage of outreach campaigns. These are campaigns that you deploy specifically to contact the website owners and editors of the websites on your list. You tell them why your content is relevant to their readers and what the added value of a link to your website would be. Be persuasive without pressure and always remain friendly and personable.

Take advantage of guest blogging to get backlinks. Find out which websites accept guest bloggers and write quality and relevant articles aimed at their target audience. In each guest blog, incorporate a link to your own website.

Use social media to promote your content and get links to your website. For example, you share your content on your own social media channels, but also participate in relevant discussions on social media platforms within your niche. In addition, it is smart to look for collaborative opportunities. For example, with other brands or influencers. These are proven strategies that can get you even more links.

Be patient and consistent. What is true for content is also true for link building. This is a process that takes time to generate visible results. Don’t let this throw you off and keep working consistently on your link-building strategy. Meanwhile, you keep track of your progress with analysis tools. That way you know exactly which strategies are working well and not so well, and you can make adjustments during the process if necessary.

The maximum number of links per month

If you have already read a bit more about SEO and link building, you undoubtedly know that there are some rules involved in applying this strategy. However, contrary to popular belief, there is no maximum number of link entries you can get per month without receiving a penalty. Google does not have specific guidelines on how many links per month are acceptable. The main focus is on the quality of links and the naturalness of link building activities.

Nevertheless, it is important to remember that link building is not a competition. Therefore, obtaining as many links as possible in a short period of time should never be your objective. Much more valuable is to obtain quality and reliable links from websites related to your niche. So in addition, you need to conduct your link building activities in a natural, organic way. Black-hat techniques such as buying links or using spammy techniques are out of the question(4).

Do you regularly produce high-quality content and promote it through social media and other marketing channels? Then there is a good chance that natural backlinks to your website will arise. Also, be sure to invest in quality content and outreach activities. This way you build valuable relationships with other website owners and editors who are willing to link to your website.

What does a natural link building process meet?

Clearly, a natural link building process is absolutely preferable. But what does this one meet? I listed the most important features for you below.

Quality content: the most important aspect of natural link building is quality content. It is informative, useful and valuable to the reader. In addition, this content is unique, original and focused on the needs of the target audience.

Relevant backlinks: natural backlinks occur naturally because other websites find your content valuable. Therefore, by definition, these backlinks are relevant to your niche and fit your own brand and target audience.

Diverse backlink profile: a natural backlink profile contains a diversity of links from different types of websites. These can include news websites, blogs, directories, social media platforms and other related websites.

No manipulation: natural link building is averse to manipulative practices such as buying links, participating in link exchange programs and using spammy techniques. Therefore, make sure that you always proceed honestly and organically.

Slow, consistent growth: natural link building, as I mentioned, is a long-term journey. So don’t expect quick results, but keep busy producing high-quality content regularly and promoting it through various channels.

Focused on relationship building: when you focus on natural link building, it means building valuable relationships with other website owners and editors. They, because of the high-quality content you provide there, are willing to link to your website. You deploy outreach campaigns, guest blogging or other forms of collaboration for this purpose.

How long does it take to get results within a competitive market?

Naturally, you’re curious about how quickly you can expect results. However, it is difficult to give an exact time frame for this. Several factors, such as the current competition, the size of the market and the strategies used play a role. In a highly competitive market, results tend to take longer. After all, there is more competition and that means you need more time to stand out positively.

In general, it can take several months or even a year for the results in search results and traffic to your website to become noticeable. The exact length of time depends on how quickly search engines index your website and content and how fast your backlink profile grows. The speed with which your competitors respond to your strategies and tactics also plays a role.

It is important to be patient and remain consistent in your SEO efforts, even if the results are not immediate. An important tip I want to give you is to make several efforts. By this I mean that you do not focus exclusively on SEO, but also on other marketing channels such as social media, email marketing and paid advertising.

SEO is an ongoing process. Constantly monitoring, analyzing and optimizing your strategies and tactics is a prerequisite for keeping your website and content relevant and performing in search results(5).

My SEO work for a highly competitive niche

Are you enlisting my help on SEO? My approach begins with understanding your business and goals. I then translate these into a strategy aimed at increasing your online presence and findability in search results.

My strategy involves several steps, including keyword analysis, competitive analysis and content optimization. By carefully executing each of these, I discover how your target audience works and which keywords are important to your business. In addition, I also take a look at your competitors’ strategies and see how you can positively differentiate yourself from them.

I also offer various services such as content marketing, link building and website optimization. With these services, I ensure that your website continues to perform in search results. So not only now, but also in the long run.

My process focuses on transparency and open communication. I report regularly on project progress and work with you to ensure we meet your goals.


As an SEO specialist, I know better than anyone that ranking high in search results can be a challenge. For popular keywords in competitive markets, this is once again true. Impossible, fortunately, it is most certainly not. With the right strategies and persistence, you too will achieve your online goals and improve your presence and findability in search results.

It is important to create an SEO strategy that is targeted, relevant keywords and high-quality content. In addition, investing in a targeted link-building strategy should not be missed either. Continue to constantly analyze and optimize to ensure and improve your position. The perseverer wins!

Senior SEO-specialist

Ralf van Veen

Senior SEO-specialist
Five stars
My clients give me a 5.0 on Google out of 75 reviews

I have been working for 10 years as an independent SEO specialist for companies (in the Netherlands and abroad) that want to rank higher in Google in a sustainable manner. During this period I have consulted A-brands, set up large-scale international SEO campaigns and coached global development teams in the field of search engine optimization.

With this broad experience within SEO, I have developed the SEO course and helped hundreds of companies with improved findability in Google in a sustainable and transparent way. For this you can consult my portfolio, references and collaborations.

This article was originally published on 11 January 2024. The last update of this article was on 5 June 2024. The content of this page was written and approved by Ralf van Veen. Learn more about the creation of my articles in my editorial guidelines.