How I Rank For High-Competition Keywords

The #1 thing my persistent drive for autonomy (PDA) loves is when people tell me that I can’t rank for high-competition keywords. Like, babe, explain my Google Analytics. If I’m truly supposed to be following search engine optimization (SEO) advice like that, why does my Search Console say otherwise?

Look, I get it. They’re just sharing advice for people and trying to help…or are they? What if they’re Ursulas in disguise, seeking instead to steal the voices of smaller creators and raise up their own?

It’s a great way to keep the top creators on top: Encourage smaller creators to follow advice you yourself don’t even follow, so you stay several steps above them.

Okie dokie. Well, my PDA is my own Ursula, so joke’s on them.

How to target high-competition keywords and dominate the internet

You’re not supposed to do it this way, but this is how I do it.

No one taught me this, but I’m teaching you so that you, too, can rise and shine like the morning sun peeling through the cracks after you stayed up binge-watching that new Netflix series on a work day, no less.

I prefer to surprise people like a hyperactive kitten in her stalking phase. No one knows you or expects you to be amazing until you are. 🤷‍♀️

Since this blog is new, here’s a screenshot for my personal blog’s top keywords:

The numbers are lower than usual because autistic burnout is a shark in the water of your swimming pool, and I’m working on ranking for different terms. But every search term after “autistic burnout quiz” is a semantic key phrase of “did alter roles” — which is a high-volume keyword. And every page after this list is semantic key phrases as well.

I wrote and published my own DID alter roles list in August 2021 and was ranking for it come November 2021, despite having changed my domain name. 🤔 Curious.

1. I do NOT niche down.

If you retain anything about me beyond my audacity and strategy, I hope it’s this. Niches are mere tools to attract like-minded people to your blog.

Relying on a niche caused me to rely on the algorithm to pick me in a sea of other fishes. There was nothing holding my audience to my blog, keeping them loyal to me.

Niche bloggers are replaceable, essentially treating themselves like dictionaries and thesauruses. But every single day, there’s a new blogger in that niche.

People are consuming information all the time. Their brains are converting that knowledge into comprehensible experiences so they can articulate it to other people.

Working in retail taught me this. I was trained by my supervisors. Pair that with my perceived life experience and wisdom from work mistakes, and I was essentially the collective result of them. Generally speaking, I do not compare people, but I was the byproduct of their training and my experiences. That elevated me in regard to skill, in certain areas, like where they had conflict preventing them from collaborating efficiently.

That’s why niche creators will always be replaceable.

But being my own niche allows me the opportunity to genuinely connect with people in a way niche creators never could.

And here’s the major thing new content creators, and maybe even current top content creators, do not realize: Top niche content creators often do NOT have a niche.

Rather, they are the niche.

Adhering to one or a few niches boxes you in. I am kind of doing that with, but I just want a playground to share my entrepreneurial experience without clouding up my personal blog. Autistic Jane presents me as the central focus, and every topic compliments my life as an autistic person. 🤌

If I stuck to a niche, I would never have managed to rank for high-competition keywords the way I have done repeatedly.

That said, I apply this strategy to the articles I write for Find Child & Youth Residential Treatment, a freelance writing client I’ve had since April 2022. My client said I helped the site gain enough traction for it to be accepted into her ad network. 🤝 The site is niche, but it focuses on topics outside of residential treatment, like parenting an autistic child, too.

2. I rely heavily on direct search engine data.

I do NOT use third-party SEO tools that tell me what keywords might be too difficult to rank for. In my experience, they created unnecessary anxiety and fueled my imposter syndrome.

More than that, SEO tools do not have direct access to search engine data. Their own software is only guessing based off the public information they have. If you ever compare your Google Search Console and Analytics data to Moz’s Domain Authority Checker, you’ll see what I mean.

3. I am not looking to outrank other sites for similar types of content.

Never mind Google’s Helpful Content Update — are the bloggers okay? Because do you know how absolutely useless it is to happen upon search results that are mostly the SAME?

This is why I don’t believe AI writing is the future. Many freelance writers are already rehashing information on their commissioned topics, and it shows when I am researching for my own freelance articles. Lo and behold the phenomenon of most every article written by non-autistics about intricate experiences of autistic people constantly being inaccurate! Or reading the same information ten times!

Seriously?! Are we so lacking in creativity that we must rehash?

No. Rather, I believe the area of #OwnVoices is taking over. Non-autistic parents are seeking out autistic perspectives. More people want information from people who have personal experience.

Gen Z puts more social stock into you if they know you drove the getaway car for one of their peers when she needed to escape an abusive home. (I don’t brag about this; it’s just an example.)

4. I respect and trust my audience.

I respect my audience’s intelligence and trust that they are open to learning — or at least know when to leave my site.

Anyone who’s ever used Yoast knows about the reading level suggestion. I absolutely detest that factor. I don’t use SEO plugins because they stifled my growth.

BUT my freelance clients often do, and the plugins are the bane of my existence. But I make it work if I believe in the purpose — and I only take on freelance writing work that I believe is beneficial and meaningful to people, not for a quick buck.

I’ve found greater success and more connection in not policing my writing voice and tone. Sometimes, you just need a really long sentence to describe something in the same way that you sometimes just need to feel the burn of carbonation down your throat, and no alternative will suffice!

Other times, you learn a word that perfectly articulates an emotion or experience, even if it’s above a third grade reading level. Is this why Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader got cancelled? 👀

(Side story: I asked for the board game for Christmas, and neither me nor my dad were smarter than a fifth grader circa 2007, either.)

I trust my audience to know whether something applies to them, recognize nuance, and understand that they won’t relate to everything — and still feel like their experiences and feelings are valid without me needing to confirm — while being open to different opinions without cognitive dissonance. I trust them to be working on themselves and not be full of prejudice.

And you know what? It works for me. Because of that dynamic, I’m able to show up as my true self on my blog and social media. Like Ms. Frizzle, I can make mistakes and get messy — without worrying that people will blacklist me because my content wasn’t undeniably perfect.

5. I know how to anticipate what people want without asking.

I really loathe being asked by people I follow what I need help with. They wind up receiving a LOT of random answers, probably from people feeling obligated to give them something, or no response at all.

There’s a term for forgetting everything the instant you’re asked the question: limbic hijacking. I think it happens in these situations, which is why asking people what they need help with doesn’t work well.

In my experience, I received emails and comments with questions on the regular. I didn’t go into a Facebook group to source them.

When I’ve followed a content creator because it felt like they anticipated my questions and wants, and then received an email where they asked what questions I had, it felt like the fourth wall had broken. I’m not against occasionally asking people what they want, but it feels really impersonal to me to be asked. It reminds me that we’re not friends, but acquaintances — that I’m reading blog posts, not listening to a neurodivergent friend infodump.

So how do I anticipate what my search traffic wants? I analyze data and search for patterns. ✨

One way I do this is by looking at Search Console data.

Search Console

This is such a treasure trove of data that I could ONLY use this one tool and excel in search engines. I know this, because I’ve only used Search Console data when I was working overtime during COVID.

When I want to maintain my rank for a high-competition keyword or key phrase that is related to what I’m already ranking for, I compare the clicks versus impressions in the performance data.

The default presentation gives me some ratios to consider, but I don’t find it as useful as the data shown when I rank it by impressions from least to greatest, under the Posts tab.


Knowing how many clicks match my impressions for the search terms my site is showing up for helps me determine whether that posts answers the questions it’s ranking for.

Keywords and backlinks mean zilch if you are not

  1. Answering questions
  2. Sharing legitimately unique content

If you want to conquer the big dogs, you have to play like them. This is NOT permission to completely disregard lower volume search terms — for the love of the live-action Ariel, that is not what I’m recommending at all.

You need to answer the questions the top sites answer — and more. Include your own experience with this topic. And yes, I am a huge proponent of creating content around topics you know as opposed to ones you don’t have personal experience with. The internet would be a better place if less people without personal experience shared their expertise on topics they don’t know about. 🤷‍♀️

Anyway, I make a list of anything in Search Console that piques my curiosity and interest, as well as whatever isn’t answered (if it’s relevant).

That list is used to update the existing post and determine what to expand on. It is because of the lower volume keywords my site ranks for that updating high-ranking posts maintains or boosts their rank. Without those smaller search terms, my high-ranking posts would not consistently rank in search.

I’ve got more. Drop your email like it’s hot and enjoy the loose leaf tea that is my audacity. ☕🧜‍♀️

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