striking distance keyword hero image

Optimize Your SEO Strategy by Targeting Striking Distance Keywords

Throughout an SEO campaign, you’re always looking for new ways to move the needle, boost rankings, drive more organic traffic, and increase conversions. This intense desire to earn results creates the need for actionable tasks. A few months into a campaign, after initial optimizations have taken place, you may be wondering where to turn your attentions next. While it is an age old technique, shifting attention to optimize for striking distance keywords is a technique that, through small changes, can provide immediate and substantial results.

What is a striking distance keyword?

Elite SEM defines a striking distance keyword as a targeted keyword that ranks just off the first page, between positions 11 and 20, where a small tweak or optimization can have a large impact. Since the keyword is already ranking quite well and search engines have deemed the page to be relevant to the topic, a small change can help boost that link’s ranking to a first-page position. As we know from SEO studies through the years, an increase to first page can translate to increased impressions, visits, and conversions.

Finding striking distance keywords

Here at Elite, we utilize various rank tracking tools to identify the striking distance keywords. This process is really quite simple, we’re just looking for those keywords that rank on the 2nd page. This action will show those keywords ranking well, but in need for optimizations to push it to the first page.

Using STAT, you can view all keywords and filter rankings to be less than 10 and greater than 19.


LinkDex provides an easy option in the Rank Tracking section to show rankings between 10 and 19.

SEM Rush provides a great way to find striking distance keywords that are not included in your monthly rank tracking platforms. This can provide opportunities to create optimizations for pages that have not been touched during the course of your SEO campaign. In SEM Rush, you can sort keyword positions to be less than 19 and greater than 10 to show a full list of current striking distance keywords. It’s valuable to add any keywords that you’re going to make striking distance optimizations for to your rank tracking tool to record results.

Now that you’ve collected a list of striking distance keywords, it’s time to make your optimizations.

Optimizing striking distance keywords

The goal is to make small tweaks that will have a large impact on ranking as these keywords are already in an attainable second-page position. It’s important to not over optimize pages, so be weary that some keywords may not apply for on-page optimization opportunities. Instead consider some of the other techniques below. Elite recommends that these optimizations be done one by one to test results and to avoid making wholesale changes that could affect ranking negatively.

  • Optimize title tags: Making small tweaks to the title tag can have an impact on these 2nd page rankings. Consider adding the striking distance keyword, changing structure, or editing competing title tags.
  • Optimize header tags: Review the ranking URLs current header tag situation. Similar to title tags, a small optimize or restructure can have a large impact.
  • Strengthen on-page content:We all know that content is king, which is why you want to ensure that the ranking URL has high-quality on-page content supporting the targeted keyword. Small additions or edits can help improve ranking signals.
  • Add internal links: Whether it be a relevant blog post or category page, help share valuable page equity by adding internal links pointing back to the striking distance keyword URL.
  • Build backlinks: Perform outreach or link reclamation to earn additional backlinks to the ranking URL. Even creating one backlink can have an impact for this keyword on the cusp.
  • Consider building a new landing page: If the wrong URL is ranking for the striking distance keyword or if you just think the page isn’t strong enough, consider creating a new landing page to focus more directly on the keyword topic.

Even though the concept of striking distance keywords has been around for some time, it continues to present a logical next step to perform thoughtful optimizations to increase the ranking of valuable search terms. With your new knowledge of what striking distances keywords are, how to identify them, and what optimizations should be made, consider adding this to your SEO campaign to make a huge impact on your organic initiatives in 2017.

Interested in learning more about how SEO can help your business? Read our case study “SEO Helps Financial Advisory Site Boost Organic Traffic 19% Amid Migration To New CMS”.

Tom Heppard
About the Author

Tom Heppard

Tom Heppard is an Account Analyst with Elite's SEO team. In former roles, he led an SEO department and produced results with a focus on link acquisition through engaging content and sharable graphics. At home, Tom brews beer with his greyhound and supports Liverpool FC.

More Posts
Blog Categories
Industry NewsPaid SocialFunPerformance DisplayPaid SearchShopping & FeedConversion Rate OptimizationSearch Engine OptimizationConferenceCompany UpdatesInterviewPressEventsUncategorized
Blog Archives
2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011