Advanced Keyword Research: 5 Tips for Finding Untapped Keywords

Advanced Keyword Research: 5 Tips for Finding Untapped Keywords

Joshua Hardwick
Head of Content @ Ahrefs (or, in plain English, I'm the guy responsible for ensuring that every blog post we publish is EPIC).
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    Most people start keyword research by entering a few broad seed keywords into a popular keyword tool, then checking keyword ideas.

    There’s nothing wrong with this process because it makes sense to tackle popular keywords. But it does leave some of the less obvious keywords on the table.

    In this guide, you’ll learn five advanced keyword research tips for finding untapped keywords.

    If you want to find keywords that you can potentially rank for quickly, look for newly published pages that already get traffic from Google. You can do this in Ahrefs Content Explorer

    1. Enter a broad topic
    2. Switch the search mode to In title
    3. Filter for pages published once within the last 90 days
    4. Filter for pages with an estimated 500+ monthly search visits
    5. Filter for pages on sites with a DR less than or equal yours
    6. Exclude results from homepages and subdomains

    For example, let’s say we’re in the fitness niche. If we search for “protein” and filter the results, we end up with 10 pages, including this one about the top 20 highest protein nuts and seeds.

    Recently published page with traffic

    If we hit the Details caret and check the page’s traffic, we see it started attracting organic traffic just a few days after publishing. Since then, it’s been consistently getting around 1.1K monthly search visits.

    Recently published page's traffic over time

    If we switch to the Organic keywords tab, we see that it’s getting most of this traffic from keyword rankings in the U.S.

    Recently published page's keyword rankings

    Most of these keywords also have reasonably low Keyword Difficulty (KD) scores.

    Most of the keywords the page is ranking for are low difficulty

    Given that this site has no more authority than our hypothetical fitness website (because we filtered by DR), chances are we can also rank for this keyword fairly quickly. 

    Here’s another page that ranked quickly: 

    Another newly published page that ranked quickly

    This time, it’s about blueberry Kodiak cake muffins. 

    If we hit the Details caret again, we see that it was attracting an estimated 963 monthly search visits just two months after publishing. And it’s getting even more traffic now.

    Traffic to the recently published page over time

    This time, it gets most of its search traffic from the keyword kodiak cake muffins, which has a KD score of just 12. 

    Keyword rankings for the newly published page—with most being low difficulty

    This could be another good keyword to target for some quick organic traffic. 

    Keep in mind that this method can unearth pages with short traffic spikes. This can happen when a page jumps in and out of the top 10 for a high-volume keyword or ranks in the Top Stories SERP feature. 

    You should always further investigate where a page gets its traffic from before committing to creating content. You can do this in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.

    If your competitors are getting search traffic from Google, they’ve probably already done keyword research. This means you can piggyback off their hard work by reverse engineering the low-competition topics they rank for.

    Here’s how to do that: 

    1. Enter a competitor’s domain into Site Explorer
    2. Go to the Top pages report
    3. Filter for traffic from low-difficulty keywords, say under KD 20
    4. Filter for pages with 500+ estimated monthly search visits

    You’ll now see pages with at least 500 monthly visits from keywords with low KD scores.

    Pages with the most traffic from low-difficulty keywords
    The traffic column shows the page’s estimated traffic from keywords with low KD scores.

    If you see a topic you may want to target, hit the caret next to the URL and compare the URL’s total estimated traffic with the amount of traffic it gets from low-KD terms (the number in the traffic column). 

    If these two numbers are relatively close, it’s a low-competition topic. 

    Low-competition topics have similar total and low-difficulty traffic

    If the numbers are vastly different, as is the case for our free backlink checker, it isn’t. The page just gets some long-tail traffic from low-competition terms.

    High-competition topics have vastly different total and low-difficulty traffic

    Keyword modifiers are add-ons to base keywords. Common examples include best, near me, and the current year.

    For this use case, we’re looking for modifiers that do two things:

    1. Make sense combined with popular keywords in our niche
    2. Alter the search results 

    For example, if we search for best credit cards and best credit cards 2022 (2022 is the modifier), the search results are nearly identical. This is because both searchers want up-to-date recommendations. In fact, the top result for both queries is the same.

    Top result for "best credit cards"
    Top result for "best credit cards 2022"

    But if we search for best credit cards and best credit cards for bad credit (for bad credit is the modifier), the results are completely different. This is what we want.

    The best place to look for relevant modifiers is a competitor’s Top pages report in Site Explorer.

    For example, if we do this for, we see keywords like low carb mcdonalds and low carb at red robin. 

    Keyword rankings related to low-carb options at fast-food restaurants for the target site

    Given that people are likely also searching for low-carb options at other fast-food restaurants, we can infer a base keyword and a modifier here: 

    • Base keyword: low carb
    • Modifier: the fast-food restaurant itself 

    Knowing this, we can use Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer to find more similar keywords. All we need to do is enter our base keyword, go to the Matching terms report, then add other popular modifiers to the Include filter (using the Any word option). 

    Filtering for "low carb" keywords that mention fast-food restaurants

    If we hit “Apply,” we end up with dozens of low-competition topics to create content about. 

    Results of "low carb" keywords for fast-food restaurants

    Most people do keyword research the same way. They enter a few common broad keywords into a keyword research tool, then sift through the list of ideas for keywords to target.

    There’s nothing wrong with this process, but the reality is your competitors are probably doing the same thing with the same seed keywords. This leads to everyone targeting the same keywords and fierce competition.

    One solution to this problem is to use less competitive seed keywords to unearth keyword ideas competitors haven’t considered.

    Here’s a simple way to find uncommon seeds:

    1. Enter a popular niche website into Site Explorer
    2. Go to the Organic keywords report
    3. Exclude common seeds
    4. Look for words and phrases that would make good seed keywords

    For example, let’s say we’re in the fitness niche. If we check the Organic keywords report for, we see lots of keywords that contain common seeds like workouts.

    Common seed keywords in the fitness niche

    If we use the Exclude filter to exclude keywords containing common seeds, we can then sift through the report for less common keywords that make good seeds. 

    Excluding common seed keywords in Site Explorer

    Here are a few that stand out from this report:

    • tdee
    • russian twist
    • bcaas

    If we use these as seed keywords in Keywords Explorer, go to the Matching terms report, and filter for low-KD keywords, we see plenty of ideas with decent search volumes that competitors probably haven’t considered.

    Low-difficulty keyword ideas from uncommon seeds

    Notice that many of these have low KD scores too. This further indicates that there’s less serious competition for these keywords.

    Listicles of the best products are affiliate site owners bread and butter. But these aren’t the only lucrative affiliate keywords. You can also target “product comparison” and “review” keywords. 

    Examples of these may be airpods pro vs airpods max or airpods pro review. 

    These keywords are great because the people searching for them are close to buying. They’ve already done their research and narrowed their choices down. And because you’ll likely be their last touchpoint before they pull the trigger, you’ll get the affiliate commission. 

    Here’s a simple way to find these keywords at scale:

    1. Enter a few popular brands in your niche into Keywords Explorer
    2. Go to the Matching terms report
    3. Select the Include filter, click Any word, then type review and vs

    For example, let’s say we’re in the fitness niche. If we enter popular protein powder brands into Keywords Explorer and filter for vs and review keywords, we can see what products people want to see reviews and comparisons for. 

    Filtering for "vs" and "review" keywords in Keywords Explorer

    Because search intent for these keywords is clear, they’re pretty much all great candidates for an affiliate website.


    If you don’t know many brands in your niche, check the brands listed on a popular e-commerce site in your niche. 

    For example, if we go to the protein category on’s store and hit the “brands” filter, we see a list of popular brands of protein powder.

    Finding brands on e-commerce sites

    Final thoughts

    Keywords that your competitors haven’t found yet are usually lower competition. Being one of the first to target them is often a much easier way to build search traffic than targeting the same competitive terms as everyone else. 

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    • Monthly traffic 417
    • Linking websites 67
    Data from Content Explorer