2 Strategies to Find Rankable Keywords For your Low DR Site

Maybe you just launched your site a couple months ago.

Or haven’t been able to crack the code to drive quality links to your site.

Either way, you’re here because you have a low DR site and you want to find rankable keywords.

In this article, I’ll explain exactly (I’m talking step-by-step) on how to find those rankable keywords for your low DR site.

Not only that, but I’ll also fill you in on the secret of how to actually rank for the those keywords.

Quick note, don’t skip!

This article will take 10-15 minutes to read. If you don’t have 10-15 minutes to dig in and get your hands dirty then it’s going to be an uphill battle to find (let alone rank for) keywords for your low DR site.


What is Considered a Low DR Site?

First: DR stands for Domain Rating. It’s a metric used by Ahrefs.

Now, quick disclaimer: we use SEMrush. SEMrush has its own metric called “Authority Score” (AS) and it’s essentially the exact same thing as DR.

Okay, so back to what’s considered a low DR or AS.

This is important. Are you thinking that “low DR” is 2? Or are we talking about a site with a DR of 27?

Here’s what we consider “low” DR:

Well, it depends on your industry. If the average DR in your industry is 20, then a DR of 20 wouldn’t be low.

If the average DR in your industry is 75, then a DR of 30 would be “low.”

However, here’s how we’d sum it up:

Anything with a DR (or AS if you’re using SEMrush) of 1-30 or lower is considered “low.”

Hey hey don’t get too upset! Our website (at the time of writing this) has an AS of 27 and we still rank for thousands of keywords.

For the Sake of This Article, We’re Talking About a DR of 1-30

There are still big differences within this range..

A site with a DR of 3 is at a VERY different position than a site with a DR of 28.

A word of advice:

The lower your DR, the lower the KD you need to target.

Here’s a quick table:

Website Domain Rating (DR)

Keyword Difficulty (KD)


Less than 25


Less than 35


Less than 45

We’ll explain more about this table. You don’t have to worry about it too much right now.

Before We Go Further - Real Case Studies of Low DR Sites Ranking for Competitive Keywords

Example 1: Cedar Pest Software, DR of 2 Ranking 11th for a KD 51 Keyword

At the time of writing this, Cedar Pest Pest has a DR of 5. Very, very low DR.

Yet, we still have them ranking in position 11 for a KD 51 keyword. Over the past 2 months, this keyword has moved from position 50 to position 11. We expect it to rank in the top 5 positions in the next 90 days.

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low dr rankable keywords example 4

Example 2: Keto Fitness Coaching, DR of 17 Ranking 1st for a KD 63 Keyword

At the time of writing this, Keto Fitness Coaching has a DR of 17.

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low dr rankable keywords example 2

Example 3: Three Rivers Decking, DR of 13 Ranking 4th for a KD 32 Keyword

At the time of writing this, Three Rivers Decking has a DR of 13.

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low dr rankable keywords example 1

Example 4: Our Own Website, DR of 27, Ranking In The Top 5 Positions for KD 76

At the time of writing this, our website has a DR of 27. Hopefully, by the time you’re reading this, we have a DR of 40+ 🙂 

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low dr rankable keywords example 1.1
low dr rankable keywords example 1

The Point of The Above? Relatively High KD Keywords Shouldn’t Always Scare You

Sometimes, with the right content, a high KD keyword actually is a rankable keyword for a low DR site.

If you find some keywords that are perfect for your brand but feel too difficult to rank for, you might be wrong.

Here’s a strategy you can use:

For every 5 pieces of content you write, allow yourself to target a high KD keyword for one of them.

Let’s say you write 5 pieces of content per month. You’ll end up writing 1 per month for a high KD keyword. That’s 12 per year. You never know – maybe 1 of the 12 pieces of content targeting high KD keywords will take off, rank well, and drive inbound.

The Two Ways to Find Rankable Keywords For a Low DR Site:

There are two really straightforward and simple ways to find rankable keywords.

Disclaimer: This is assuming you have access to a keyword research tool like Moz, Ahrefs, SEMrush, etc.

If you have SEMrush, you can also go take a look at this other guide on our website that talks more in-depth about how to do local KW research using SEMrush.

Leverage Competitor Keyword Data

Step 1: Find 2-3 competitors who you know are ranking well for desired keywords

Example: we have a new client as of 2 days ago called VTMN Packs. They’re a customized, personalized vitamin delivery company in Canada.

They have a DR of 18.

low dr rankable as 5

We know that Supplement Source, a competitor, ranks for a lot of vitamin/supplement related keywords.

Step 2: Throw those competitors into SEMrush’s Domain Overview tool


Cool, at a high level we can see they have a DR of 41 and drive about 20,000 organic visitors per month.

Step 3: Scroll down until you see the “Organic Research” section and click on View details

Doing this will allow us to see ALL the keywords that they rank for

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Step 4: Filter their keywords by KD of lower than 35 (to start)

This is where you can play around with things, based on your DR, and filter by lower than 40, lower than 10, etc.

This is where you can revisit the table earlier in the article! 

If you have a DR of 25, then filter by a KD of lower than 45. If you have a DR of 4, then filter by a KD of lower than 25

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Step 5: Filter by keywords that are ranking in the top 10 positions

You don’t care if your competitor is ranking 73rd for a keyword… 

Step 6: Dig in! Oh, and filter by volume

Now that we have all keywords at 35 KD or lower, I like to start looking through by highest volume first.

You might find some super cool keywords. Copy and paste them into an excel sheet. Or, if you’re real fancy, you can export ALL the keywords into an excel sheet and filter them from within the Excel sheet.

For example, I quickly found this keyword of “bulk protein Canada” with 70 searches per month and a pretty low KD of 23. 

This could be an interesting keyword for our client to consider targeting.

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Step 7: Rinse and repeat for as many competitors as possible.

Easy peasy!

Use Advanced Searches Within SEMrush

Step 1: Got to SEMrush’s keyword overview tool

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Step 2: Just start searching…

I know that our client focuses on vitamins / supplements in Canada.

Easy enough.

So I started by searching for the keyword “Vitamins Canada”

low dr rankable as 12

This doesn’t give us a ton of information – so we need to go deeper. 

Step 3: Dig into specific keywords further through the Keyword Magic Tool to find rankable, low KD keywords

After searching for “vitamins canada,” I went to the “related keywords” section of the Keyword Magic Tool.

The related keywords section showed that there were 4,000 related keywords to the main keyword of “vitamins canada.”

So I then filtered all 4,000 related keywords by a KD of 35 or lower.

It dropped it from 4,000 keywords to 124 keywords. 

low dr rankable as 13

While it took a BUNCH of keywords out, there’s still quite a bit to work from!

Step 4: Dig in! 

You might find some super cool keywords. Copy and paste them into an excel sheet. Or, if you’re real fancy, you can export ALL the keywords into an excel sheet and filter them from within the Excel sheet.

Literally 2 of the first 4 keywords I see are PERFECT.

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“Prenatal Vitamins Canada” with 590 searches per month (huge volume!) and only 29 KD.

“Vitamin C serum Canada” with 320 searches per month and KD of 28.

Step 5: Rinse and repeat using other starting keywords

For example, instead of starting with “Vitamins Canada,” I might start the steps above with any of the following:

  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin C
  • Supplements for migraines
  • Vitamins for men
  • Supplements to help sleep

Or maybe just “vitamins” – keep it super broad.

There are hundreds of starting points… and likely thousands of rankable keywords to find.

Now, how to actually rank for these rankable keywords

It’s actually not that hard. It takes work, don’t get me wrong.

But it’s not difficult.

See Who’s Ranking in the Top 5 Positions For The “Rankable” Keyword

  • Take your keyword and go to Google.
  • Do the Google search.
  • Open up the top 5 ranking pages for that keyword and put yourself in the place of an actual reader
    • See what they’ve done well
    • See what they’ve done poorly
    • See what they’ve missed

Now, move on to the next step.

Let’s look at a keyword like “how much vitamin D to take in Canada” as an example.

Duplicate What They Did To Rank, But Do It Better

After reviewing the top 5 articles that are ranking, the first couple are Canadian government websites.

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Then, there are some blogs ranking. I know we will have a near impossible time ranking higher than the Canadian government – so I’m going to focus on the blogs that are ranking.

The idea is to basically duplicate what the blogs have done to rank but make our content +30% better.

They have one small section on “food that include vitamin D” but that section is literally 3 sentences. And, they don’t say HOW MUCH vitamin D each food has.

So if we were going to write this content, after explaining how much vitamin D someone should take (oh yeah, we’d also sort by age & biological sex), we might add a section on “top 7 foods with vitamin D.”

In that section, we would share how much vitamin D each food has so that, if the user is getting vitamin D through oral supplements and food, they can do some quick calculations.

Yes, creating content like this takes time! 

But, it guarantees that your content is better than the other top-ranking content. It also ensures that your content will truly add a ton of value to the reader.

Picture of Joey Randazzo

Joey Randazzo

Owner & CEO of Portland SEO Growth