Keywords are everything when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. Most of us have a basic understanding that in order to rank higher on search engines, our content has to be optimized with best practices and relevant keywords.
We also realize this isn’t a shot in the dark which is why many of us have dedicated software or teams who work specifically on keyword research. After that’s all good and done, we can feel comfortable with our efforts and leave the fate of our website performance up to the SEO gods, right?
Don’t leave your cards on the table yet. If you haven’t taken the time to look over your shoulder and check out what your competition is up to, we’d recommend reevaluating your keyword research.
It’s not just your keywords to keep track of—looking into your competitor’s keywords and analyzing how they’re used can give you a leg up on performing better on website searches.
Importance of Competitive Keyword Analysis
Competitive keyword research and analysis is a powerful strategy to use in SEO. It gives you valuable insight on how and why competing web pages are doing better than you in a Google search and it also gives you the opportunity to identify gaps in their strategy and fill in areas they’ve overlooked. Analyzing your competitors’ keywords shows you how you’re doing in comparison. It also shows you new opportunities and inspiration to go further.
We’ve all been through the process of selecting our own keywords and publishing content based on those. However, we have to remember that our webpage isn’t the only one of its kind on the internet which also means its performance isn’t solely based on how great we are at independently generating keywords.
Rather than spending extra time and resources learning how to produce effective websites, using a competitive keyword analysis makes it quicker to curate beautifully created SEO-driven pages using high ROI keywords that you know already work.
How to Find Competitors’ Keywords
The first step to being better at finding your competitors’ keywords is to understand who your competitor or competitors are. This isn’t a difficult process and can be done with a quick internet search for what you want to rank for. See all those websites that have popped up right at the top of your search? Those are the players you are competing with for space on the coveted page one results of any search engine.
You may find that the top websites are made up of industry giants like Amazon, Apple, or any other major company. These slots are more difficult to displace. But you can seek out the moderate competitors and use them as a source of knowledge and inspiration for upping your game.
Top performing websites are likely strong in a combination of organic and paid rankings which is why they’re appearing first. To identify which of these are possible competitors of yours, you can use specific tools like Semrush or SimilarWeb to discover websites that are targeting similar audiences as you.
The next step is the best part—finding the treasure chest of keywords to take your site to the next level! Using specific tools and tactics, you can do a thorough scan of your competitor’s website to find out which keywords are working well for them.
Competitor Keyword Research Tools
There are lots of ways to dig into your competitors keywords. Here are a few options you can employ in your search:
- Semrush: This competitive intelligence tool gives you the ability to search using a specific keyword or by directly pasting your competitor’s URL into the box. You can then filter your results based on location and see entire lists of keywords, their search volume, the keyword difficulty, and other important information that will help you grow your own pages.
- Ahrefs: This is a tool and a knowledge base all-in-one. Ahrefs is one of the most read SEO blogs out there and they have developed a Keywords Explorer tool to help marketers and advertisers identify relevant keywords. You can use it to specifically browse and organize keyword data for any website and see how the data on each page ranks.
- Google Auction Insights: This is a useful function that those using Google Ads may have some familiarity with. It helps you identify your Google Ads competitors and what they’re ranking for. You’ll gain insight on their average ad position, overlap rate, outranking share, and other competitive analysis data.
- Tag Clouds: This is a visual way of examining keywords that many of us actually played around with in school. Remember those assignments where your teacher had you create a graphic where some words were larger or showed up more often due to their importance? That’s what this is. While it may seem basic, this is a really easy way to see the most common words being used on a site. Software like Tag Crowd lets you paste the link of any site to generate a visualization of keywords.
Analyzing Competitor Keywords
Now that you have those keywords in your hands, it’s time to analyze them and analyze them better than you have in the past.
What’s the best way to move forward with this you ask? First off, make sure to start with all categories of keywords from paid keywords to keyword clusters to low competition keywords. This gives you a comprehensive list to work from.
From there, tailor it to your company. If a keyword on your competitor’s list isn’t relevant to a product you have or a service you provide, cross it off. The list that is left will contain keywords that you can focus on.
Run your own searches for the keywords and browse through each of the top results yourself. Look through them from a user’s perspective and evaluate it based on design, mobile responsiveness, speed, and also on how well it fulfills your search intent. Any gaps that you end up finding are areas where you can pay extra attention to when you edit your site.
These are the specific gaps we recommend analyzing:
- Domain authority
- High-quality backlinks
- Relevance of content
- Quality of content
- UX and UI
- Site design
- Meta tags
Once you’ve completed your analysis, you will have uncovered keyword opportunities for yourself. This may involve targeting common keywords that everyone is using to gain traffic, specifically pulling keywords that have been beneficial for your competitors, or pioneering a new path by targeting words that your competitors get light traffic or even no traffic from.
Action steps to take that tie into this, for example, include updating your existing content or producing new content that better fits the research you’ve done. Once you’ve got your copy and content optimized, be sure to do what you can to drive traffic by getting yourself featured on relevant sites and offering up your pieces as guest blogs to third-party sites.
Finally, use your analysis to walk through these questions. A thorough competitive keyword analysis should be able to help you answer the following:
- What keywords are being used the most by my competition?
- Where are my organic and paid opportunities?
- Are there keyword gaps on competitor sites that I can use to my advantage?
- What low-competition keywords (if any) can I utilize for my website?
- Can I compete with my competition?
Keyword research is best optimized when you incorporate keywords of your own and your competitors’. Rather than playing the SEO game alone, use your competitors as “allies” in your search for better ways to target your audience and search engine results.
Need help with keyword analysis or your overall SEO strategy? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!