Search Engine Optimization, also known as SEO, is often referred to as one of the more nefarious or unattainable marketing tactics that marketers use to drive leads and awareness. The reality is that few companies know how to do it well in order to get the love they so desperately crave from search engines like Google and Bing.
After many years of tried and tested SEO practices, we’ve come up with several innovative ways that you can take your SEO effort to the next level, all while using what your competitors know…. And what they don’t, in order to stand out from the crowd..
Upon finishing this article, you should be able to identify your online competitors, discover their keywords and develop a plan for expanding your content marketing strategy to slay your competition when it comes to online search results.
Competitor Keyword Research – What is It?
When we refer to competitor keywords, we are addressing the keywords your competition is attempting to rank for, albeit unsuccessfully; in addition to targeted keywords they have the top spot for on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). Each category can tell you about their SEO strategy.
Competitor keyword research allows you to do the following:
- Discover and track keywords that haven’t been targeted by your competition.
- Use the same keywords your competitors are ranking for, then outperform them.
- Learn why your competition’s website ranks higher than yours does for broad keywords.
- Find broad terms used by your audience that you haven’t been using.
Finding Keywords Your Competitors are Using
Prior to seeking out a program that produces a list of the keywords your competition is using, understand that there is no “magic bullet” for keyword research. Keyword research is not as easy as it sounds, particularly with regards to scouting your competitors. While software can be quite beneficial, you need to first conduct some manual research so you can put together a thorough list of keywords used by your competition.
Don’t be intimidated by the work this research entails! There are several approaches you can use to expedite and simplify your keyword research efforts.
The Tools to Use
1. Competitor Website’s Source Code
Visit your competition’s website and select a page to browse keywords on. When you find one, the “page source” can be opened by right-clicking it. A window will be displayed showing the page’s HTML source code. In the alt tags, image title tags, meta description, and title tag, look for keywords in the coding. Some websites use the meta keywords tag, which can also be looked at.
2. Google Keyword Planner Tool
To get started with the Google Keyword Planner Tool, you will need to have a Google account. Once you sign into it, you’ll have access to this software through the interface on Google AdWords.
To get started, click “Find New Keywords,” then click “Search for New Keywords Using a Phrase, Website or Category.” When the form is open, find the text field beneath “Your Landing Page,” then type in the URL of your competition’s website.
After you click “Get Ideas,” the website will be crawled by Google’s spiders. When it’s done, it will show you a list of keywords relevant to the entire website as well as the page URL you typed in.
When your results are displayed, the “Keyword Ideas” tab (under the graph) can be clicked to reveal a list of keywords used by your competitors.
This keyword research software allows you to audit your competition’s website for SEO purposes. Simply download the program and run it. Screaming Frog Spider will crawl their site just like search engines do. You’ll see plenty of details about your competitor’s website, such as heading text, alt image text, meta data, and anchor text. Each of these elements isolates targeted keywords used by your competition.
BuzzSumo is an online resource that focuses on the sharing and social aspects of a website. As such, it can reverse the process to find keywords used by your competition.
Here is how it works…
Rather than starting with your competition’s keywords, BuzzSumo allows you to type in keywords of your own to determine who else ranks for them. BuzzSumo will display the most socially distributed, liked, and shared content based on any term.
SEMRush is a convenient organic keyword tool that is capable of revealing any website’s ranking terms. All you need to do is enter your competition’s website. SEMRush will do all the work for you, showing you keyword results when it’s done.
6. Other Keyword Research Tools Worth Mentioning
Various tools on the internet will offer you a list of your competition’s PPC keywords (for Bing Ads, AdWords, etc.) with a simple search. We are partial to SEMRush (premium or free version) and SpyFu (premium or free version). There are other options, though, including the following:
- Moz Open Site Explorer (premium or free)
- Moz Keyword Difficulty and SERP Analysis Tool
- Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
- FeedtheBot SEO Overview Tool (free)
7. Capitalizing on Competitor Keyword Research
Let’s assume you have assessed your competition’s website, used keyword research software, and figured out which keywords are ripe for the taking. What do you do next?
There are several steps you can take using the competitive keyword data you have assembled. To start using it effectively, here’s what to do next:
- Get inspired by your competition’s keywords so you can focus on different terms and put together relevant content that includes these terms. This is likely the best move you can make for your site.
- Assess the key word terms to learn what your target market is actually looking for when they are search for like businesses on the Internet.
- Check for gaps in your own keyword portfolio and content.
- Discover competitors you might not have been mindful of. It’s important to know everyone who is vying for the top spot on SERPs besides you.
- For benchmarking and measurement, these terms can be used to determine how you fare against the competition.
By better understanding what your competitors are doing in regard to keyword targeting, you’ll improve the results of your content marketing, SEO and paid search campaigns.