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How to Find Competitor Keywords and Outrank them

Looking to find competitor keywords and outrank them? It’s true that the best keywords to target are often your competitors. Learn how you can conduct good keyword research by performing competitive keyword analysis and how you can use these insights to plan a better SEO strategy.

We all know that keyword research is the foundation of good search engine optimization (SEO). You need to be targeting relevant, high-intent search queries in order to reach your audience and drive organic traffic with your content marketing efforts. 

With conventional SEO wisdom, we usually start by typing a primary seed keyword and browse through hundreds of related keyword suggestions to create a list of target keywords.

However, the thing is, if you are looking for highly targeted keywords, why not start with the keywords your competitors are using

This strategy is extremely effective if you are competing in a crowded space because finding your competitor keywords will give you a realistic idea of who and what you are up against when you are creating content for a specific keyword. 

Besides, this reverse engineering technique will help you reveal competitor keywords that are already working.

And you will also better understand your competitor’s keyword strategy and what they are targeting. 

In this post, we will explore how you can find competitor keywords, why is it important, what competitive keyword research tools to consider, and how you can use the information effectively. 

First, let’s get into the important purposes and reasons to find your competitor keywords. 

Why is it important to find your competitor keywords?

1. Understanding your competitor keyword strategy

Search engine optimization is competitive, with all businesses and websites striving for the highly coveted featured snippet or top rankings on Google’s SERPs. 

Doing an analysis to uncover the keywords that drive traffic to your competitor’s website will help provide important insights into their target market, product/ service positioning, and what keywords are working or not working for them. 

In this case, you can always use this information gathered to guide decisions on your SEO marketing strategy, and how you want to market your branding or product in the industry.  

Image Source: Freshworks

Besides, this will also keep you on the lookout to be aware of your competitor’s marketing strategies and any signs of activities if they are trying to steal your keywords. 

2. Finding your competitor’s weakness to take advantage of

Analyzing your competitor’s keyword strategies is also about spotting and targeting potential keyword gaps that you might be missing. 

When you make direct comparisons with your competitors, it will become much easier to identify your strengths and your competitor’s weaknesses.

What you want to take advantage of in this competitor analysis is to find what are the keywords you are currently outranking your competition and double down on them.

SWOT - Competitive analysis
Image Source: Search Engine Journal

Meanwhile, you would also want to find out if there are any keywords that might be missing from your content marketing strategy.

Evaluate if these keywords are valuable to your business and if the traffic driven is a fit for your business. If the answer is yes, create or update your content to include these keywords.

3. Build a competitive advantage over other companies

When conducting a competitor’s keyword analysis, you’d also need to find out which keywords are driving engaged traffic to your competitors.

The goal is to get a bird’s-eye view of what you’re up against and where your opportunities are.

When you analyze your competitor’s keyword strategies, you are also learning from your competitor’s experiences and results. 

Identify the successful strategies employed by market leaders and analyze the share of voice for each of your competitors in the industry, so that you can craft your own.

Share of voice
Image Source: Sprout Social

This activity will be like a strength-weakness reveal and is the centerpiece to letting you know where you should focus most of your efforts at.

Competitor keyword research lets you find the terms that are already working in your niche and further expand it. 

No matter if you’re creating new terms or targeting existing terms, you can quickly analyze competitors and use their best-performing keywords to build a proven blueprint to quickly scale your own organic traffic and conversions.

In the case where you are targeting new terms, you want to make sure you create content in that space first, to get the first-mover advantage in search engine rankings.

4. Discover new keywords that you may have overlooked

Another important idea behind competitor’s keyword research is to reveal new keywords that you might not have thought of. 

Pages often rank for multiple relevant keywords and you can drill down your competitor’s content to discover low competition, long-tail keywords that you might have missed out on.

Depending on the search volume and intent of these keyword variations, you can decide to add it when optimizing your existing content or simply create new content to expand the organic footprint.

5. Reverse engineer your content marketing strategy

Reverse engineer your content marketing
Image Sourxe: Search Engine Land

Researching your competitor’s keywords ultimately is about reverse-engineering the SEO success of your competitors. No more guessing which keywords drive the most traffic or conversions!

By simply adding your competitor’s keywords into the picture, it will help you better identify popular keywords and search queries with higher commercial intent.

These are the keywords that you should definitely prioritize your content creation around to build your organic traffic.

And now that you understand why it is essential to find your competitor keywords, here are the keyword research tools that can help you to do so.

How to find your competitor’s keywords 

One way to find out what keywords competitors are using is through conducting a simple quick website analysis.

Since it is important for websites to be SE-optimized, it’s most likely that their websites are already optimized with their targeted keywords. 

All you just need to know is where to look: 

Check meta tags
  1. Meta tags: Right-click your mouse on the web page and select “View Page Source” to find the title and description of the page.
  2. Headline: Keyword-optimized headlines usually incorporate their primary target keywords near the beginning of the headline.
  3. URL Permalink: Most SEOs emphasized their keywords in the URL slug to signal to Google what this page is about.
  4. Keyword Decorations and Anchor Links: Look for bold or italicized keywords and terms that are anchor links as extra clues to the content keyword grouping and strategy.
  5. Subdomain and categories: SEOs use keywords inside subdomain to help additional page optimization and organization

However, note that this method would only work if the website has only a few pages, otherwise it would be time-consuming to sift through the hundreds of content they have produced.

Not to mention, this method doesn’t really tell you how your competitor keywords are ranking in the search result. 

Therefore, to really be sure that you’ve gathered the most comprehensive data about your competitor’s keyword strategy, still we recommend you to use an SEO tool. Here are six you can try out.

SEO tools to help you discover your competitor keywords

1. Google Keyword Planner

For the most basic competitive keyword research, all you need is just the Google Keyword Planner tool in the Google AdWords interface. 

Once you log into your Google Keyword Planner, select Discover new keywords > Start with a website. Here you can add your competitor’s website or page and get their ranking keywords. 

Google Keyword Planner

You can then filter through the list according to their competition, average monthly searches, as well as according to the ad bidding price.  

Yes, it is as simple as that, but one minor flaw with Google Keyword Planner is that it does not provide the exact search volume and instead offers a wide volume range like 100 to 1,000 which brings us to our next few tools.

2. BiQ Rank Intelligence

BiQ’s Rank Intelligence is one of the best tools when it comes to fetching top-ranking competitor keywords and here’s why.

Let’s say you plan to have a blog topic about “keto diet” and find that one of your competitors is dietdoctor.com and you would like to check out what keywords the website is ranking for.

Using BiQ’s Rank Intelligence, you can just create a new rank profile and fill in the domain and target a specific location by selecting the country/ language combo in the dropdown menu. 

BiQ Rank Intelligence

BiQ will then return with all the keyword rankings that dietdoctor.com currently has and turns out there are over 300,000 keywords.

To filter through the noise, you can use the Rank Discovery form to narrow down your keywords based on search ranking positions, search volume, or keyword relevancy to get more info. 

BiQ Rank Intelligence - Rank Discovery form

For example, you might want to look for keywords ranking on the 1st page with more than 100 search volumes that are more related to “keto“.

Besides, do note that websites rank for different keywords depending on the selected location.

Considering this, you can also create more profiles to take a look at your competitor’s rankings based on different locations for deeper insights. 

3. BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is one of the unique tools out there for competitive analysis.

Because, unlike other tools that are more focused on Google rankings, BuzzSumo can help you discover your competitors through the social and sharing aspect.

The tool allows you to start with your important keywords and see what related popular content is being shared, liked, and socially distributed for that term.

For example, just do a quick search of “content marketing” and you will discover interesting competitors like “theringer.com”, a site you probably have never heard of but is definitely important to take note of seeing that its article is popularly shared. 

BuzzSumo

With BuzzSumo, the point is to see what kind of content is doing well, and you can explore the angle to create your own variation and get more social media shares.

Besides discovering popular competitors for your related keywords, BuzzSumo also lets you uncover the topmost popular articles from the website. 

Buzzsumo

With these URLs, you can place this through the next tool to discover what keywords they are appearing for in Google search.

4. Ahref’s Keyword Explorer

One of the most famous SEO tools around, Ahref’s Keyword Explorer also offers users tons of functionality that can help you dig up your competitor’s keyword data. 

With just a single click, you can see the competitive keyword rankings for any particular blog post or URL. But one of its coolest features is still its Top Pages section. 

Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
Image Source: WordStream

This section allows users to access dozens or even hundreds of semantically related keywords surrounding a topic, rather than the individual keywords themselves which can be super helpful if you are looking to build topical authority for your website. 

5. Spyfu

A dedicated competitive intelligence tool to help analyze your competitors and discover their keywords.

Spyfu provides keyword data from local and global monthly search volume, CTR, ad expenditure, backlinks, advertisement, and ranking history which are all valuable insights to accessing your competitor’s keyword strategies.

The tool also provides you a website weakness report, which lists all the keywords that your competitors are ranking for but you are not, which you can easily look through and see if there are any keywords your website would like to tackle. 

Spyfu
Image Source: Spyfu

6. SEMRush

Similar to Ahrefs, SEMRush also offers an impressive suite of keyword research tools that can also show you the ranking keywords for just about any domain. 

All you need to do is insert your competitor’s keyword or URL and select the geographical area, and the tool will help you see how you place against other domains.

SEMRush - find competitor keywords
Image Source: WordStream

A more interesting feature with SEMRush is its Domain Overview report, whereby you can enter your domain to discover your main organic competitors then access how many keywords do they have that overlap with your organic rankings. 

SEMRush main organic competitors
Image Source: Robbie Richards

How to understand and use your Competitor’s Keywords?

Well done! Now that you are done exploring your competitor’s keywords, we are sure you now have a long list of target keywords.

The remaining question to answer is what’s next and how do you choose which keywords to target?

Analyzing the search volumes and historical trends is just the beginning, more importantly, you need to target the competitor keywords that you have a higher chance to rank for.

1. Identifying softer target competitors

In addition to analyzing your keywords, you need to also be sizing up your competition. So look at the competitors that you’ve analyzed and see where they stand in your industry or niche.

Naturally, you want to first target the softer target competitors. To find low-hanging to middle-range targets, you can refer to Alexa or SimilarWeb.

Just type in your domain URL and you will see a list of websites that are similar to you.

Alexa
Image Source: Alexa

You can focus on keyword rankings from this website first, and create new content for keywords that you have previously not targeted.

Otherwise, if you already have existing content or landing page created for the keyword, but it is ranking lower than your competitor, you can always optimize it using BiQ’s Content Intelligence.

Just insert your post URL along with your target keyword and the tool will help you compare your content’s WordGraph to the Top 10 ranking results to see if you have any missing content gaps or keywords that you include in your content.

Tweak your content according to the suggestions provided and soon you will see your content’s ranking surging to the top. It’s that simple.

SEO tip: Target relevant long-tail keyword variations first that are currently being ranked by less competitive domains before moving on to challenge short-tail keywords.

2. Figure out where you can beat your competitors

Just like your competition, when you are accessing your long list of competitor keywords, you need to be filtering them to find easy low competition targets. 

Disregard overly competitive keywords or keywords that don’t make sense. Look for long-tail keywords with decent search volume and is relevant to your business model.

Once you have a shortlisted set of keywords, for each keyword, insert it into Google and have a look at the top 3 results. 

Looking at the SERP results for each keyword, you want to evaluate the following things: 

  1. Is there any content gap you can take advantage of?
  2. Does the content answer the query search intent?
  3. Is the content mobile-friendly and how quickly does it load?
  4. How many quality backlinks point to the domain or page? 
  5. If you were a user who searched for the query, will you be satisfied with the result? 

Answering this set of questions will let you better understand the competitiveness of the keyword, and further decide if it’s worth going after or not. 

Image Source: BDC

While it’s important to evaluate your competitor’s content, at the same time, you also want to analyze the keyword opportunities against your own SEO marketing strategy. 

Are you already ranking high for similar keywords or topics? Do you have existing content for the keyword that is ranking on page 1 too? You want to make sure you understand the action steps to take and find keywords that will provide the best ROI. 

3. Identifying high ROI keyword opportunities for your site

Let’s be honest. You may not always have the luxury of targeting keywords with low competition. 

In that case, it’s a matter of finding and prioritizing high ROI keyword opportunities that you can compete with by creating better quality content.

Before you jump into the tactics of stealing your competitor’s keywords, it’s important to set a priority list for your keywords according to value. Because ultimately, you want to spend less and get the best return on your investment (ROI).

For that, you need to also consider the search intent of your target keywords and where it is most likely placed in the customer’s buyer journey. Basically, there are 3 types:

  1. Informational terms – help attract potential customers and is great for getting higher organic traffic and qualifying leads
  2. Investigational terms – most likely searched by users that have an intention to buy but still researching and comparing to find the best solutions
  3. Commercial terms – users ready to buy and make a transaction

To discover what search intent your keyword has, you can always run it through the SERP and take a look at the results or just put it through BiQ’s Keyword Intelligence

BiQ Keyword Intelligence

As guidance, our tool also displays the keyword competitiveness and value which you can take into consideration when deciding which keywords to focus on.  

Of course, this can vary depending on your marketing goal but ultimately, choose to focus on high rewarding opportunities and create quality content or a targeted landing page to answer your customer’s questions and address their needs. 

Otherwise, set up a PPC campaign for the keyword, especially if it is a promising buyer keyword, and compete by creating an optimized landing page for a lower cost. 

4. Prioritize important keywords that you can really rank for

Everyone wants to rank higher with a shorter time frame and claim the biggest ROI, However, the way to achieve this is to know what keywords your website would most likely rank for.

This may sound easy, but it involves a lot of considerations, from understanding your website’s current ranking footprint, the resources you have at your disposal, and where you stand in relation to your competitors.

Take these factors into account and focus on tackling low-hanging fruits with high ROIs first before building the foundation to tackle more challenging short-tail keywords.

Key Takeaway

Your competitors can be your greatest allies. Performing competitor keyword research is one of the best ways to more effectively plan your target keywords and get a competitive edge in the search results. 

The only question left is, are you ready? Find competitor keywords and grow your traffic to new heights today! And sign up for a free tier account on BiQ to discover your competitor’s ranking keywords now.  

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