Your competitors' keywords will reveal a content strategy that could double or triple your traffic.
Most people use a keyword research tool to find keywords they can rank for.
But competitor analysis is a more powerful approach to keyword research. Instead of guessing what the best keywords, you can see what keywords are driving traffic to your competitors’ websites.
With a good competitive analysis tool, you’ll be able to see the entire strategy of your competitors. Those strategies are often the result of years of experimenting with different keywords.
So when you replicate that strategy, and even improve upon it, you’re giving yourself a head start and saving yourself years of trial and error.
Instead of fearing your competitors or resenting them, you should thank them because they’ve done all the hard work for you.
Competitor analysis can be used for identifying:
- keyword strategies
- content strategies
- link-building strategies
Competitor Analysis for Keywords and Content
In this article, I’m going to focus on using competitor analysis for:
- keyword strategies and
- content strategies
One of the best tools for doing competitor analysis is SEMrush.
To start, type your domain into the ‘Domain overview’ field:
I’m using neilpatel.com for this example, but you would type in your own domain name.
Next, click on ‘Organic Search Traffic’
Then click on ‘View Full Report’ in the ‘Top Organic Keywords’ card:
Next, click on ‘Competitors’:
We can see that in terms of common or shared keywords, the main competitors for neilpatel.com are Wordstream, Moz, Search Engine Journal, Hootsuite, and Social Media Examiner:
This tool is great, but sometimes it’s not exactly what I’m looking for. The tool is telling me who my current competitors are. But what if I decide that I want to change the focus of my website slightly?
Let’s say there’s a website that is targeting the kind of audience I want to go after. In that case, the starting point for your competitor analysis would be quite different.
Let’s say, for example, I want to target the same audience as Blog Tyrant.
Go back to the ‘Domain overview’ field and type in ‘blogtryant.com’ and then click on ‘Organic Search Traffic’:
In the Top Organic Keywords card, click on ‘View Full Report’:
Now you can see Blog Tyrant’s top-ranking keywords. More importantly, you can see the keywords that bring the most traffic to that website:
But it’s a bit hard to make sense of this list of keywords because they are ‘disembodied’. To put it another way, those keywords all belong to individual web pages. It’s going to make much more sense if we can see what those web pages are.
So click on the ‘Pages’ tab:
Now you’ll see a list of Blog Tyrant’s top-ranking pages, ordered by the percentage of that website’s total traffic that each page is responsible for:
A lot of interesting facts are revealed in this table, but two facts in particular are very interesting:
- a whopping 48% of Blog Tyrant’s total traffic comes from just one article
- that one article has 4.5K keywords that rank in the top 100 positions on Google
To see what this article is, click on the arrow next to the page:
And you’ll see that this page is an article titled ‘Download Speed: 13 Ways To Increase Your Internet Speed Today’:
When you start doing competitor research, you’ll see this pattern over and over again: a handful of pages are bringing in 50% or more of a websites’ total traffic.
Let’s look at some more examples of this phenomenon.
I’ve chosen the #1 ranked website for each of the following five search terms:
- Email Marketing Tips
- Blogging Tips
- WordPress for Beginners
- Copywriting Tips
- Website Design Tips
Here are the websites:
For Pronto Marketing, 56.38% of the website’s total traffic comes from just 14 pages:
For Buffer, 47.95% of total traffic comes from just 17 pages:
For WPBeginner, 28.52% of total traffic comes from just 15 pages:
For Writtent, a massive 80.24% of total traffic comes from just 12 pages:
And for TorqueMag, 37.33% of total traffic comes from just 15 pages:
So why is this useful information?
It’s useful because it shows you what topics are driving the most traffic in a particular niche. It allows you to narrow down your content strategy and focus on the topics that are really popular.
Does this mean you can build a high-traffic website with just 15 web pages?
Unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as that.
Because those 15 high-performing web pages are riding on the back of a website that has high topical authority in that particular niche. And that topical authority was built up on the basis of the other 100-or-so low performing pages.
Use Your Competitors' Keywords as LSI Words
In the Blog Tyrant example, we saw that an amazing 48.23% of total traffic is coming from just one page.
Here’s another amazing piece of information: that single web page is associated with 4,500 keywords that rank in the top 100 positions on Google.
To be clear, the article doesn’t actually contain these exact 4,500 keywords (the article itself only has 3,300 words). The 4,500 keywords that SEMrush has identified are the total number of keyword combinations that this article ranks for within the top 100 Google positions.
To see what those keywords are, simply click on the number of keywords:
The list of 4.5K keywords opens up in a new window, ordered by search volume:
How would that list of competitors' keywords be useful for you?
Well, if you were going to write your own article on that same topic, try to include in your article as many of those keywords as possible. By doing so, you demonstrate to the Google algorithm that your article has topical authority for the topic “increase internet download speed”.
But 4.5K keywords is way too many words for this exercise. So what you can do is sort the list by search volume (high to low) and then download the top 100 keywords:
Now try to include as many of those competitors' keywords in your article as possible.
Finding your competitors’ keywords reveals the SEO strategies that drive traffic within your niche.
But competitors' keywords on their own are difficult to work with.
When you change the focus from keywords to the pages that contain those keywords, the content strategies of your competitors become much clearer.
You’ll be surprised at the small number of top-ranking pages that are driving the bulk of your competitors’ traffic.
By looking at the pages that are driving the lion’s share of your competitors' traffic, the content strategy that you should be pursuing will become much clearer to you.
Other Tools For Finding Your Competitors' Keywords
- SpyFu | SpyFu: The Greatest Competitor Research Tool Available Today
- Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer | How to Do an SEO Competitor Analysis
- Similarweb | How to Identify your Keyword Competitors
- Searchmetrics | Competitive Keyword Discovery
- iSpionage | The In-Depth Guide to Competitive Keyword Research
This post was most recently updated on May 26th, 2020