How To Discover Your Competitors’ Keywords (In 3 Easy Steps)

Your competitors' keywords will reveal a content strategy that could double or triple your traffic and save you months, even years, of trial and error.

Competitor analysis is a powerful approach to keyword research: instead of guessing what the best keywords are in your niche, you can see what keywords are driving traffic to your competitors’ websites.

How To Discover Your Competitors' Keywords

In this article, I'll show you exactly how to do that in SEMrush.

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.

Competitor Analysis for Keywords and Content

One of the best tools for doing competitor analysis is SEMrush.

Step #1 - Find Your Competitors

To start, type your domain into the ‘Domain overview’ field:

competitor keywords

I’m using neilpatel.com for this example, but you would type in your own domain name.

Next, click on ‘Organic Search Traffic’

competitor keywords

Then click on ‘View Full Report’ in the ‘Top Organic Keywords’ card:

competitor keywords

Next, click on ‘Competitors’:

competitor keywords

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:

competitor keywords

Step #2 - Find Your Competitors' Main Traffic-Generating Articles

In this example, I going to use the website 'Blog Tyrant'.

Go back to the ‘Domain overview’ field and type in a competitor's domain name and then click on ‘Organic Search Traffic’:

keywords

In the Top Organic Keywords card, click on ‘View Full Report’:

keyword research

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:

competitor keywords

While it's useful to see which keywords are driving most of your competitor's traffic, what's even more useful is to see which articles are driving most of their traffic.

To do that, click on the ‘Pages’ tab:

competitor keywords

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:

keywords

A lot of interesting facts are revealed in this table, but two facts in particular jump out:

  1. a whopping 48% of Blog Tyrant’s total traffic comes from just one article
  2. that one article has 4.5K keywords that rank in the top 100 positions on Google
competitor keywords

To see what this article is, click on the arrow next to the page:

competitor keywords

And you’ll see that this page is an article titled ‘Download Speed: 13 Ways To Increase Your Internet Speed Today’:

blog tyrant article

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:

  • prontomarketing.com
  • buffer.com
  • wpbeginner.com
  • writtent.com
  • torquemag.io

For Pronto Marketing, 56.38% of the website’s total traffic comes from just 14 pages:

competitor research

For Buffer, 47.95% of total traffic comes from just 17 pages:

competitor keywords

For WPBeginner, 28.52% of total traffic comes from just 15 pages:

competitor keywords

For Writtent, a massive  80.24% of total traffic comes from just 12 pages:

competitor keywords

And for TorqueMag, 37.33% of total traffic comes from just 15 pages:

competitor keywords

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.

Step #3 - Use Your Competitor's Keywords as LSI Keywords

In the Blog Tyrant example, we saw that an amazing 48.23% of total traffic is coming from just one page.

Here’s another interesting piece of information: that single web page is responsible for 4,500 keywords that rank in the top 100 positions on Google.

To be clear, the article doesn’t actually contain 4,500 different 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 keyword combinations are, simply click on the number of keywords:

keywords

The list of 4.5K keywords opens up in a new window, ordered by search volume:

competitor keywords

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, you could 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:

competitor keywords

Now try to include as many of those competitors' keywords in your article as possible.

Conclusion

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.

Last updated on October 23rd, 2021 at 02:14 pm

Rob Powell
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4 thoughts on “How To Discover Your Competitors’ Keywords (In 3 Easy Steps)”

  1. Hi Rob,
    Some disturbing facts you just unveiled.
    It’s very essential to spy on your competitors. It is better to follow the proven method than to start the trial and error thing. I love how semrush did the job neatly.

    Looking back to blogtyrant, I never expected that such amount of their traffic is coming from a single post. A very straightforward and easy to digest post. Good job Rob.

    Cheers, Folajomi

  2. Hello Rob.
    I must really admit that I love your blog.My question is is SEMrush restricted in some Countries? I can’t see my Country Kenya.And how much does it cost?

  3. Hi Emmanuel,

    Thanks for your question. Unfortunately, Kenya is not in the list of countries for which SEMrush has search metrics. It’s odd that they don’t have metrics for Kenya, as they cover other African countries, including: Ghana, Botswana, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

    I’m thinking you could select one of those other African countries and use their metrics on the basis that their metrics would be similar to Kenya’s. Not sure if that would work, though.

    I hope this answers your question.

    All the best, Rob.

Comments are closed.