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Size Up The Competition by Conducting a Competitor Keyword Analysis

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Connor Wilkins


How to conduct a competitor keyword analysis

By studying the terms and phrases your competitors already rank highly for, you gain invaluable insight into the keywords you should be targeting in your own SEO content efforts.

Here’s a fact about competitor keyword analysis:

Knowing (and comprehending) the search terms your rivals are ranking for can lead to a major boost to your online presence — so long as you’re applying the right tactics and strategy informed by this data.

If you’re not leveraging keyword research appropriately, you’re missing out on valuable insights that could elevate your SEO strategy.

In this guide, we’ll dive deep into how to identify and assess competitor keywords for maximum SEO impact.

By the end of this article, you’ll know how to develop an SEO content strategy based on data that will keep you ahead of your competition.

What is Competitor Keyword Analysis?

Competitor keyword analysis is a strategic process that involves identifying and analyzing the keywords your competitors rank highly for. The primary goal of this exercise is to leverage these insights to create content that outranks them in search engine results.

This method helps businesses stay competitive by uncovering new keyword opportunities, refining their SEO strategy, and ultimately driving more organic traffic.

The keywords chosen should be relevant to your business offerings and align with your current content marketing strategy. Comprehensive competitor keyword research typically includes multiple data sets offering insight into various aspects such as backlink profiles, social media shares, or whether the published content meets user intent.

An effective way of conducting this analysis is through specialized tools like Google Keyword Planner or other top-tier SEO platforms such as Ahrefs.

These tools can help you find keywords your competitors are ranking for but you aren’t – thereby helping identify content gaps and potential areas for improvement in your own strategy.

  • Paid Keywords: Understanding which keywords competitors are investing in can provide valuable insights into their targeted audience segments and overall marketing strategies.
  • Organic Keywords: Identifying high-performing organic keywords can reveal successful tactics employed by direct competitors – enabling you to adapt similar strategies within your campaigns.
  • SERP Competitors: Analyzing who else ranks on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for specific queries provides a broader view of competition beyond just known industry players.

In today’s digital marketplace where staying ahead means being found easily online via search engines like Google, it becomes crucially important not only to know what works best but also to understand how others are succeeding at it.

With competitive research using these methods above along with continuous monitoring, you will ensure an effective SEO strategy, keeping up-to-date with changes happening around market trends while achieving higher local search rankings.

Conduct Initial Competitor Research

The first critical step is identifying who your top SEO competitors are and discovering which keywords and terms they currently rank highly for. This information forms the foundation for your own keyword research and SEO targeting.

Identify Your Top SEO Competitors

Top organic competitors as cited in Ahrefs

Start by making a list of the websites and domains you consider to be your top 5-10 direct competitors in SEO. These should be sites in your niche or vertical that produce similar content and attract similar audiences.

Factors to consider when identifying your top competitors:

  • Websites in your industry/niche targeting similar keywords
  • Sites with overlapping products, content or services
  • Websites you’ve identified as performance benchmarks

Use Tools to See What Keywords Competitors Rank For

Next conduct an audit of what keywords each competitor ranks for. SEO intelligence platforms like Ahrefs provide exactly this data on competitor keyword rankings.

Here is a step-by-step guide to using Ahrefs to analyze competitors’ keywords:

  1. Login to your Ahrefs account
  2. Use the Site Explorer search bar to enter and select your competitor’s root domain name. For example “”.
  3. In the Overview tab scroll down to browse metrics including their total number of ranking keywords and organic search traffic.
  4. Navigate to the Top Pages tab. Set the filter to show only terms they explicitly rank for in the Top 50 Google results.
  5. Export the full list of ranked keywords by clicking the download icon next to each keyword.
  6. Repeat the process for each key competitor, exporting ranked keywords for further analysis.

Compile Keyword Seed List

The final step in your initial research is to compile all of your competitors’ keywords into one master list. You can use a spreadsheet or other document. This seed list forms the foundation for expanding your keyword research in order to identify new targets.

Understanding the Market Landscape

Beyond knowing individual competitors, understanding the overall market landscape is crucial too. This involves getting a grip on what kind of content performs well within your industry or niche and how top players are optimizing their sites for search engines.

Expand Your Keyword Research

Armed with the seed keyword list from your top competitors, you can now conduct expanded keyword discovery and research.

Use Seed List for Further Keyword Discovery

Leverage the terms your competitors already rank for to find additional keyword opportunities.

  • Plug the seed list into a keyword research tool like Ahrefs Keyword Explorer. This will automatically provide suggestions for related and expanded keywords.
  • Filter suggestions by keyword difficulty on a 0-100 scale. Focus on terms under 30 difficulty as more viable targets.
  • Look for keyword gaps – where competitors haven’t targeted relevant keyword variations.
  • Export your expanded keyword list for the next steps.

Find Long-Tail Variations

Specifically dig for longer, more precise variations of the seed keywords. These long tail key phrases usually have much lower competition.

  • Use the related keywords suggestions from your tool to ID longer variations.
  • Think of other modifiers and descriptors you could add to the core term.
  • Consider words your audience may pair with each topic.

Identify Low Competition Opportunities

Finally, filter your master keyword list to specifically call out terms you should target first.

  • Flag keywords focused on topics or products where you have an advantage over competitors. Go after these while competitors lack content.
  • Note keywords with low difficulty scores and search volume you can quickly rank for. This allows you to gain momentum and authority.
  • Be strategic about picking terms where you can outrank competitors with targeted content.

Cross-reference PPC Data from Competitors

Now that you’ve identified your key competitors and some target keywords, it’s time to do some sleuthing.

Let’s get our hands dirty with Pay Per Click (PPC) data.

Gaining Insights through PPC Data

You’re not just looking at numbers here. You’re on a mission for actionable insights. Your goal? To find relevant keyword phrases that have decent search counts but aren’t overly difficult to rank for.

Think of this as striking gold in the SEO world – high reward, low risk. How do you go about this? Try using tools like Google Ads Keyword Planner.

This tool gives you insight into the keywords your rivals are bidding on and how much they’re investing. 

Refine Your Target Keyword List

The next step is refining your own list of target keywords based on these findings. This isn’t about copying homework; it’s more like learning from the smart kid in class.

Create a spreadsheet and start jotting down those golden nuggets – aka potential keywords – gleaned from competitor analysis. Prioritize them based on relevance, search volume, and difficulty level.

Action Steps:

  1. Analyze competitor’s PPC data using Google Ads Keyword Planner or similar tools.
  2. List out potential keywords derived from this research.
  3. Prioritize these keywords considering their relevance to your business, search volume, and ranking difficulty.
  4. Add these prioritized words into your existing keyword strategy.

Note: Remember to keep updating this list regularly as trends change over time.

In essence, cross-referencing PPC data is all about understanding what works for others in order to refine what could work best for you. It’s not stealing; it’s smart strategizing.

Analyzing Website Content with TagCrowd

It’s time to pull out your magnifying glass and Sherlock Holmes hat. We’re going on a content investigation mission.

The tool of choice for this operation? None other than the brilliant, yet simple, TagCrowd.

Checking Website Content Optimization

Dive into your own website first.

Before you can create a strategy for the future, it is essential to determine your current position. The key here is understanding how well optimized your content is to rank organically on Google.

Paste in some text or upload a file on TagCrowd and voila. You get a beautiful word cloud showing which words are used most frequently in your content.

Identifying Areas of Improvement

Your next step is identifying areas that need improvement within your domain. Are there keywords that should be appearing more often?

If yes, it’s time for an upgrade.

Analyzing Competition Using TagCrowd

Moving onto our competitors now – let’s see what they’re up to.

We don’t just want their secrets; we also want insight into market trends. Remember: knowledge is power.

Start by analyzing competitor websites using TagCrowd as well – do they use certain keywords more often?

Are these words related directly or indirectly to their product/service offerings?

Use these insights not only as inspiration but also as opportunities for improving upon what already exists.

Remember folks, we’re not copycats; we’re smart marketers who understand the importance of staying ahead by learning from others while still maintaining our unique brand voice.

So go forth and conquer local search rankings with top-notch website content optimization.

Oh, one last thing: Don’t forget about creating those juicy buyer personas based on analyzed data (more on that later).

Refine Your SEO Strategy Based on Findings

Your ultimate goal isn’t just about copying what others do; instead, you should use these findings as inspiration when developing a robust SEO strategy.

Creating Well-Rounded Buyer Personas

The first step is to create well-rounded buyer personas. These are essentially fictional representations of your ideal customers based on the analyzed data.

You can leverage tools like HubSpot’s Persona Generator, which provides an easy-to-use interface for creating detailed buyer personas.

This will assist you in comprehending who your prospective customers are, their requirements and behaviours, thus empowering you to customise your content and SEO tactics suitably.

Tailoring Your SEO Strategy

The next step is tailoring an SEO strategy that caters specifically to the needs of these potential customers visiting your site.

  • Create Location-Specific Content: This could be blog posts about local events or news related to your industry. You might also consider creating location-specific pages on your website if you serve multiple areas.
  • Incorporate Local Keywords: Make sure to include relevant local keywords in all aspects of your online presence – from meta descriptions and title tags to content and URLs. Tools like Google Keyword Planner can help identify popular search terms in specific locations.
  • Leverage Online Reviews: Encourage happy clients or customers to leave reviews on platforms such as Google My Business or Yelp. Positive reviews not only improve visibility but also build trust with prospective clients/customers.

Remember, this process isn’t one-size-fits-all. What works best for one business may not work for another. So keep testing different approaches until you find what resonates most with YOUR audience.

And remember: The key here is consistency – so don’t expect overnight success. SEO is a long-term game that requires patience, persistence…and lots (and LOTS) of coffee.

Key Takeaway: 
Develop a strong SEO strategy by analyzing competitor keywords and using the findings to create well-rounded buyer personas. Tailor your content and SEO strategies based on these personas, incorporating location-specific content, local keywords, and leveraging online reviews for improved visibility and trust with potential customers. Remember that consistency is key in this long-term game of SEO.

Other Specialized Tools for Competitor Keyword Research


The first tool on our list is WordStream. It’s like a Swiss army knife – simple yet powerful.

This platform provides an easy-to-use interface and offers valuable insights into relevant keywords. Just type in your industry or product and watch as it spits out gold nuggets of information.


If you want to get more comprehensive with your research, then meet SpyFu.

SpyFu allows you to see what keywords your competitors are ranking for, giving you a holistic view of their strategy. So why reinvent the wheel when you can just take theirs (ethically).


SEMrush, another heavyweight in this arena, takes things up a notch by offering full access to competitors’ keyword profiles and rankings.

With SEMrush, not only do we know where they stand, but we can also identify gaps in their strategies which we can exploit.


Competitor keyword analysis is a vital tool in the hands of any business looking to enhance their online presence and outperform the competition.

Using specialized tools like WordStream, SpyFu, SEMrush, and TagCrowd, businesses can gain valuable insights into their competitors’ SEO strategies, identify gaps, and refine their own approach.

By cross-referencing PPC data, analyzing website content optimization, and developing a tailored SEO strategy based on these findings, businesses can create well-rounded buyer personas, incorporate local keywords, and leverage online reviews for improved visibility and trust.

Remember, success in SEO is a long-term game that requires consistency, patience, and persistence. With the right tactics, tools, and strategies informed by competitor keyword analysis, businesses can stay ahead of the curve and ensure they remain competitive in today’s digital marketplace.

When working with, your SEO campaign will include a detailed keyword analysis report, which will inform your content roadmap and technical SEO deliverables. If you’re interested in learning more about our process, contact our team to schedule a free discovery call.

Competitor Keyword Analysis FAQs

To analyze competitors’ keywords, you need to identify your main rivals and use specialized SEO tools like WordStreamSpyFu, and SEMrush to research their keywords, cross-reference PPC data, and analyze website content optimization.

Finding competitors’ keywords is a piece of cake with SEO tools like WordStream for a simple interface, SpyFu for holistic research capabilities, or SEMrush for comprehensive insights. These tools provide detailed keyword reports.

SpyFu is the bomb when it comes to competitor keyword research. It offers robust features that allow in-depth analysis of competitive landscapes, including PPC campaigns and ranking history.

Competitor analysis on a journal article refers to evaluating how competing articles perform in terms of visibility, engagement metrics like shares or comments, and their overall impact within the same field or topic area.

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