How to find competitor keywords & do a competitive keyword analysis

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    A step by step guide to finding your competitors keywords and “drinking up” their organic search traffic.

    How to find your competitors seo keywords with Ahrefs site explorer tool

    The first tool to do a competitor keyword analysis is called the Ahrefs Site Explorer.

    find competitor keywords with ahrefs site explorer

    If you’ve never used Ahrefs before, it’s an seo marketing tool that experts and agencies use for keyword research, seo audits, backlink analysis, rank tracking and analysing competitor activity.

    There’s a one time only $7 for a 7 day trial; you can try it follow these instructions then cancel.

    Thereafter you won’t get another trial, you’ll need to pay $99 a month or $178 a month.

    Enter your url into Ahrefs Site Explorer Tool

    Select competing domains and click on a competitor

    Select organic keywords and country

    Filter by position 1 to 10

    Sort by volume

    Enter these keywords into the Include box and select Any

    • How,Issue,For,With,Fix,Improve
    • Increase,Reduce,Remove,Lower,Grow
    • Service,Product,Custom,Bespoke
    • Example,Guide,Learn,Tutorial
    • Video,Calculator,Best,Top
    • Review,Comparison,vs,Versus,Alternative
    • Buy,Discount,Nearest,Offer
    • Cheap,Sale,Price,Package,Deal,Cost,Hire

    Enter keywords you wish to exclude in the Exclude box

    Now identify keywords with low competition or difficulty

    Ideally you want to identify competitor keywords have a low competition or keyword difficulty score.

    Low competition or difficulty keywords are the ones which are easier to rank for and are the right keywords you should target initially.

    Analyse the SERPs

    Click the SERP button to look at traffic to the top pages, the links to these pages and the number of keywords these top pages rank for.

    It’s at this stage where you have to decide if you want to pursue outranking a competitor.

    The ideal criteria for choosing to outrank a competitor’s page is :

    • Pick keywords with high search volume
    • Pick keywords with low competition or difficulty
    • Pick keywords where the top pages rank for 100s of other keywords
    • Pick a keyword aligned with one stage in the consumer buying process

    Content outline process after your keyword research

    Now you need to understand what the user wants after they’ve entered that search query into Google.

    • Enter keyword in Thruuu to see the top 10 search results.
    • Look at the title keyword frequency to understand user intent
    • Copy and paste the words underneath the keyword frequency row
    • Now write down the title of your proposed based on these title keywords and what the user wants
    • Download SERPS data
    • Import the xls file into Google Sheets or Excel
    • Look at h2 and h3 tabs to understand the content you need
    • Copy all the relevant h2 headers and h3 headers into a column
    • Remove any duplicate headers
    • This list will form an outline of the content you need to create
    • Create content brief
    • Write copy
    • Optimise copy and on page data
    • Publish

    This sounds like a lot of work.

    It is; but totally worth your time and investment.

    Download Competitor SEO Keywords Guide

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    Competitor SEO Keyword Analysis with Ahrefs Content Gap tool

    The first way to do a competitor seo keyword analysis is by using the content gap tool from Ahrefs.

    The content gap tool will show you competitor terms that rank for in Google that you don’t rank for.

    Really fast.

    Very tool competitor content gap tool.

    competitor keywords using ahrefs content gap tool

    But who are your competitors?

    Direct competitors

    These could be the companies in the same town as you or the local companies that appear in local search or map results.

    Secondary competitors

    Keyword and competitor analysis tools can inform you who these secondary competitors are.

    The company in position 1 in Google to your position 5 is your online competitor.

    If you are ranking for hundreds of different topics you could have hundreds and thousands of secondary competitors.

    And they all want your traffic !

    Lastly, there’s your global competitors

    The internet has made trade mainly global.

    90% of my online seo training clients are based in the USA and Canada.

    I compete with people doing seo work, seo training and keyword research on Udemy, Fiverr, elance or getting trained by SEMrush and Ahrefs from all over the world.

    How to do a competitors SEO keyword analysis with Ahrefs keyword explorer tool

    Next we’ll use Ahrefs keyword explorer tool to do a competitor seo keyword analysis.

    Enter your url into Ahrefs site explorer

    Select competing domains

    Check competitors with a similar DR

    Click that competitor and look at their competitors

    Check competitors with a similar DR.

    If you have to, visit their website to check that they are in a similar business or have similar content to you

    Write down a list of 10 competitor names in a text file or document.

    Now we’re ready to examine your competitor activity and best keywords with Ahrefs.

    • Click content gap on the left menu
    • Put each competitor url into “Show keywords that the below targets rank for”
    • Make sure your url is in the “But the following target doesn’t rank for” box
    • Then click show keywords

    Depending on the Ahrefs plan you have, a different number of competitor keywords will be shown.

    I chose the $99 basic plan this month but normally use the $178 a month plan.

    • Filter KD keyword difficulty to 0
    • Check to see if any topic are relevant
    • Now filter 1 to 1
    • eg: local seo packages is interesting for me

    Or you can set broader filter criteria such as 0 – 5 or 5-20

    You can also use the include keyword filter and the volume filter to find other opportunities.

    ps: ignore your competitors branded terms or branded queries such as their name.

    Now don’t worry if the search volume is very small; we can identify later on if the top competing pages also rank for lots of similar keywords.

    Now Check the SERPS

    • Check traffic by looking at the traffic column
    • Look at the KW (keywords) column to see how many other keywords the top pages also rank for
    • Look at the domains column; lots of pages with zero or a low number indicate they could be outranked.
    • Look at the DR (domain authority) column; competitors with really high DR scores can be impossible to outrank if if the keyword difficulty is low.

    In the example shown, I’m not sure there’s enough traffic to the top pages for me to justify investing my time in creating this type of content.

    But let’s say I did decide to pursue ranking for this keyword and creating an article about this topic.

    So you’ve decided to choose a competitors keyword to outrank, what now ?

    Now you need to understand what the user wants after they’ve entered that search query into Google before you can create your content.

    Download Competitor SEO Keywords Guide

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    How to do a competitors SEO keyword analysis with Ahrefs Content Explorer tool

    Next we’ll use Ahrefs Content Explorer tool to do a competitor seo keyword analysis.

    This tool analyses a database of over 1.1 billion web pages on the internet and discovers over 1.8 million new pages every day.

    ahrefs has data on all your competitors and their keywords

    That’s insane access to competitor keyword data.

    So let’s analyse our global competitors best pages, keywords and search traffic.

    Select Ahrefs content explorer

    finding competitor keywords with ahrefs content explorer

    Enter a seed keyword about your business or industry. For me eg: “seo” or “marketing”

    Choose title from the drop down menu and hit return

    Under the all languages select English

    Sort by relevance – choose organic traffic

    Select + add filter and enter a domain rating range eg: 0-60

    0 to 10 points above your domain rating ps: mine is 50 so I entered 60.

    Select + add filter and enter 0 to 10 referring domains

    The content explorer tool will now return all competing pages that match the criteria you chose.

    There could be millions of competing pages.

    Scroll through the list of pages and look at the page titles

    Ask yourself if you could write about a subject like that or if you haven’t covered such as topic on your website.

    Now you know how I researched this article !

    Now you need to check there is traffic in your country for these competing pages.

    Simply click the arrow next to the url and then right click the overview text

    Click the organic search tab

    Look at each country and check the traffic levels.

    If you believe there’s enough traffic that’s worth your while investing in content creation then …

    Click the number under organic keywords

    Select the number next to your country flag

    Click SERPS to see traffic to top pages

    Now it’s time to create content to outrank your competitor.

    Use the exact same process I’ve outlined above to study user intent and create your content.

    And now the 4th tool to do a competitor keyword analysis is Ubersuggest.

    Download Competitor SEO Keywords Guide

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    Use Ubersuggest to do a competitor keyword analysis

    Ubersuggest is a useful tool to identify the top pages and keywords of competitors who rank for the same keywords as you.

    However I believe Ahrefs, a paid for tool, will provide you with a competitive advantage when researching the competitive landscape.

    I’ve outlined the strengths and weaknesses of both Ahrefs and Ubersuggest here.

    Google Ubersuggest, Enter your domain, select your country and hit search

    Click keywords

    competitor keywords find with ubersuggest

    Click arrow next to a keyword

    Look at the top urls in the Google SERP column

    Right click the arrow next to the url of one of the top pages and select Copy Link Address

    Open up Ubersuggest in another browser tab, paste url and hit search

    Click on top pages

    Look at seo title of the first page that has a number next to Est Visits ie: the page earns traffic from Google.

    Do you currently have a page about this topic ? 

    Select Yes or No

    If yes 

    Ignore the topic and look at the next seo title

    Do you currently have a page about this topic ? 

    Select Yes or No

    If no ignore and move down the list.

    If yes ask yourself, Do you want to write about this topic ? 

    Select Yes or No

    If no, ignore this topic and move down the list of pages.

    If yes, then follow the process outlined above.

    If you can’t find any topics on this competitors website that you haven’t written about, don’t want to write about or the pages don’t earn any traffic, then you need to find another competitor.

    Go back to your browser tab where you analyse your top keywords.

    Select another competitor that ranks above you.

    Follow the steps above.

    Once you’ve chosen the competitor topic to target then you can start the process of outlining and creating content.

    Follow the content outline guide mentioned earlier.

    So that’s the 4th way to do an seo keyword analysis of your competitors using Ubersuggest.

    Get the bonus content: Download Competitor SEO Keywords Guide

    Other tools you could use

    There are of course other keyword research and competitor analysis tools in the market.

    • SpyFu
    • LongTailPro
    • KeywordSpy
    • SEMRush
    • Moz

    I’m not an expert with these tools but your competitor keywords can be analysed with these tools.


    These are 4 of the best competitor keyword analysis strategies.

    If the idea of stealing your competitors keywords unsettles you; reframe that thought with this.

    My goal is to provide the user with the best, most useful content for the search they made if that means I outrank someone else so be it.