In almost all the articles you read on the topic of keyword research, you will find this piece of advice: find your competitors’ keywords and use them. What does that really mean, stealing your keywords from competing businesses? The answer is yes and no. Yes, you are going to get access to a list of keywords that your competitors use. And no, it is not stealing, because you are not doing anything illegal in order to obtain these keywords. In fact, as you are reading this article, some of your competitors are getting the list of your own keywords.
Why Would You Want to Find Your Competitors’ Keywords?
Ranking for the right keyword is what makes SEO strategies work. You could try ranking for “pink camels wearing shoes” and you’d have no problem reaching the first place on the first page of Google search results. But that is because nobody else is trying to rank for this keyword. We (and you, no doubt) can’t find any reason why any person on Earth would try searching for this topic.
On the other end of the spectrum, try ranking for “little black dress”. You are in for a fight you can’t win with iconic designer brands like Versace, Dior, Gucci and others. What you want is to fight a keyword battle you can win – against competitors of the same size and in the same geographical area as you. You may be able to rank for “affordable little black dress in Perth” or “handmade evening dress in Sidney”.
What Is the Benefit of Using Competitors’ Keywords?
After you find your competitors’ keywords, you don’t simply start using them. You begin by analysing them. You may already use some of them. Others may be unsuitable for your needs, because they do not refer to products, services or locations pertaining to your business.
In our opinion, the number one benefit of looking for competitors’ keywords is getting a confirmation that you are doing the right thing, i.e., ranking for keywords many consumers use. On a secondary note, you may discover new long tail keywords that you haven’t thought of and include them in your keyword strategy.
So, how can you find your competitors’ keywords? Here are a few simple ways:
1. The Manual Option: Use Page Source on Competitors’ Websites
If you don’t want to use a specific online tool (although many are free) you can try the manual search for competitors’ keywords. In this case, you must know exactly who your competitors are, because you will have to visit their websites.
Once you get on a web page in your desktop browser press CTRL+U on the keyboard. A new web page will open, containing the source code for the website. In this page, look for items labelled as “meta”: title, description, image title, etc. In some cases, you will find a string labelled “keyword tag”. However, this is a slow and laborious process, because you need to go through all the relevant pages in each website.
2. Use the Google Keyword Planner Tool
The Google Keyword Planner tool is every marketer’s and SEO specialist’s go-to source for new keyword ideas and information on how well they rank. But did you know that you could also use this free tool to find your competitors’ keywords?
After you log in to your account, choose “Discover new keywords” tab and select the option “Start with a website”. For maximum relevance, do not use the root URL of your competitor’s website (www.domain.com). Instead, pick a page that really matters, for instance, a product page. Google will extract and display all the keywords your competitor is using as well as information on:
- Average monthly searches
- Competition: high, medium, low
- High and low bid amounts.
3. Let SpyFu Do the Work for You
SpyFu is a complex tool that helps you find your competitors’ keywords and many other useful data about their SEO strategy. For example, once you type in your competitor’s URL, you will discover:
- The top pages in their website that get most clicks
- Who are their top competitors
- How many clicks they get from organic searches and paid searches
- How their keywords evolve in ranking (getting on or falling off the first page in SERPs).
The free version of the tool allows you to view five top pages of your competitor’s website and their keywords – which is quite sufficient to get you started.
4. Screaming Frog SEO Spider
This is a downloadable tool accessible via free and premium accounts. What does it do? It works just like the Google spiders: it crawls your competitor’s website and displays a lot of useful information about it, including the keywords they are trying to rank for.
For the purposes of trying to find your competitors’ keywords, the free plan is just fine.
As you can see, you can find your competitors’ keywords without spending too much time and any money at all. The tools we presented above are available for free, with limitations. However, the features they offer are sufficient for a basic keyword research. You don’t need to get all your competitors’ keywords, only the most relevant ones. Good luck!