Aggressive Key phrase Evaluation: How you can Discover Your Competitor's Key phrases
If your competitors care SEOThen they are likely to rank by keywords that you don't rank for.
While that sounds like a negative, it can be a positive.
If your competitors did keyword research and found topics you missed, they did the hard work for you. You can find new and valuable keywords by doing competitive keyword analysis.
Here's what you will learn in this post:
What is Competitive Keyword Analysis?
Keyword competitor analysis finds relevant and valuable keywords that your competitors are ranking for but you are not.
Why should you conduct a Competitive Keyword Analysis?
If your competitors are targeting and getting traffic from relevant keywords, they are likely highly relevant to your business too.
Here's how to do a competitive keyword analysis
The process of keyword competition analysis is roughly the same whether you're looking for new topics or gaps in existing content.
In this section we focus on uncovering new topics.
(If you want to find gaps in existing content, skip to the next section.)
- Find competitors
- Use a content gap tool
- Look for valuable topics
- Assess the difficulty of the ranking
1. Find competitors
Even if you already have an idea of who your business competitors are, it is important to understand that business competitors are not always the same as your search competitors. If you are looking for relevant and valuable topics, it is better to analyze the latter.
Look at us and backlinko.com to illustrate the difference between business and search competitors. We make money selling SEO Brian Dean, the founder of Backlinko, makes money selling it SEO Courses. Even though he's not our direct business competitor, we're competing for a lot of the same keywords because we're fighting for the same audience.
Let's look at three easy ways to find competitors online.
a) Do a Google search
The related: Google search operator finds websites related to yours. Just search for related: yourwebsite.com
It's okay to use a subfolder or a subdomain if you are looking for competitors for a specific part of your website like a blog.
Note that this method can be a hit and miss. If your website is fairly new and not yet ranking for many keywords, you may see few search results. Either way, make sure to manually check the websites before moving on to the next step. If they don't look like competitors, ignore them.
b) Find websites with overlapping keywords
Connect your website to Ahrefs' Site Explorer and go to Competing domains Report. Each website in the report ranks in the top 10 for some of the same keywords as you, with more overlapping sites near the top keywords.
Note that this won't work particularly well if your website is new and not ranking for a lot of keywords as it searches for general keywords. There can't be any overlapping keywords if you don't rank for anything.
c) Find websites that are looking for valuable keywords
If none of the above methods produce relevant results, then paste some relevant and valuable keywords into Ahrefs Keyword Explorer and review the Traffic share by domains Report. This will find the websites with the most valued organic traffic from the searched keywords.
Using this method is the best approach when:
- Your website doesn't rank for many keywords yet
- You are looking for competitors for certain topics
For example, because our blog content is mostly about that SEOThe above methods tend to make others dive SEO Blogs. That's fine if we want to find gaps in ours SEO However, we recently started covering other topics like content marketing and blogging. To find competitors for these topics, we can put keywords like "content marketing", "content strategy" and "editorial calendar" into the Keywords Explorer and check which websites get the most search traffic.
2. Use a content gap tool
Content gap tools find keywords that other sites are ranked for but you don't. Most of the big ones SEO Tools have one, but if you read the Ahrefs blog we'll be demonstrating this with ours.
Here is the process:
- Connect your website to Ahrefs' Site Explorer and go to the Content Gap tool.
- Enter your competitor's box below that reads "Show keywords that rank for the goals below."
- Click "Show Keywords" to view the results.
If there are too many keywords to search through, or if they look largely irrelevant, play with the number of crossings to reveal keywords that are only ranked by a certain number of competitors.
If you only want to show keywords that competitors with a specific section of your website are ranked for, enter a subdomain or subfolder instead. For example, if we do a keyword competition analysis for the Ahrefs blog, we can include competitors like Backlinko and Moz. However, since we are only interested in blog content, we want to parse moz.com/blog instead of moz.com because all blog post urls contain this prefix.
3. Look for valuable topics
It is unlikely that you will want to rank for everything that your competitors rank for. There are three points to consider when choosing keywords.
Business value is a score we create that represents the “value” a keyword has to a business. It is ultimately a judgment. Just ask yourself how likely it is that searchers will want to buy what you are selling. The more likely this is, the higher the "business value" of the keyword.
For example, if you sell computer parts, the "buy a 1TB hard drive" keyword is likely to have a high "business value". On the other hand, it's pretty low for “What is a computer?” Since people who are looking for it probably won't want to build their own computer anytime soon.
At Ahrefs, we assign keywords a business value between 0 and 3 to keep things simple.
b) search volume
Search volume is the average number of monthly searches for a keyword. The higher the search volume of a keyword, the higher the traffic potential of the topic. In the content gap report there is a column for the search volume next to the keyword.
c) Organic traffic potential
See the search volume for that keyword versus the estimated traffic on the top page:
Although the keyword only gets 7.2K Searches per month, the top page receives about 25x more organic traffic. This is because thousands of other related keywords, also known as long-tail keywords, are ranked. Many of these are just less popular ways to search for the same topic.
Looking at the traffic on the top ranking pages is a far more reliable way to gauge a keyword's traffic potential than its search volume. We recommend always checking this before making the final decision about whether to search for a keyword.
To do this in the Content Gap tool, just click SERP Button and check the traffic column.
4. Assess the difficulty of the ranking
It's not always easy to rank for the same things as your competition. There are many reasons why it may be easier for them to rank for a keyword than it is for you. Before you start targeting any keyword, you should always evaluate the difficulty of the ranking.
The keyword difficulty (KD) The metric in Ahrefs is enough to give you a very rough sense of the difficulty of the ranking. You can see this in the content gap report.
However, you shouldn't judge ranking difficulty based on a tool's keyword difficulty metric alone.
There are three more things to keep in mind:
1. Search intent
Search intent is the reason people search for a keyword.
- Are you looking for information?
- Do you want to buy something?
- Are you looking for a specific website?
If your content doesn't match search intent, your chances of ranking are slim to none.
Google understands intent better than anyone, so the top pages are great substitutes for search intent.
For example, all of the results for "Accelerate Windows 10" are list-style blog posts, while "corsair k70" are product pages from ecommerce stores.
All you need to know is that it doesn't make sense to find a keyword unless you publish the type of content that matches the search intent. For example, if you run a computer blog, it doesn't make sense to use a keyword like "corsair k70" because searchers are in buy mode. Without a product page that a blog doesn't have, there's no way to satisfy intent.
Recommended literature: What is search intent? A Complete Beginner's Guide
2. Website Authority
Google's John Mueller has publicly stated that they do not use a website authority metric in their ranking algorithms.
We do not use domain authorization. We generally try to keep our metrics as detailed as possible. Sometimes this is not that easy. In this case, we're looking at things a little broader (e.g. we talked about this in relation to some of the older quality updates).
– ???? John ???? (@JohnMu) April 16, 2019
However, industry professionals disagree on this issue. Some believe that Google is not entirely true. It's certainly easy to see why, when search results for some keywords are almost entirely dominated by household brands.
In Ahrefs we have a metric called Domain Rating (DR), Which represents the authority of a website based on the strength of its backlink profile. We do not take this into account KD Score, but usually you may find it difficult to rank if the best results for a keyword come from sites with significantly higher scores DR scores as yours.
You can see that DR of all the top websites in the SERP Overview.
You can see your website's DR in Site Explorer or with our free website authorization checker.
Recommended literature: How to Increase Website Authority (Domain Rating)
3. High quality links from other websites
Backlinks are a well-known ranking factor.
Keyword Difficulty (KD) takes into account the number of links to the top pages, but not their quality. It is therefore worth checking the backlink profiles of the top pages before choosing a keyword. Often times you will find that while there are many websites linked on a page, many are of poor quality. In this case, it may be easier to beat the side than you originally thought.
For example, look at the initial results for "the best home printer" that has one KD Score of 60:
It looks like a pretty hard keyword to crack at first as the top page has links from many websites. However, when we check the backlinks in Ahrefs' Site Explorer, most of them are poor quality and not followed.
If you can match search intent and your website is authoritative enough, you probably don't need as many high quality links to excel this page.
Even if a keyword seems difficult to rank, that doesn't mean you shouldn't target it. You just need to be realistic and break keywords into long-term, medium, and short-term goals.
Here's how to do a page-level keyword competition analysis
By running a keyword competition analysis at the page level (instead of the domain level), you can find gaps in existing content. Nothing is covered here on your side that searchers might want to know. Filling these gaps can help you:
For example, if we look at the top scores for the keyword "guest blogging", most of them have a definition.
Unfortunately, we didn't include this in our guide to guest blogging. If we don't close this void, we're unlikely to rank high for our main target keyword. And we certainly won't be ranked for long tails like "what is guest blogging" since our post doesn't answer the question.
Before you can fill in any gaps in existing content, however, you need to find it … and you can do so using much the same procedure as above. The difference is that you are running the analysis at the page level instead.
So the first step is to find competing pages in three ways:
- Search Google for your target keyword.The top sites are your competitors.
- Use the Traffic Open By Pages report in Keywords explorer. Enter some keywords, then click "By Pages" in the "Traffic Approved" section in the left menu.
From there, paste some competing URLs into the content gap tool and make sure the mode is set to "Url. ”Remove your site from the bottom and leave it blank (you tend to get better results that way).
Many of the keywords you see are likely to be other search methods for the same thing. Do not worry about it. Just look for keywords that represent subtopics that you know you neglected to talk about in your content.
You don't need to rate the ranking difficulty for these subtopics. Just add new sections to your existing page to fill in the gaps.
It is not a bad idea to repeat the keyword competitor analysis process from time to time. It's a fantastic way to find topics that you may have missed.
Alternatively, if you know your competitors, you can set up keyword notifications to monitor new keywords that they are ranking – and potentially targeting – for. To do this, set up a new keyword alert in Ahrefs Alerts. Enter a competitor, select a country, select the search volume range and alarm frequency, and you're ready to take part in the races.
Any questions? Ping me on Twitter.