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How to Find Out What Keywords Competitors are Using

women using seo keywords in search engine

When we work with a business owner, one of the first things we do is uncover their target audience. We find out whom they’re trying to reach and what their challenges are. That’s how we identify the right keywords for them to target. But our keyword selection measures don’t end there, we use the tools at our disposal to research that business’s top competitors too. Armed with the knowledge of what their competitors’ SEO keywords are, our clients and our staff can make decisions that boost business and kill the competition. Read on to learn how you can identify your competitions keywords and recover lost opportunities.

Defining SEO keywords

Keywords are words or phrases that users type into search engines to find information. They’re the foundation of search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing. Google, Yahoo!, Bing and other search engines use a complicated (and secretive) algorithm to rank websites according to the number of times a keyword appears on each site, how relevant it is to the user’s query, and how many backlinks point to each page containing certain keywords. You can spot some keywords easily when you read through a website. Still, some keywords and SEO efforts are invisible without tools to uncover hidden data.

When you’re trying to uncover your competition’s SEO keywords, there are three main types of keywords that you’ll want to look at: branded keywords, generic keywords, and intent-targeting keywords. Each category of keywords has subtle differences, but these differences are the key to reaching your target audience.

Branded Keywords

Brand-based keywords are the most valuable type of keyword. The brand name is the cornerstone of your business, and it’s what your customers come to know and trust. Really, your first keyword should always be your business’s name. If you’re advertising a specific product or service that you’re known for, then you should be ranking for those keywords. These keywords are a great way to build brand awareness and attract customers who are looking for your specific products or services.

SEO Pro Tip:

If you have a small budget but want to get an edge on your competition by using branded keywords in your local SEO strategy, we recommend adding them into descriptions instead of titles so that they will show up when people look at specific pages within their browser’s window (and not just when someone searches).

Generic Keywords

A generic keyword is a word or phrase that describes a product or service, but not one that is known by a specific brand name. These can be used by multiple businesses to advertise their services, so they’re much more competitive. Some examples include “car insurance”, “online shopping”, and “cheap flights”.

When researching your competitors’ SEO keywords, watch these words and phrases closely. While you and your competitors may compete for some branded keywords, the competition for shared generic keywords will be steep.

Intent-Targeting Keywords

Intent-targeting keywords are important to competitor keyword research because they can provide insight into the specific goals and objectives of a competitor’s online marketing strategy. These keywords are those that indicate the searcher’s intent, such as “buy,” “compare,” or “review,” and can reveal what a competitor’s target audience is looking for and how they are trying to convert them.

By understanding a competitor’s intent-targeting keywords, a business can gain a better understanding of its target market. With this knowledge, you can tailor your marketing strategy to better reach and convert similar customers.

Understanding keyword intent

Image illustrating the user intent behind keywords and key phrases.

To understand the goals of someone searching for a particular term, you need to understand user intent and SEO. Keyword intent refers to the purpose of a person’s search. The intent can be based on one or more of these four parameters:

Informational – Informational keywords are used by users who are still researching solutions to their problems. For example, a hungry, health-conscious user might search for something like, “What are all the reasons I shouldn’t eat pizza at 2:00 AM?”

Navigational – Navigational keywords reflect the user’s need for a specific site or page. Search terms using navigational keywords might include branded keywords and product-specific generic keywords. A good example of this search could be something like, “Jimmy’s Pizza Yelp reviews.”

Commercial – Commercial keywords speak to a user’s desire to investigate a brand, product, or service. A search with commercial intent may look like, “Jimmy’s Pizza vs Johnny’s Pizzeria.”

Transactional – Transactional keywords are terms that users search for when they’re ready to make a purchase. In the case of our user who is searching for pizza, this type of search may be something like, “Online Ordering at Jimmy’s Pizza.”

When the user was searching for terms like “online ordering,” it is clear that they are ready to place an order. But when they search for “shouldn’t eat pizza at 2:00 AM” is more likely to be doing research before making a decision. The difference between these two examples is subtle, but very important when trying to understand what people are looking for. By understanding the intent behind a keyword, you can get a much better idea of how someone might use your product.

Business owners’ role in keyword selection.

As a business owner, you should be involved in the process of selecting keywords. After all, you’re the person who knows your business best.

Keyword selection is one of the most important parts of your SEO strategy and it helps to build a strong foundation for your online presence. We recommend that you participate in the process by explaining why you chose each keyword. You should also understand how your competitors are using keywords on their websites and in their advertising materials. This can help shape how you go about choosing and implementing keywords for your own website.

Finding keywords your competitors are using

There are several ways to uncover your competitors’ SEO keywords. The simplest way is to use a keyword research tool. These tools will provide you with the most popular search engine terms that bring people to your competitor’s sites. You can also use a competitor analysis tool, such as SEMrush. Competitor research tools tell you what keywords your competition is using in paid advertising and in organic SEO. They will also show you what terms you and your competitors rank for on Google.

Of course, competitor keyword research can be time-consuming and comes with a learning curve. To avoid this, Business owners can work with a digital marketing agency. A digital marketing agency will offer online marketing solutions that help you to gain a comprehensive understanding of the competitive landscape in their industry. This can provide valuable insight into a competitor’s target audience, online marketing strategies, and the keywords and phrases that they are using to reach and convert customers. Working with a digital marketing agency can also ensure that competitor research is conducted in a timely and efficient manner, allowing you to stay ahead of the competition and make data-driven decisions.

How Does Your Website Compare to Your Competitors?

Download this Excel Worksheet.​

Recover missed opportunities.

Competitor keyword research can help businesses recover missed opportunities by identifying gaps in your online marketing strategy. By analyzing the keywords and phrases that competitors are targeting, a business can identify areas where they may be missing out on potential customers.

If a competitor is targeting a specific product or service that you offer, and ranking higher for those keywords on Google, they could have earned the business of customers you want. This indicates a missed opportunity for your team’s marketing efforts. With this knowledge, your website can be optimized to rank higher for the relevant keywords, earning you more business.

Additionally, by identifying the intent-targeting keywords that a competitor is using, a business can gain insight into the specific needs and desires of its target market. With more information on intent-targeting keywords, you can develop more effective messaging and calls-to-action.

How to Optimize Your Competitor Keyword Research 

There are many reasons you should use a digital marketing agency to help with your competitors’ SEO keywords research. First, the agency can analyze your competitors’ websites and social media accounts for keywords that fit into your industry. They will then use this information to compile a list of relevant keywords for you to use in your SEO strategy.

An agency can also provide guidance on developing strategies around selected keywords so that as many people as possible see them. This will help you convert more customers by getting your brand in front of more people. Marketing agencies can also help you stay ahead of SEO trends. This can be particularly challenging, because search engine algorithms update frequently.

Choosing the right keywords can be a daunting task, but it’s an essential part of any digital marketing campaign. By using the tips outlined in this post, you will be able to find and capitalize on your competitors’ keywords. Remember that not all keywords are created equal—you need to make sure they align with your business goals and provide value for potential customers.

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