How To Find Keywords Used By Competitors To Strategically Drive Traffic To Your Site

As a business owner, you’re always looking for ways to drive more engagement to your website.

You’re familiar with keyword research and have heard that the keywords your competitors are using could be an untapped resource for your own website.

But why exactly is that and how can that help you?

By the end of this article, you’ll know:

  • How to find what keywords a competitor is using 
  • What tools you can use to find competitors organic keywords
  • How you can use your competitor’s keywords to drive more traffic to your website and better your business

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Finding The Keywords Your Competitors Use – The Why

By finding competitor keywords, you are giving your business the opportunity to have a leg up where it counts: the search engine results page

Competitor keyword research is actually one of the best ways to elevate your organic search optimization. And it’s not a monumental task, either.

Once you’re able to find out keywords of competitors, you can use that information to guide your own SEO marketing strategy.

Competitor keyword research also allows you to uncover longtail keywords that are used by your target market that you might not have thought of yourself.

The insight from your research can give you answers to why your competitor’s website is outranking your specific keywords for broad search terms.

Let’s look at this consumer’s search, for example:

Mila is searching for a local coffee shop in Portland. 

You happen to own a local coffee shop: Gypsy Bean Coffee. 

Mila goes to Google and does a quick search for “coffee shops in Portland.”

A number of shops show up in the Google Maps’ local pack, and below is a list of 8 local coffee shop websites. She clicks on the first one, right at the top: Joe’s Coffee.

Gypsy Bean is listed third. 

Now, before you throw up your hands in defeat—just wait. 

You have the chance to:

  • Do a little competitor keyword research
  • See what keywords Joe’s Coffee is ranking for
  • Potentially gain an edge and outrank them on the search engine results page

How, you ask? Read on for the details.

What Finding Competitor Keywords Can Do For Your Business

The benefit of finding competitor keywords is really quite simple: It gives you the opportunity to create content based on what keywords are ranking highly for your competitors.

Your goal is to find out what keywords are working for them so you can:

  • Use them in your own content
  • Write quality content and rank higher on the SERP
  • Gain an edge over your local competition

Once you start to rank for some of those high-authority keywords, you’ll be able to see benefits like:

  • More traffic to your website
  • More visitors to your store
  • More calls coming in

Knowing this strategy is helpful, but the real reward comes when you put it in action.

If you’re overwhelmed by the thought of SEO marketing, don’t worry. 

We can help.

Portland SEO Growth services Portland-based businesses and businesses across the United States. Click here to learn more.

3 Steps: How To Find Keywords Used By Competitors

Know that you know the goal behind competitor keyword research, it’s time to get to work.

Wondering how to find out competitor’s keywords? There are three main steps you can follow:

  1. Do a Google Keyword search
  2. Check out the competition 
  3. Most importantly: Use a keyword tool 

Keep reading to take a deep dive into each of these steps and learn how your business can reap the benefits.

Step 1: Google Keywords

Step one to answering, “How do I find my competitors keywords?” begins with Google’s Keyword Planner.

With Keyword Planner, you can find keyword for your website content that is relevant to your:

  • Product
  • Service
  • Target customers

Keyword Planner will show you statistics like search volume data for these keywords so you can decide whether or not to create content around them.

In order to use Keyword Planner, you do need to have a Google Ads account.

Once you’re logged into your Google Ads account, follow these steps:

  1. In the upper right corner, click the Tools & settings icon, then under “Planning,” click Keyword Planner
  2. Type or paste…
    1. Words relevant to your business
    2. Phrases describing what services your company provides
    3. The URL of a webpage or an entire website (this is where you can use your competitor’s URLs)…in the “Find new keywords” search box and, on your keyboard, press “Enter” after each one
  3. Click “Get started”
  4. Review your keywords in the keyword ideas page

When you’re reviewing your competitor’s keywords, look for ones that are ranking well and you can repurpose for content on your own e-commerce site.

Keyword Planner gives you access to keyword information like:

  • Location settings (if you want to see what people are searching in a certain geographic location)
  • Average monthly searches
  • Results by date range (think seasonal campaigns or trending keywords)
  • Organic impression shares

Now, while you can use Google’s Keyword Planner on your own, doing actual keyword research and developing a strategy is much more effective.

So, instead of spending hours, or even days, doing keyword research and getting frustrated, let Portland SEO Growth help

In order to best understand the difference between local keyword searches and national e-commerce keyword searches, take a look at the examples below.

Local Competitor Keywords

Let’s go back to Mila’s search for local Portland coffee shops.

If you, as the owner of Gypsy Bean Coffee, wanted to find some common examples of local competitor keywords, start with localized keywords.

Keywords like:

  • Portland coffee shop near me
  • Coffee shop Portland
  • Closest coffee shop to me Portland
  • Best coffee Portland
  • Best coffee shop in Portland
  • Local Portland coffee shop

Put yourself in the shoes of one of your customers, or better yet, one of your future customers. 

What would they be searching for? 

The more ways you can anticipate your future customer’s searches and close that gap, the closer you are to seeing them in your store.

National E-Commerce Competitor Keywords

Now let’s compare how a local keyword search differs from a national e-commerce competitor.

Think about what coffee giant comes to mind when you think of national coffee shops:

  • Pete’s Coffee? 
  • Starbucks? 
  • Philz?

Whichever came to mind, these national brands will focus on different keyword searches than a local business would.

Because they’re all national brands, they can tackle keywords with a high competition

One of these national businesses might include some of the following keywords:

  • Coffee
  • Coffee shops
  • Coffee near me
  • Coffee places near me
  • Coffee shops nearby
  • Coffee near me open

Some of these keywords have extremely high difficulty, which means your chances of ranking when you target them with your content isn’t very high.

Unless you’re a national brand, sticking with local SEO keyword research gives you your best shot at a successful strategy.

Step 2: Check Out The Competition

When Mila did her search for coffee shops in Portland, she had eight options to choose from.

While Gypsy Bean Coffee ranked third, there were two sites that outranked them.

Looking at these (and possibly the fourth-ranking site as well) you can begin your 

Choose the top 3-4 search results from the Google local pack and organic searches and focus on those (reminder to keep paid ads out of your competitor keyword search). 

Consider the following:

  • What keywords are they ranking for? 
  • What makes them stand out? 
  • Are they optimized for SEO? 
  • What’s their word count
  • How many backlinks do they have? 

Get to know them inside and out. 

Keep in mind that while finding out what keywords your competitors are using can be extremely helpful, finding out what keywords they aren’t targeting can be equally as insightful.

When you focus on keywords your competitors haven’t yet, you’re giving yourself a great opportunity to create content around them and guarantee yourself a top-ranking spot on the SERP.

Step 3: Use Ubersuggest or SEMrush To Find Competitor Keywords

The last step when tackling the question, “How do I find my competitors keywords?” is also, arguably, the most important.

Ubersuggest and SEMrush are two tools that give you a great insight into what keywords your competitors are using.

Read on to learn how to find competitor keywords using Ubersuggest and SEMrush.

What Is Ubersuggest?

UberSuggest is a free tool that allows you to generate keyword ideas and do competitor keyword research for your content marketing strategy. 

Using UberSuggest, you can find:

  • Local keywords
  • Search volume
  • Keyword difficulty
  • Related keywords and variations

Ubersuggest provides you with the volume and SEO difficulty (SD column) for each keyword idea so you can tell if it is a keyword that should make your list.

Get The Most Out Of UberSuggest

In order to really utilize Ubersuggest for your competitor keyword, you’ll want to use your competitor’s URLs to find the keywords that they are ranking for.

Luckily, Ubersuggest allows you to input URLs into their search bar.

Once you do, you’ll be given four sections of data:

  1. Organic keywords
  2. Organic monthly traffic
  3. Domain score
  4. Backlinks

The organic keywords are what you want to look at to get the absolute most out of SEMrush.

They will give you a bird’s eye view into your competitor’s strategy.

What Is SEMrush?

SEMrush is a paid tool that can be much more effective than Ubersuggest.

While it does share a lot of the same information as Ubersuggest, some SEO experts suggest that the information SEMrush provides is more accurate and reliable than Ubersuggest. 

Using SEMrush, you can find stats like:

  • Keyword difficulty
  • Related keywords
  • Organic keywords
  • Backlinks
  • Authority score
  • Keyword position
  • Keyword volume
Get The Most Out Of SEMrush

SEMrush allows you to input individual URLs into their system.

That means you can search specifically for each piece of content your competitors are ranking for.

SEMrush will then generate a list of which keywords are driving the most traffic. 

Once you have that list, you can decide which of them to incorporate into your own SEO keyword strategy.

Create Better Content With Competitors Keywords

The goal is to optimize for SEO and to write better content that the competitors have. There are a few other things to consider. The content needs a URL, a title tag, a meta description, etc.. 

If this feels like a lot of work to do for each piece of content, we hear you.

In order to get major results, you do need to pay attention to the details. We know you have a business to run and sometimes, SEO and keyword research can just fade into the background.

Luckily, PSG can help. We specialize in

  • Search engine optimization
  • Keyword research
  • Strategy 

…so you can focus on running your business.

Going Beyond Finding Competitor Keywords

Finding the keywords and sizing up the competition is just the beginning when trying to rank on Google. 

There are a number of other factors and ways to integrate SEO best practices into your website and content in order to rank.

One of the biggest factors is on-page SEO.

On-page SEO has to do with the technical back end of each page of your website.

It includes things like:

  • URL structure
  • Title tag
  • Meta description
  • Header tags (H1, H2, etc)
  • Keywords
  • Internal links
  • External links
  • And more

If all of this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, let Portland SEO Growth do the hard work for you.

CORELearn: How One Company’s Organic Visitors Grew From 3,149 to Almost 14,000 In Just 3 Months

CoreLearn is an education consulting company that was struggling to get website traffic.

Before they came to Portland SEO Growth, they:

  • Were creating a lot of content but it wasn’t optimized for SEO
  • Didn’t understand the power of video content and SEO
  • Had no SEO strategy 
  • Were frustrated that organic traffic was staying stagnant

The team at Portland SEO Growth created high-quality content (especially video content) that helped CoreLearn’s website drive significant organic traffic from Google.

To address the problems CoreLearn was facing, we: 

  • Created a detailed SEO strategy based on comprehensive keyword research
  • Built out video assets that massively increased their SEO efforts
  • Cleaned up their technical and on-page SEO to ensure that Google’s bots were happy
  • Provided a transparent dashboard to let them know exactly why we do what we do

If you want to see results like CoreLearn, let us show you what we could do for you and your business.

Picture of Garcelle Vierra

Garcelle Vierra

Writer and Editor