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How To Run a Competitor Keyword Analysis in 2023

left side: competitor keyword analysis, right side: 6 oblong shapes with a magnifying glass on the end

Competitor keyword analysis is the most important aspect of your ecommerce SEO strategy. It creates the foundation for everything else you do.

The goal of keyword research is to unearth opportunities to generate traffic based on what your potential customers actually search for online. It’s the foundation of any SEO strategy.

If you can optimize your webpages and the content you create with the right keywords, you can potentially generate high-quality passive traffic to your site by showing up organically in relevant search engine results.

What is a competitor keyword analysis?

A competitor keyword analysis is the process of identifying the keywords your competitors are targeting, and using that information to improve your own SEO strategy.

This process can be done manually, by looking at your competitors’ websites and analyzing their content and keyword usage. Or, you can use keyword research tools to help you quickly and easily uncover competitor keywords.

Benefits of competitive keyword analysis

Learn about your audience

Analyzing your competitors’ keywords can teach you a lot about your target audience. Using keyword data, you can understand potential customers’ search intents and motivations for shopping online. You can use this information to fine-tune your digital marketing strategy and create content that appeals to your target audience.

Understand search opportunities

You can also use competitor keyword analysis to determine which keywords are relevant to your business and how hard they are to rank for. This information can help you choose the right keywords when planning your SEO marketing efforts.

Improve your search visibility

If you can identify the keywords your competitors are ranking for, you can improve your own search visibility by outranking them for those particular keywords. When you optimize your website for the right keywords, you’ll rank higher in search engines and get more website traffic.

Tools to find competitors keywords

Ahrefs

Ahrefs is a tool that allows users to research competitor keywords and track competitor rankings in search engines. You get full access to your competitor’s backlink profile, including snippet wins and lost rankings through its Site Explorer. 

Ahrefs also lets you filter through keywords based on metrics like keyword difficulty, cost per click (CPC), and position changes to dive deeper into competitors rankings. 

How to find competitor keywords with Ahrefs

ahrefs competitor research

  1. Go to ahrefs.com/site-explorer.
  2. Sign up for an Ahrefs account. 
  3. In your dashboard, click the Site Explorer tab.
  4. Enter your competitor’s URL.
  5. Click Organic keywords under Organic search on the sidebar. 

Semrush

Semrush is a comprehensive SEO tool that allows users to track their website’s search engine rankings. It also gives you insights into a competitor’s domain metrics like organic traffic, keywords, and backlinks.

Semrush gives you a lot for free. You can view competitors keywords, position changes, and top pages. You can even run a keyword gap analysis with its Keyword Gap tool, all for free. Semrush also offers a seven-day free trial for paid plans if you want more data. 

How to find competitor keywords with Semrush

semrush example

  1. Head to www.semrush.com/analytics/organic/overview.
  2. Enter your competitor’s URL. 
  3. You’ll be asked to create a free account. Enter your email and create a password to sign up.
  4. In the dashboard, click View all organic keywords. 

SpyFu

SpyFu is a keyword research and competitive intelligence tool for improving your search visibility. You can uncover paid (PPC) and organic keywords in minutes. It also offers a competitive analysis tool to help discover your top competitors online. 

SpyFu’s free version is a bit limited, only giving you the top five to 10 keywords a competitor ranks for. But you can get access to all of SpyFu’s features for $39/month. 

How to find competitor keywords with SpyFu

spyfu example

  1. Go to spyfu.com.
  2. Enter your competitor’s URL in the search box.
  3. Click Organic Keywords in the Organic Keywords (SEO) box. 

How to do a competitive keyword analysis

  1. Understand the different types of keywords
  2. Make a list of topics relevant to your business
  3. Make a list of your top SERP competitors
  4. Use a keyword tool to identify content gaps
  5. Write down your top keywords

1. Understand the different types of keywords

Before we get into how to find valuable keywords, let’s define what “keyword” actually means. A keyword is any word or phrase that gets typed into a search engine.

For example, a single word like “cake” or a longer phrase like “how do I make cake.” With that, it’s also important to understand the three different types of keywords, categorized by searcher intent.

  • Navigational: A navigational keyword is a keyword someone uses to navigate somewhere. For example, if you type the phrase “New York Times” into Google, you’re probably trying to navigate to the New York Times website.
  • Transactional: Transactional keywords are used when someone is trying to complete an action. For example, someone who searches for the keyword “buy running shoes online” is trying to make a purchase.
  • Informational: Informational keywords imply that the user is researching a topic or problem, or gathering context, not necessarily with the intent to make a purchase. An example of an informational keyword would be “what’s the most popular style of running shoes?”

Most ecommerce businesses prioritize on transactional and informational keywords.That’s because ecommerce keyword research largely focuses on searchers with the intent to buy. 

While not every keyword you’ll target needs to be in pursuit of a purchase, knowing the implied intent behind a search query is crucial for figuring out what content your page should have, whether that’s high-level information in an educational blog post or a sales-focused product page.

Just keep in mind that even with the right keywords, search engines will only reward you with their top spots if your content or product pages are able to add value by meeting the needs of the people searching for those keywords.

2. Make a list of topics relevant to your business

The truth is, there isn’t one “best” way to brainstorm your initial list of topics. Start by thinking about your industry and the products you sell. As you get going, think more about what kinds of questions your potential customers might have and what kinds of content they might be interested in.

Here are a few questions to help you as you brainstorm relevant keywords:

  • When someone searches for this keyword, what are they expecting to find?
  • Is the keyword relevant to the products you’re selling?
  • How do you want to be discovered?
  • How do your customers talk about your product?

For example, if you are selling coworking office space, does your customer call it a “coworking space” or a “shared office space”? Brainstorm some of the different ways that people might search for your product when they have the intention to purchase. Despite being similar in meaning, keywords can still vary in intent, how frequently they’re used, and other ways.

But you don’t want to only target transactional keywords that people search for when they’re ready to buy. Think about using informational keywords to fuel your content marketing. This can be done by writing blog posts or creating new pages dedicated to educating your audience and moving them toward purchase intent.

So while the end goal is to encourage a visitor to purchase your product, building a page on your store that addresses a specific concern or topic can increase your chances of getting found in the first place through informational keywords.

For example, if you sell garden hoses, a transactional search would be “rubber garden hose.” Meanwhile, an informational keyword might be “how to choose the right garden hose.” 

Throughout the brainstorming and researching process, you’ll find new variations, associations, and related search queries that help you paint a better picture of how your customers could potentially use search engines to find your business.

3. Make a list of your top SERP competitors 

The next step in conducting a competitor keyword analysis is to generate a list of your top organic competitors. SERP stands for “search engine results page,” and refers to the list of results that appears after someone enters a query into Google search.

In other words, your SERP competitors are the businesses that appear on the first page of Google when someone searches for one of your targeted keywords.

4. Use a keyword tool to identify content gaps

Now that you have a list of topics, keywords, and SERP competitors, it’s time to start using a keyword research tool to help you identify content gaps.

There are several keyword research tools available, as mentioned above. We’ll use Ahrefs for this example as it provides a comprehensive set of features to help with your ecommerce keyword research. The Content Gap tool will then show you a list of keywords that your competitors are ranking for, but you are not. These are known as “content gaps.” 

For example, say your brand is Homesick, a candle maker, and you want to run a content gap analysis versus two competitors: Boy Smells and Flaming Candle Company. Simply plug in the URLs and run the report to reveal your competitors keywords. 

content gap analysis by Ahrefs

Not all content gaps are created equal. Some keywords may be more valuable than others, based on factors like search volume and difficulty. Use the “KD” column to help you prioritize which content gaps are worth addressing first.

5. Write down your top keywords

Once you’ve conducted a content gap analysis, you should have a list of your top competitors, their SERP ranking keywords, and the specific keywords that you’re missing out on. 

Prioritize your list and start writing down your top keywords. Make sure they align with the relevant topics you noted in step 2. Then, create a content plan to go after your target keywords. 

Conducting your keyword competition analysis

Competitor keyword research helps ecommerce businesses gain a competitive edge. By analyzing your competitor’s website, you can discover the topic and search phrases that are driving traffic to their store. 

If you can continually find new keywords for your campaigns, you can strategically target potential online shoppers and earn more sales.


Competitor keyword analysis FAQ

How do you do keyword research for competitors?

First, you need to find a list of your competitors’ websites. Then, you can use a variety of analysis tools to help you discover their keywords, including Ahrefs, Semrush, or SpyFu.

What are competitors’ keywords?

Competitors’ keywords are those words and phrases that your competitors are targeting in their digital marketing efforts. By understanding what keywords your competitors are targeting, you can better strategize your own keyword efforts.

Can I find competitors’ keywords?

Yes, you can find competitors’ keywords using a competitive research tool like Ahrefs.

What is an SEO competitor analysis?

An SEO competitor analysis is a process of research and analysis conducted in order to understand what SEO strategies your competitors are using and how well they are working. This information can then be used to inform and improve your own SEO efforts.
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