Google Keyword Research To Find Your Competitor’s Keywords

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How To Spy On Keywords

Have you noticed that some bloggers always seem to rank high on Google?

It’s usually because they use a competitor keyword analysis tool.

If you are blogging, or content marketing to make money from advertising, affiliate marketing or selling your products or services, you know that your keyword research is vital.

Writing a long article and creating content without thinking about search engine optimization (SEO) organic keywords first is a hit and miss affair.

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Don’t rely on luck with keywords

Perhaps you might get lucky with a few words and phrases that make it to a search engine results page. But usually, it doesn’t work very well. It’s a poor SEO strategy.

However, if you research related keywords and keyword phrases before you write your content, you will get much higher search results almost every time.

You can use free keyword tools such as the Google Keyword Planner for keyword suggestions. But these generally return popular keywords or head keywords that are highly competitive.

You want to create content that is going to rank and attract very good search volume. But you need to be very specific about how you plan to rank for search terms and then find extra long tail keywords.

Google Analytics and Search Console are great tools. But they only give you historical data about your own site and keywords.

Google Trends is also useful, as is the Google Adwords Planner. But they are more for ideas rather than being a deep keyword research tool.

I am sure you have used every keyword inspector you could find if you are serious about SEO and getting more search queries and organic traffic.

But, have you ever thought about looking at your competitor keywords and search traffic for content and keyword opportunities?

 

Researching and profiting from your competitors’ list of keywords

It’s not spying and it’s not stealing. It’s research. And it’s one of the most effective keyword strategies you can use.

You are looking for keywords in your subject area that already rank and attract traffic on Google. Competitive data helps you find and confirm that a keyword is worth using.

But to access this data from a competitor site you need to be using professional SEO tools.

The best tool for competitive keyword research and analysis is Semrush, and I will show you why it is so powerful.

Let me tell you a story.

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I’ll show you how I created one blog post. And how I got it to rank high and deliver a steady stream of organic search traffic to my site within days. I should point out that I did not use any paid keywords.

 

Keyword Gap analysis

With Semrush, it is easy to find competitors keywords. But it gets even better and easier with the Keyword Gap tool.

Keyword Gap

I entered two of my competitors along with my site. Then by switching to graph view, I can see where there are common keywords for the three sites.

By clicking on an area where there is no overlap on my site, I get a list of keywords that my organic competitors are ranked for, but my site is not.

Then I can drill down to find keyword ideas that I know are ranking and reaching my target audience and potential customers.

 

Keyword selection

It took me five minutes or less to find and decide on my keyword choice. In fact, I chose two.

I used free writing software for the example I am going to show you. But I kept book writing software for a later article.

Competitor Keywords

I chose these two specific keywords because they both had a low keyword difficulty but with reasonable search volume. They were also an exact match for my target readers.

With long-tailed keywords, you are not going to get huge search volumes. But you are looking to rank very high.

My competitor ranked at number ten for this keyword. If I could rank in the top three, I could probably get 30% or more of the monthly search traffic. That would mean around 500 to 600 visits a month.

In this case, the header keyword of free software would have returned a search volume in the millions, but with extremely high keyword difficulty.

So I would have struggled to rank in the top 100, which would mean very little search traffic.

 

Digging a little deeper

To check my keyword, I used the Semrush Keyword Magic tool.

Keyword Magic

With this keyword tool, I checked broad matches to see what related long tail phrases I could use in my article.

As you can see in the image above, the total search volume (16,410) is far greater than for my selected keyword.

So using one or two related keywords within my text, it will help gain a little more traffic.

However, if I wanted to dig deeper, I could have searched for more broad matches or questions.

 

Semantic keywords

Before starting to write a new article, you probably know that you should make a list of fifteen or so semantically connected keywords to use in your text.

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This can be a slow process. But again, Semrush can do it for me in just a few seconds.

All I need to do is use its Content Creator to do the grunt work for me.

Content Analysis

Now I have my list of associated keywords to use in my content, plus a list of possible link building ideas.

The keywords in the image above were extracted from the top ten ranking pages for my header keyword.

In a lower part of the Content Creator report, there is a list of the top ten web pages, with links. So I can check the content for each one and get some ideas. Then I can try to improve on them.

It’s a little like the Skyscraper Technique, but much much quicker and easier.

Top 10

Now I only have to write my post

It took me a little over two hours to write my new blog post and prepare all the images.

You can see the article here. 42 Free Writing Apps And The Best Free Writing Software. Note though that it has been updated quite a lot since I originally published it.

I added one of the keywords I listed from my research, free writing apps, into the title, as well as using all of the semantic keywords in my content.

Of course, I used my specific target keyword in the SEO title and meta description, as well as in the H2 tag.

When I originally wrote the article, it was 10 tools. But once I saw that the article was ranking quite well I added more content.

Another great tool in Semrush is the WordPress SEO Writing Assistant plugin. It floats on the side of your editor screen as you write. As you use your related keywords, they turn green. This is a great tool to measure your SEO performance as you write your content.

seo writing

Did these professional keyword research tools help make my article rank?

If I had done this only once, I would not be writing a long article such as this.

While I don’t win every time, I do most times.

Here is my page views graph from Google Analytics. Two days after publishing, my article started delivering around sixty visitors each day and continues to do so.

Page Views

And did it rank on Google?

Google Index

Yes. Ranking at number two, with 32 positive reviews. As is often the case, the first entry is taken by AdWords campaigns, so nothing I can do about that.

But remember all the semantic keywords I used? It was for a very good reason.

A check on Google Console shows me that my article is also ranking for a LOT of keywords.

Search Console

Search Console2

I had to split the screengrab into two pieces to make it fit in this post. But there are 624 keywords that Google has indexed, and the first 50 are ranking in the top 10.

Powerful stuff!

So my competitor keyword research paid off. And will continue to pay because my search engine traffic from this article will keep on coming, day in and day out.

Update: It is a while since I originally wrote this article. By my one post continues to deliver approximately 200 organic visitors every day to my site. It is now ranking for over 2,500 keywords on Google at an average position of just over 10. It has also gained over 200 backlinks.

GSC

 

But wait! There’s more!

Okay, so I had a great result. But it doesn’t stop there.

I can get a report at any time to check on my post to see if there are any new competitive keywords. Or if there are any more improvements I can make.

Update

So far, all is fine. But I check back every few weeks. There might be a new semantic keyword or two that I can add to keep my post ranking highly.

This one article is consistently delivering 50-60 visitors per day. You don’t need too many like this to get 1,000 visitors per day, every day.

That is exactly the strategy behind good keyword research.

 

Find keywords related to your business or your target audiences

think about your content strategy. You need to look for medium volume long tail and semantic keywords with relatively low competition. And do so before you write any new article.

By doing so, you can easily get steady traffic which can only help your conversion rate for your products or services, affiliate income or advertising.

Since I have been using Semrush and doing competitive keyword research before writing any new article, my traffic has blossomed.

The red arrow in the graph below is pointing to when I started using Semrush. The blue arrow is when I started using the competitor analysis tools to create content. You can see that my organic traffic is doing very nicely.

Site Traffic Analytics

It is noticeable how little traffic comes from social media now. One year ago, it was equal to my organic traffic, and now it is only a small fraction.

The increase in organic traffic has been due to writing articles that have a chance of ranking well in my topic area.

To get even more traffic, all I need to do is write even more articles.

But now I know how I can do that and to have a good chance to rank highly.

My blog is very much in a very small niche market, so traffic in the millions is never going to happen.

But my investment in Semrush is really paying off. Not only in traffic but also in much higher site income.

 

Conclusion

If you are blogging for fun, this is not for you. But if you are serious about using your blog to make money, then competitor keyword research tools are an absolute must.

I hesitated for a very long time before deciding to spend what I thought was a lot of money. I dithered for months using the Semrush free trial wondering if I could get a return on the investment because it is certainly not cheap.

But once I bit the bullet and started using Semrush, a whole new world of opportunity opened up with all the tools it offers.

When I first signed up, the monthly subscription was more than my Adsense revenue. Now, a few months later, my Adsense revenue alone is seven times more than my subscription cost.

On top of that, my affiliate and services income has increased tenfold.

And all because I can now spy and check competitor keywords.

 

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Derek Haines

Webmaster and Writer at Just Publishing Advice
A Cambridge qualified CELTA English teacher and author of 18 books with a life long passion for publishing in all its forms.
I started my working life as a lithographer and then spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business.
Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of the Alps.
Derek Haines
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Derek Haines

A Cambridge qualified CELTA English teacher and author of 18 books with a life long passion for publishing in all its forms. I started my working life as a lithographer and then spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business. Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of the Alps.

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