Keywords aren’t exactly king in content marketing — but they do make a huge difference in how well your content performs.
Consider this: According to a search traffic study from Ahrefs, 90.63% of all content gets no traffic whatsoever from Google.
Zip, zero, zilch, nada.
Meanwhile, keywords are a big part of what drives organic search traffic. The right keywords can help position you better in search engine results pages (SERPs) — maybe even get you to the first page — while the wrong ones will do nothing to put your content front and center in terms of search queries.
So, how do you come up with SEO keyword ideas that will help your content rise in rank? One way to do it is to see how your competitors are doing it. We’ll show you step-by-step how to research your competitors’ sites for relevant keywords that bring in traffic.
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Why finding a website’s keywords benefits your SEO strategy
Identifying high-value keywords is a great way to improve your site’s search rankings and increase organic traffic. And one of the best ways to identify those high-value keywords?
Search your competition’s site for them.
For starters, if you can find out which keywords your competitors are using — and which are most successful — you’ll gain insights into your target audience. Popular search terms will tell you a lot about who the searchers are and why they’re searching these terms. That’s intel you can use to design content these people are looking for.
What’s more, since you know that these keywords are bringing in traffic, you can use these keywords in your own content to help boost your rankings and drive organic traffic.
Now that you know the whys, let’s dig into the hows.
1) View the page source of the website
Viewing the page source is easy in most browsers. Just navigate to the page that you want to inspect, right-click, and select “View Page Source” from the menu. Alternatively, you can hit CTRL+U. Either way, a separate tab will pop open, allowing you to see the page’s HTML. You can browse the following likely spots from there to identify possible keywords.
Use CTRL+F to search the page source for “title.” On many pages, this will bring up potentially dozens of search hits — but the top hits will likely be the ones you’re looking for. What you want are the < title > tags. The text in between these will be the page title — and if the page has been SEO optimized, the title will contain keywords.
Next, use CTRL+F to search for “description.” The top hits here should bring up the page’s meta description, which is typically a short summary of what the page is about. Jot this down because you’ll often find a few keywords here, too.
Headers (H1, H2s, H3s, etc.)
Next, search the subheadings by typing “h1,” “h2,” “h3,” and so on into the search box. H1s are usually the same as the page’s title tag, so you may not find anything new here. However, on SEO-optimized sites, there will be H2s, H3s, and other headers — and these are also good places to look for keywords.
2) Scan the webpage with CTRL+F
This next method will combine reading and skimming plus searching with CTRL+F. While it might take some practice to develop an eye for keywords, this is one of the quickest and easiest ways to figure out which search terms a particular piece of content is targeting. While following the steps below, pay special attention to the first and last paragraphs — this tends to be the most common placement for keywords.
Start by identifying both short and long-tail keywords in the title or H1.
Examine the first sentence of the content for keywords.
Analyze both the first and last paragraphs for possible keywords.
Skim through the rest of the text while looking out for repeated words and phrases.
From here, you should be able to build a list of possible keywords. Use CTRL+F to search for these keywords. See if they’re repeated within the text and if they’re being used elsewhere on your competitor’s website.
3) Test out Google search operators
If you’re unfamiliar with Google search operators, they’re a must-learn tool that will greatly help your content strategy and digital marketing campaign. You can use them to do all kinds of things — including search for competitor keywords using Google search.
Here’s how to do it:
Enter “site:” plus the website domain name in the search bar (for example, “site:www.teamwork.com.”
Leave a space, then add the keyword you want to search for after the domain. It’ll look like this: “site:www.teamwork.com website keywords.”
That’s an easy way to learn a lot about the competition’s target keywords. You’ll see not only how often keywords are being used, but also the types of content that they’re used in.
And if you’re wondering who is using a particular keyword? Simply put the keyword in quotes in your Google search bar. This makes Google match the keyword exactly in its search results — and that lets you see who is using that keyword, and what types of content they’re using it in.
4) Use a keyword research tool
Want even more data? Then it’s time to stop skimming competitor websites — and start using high-tech tools to dig deeper into the keywords and keyword phrases that drive traffic to competitor sites. Check out the list below. Some of these are free tools, while others require a subscription — but all of them will offer you a wealth of data, from specific keywords and their statistics to info about social media interactions, keyword cost per click (CPC), and more.
Use Semrush to do organic research — find keywords, competitors, and other data.
Paste a domain into Wordstream’s free keyword search tool to identify keywords, search volume, and more.
SpyFu is a must-have tool that offers keyword research, competitor research, and a broad variety of analytics.
Ahrefs is a bigger platform — and you’ll need to sign up to access the tools — but it offers competitor analysis, content analytics, ranking analytics, and a lot more in addition to competitor keyword research.
Plug your own domain into Moz’s SEO Competitive Analysis Tool to find competitors, their keywords, underutilized keywords, content opportunities, and more.
These tools are some of the best in the business — but there are many more to explore. You can even use Google’s Keyword Planner to research keywords, though it does have more of a learning curve to it than other tools.
Pro tip: Organize your keyword research tasks with a project management tool
A to-do list won't cut it when you’re doing keyword research. You’ll be using lots of different analytical and digital marketing tools to extract as much data as possible, which means you’ll need to keep track of each tool you use and the data that comes from each.
Use a project management tool that lets you track each task individually. In fact, if you’re looking for a recommendation, Teamwork is built for agencies — and it gives you everything you need to manage projects involving marketing, SEO, and more. You can learn more here.
Whatever app you choose, it should offer card views or similar organizational methods to view tasks. When you can organize like this at the task level, it’s easy to assign each keyword research tool you’ll use as an individual task. From there, you can run your searches — and then attach the data that the tool generates to the relevant task in your software. This way, your workflow will be smooth and seamless, and your metrics and data will all be in one organized spot.
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Looking for a project management app that can help you streamline your content marketing campaign while keeping you on top of details like the best keywords and all the SEO tools you’ll need to find them? Teamwork has your back.
Use it to collaborate with your team as you work together to optimize content. It will help you track goals and milestones, get projects done on time — and it puts everything in one organized spot where you and your team can access it all with ease.
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