Best Practice
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An 8 Step Guide to Competitor Keyword Analysis

Outrank Your Competitors in a Rapidly Changing Digital Landscape

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an ever-evolving field, with businesses vying for visibility in an increasingly crowded digital landscape. A robust SEO strategy is a game-changer, and understanding your competitors' keyword profiles can unlock new opportunities to boost your website's visibility and traffic. This guide breaks down the process into eight practical steps to help you navigate the complex world of competitor keyword analysis.

1. Identifying Your Competitors

The foundation of an effective SEO strategy lies in identifying your primary SEO competitors for your key keywords. These competitors are often businesses operating within your industry, offering similar products or services, and targeting the same audience. If you're unsure who your rivals are, start by searching for the keywords that represent your core offerings. Observe the businesses that consistently rank high in the search results. However, note that not all businesses that appear in these coveted positions necessarily qualify as your competitors.

For instance, let's imagine you own an organic bakery in the bustling city of Denver. By entering "organic bakery Denver" into a search engine, you'll uncover other bakeries in the Denver area that also identify as organic. These businesses are your direct competitors in the organic bakery market. However, it's crucial to recognize that not all entities appearing in the top search results are in direct competition with you. For example, search results might include informative articles on "what is organic" or tempting recipes for organic cupcakes. In such cases, entities like a nutritional magazine or a cooking site like Allrecipes, despite their high-ranking positions, wouldn't be your competitors. You would repeat this process for subsequent keywords as you expand your keyword program.

2. Utilizing Keyword Analysis Tools

After identifying your key competitors, the next step involves delving into their keyword profiles, a task that requires a reliable keyword analysis tool. The market offers an array of robust tools for this purpose, including, SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Moz. These tools provide intricate insights into the keyword strategies employed by your competitors.

Take, for example. By simply inputting a competitor's URL into this tool, it will generate a comprehensive SEO profile of that competitor. This profile will include crucial data such as the top-ranking keywords for your competitors, their respective search volumes, and associated keyword difficulties. Such detailed analysis is invaluable in shaping a winning SEO strategy, helping you understand what works for your competitors and how you might adapt those strategies to your unique business context.

3. Spotting the Missed Keywords

Armed with your competitors' keyword list, the next phase involves identifying the keywords your site currently isn't ranking for—these are the 'missed' opportunities, or 'gap analysis' in SEO jargon. They represent keywords your competitors successfully rank for, but your site does not.

In particular, the top 10 keywords warrant special attention, especially those with lower keyword difficulty scores. The next group of importance includes those ranking between the 11th and 25th positions. These keywords present potential avenues for growth. A tailored SEO strategy can elevate these keywords into the top 10, thereby amplifying your site's visibility.

Let's return to our organic bakery example. Suppose a competitor ranks highly for "vegan cupcakes," but your bakery does not. This gap signals a missed opportunity. By creating content centered around "vegan cupcakes," you can begin to rank for this keyword, thereby driving increased traffic to your site. Furthermore, if a competitor gains significant traction for valuable keywords through a recipe section, or a high-level page that details their approach to organic products and links to each product page, you can glean valuable insights. Adopting such a strategy allows you to cover broader searches like 'organic baked goods' and 'organic

4. Analyzing Keyword Overlap

Keyword overlap signifies the keywords that both your website and your competitors' sites rank for. A substantial overlap can suggest a high demand from potential customers. However, if your competitor consistently ranks on par with or higher than you for these keywords, they might be capitalizing on a larger share of this demand.

Tools like can assist you in seamlessly identifying and analyzing keyword overlap. For instance, if both your bakery and a competitor rank for "organic bread," but they secure a higher ranking, it presents an opportunity for you to improve your ranking for this high-demand keyword. Identify which specific page on your site ranks for this keyword, scrutinize the on-page content, and evaluate if your on-page elements need an overhaul.

Consider enriching your targeted page with a narrowly focused FAQ section. Scrutinize your competitor's backlinks, paying special attention to backlinks that incorporate the keyword "organic bread" in the anchor text. Lastly, update your content strategy to include more content incorporating the keyword. Remember, if this content isn't on-page—like a blog post—ensure it links back to your targeted page. This holistic approach not only improves your rank for a specific keyword but also contributes to a more robust and effective SEO strategy.

5. Assessing Keyword Difficulty and Volume

Keyword difficulty and search volume are two critical metrics in SEO keyword analysis. Keyword difficulty illustrates the competitiveness of a keyword, providing insight into how challenging it may be to surpass your competitors in rankings for a particular keyword. On the other hand, search volume indicates the number of searches made for a specific keyword over a given period.

Industry-specific SEO tools such as, Ahrefs, and Moz, as well as Google's Keyword Planner, can provide these essential metrics. Notably, offers integrated dashboards and tools where these key metrics are readily accessible, simplifying the analysis process for all users.

To exemplify, consider the keyword "organic bakery". This might exhibit a high search volume, pointing to substantial user interest. However, it might also present high keyword difficulty due to fierce competition, indicating that ranking for this keyword could be challenging. In contrast, a more niche keyword like "organic sourdough bread" might have a lower search volume, signifying fewer searches. But correspondingly, it may have lower keyword difficulty, suggesting that it could be easier to rank for given the reduced competition.

6. Grasping Page-Level Competition

Understanding the specifics of which pages on your competitors' websites are ranking for your target keywords is invaluable. It not only informs but also refines your SEO strategy. It's essential to remember that while search engines factor in website authority, overall performance, traffic, and other metrics for ranking, they fundamentally rank pages, not entire websites. Identifying whether your competitor's high-ranking page is a blog post, a product page, or a category page can provide a crucial roadmap for your content strategy and structure.

Consider a scenario where a competitor's blog post extolling the virtues of organic bread ranks high in search results. This indicates that users are actively seeking and interacting with content emphasizing the benefits of organic bread. Seizing this opportunity might involve crafting a more comprehensive, higher-quality post on the same subject. By offering unique insights, integrating compelling data, or including expert opinions, your content can outshine that of your competitor's.

However, creating superior content is only part of the equation; aligning this content with an apt keyword and content structure strategy is equally critical. If a product page ranks high, it's likely that users are in a transactional phase of their search journey, poised to make a purchase. 

In response, it might be more strategic to concentrate your optimization efforts on your product pages. This might entail enhancing on-page SEO elements such as title tags, meta descriptions, and product images, or refining the page's user experience by streamlining navigation or reducing load times.

Conversely, if category pages are performing well, it implies users are seeking a broad array of options within a specific category. Hence, it would be beneficial to optimize your category pages, ensuring they offer a clear, comprehensive snapshot of all the products or services within that category.

Discerning the type of content that ranks for your target keywords aids in determining not just the content to create or optimize, but also in understanding your potential customers' search intent. This knowledge is instrumental in devising a content strategy that not only achieves high rankings, but also resonates with your target audience. This balance ultimately drives more traffic and conversions.

7. Scrutinizing Competitors' Backlink Profiles

Backlinks significantly influence the ranking calculus of search engines. A website abundant with high-quality backlinks often garners a reputation of authority and reliability, resulting in enhanced search rankings. Tools like, Ahrefs, and Moz are instrumental in dissecting your competitors' backlink profiles. Comprehending where your competitors are garnering their backlinks not only illuminates potential backlink opportunities, but also provides insights into the specific pages on their site that are linked and the anchor text used in the linking content.

To illustrate, let's revisit the bakery scenario. Suppose a local food blog has linked to your competitor's "vegan cupcakes" page; this could signal a viable backlink opportunity. A strategic move might be to engage with the blog, perhaps proposing a feature on your unique vegan offerings. This interaction could pave the way for a valuable backlink, amplifying your online presence and potentially boosting your search rankings.

8. Reviewing Competitors' Site Structures

Finally, a critical aspect of your SEO strategy should be scrutinizing your competitors' website structures. This exercise directly ties into understanding which pages of your competitors are ranking for which keywords. Mapping out a schematic of your competitors' top-ranking pages, along with their interrelationships from a navigational perspective, can provide illuminating insights.

A website with an effective structure can simultaneously enhance user experience and escalate its search engine rankings. Examine how your competitors' websites are arranged, their application of internal linking, and their strategies for guiding visitors through a content journey from general to more specific content.

To illustrate, consider a competitor that has crafted a clear and intuitive site structure, leading visitors from their homepage to broader category pages like 'Vegan Baked Goods', 'Vegan Recipes', and 'Vegan Ingredient Substitutes.' These categories then funnel down to product-specific pages. For instance, 'Vegan Cupcakes' could be a subsection under 'Vegan Baked Goods', and it could be referenced in a 'Vegan Cupcake Recipe.' This architecture caters to multiple search intents and presents an excellent opportunity for ranking across various related search queries. By emulating such strategic structuring, your site can address a broader array of search intents, thereby improving your overall SEO performance.


There you have it—an 8-step guide to competitor keyword analysis. By leveraging these steps, you can harness the power of SEO to optimize your digital presence, outshine your competition, and attract more traffic to your website. Remember, SEO is a continual process; consistent monitoring, analysis, and adjustment of your strategy will enable your business to remain competitive and visible in the ever-evolving digital landscape. Cruxdata’s SEO intelligent dashboard and tools provide an easy-use platform automating many aspects of your SEO journey.

Preston Derrick