Performing a website keyword analysis on your competitors is a strategic way to get direction for your SEO and content marketing strategy. And it’s an important part of learning how to do keyword research effectively.
There are many benefits to performing keyword analysis:
- Seeing how well other sites perform
- Identifying keyword gaps and opportunities
- Disqualifying keywords that are out of your reach
- Using your findings to create future SEO content and guide your strategy
Using Alexa’s Marketing Stack, you can easily check website keywords of your competitors and put all of your research in one workspace. That way, you can more closely manage your future SEO plans and keep up with the competition.
In this article we’ll discuss 6 steps to performing keyword analysis, plus next steps after your analysis is complete:
- Check your site’s ability to compete for specific keywords
- Find your competitors
- Identify organic keywords for individual sites
- Identify paid keywords for individual sites
- Identify paid competition for individual sites
- Compare keywords across multiple sites
- What to do with your website keyword analysis
1. Check Your Site’s Ability to Compete
Before you assess your competitors, you should assess yourself. You need to rate your site’s ability to rank for keywords and show up in search. To analyze your site’s ability to rank, use our Keyword Difficulty Tool.
The Keyword Difficulty Tool gives your site a Competitive Power score based on your past performance of driving organic traffic.
The Competitive Power score is on a 1-to-100 scale. The higher your score, the easier it will be for your site to rank for keywords.
When using Alexa’s SEO tools, you will see a Competition score assigned to keywords. As you create your keyword plans, compare the Competition score of keywords to the Competitive Power score of your site. You will have a difficult time ranking for a keyword if it’s Competition score is higher that your site’s Competitive Power score.
But if the keyword has a score lower than yours, it is a good option for your keyword planning.
2. Find Your Competitors
Once you set the bar for your ability to rank, it’s time to go out and find your competitors. If you don’t already have a list of competitors, you can use Alexa’s tools to create a list of sites.
With the Audience Overlap Tool, you can produce a list of possible competitors by entering a target site (which could be your site or a site you know is a popular competitor).
The tool produces a report of similar websites that shares an audience like the target site. From this report, you can drill down into your list to find more relevant competitors by:
- Qualifying a site by traffic level. Exclude all sites from your list that have a traffic level that is either much higher or much lower than your target site. This will narrow down your list to sites that are more like the target.
- Qualifying a site by audience overlap. Use the Overlap Score to determine if the sites share a similar enough audience. When this score is high, it indicates that the site’s visitors are similar to that of the target website.
- Qualifying a site by Alexa Rank. Look at the Alexa Rank to see how popular the site is. The lower the number, the higher the popularity. Select sites that have an Alexa rank somewhere near the target site’s rank.
ADD TO YOUR WORKSPACE: As you choose sites to use in your competitive keyword analysis list, select the checkbox next to the site. Once you make your selections, click to save this list.
This stores the list of sites in your Alexa Workspace so you can refer to it later and use it to track and manage your work from the website keyword analysis. You’ll also be able to open any list quickly into a Site Comparison to compare performance metrics, or run a Competitor Keyword Matrix to analyze keyword gaps.
3. Identify Organic Keywords for Individual Sites
Now that you have a list of sites you want to research, start by looking at their organic site keywords. Organic site keywords are the terms that rank naturally in search engines.
To research this, open the Site Keyword Tool and plug in one of the sites from your list.
The default view of this tool shows organic keyword information first. The report is like a keyword finder: it produces a report on the top SEO keywords that drive organic traffic to that site.
The report from the website keyword checker lists the terms that drive the most traffic first. This ranking is determined by the percentage of search traffic that each keyword draws to the site.
The report also provides data on the keyword’s popularity and advertising competition.
Popularity rank is an estimate of how frequently users search for the keyword. It’s ranked on a 1-to-100 scale. Higher numbers have a higher level of popularity. This ranking shows how popular a keyword is with users.
Advertising Competition indicates the typical number of ads displayed for the keyword on major search engines. This index is also on a scale of one to 100. Keywords with a high Advertising Competition score have more sites fighting to use that term. When many sites are advertising for the same keyword, it becomes more difficult to compete for attention for that term.
Look for keywords that have a high popularity and low advertising competition, which indicates that audiences are using those terms and that there is space to compete for those keywords.
ADD TO YOUR WORKSPACE: As you research, create a list of your top keywords by selecting the star next to them. This adds the keywords to your Alexa Workspace.
You can also select the ellipsis icon next to the keyword to access additional saving and research options. Select “Edit details and update Workspace” to save the term and add notes, categories, tags, and site information for the keyword. You can also set the priority for the keyword.
Use categories to organize keywords into buckets. A bucket could be a list of keywords to use for a specific campaign or promotion (e.g., Facebook Ads Webinar or May Conference), or group them by your research purpose (e.g., SEO, PPC, social ads, etc.)
Use tags to further connect keywords with a project or person responsible for the keyword.
Add sites to the notes for the keyword so you can easily look back to see which sites are using the keyword and which sites you are competing with for the keywords.
Identify a priority to the keyword to help organize and manage your Workspace. As you find a big opportunity or gap, label the keyword as a high priority.
4. Identify Paid Keywords for Individual Sites
Next, on the Site Keyword report, click the “Paid” tab at the top of the page. This shows information about paid keywords that relate to the target site and looks at how the site is using paid keyword promotion.
Like the previous report, this list of keywords also includes information on Popularity and Advertising Competition ranks. But it includes other comparative data as they relate to Advertising Activity.
Advertising Activity is a measure of the number of ads appearing for this keyword in major search engines for this website. It indicates that the target site is paying for promotion of those specific keywords.
Use these data to get an idea about what keywords a site feels are valuable to their business. If a site is spending a lot of resources to target a certain term, it may not be worth it to try and compete for that term.
5. Identify Paid Competition for Individual Sites
In the next phase of keyword discovery, use the same Site Keywords report. Gather more information by clicking on the “Paid Competition” tab.
This report also shares data on Popularity and Advertising Competition ranking. But in this report, that information is compared with an Impact Factor.
Impact Factor indicates whether the target site is getting significant organic search traffic for queries containing these phrases despite high advertising competition.
This helps you see how much power a site has over certain keywords. If your competitors draw organic traffic even though paid traffic is highly competitive, it shows that they have a strong hold on that term.
6. Compare Keywords Across Multiple Sites
In the last few steps, you performed research on individual sites to see how they approached their keywords. Now, let’s collectively look at your list of sites to see how they compare to each other.
Go to the Competitor Keyword Matrix. Either enter in a list of sites or select a saved list of sites.
If you saved the list of competitors you created earlier in this post, use the drop-down menu to automatically run a competitor keyword analysis for your list.
The report pulls data useful for comparing keywords each site gets traffic for. The sites in your list are added to the matrix along with their list of keywords, the Popularity and Competition ranking for each keyword, and the number of sites in common.
By default, the keywords are listed by the number of sites they have in common. Keywords that are used on the highest number of similar sites will show at the top of the list.
You can choose to sort the keyword by Popularity and Competition.
Popularity is the same metric that was used on the Site Keyword reports. It indicates how popular the keyword is in search.
Competition indicates how hard it is to rank for the keyword. Keywords with lower Competition scores are easier to rank for than terms with high scores.
At the beginning of this post, you learned how to find the Competitive Power score for your website. Now, you can compare that core to each keyword’s Competition to see if you have a good chance to rank for it.
Look for keywords that have a Competition score that is lower than your Competitive Power. For example, if your Competitive Power is 45, look for keywords that have a Competition of 44 or less. This metric indicates that you have a high chance of ranking for that keyword.
Now that you know how to identify good keywords, dig deeper into the report. Use different variations of filters and settings to find useful keyword information.
Use the filter to target better terms in the Keyword Matrix.
- Exclude branded, irrelevant, or misspelled terms that appear on the list.
- Increase Popularity to find keywords that are frequently used in search.
- Decrease Competition to target keywords that are within your reach.
Filter results to focus on search terms related to buyers. Check the box “Show potential buyer keywords” to narrow down your results to keywords that are more likely to show an intent to purchase. If you are performing a website keyword analysis to find terms that lead to purchase, this is a useful filter.
Use Keyword Clusters to collect data on groups of terms. Select the Keyword Cluster tab to see keyword topics and themes.
This report is akin to a keyword suggestion tool. It groups keywords into clusters that are connected to one main term. Along with each term is a number indicating how many keywords fit in that cluster along with the average popularity and average competition score of the cluster.
When you select to view the keywords, you can see each term with their individual metrics. This makes it easy to sort your report by a more specific topic.
From this report, you can also use the same filters you used in the original Keyword Matrix report.
Use Keyword Clusters to collect data on second-level terms. While viewing the original Keyword Cluster report, you can go deeper into each keyword cluster. Select the drop-down menu on the top-level keyword to see second-level keywords. Click “View Keywords” to create a cluster based on that term.
When you click to view the keywords, you will be taken to a Keyword Matrix that includes only the terms within the secondary keyword category.
ADD TO YOUR WORKSPACE: As you discover useful information during your website keyword analysis, continue to save keywords to your workspace.
What to Do With Your Website Keyword Analysis
As you begin or revise your SEO and content marketing plans, a website keyword analysis of your competitors is a good place to start. This information will help you answer the following questions:
- Can you compete with your competitors? How?
- Which keywords will your competitors’ audience use to find them?
- Which keywords are your competitors paying for?
- Which paid keyword opportunities are available?
- Which sites would be good for guest blogging?
- Which keyword gaps exist on competitor sites?
- Which organic opportunities are available?
- Which long-tail, low-competition keywords can you use on your site?
Knowing what your competitors are doing and what opportunities are in front of you simplifies your SEO and content marketing planning and helps you start seeing results faster and with less wasted work on keywords that don’t have potential.
Use These Tools to Create Your Own Keyword Analysis
To perform a full competitive website analysis—and access the tools mentioned in this post—sign up for a trial of our Advanced plan. This plan includes the Competitor Keyword Matrix, Keyword Difficulty Tool, Audience Overlap Tool, and the Alexa Workspace where you can save and manage all of your work.