Competitor’s Keywords: Which Should (and Shouldn’t) I Target?

By Lenny Ford


Category: SEO

Keywords in SEO are crucial – they help your clients find your website and your content. Because most of the time people don’t know about your company, keywords serve as a bridge between you and your customers. But there might be many websites on the other side of the bridge, and your web page might be less visible in the search results, or there might be no people crossing the bridge at all.

Imagine trying to find a place to eat when you are hungry; there are restaurants lined up on both sides of the street. The farther a restaurant is, the fewer the chances of going there – because you are hungry. Similarly, your clients will more likely click on web pages that rank well and are at the top of search results. But, if you know no people cross the bridge or visit the street at all, you won’t want to place a restaurant there in the first place.

Just like you would choose a right location for your business, as a part of a successful SEO strategy, you need to choose the right keywords to target, so you get more traffic to your website.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is at the core of a successful SEO. You need to know which keywords are going to bring high-quality traffic to your website and which is worth targeting. To simply explain it, when you choose keywords, you decide in which search queries your website appears.

And when you choose the keywords to target, the first thing you need to consider is your audience. You should know how people you want to land on your site search for the content you offer. A way to do so is by simply putting yourself in their shoes and trying to come up with a list of keywords you’d use to find your website.

But another great way to think of the right keywords to choose is by looking at your competitors.

Why Should You Care About Competitors’ Keywords

Regardless of the type of company you have, there is a competitor who offers a similar product or service. This means that you both have a similar audience you want to target. If you are just starting with your business or crafting an SEO strategy, your competitors might already rank well for relevant search queries. By looking at the keywords they chose, you will understand what phrases and words can drive traffic to your website.

But who are your competitors? In the real world, many firms offer the same services as you do. But now we are in the SEO world. For you, the competitors are websites that rank well in the search queries relevant to your services, because that’s where your potential clients end up going instead of your website. To find the most prominent players in the game, look at the keywords you already are targeting. The websites that rank well in most of the results you are trying to rank for are probably the websites you want to call your competitors. They are getting the most traffic, meaning your potential clients will be looking at their website instead of yours – unless you are up for the challenge and ready to give them some competition.

How to Find Competitors’ Keywords

A great way to see your competitor’s keywords is by visiting a website and looking at the titles of their main pages (the homepage, main product, or service pages). The topic of the page is most likely the keyword they are optimizing on the page.

A great tool to use to find competitor’s keywords is SEMrush. Just enter a domain name in the search field, and the SEM rush will show the keywords that your competitor’s website ranks in the top results.

Moz’s Keyword Explorer is also an excellent tool that allows you to see what your competitors are up to. Just type in the URL of their website and see the keywords that they target.

How to Choose Competitors Keywords to Target?

Look at the Search Volume

When we were talking about the imaginary bridge between you and your customers, we’ve mentioned there might be nobody crossing the bridge. When lots of users are searching for a keyword, it means it has more exposure as well as more competition. But if nobody is searching for a keyword, there is no point in targeting it. When you see your competitor’s keywords, you should take into account the Search Volume. There is no such thing as a perfect number for this metric, but you should target the keywords with a search volume that is neither too high nor too low.
A low number doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not going to bring traffic. A low search volume could mean that the keyword you choose is a long-tail, specific keyword, as long-tail keywords have a lower search volume but will bring you more qualified leads.
On the other hand, if you choose keywords with a high search volume, you may face tough competition and it could take you years to get to the top positions – which means years of low traffic. Opt for keywords with medium to low search volume for best results.

Filter Keywords

Although you and your competitors share the same audience, it doesn’t mean all of the keywords suit your company. Your competitor might work on divorce law, because it’s a full-scale law firm, while you specialize in injury law and have no divorce attorneys at the moment. Filter keywords and leave out the ones that you don’t need to target. You don’t need visitors who are looking for divorce attorneys if your company doesn’t have any.

Start with easier keywords

Another metric to look at when choosing your competitor’s keywords is Keyword Difficulty, which is a metric that is measured by both SEMrush and MOZ Keyword Explorer. The higher the value of keyword difficulty, the harder it is to compete with others using that keyword. Although you might want to target keywords that bring the most traffic, keep the keyword difficulty in mind and make realistic choices. Usually, the higher the search volume, the higher the keyword difficulty. If you start with easier keywords, it will be simpler to get top positions.

Think of the Conversion Funnel

As a part of choosing the right keywords, you need to define what your goal is. Are you trying to increase traffic to sell products and services? Or are you trying to increase traffic to have more visitors on your website so you can have more advertisers on your page? If you are trying to get more clients as a law firm, it’s optimal to target keywords such as “how to choose the right divorce lawyer” rather than “what to wear at a law school tour.” This is because someone going on a law school tour isn’t looking for a lawyer and someone who is trying to find the right divorce lawyer is. Just because a competitor is targeting “what to wear at a law school tour,” it doesn’t mean you should target it, too. Although you share the same audience, sometimes, your goals might differ.

A conversion funnel is a journey your customer will take from clicking on your website in the search results to finally converting into a customer. The four primary stages in the funnel start with awareness – this is when customers have an issue and they go online to find solutions. The awareness stage is when your potential leads are looking for information on a topic and determining their needs. It is very important to ensure that what you optimize for is in line with the content on the page. Don’t use keywords to trick the search engine into ranking your page if your page is not truly designed to help the reader get information on that topic. For example, if your page is optimized for “what to do after a car accident” but most of the content talks about reasons to hire your law firm, the reader will be disappointed in the content and will bounce back. Write your content with the reader in mind and aim to truly be helpful in order to take your readers to the next stage of the funnel.

The interest of the visitor rises when the content is helpful and beneficial to their needs. They will start looking for additional pieces of content or visit other pages on the site. It is also at this stage when the reader considers various solutions for their needs and compares services, prices, and reviews. If they have a pleasant experience with your website, then they will go to the next stage and have a desire.

At the ‘desire’ stage, your leads should understand why it is so beneficial to them to choose your firm and your services and why it is so convenient to hire your attorneys and work with your firm. If you manage to convince the customers, they will benefit from the relationship with you and they will take action and convert to clients.

Short-tail and Long-tail keywords

Some of your competitors’ keywords are short and some are long. Short keywords that consist of 1-2 words are called short-tail keywords and usually have high keyword difficulty as well as search volume. Just like we looked at “SEO” above, it had way more searches than “SEO for Lawyers.” “SEO for Lawyers” is a long-tail keyword. Your competitors might be targeting many short-tail keywords, but as it is more challenging to rank for those – and it takes a long time to do so – you should consider looking at more long-tail keywords. People searching for long-tail keywords are looking for more specific results. Long-tail keywords usually have less competition and bring more high-quality traffic.

We hope the steps above help you step into the game, find and choose the right keyword, and bring more clients to your website!

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