Spying on Your Competitors – and Learning From Them

You can learn a lot from your competitors, and you’d have to be a fool not to stay on top of what they’re doing. Whether you’re looking to stay ahead of them in terms of SEO, social media or a general business perspective (which I’m sure you are nodding at all three!) then competitive research is a must.

I’m going to break down a simple approach to carrying out monthly/weekly/daily competitive research (depending on how obsessive you are!). First things first, let’s take a look at some competitive keyword research…

Competitive Keyword Research

Keyword research is an incredibly important part of any SEO campaign. Whenever I take on a new client, their competitors are my first port of call for sourcing keywords to target. This usually helps me find a load of long-tail variations and alternatives that I can work on for some quick wins, but it also gives me a good steer on industry terminology.

Carrying out competitive keyword research is easy and through using Keyword Eye, it can be done in a few clicks.

Competitor Analysis

Once you’re logged in, click on New (top-left) and then select Competitor Analysis. You’ll then be presented with a box (as shown in the above image) where you can type in the domain name of your competitor, select the search engine and then run the full report.

Keyword Research Word Cloud

Once you’ve ran the report you’ll get a nice big word cloud that you can order by search volume or their search ranking (amongst other factors). This helps you to quickly highlight where your competitors are bringing in search traffic from.

If you then navigate to the Grid View tab, you’ll get a breakdown each keyword complete with search volume, keyword competitiveness, your competitor’s organic ranking, the URL that’s ranking and the number of organic results for each query.

This data is gold.

On top of this, you can drill down to find long-tail variations for each of the keywords that you’ve found from your competitors. To do this, navigate back to the Keywords tab (the word cloud), right-click any of the keywords and select Find Questions.

Find Questions

Keyword Eye will then pull in long-tail variations of the short-tail keyword that you’ve selected to find more informational queries related to this. For example, this could be, What is social media? How many people use social media? Or, How to use social media for business.

The search volume and keyword competition score is also provided within these results. Awesome!

Exported Keywords

My next step is to repeat this process for a number of competitors (3-5 to begin with) and the download all the data and collate it into a .csv file.

This data in itself can be used to get a good idea on the types of keywords that you may want to start targeting, but I then take this a step further by adding each of the ranking URLs of my competitors into Google’s Keyword Planner Tool to find other semantically related keywords and add them into my spreadsheet.

You’ll be surprised how easy it is to uncover low-hanging fruit this way.

Competitive Link Research

Like with keyword research, link prospecting is a staple part of any SEO campaign. Links add a huge amount of weight towards ranking well in the SERPs (I don’t need to tell you that, I’m sure!), so finding quick wins can have a big impact on the results of your campaigns.

I carry out competitive link research for each of my clients at least once a month. There are a number of tools that you can use to do this, each with their own pros and cons (which I’m not going to go into – check out this post from Matthew Woodward if you’re interested.)

For the purpose of this article, I’m going to use my most favoured tool, Majestic SEO (paid tool). For the competitive link research that I do, I combine the power of Majestic SEO with the functionality of the SEO Tools plugin for Excel (free).

The process is really simple, so all you need to do if follow these steps:

  1. Open Excel and navigate to the SEOTools tab (this is assuming you’ve installed the SEO Tools plugin.
  2. Select Majestic SEO and click the login button within the left-hand pane. Use your Majestic SEO login details to sign-in and grant the SEO Tools plugin full access.
  3. Once logged in, select New&Lost Backlinks from the Select Command: drop-down.
  4. Insert your competitor’s domain into the URL field.
  5. Select the interval as Last month.
  6. Select the mode as New.
  7. In the Fields: box, tick SourceURL, TargetURL, AnchorText, FlagNofollow, SourceCitationFlow and SourceTrustFlow.
  8. Set the Max Results to 1,000.
  9. Select the Fresh radio button from the Datasource field.
  10. Click the Insert button.

SEO Tools Plugin

You’ll then be presented with a big juicy list of the links that your competitor has gained in the past month, accompanied with metrics on the power of those links (Citation Flow and Trust Flow).

The next step is to filter the data by Citation Flow (largest at the top) and work through the list to find if there are any opportunities that you could capitalise on. Typically, these are some of the things I look out for:

  • Mentions of my competitors within the press.
  • Guest post content written by my competitors.
  • Links to images or video content they’ve produced.
  • Directories or useful links pages.
  • Links to their product pages (if applicable).

Upon finding each of these, it’s a case of following the paper trail back and trying to form a relationship with the linking website that can result in you acquiring a similar link.

Alongside this, I find that it helps me identify any new approaches that I could take to link building and replicate any success that my competitors have had. It also gives you a bit of an insight into how you can try to build links that make it tough for your competitors to replicate because I’m sure that they’ll be doing the same thing to your link profile.

TL;DR

  • Don’t ignore what your competitors are doing.
  • Use link analysis tools in tandem with Excel to easily identify competitive link opportunities.
  • Monitor your competitors’ rankings to uncover new keyword opportunities.
  • Expand on your competitors’ short-tail keywords with long-tail question variations.

Find trending content and influencers for your keywords

We’ve added a couple of exciting features to Keyword Eye Pro which will allow you to quickly identify what content is working well in an industry and who the major influencers are.

This adds an extra dimension to your research which I hope you will find useful. Here are just a couple of ways in which you could use this to your advantage:

  • Find out what content in your niche gets the most shares. Discover what makes your audience tick.
  • Find out who the influencers are in specific topics and analyze their sharing activity.

To access these new features simply login to your Keyword Eye Pro account (if you’re interested in upgrading to Pro please click here) and generate a keyword report like you’ve done before. Right click on any keyword to view a menu like this:

Clicking ‘Find Top Content‘ will return popular content for your keyword in the last month sorted by the total number of social shares. You can view the number of shares on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ that each piece of content has received. Clicking on any of the titles will take you directly to the content.

Clicking ‘Find Top Influencers‘ will return the top 5 influencers for your keyword sorted by relevancy. View their follower numbers as well as reply, retweet and URL share ratios.

That’s not all!

We’ve expanded our content analysis tool to incorporate this fresh content data. Let’s say we we want to analyze keyword usage within trending content for the term ‘world cup’. We will add this as the keyword and choose the ‘trending’ option.

After clicking ‘Run Report’ we were able to generate the following keyword cloud (keyword size reflects frequency in this case):

It looks like ‘France’ and ‘Ronaldo’ are getting a few mentions as we speak!

I hope you find these new features useful. If you’ve got any questions or feedback please leave a comment below.

How to generate reports using your own keyword lists

If you’ve used Keyword Eye before you will know it returns keyword suggestions related to or including a keyword or phrase.

What if you could generate a report for just a list of keywords you enter? Now you can. This is how you do it.

  • Login to your Keyword Eye Basic or Pro account. In the ‘New’ drop-down menu click ‘List’ under the ‘Keyword’ item (‘Suggestion’ is where you will find the traditional keyword suggestion tool).

  • Enter a list of keywords in the new dialog (one per line, maximum 100 keywords).

  • Click ‘Run Report’. That’s it! You’ll now be able to visualize average search volume and competition metrics for your own keyword list in a matter of seconds.

This new report is available to both Keyword Eye Basic and Pro users. Basic users are limited to 10 reports per day. Pro users get additional insight by returning CPC (cost per click) data per keyword.

At this stage the data is limited to Google US but we’re looking to expand this in the near future.

If you’ve got any questions or feedback about this new report please leave a comment below.

Using Reddit to find trending keywords

There are literally millions of people on Reddit discussing every topic you can think of. If you browse through a few of the discussions using the advanced search you will find a number of trending keywords that you just might not find using a keyword tool (Keyword Eye included).

We’ve added a little feature to Keyword Eye which we hope you find useful.

Simply right click any keyword in a keyword suggestion report (or competitor analysis if you’re a Pro member) and click ‘Reddit’ to open up an advanced Reddit search for the keyword in question.

You’ve now found a keyword research goldmine!

Visualize Keyword Frequency within Top Ranking Websites

We’ve just added another cool tool to Keyword Eye Pro.

The ‘Content Analysis’ tool gathers the clean content (eliminating navigation, ads etc) of the top 3 ranking URLs for a given query within a selected search engine and displays the results in an image based word cloud.

The example below was generated for the query ‘digital agency’ for Google UK.

The size of individual keywords reflect the frequency of which they appear within the gathered content.

This is very useful for looking at on-site keyword trends for top search engine ranking pages, whether for SEO analysis or just from a messaging point of view.

The generated cloud is an image too so you can save it to your computer or embed it in a presentation or proposal very easily.

We’re going to be launching an additional interactive version of the content analysis tool in the next week or so.

15 New Country Databases Added

We’ve just added 15 new country databases to Keyword Eye (Basic and Pro). The new databases are:

America

  • Google AR (Argentina)
  • Google MX (Mexico)

Europe

  • Google BE (Belgium)
  • Google DK (Denmark)
  • Google FI (Finland)
  • Google IE (Ireland)
  • Google IL (Israel)
  • Google NL (Netherlands)
  • Google NO (Norway)
  • Google PL (Poland)
  • Google SE (Sweden)
  • Google CH (Switzerland)
  • Google TR (Turkey)

Asia

  • Google HK (Hong Kong)
  • Google SG (Singapore)

Each new database holds 400,000 keywords apart from the Netherlands which holds 6,000,000. In Keyword Eye Pro we have added new currency types for the respective countries where keyword CPC (cost per click) data is collected.

New Keyword and Competitor Tool Features

We’ve recently added two cool new features to Keyword Eye.

Phrase Match Keyword Results

Our keyword suggestion tool previously only returned keywords relating to your initial query. We have added a new option which will now only return keywords including your initial query. This is ideal if you are only looking for specific and relevant keyword ideas.

When creating a new keyword suggestion report simply click the ‘Includes Keyword Only’ option.

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Get Keyword Ranking Data for Internal URLs

Our competitor analysis tool (Pro only) would previously only return ranking keywords for an entire domain. It is now possible to return ranking keywords for a specific URL so can now use this tool to find out what keywords an internal page is ranking for. When defining the options for a new competitor analysis report simply choose the correct option within the ‘Data’ drop-down menu.

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What Next?

We are just about to launch an exciting content analysis tool which finds and visualizes keyword trends within the content of the top 3 ranking pages for a search query within Google or Bing. This allows you to:

  • Discover commonly occurring 1, 2 or 3 word phrases within highly ranked pages
  • Research related entities and topics for advanced keyword research

We plan to launch this tool in late January.

Looking at Questions to Generate Content Ideas

Content is (and has always been) at the heart of the internet. Heck, the internet is content! Millions of users are using the internet to look for content. As marketers we want to create content that users are looking for. Effective content strategies incorporate this.

How do we know what users are looking for? Let’s take a look at questions. We can look at questions that people are searching for in your sector to help write content. The purpose of such content would be to answer the question. This immediately adds value. It’s also a great way of getting such content ranking in the search engines for long tail queries.

We’ve created a new report within Keyword Eye Pro which allows you to find such questions. Let’s take a look at how this works.

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In the ‘New’ menu click ‘Question Finder’. This will open up a new overlay. Add a keyword (additional keywords can be seperated by commas) which you want the questions to include. The type dropdown menu allows you to define what type of question you want returning. The options include:

  • How
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Who
  • Why

Of course, you can always leave the value as ‘All’ if you have no preference to the type of questions returned.

That’s it. Simply click ‘Run Report’ to load suitable questions. In the example below we have chosen ‘google’ as the keyword and ‘When’ as the type.

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The report returns questions which matches the chosen criteria. It includes the question, monthly search volume, PPC competition and score. At the moment this report is limited to Google US only (this should be expanding to other countries soon).

You can also generate questions from our traditional keyword cloud reports too. Simply right click on a keyword and click ‘Find Questions’.

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We hope you find this new report useful for generating content ideas or FAQ sections for your site. Feedback? Please do let us know!

Enhance your Keyword Brainstorming with Synonyms

Do you ever feel you need a little inspiration when brainstorming keywords? Using synonyms (alternate / similar versions of the same word) we can rapidly expand keyword ideas which we may have missed previously. This is why we have added a useful synonym finder to Keyword Eye. This is how it works:

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Load a traditional keyword suggestion report. Right click on a keyword within the report from which you want to find synonyms for. Click ‘Get Synonyms’. This will open a new overlay which will contain a list of synonyms.

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Simply click on one of the synonyms and it will automatically open a new keyword suggestion report for that synonym in a new tab. Easy, right?

Let your keyword brainstorming go wild!

Introducing Soovle into Keyword Eye

I’ve got alot of respect for Soovle. It’s one of the first SEO tools that I used. Simply enter a keyword and it will return trending keywords from a number of sources instantly. By default these sources include popular search engines such as Google and Bing. However, the addition of alternative sources such as YouTube and traditional e-commerce stores such as Amazon gives keyword research an extra dimension.

We have now integrated Soovle into Keyword Eye. In one of our keyword reports (within Basic or Pro) simply right click a keyword of your choosing. Click ‘Soovle’ to open up a new report for that keyword.

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Following on from our recent integration with Ubersuggest, we think this is yet another simple but effective way of expanding your keyword research quickly.