How to Check a Site and See What Keywords it Ranks for: Competitor Research for SEO

Competitor keyword research is a great way to uncover high intent keywords and low hanging fruit. Identifying content gaps on your website will allow you to improve the customer experience and increase brand awareness.

SEO Scout makes it simple to identify competitor keywords to add to your content strategy. In this guide, we’ll explore how to check a site and see what keywords it ranks for to find new opportunities.

What is competitor research?

Competitor research is the process of analysing how your competitors are performing in search results. A lot of this information is readily available online, so there is no reason you can't make the most of the data out there to inform your search strategy.

If you feel uneasy about this approach –  don't worry. If your competitors have any form of marketing strategy in place, you can guarantee they keep a close eye on your performance and activities. Competitor monitoring is a normal part of marketing and is not considered unethical.

As long as you aren’t ripping off their content, word for word, you have nothing to worry about!

Competitor research and SEO

You might think you have a firm grasp of the keywords your customers use to find your business. But you've probably only scratched the surface of your website's full potential.

Business owners and marketing managers are in a privileged position. They have in-depth knowledge of the product or service. They understand the problem it solves. So when it comes to keyword research, they often suffer from a lack of imagination and a narrow focus.

This is one reason it's so helpful to check out your competitor's keyword rankings. Their understanding of the products and services you both offer will allow you to double-check your strategy.

By looking at competitor keyword research, you'll understand better which keywords will convert well on your site - and which ones won't work as well. You can also take note of any new ideas they've identified through this method that could help boost traffic numbers or generate higher click-through rates (CTRs).

How do I find my competitors?

Identifying your competitors isn't always easy. Like keywords, you might think you have a firm grasp of what is going on. But the companies that appear in SERPs for the same keywords as your company aren't always the obvious choices.

Your competitors aren't always local, thanks to the rise of internationalisation. And they aren't always offering a directly comparable product. Take SEO Scout, for instance. Users turn to us for a variety of reasons. Some are looking for A/B testing capabilities, and some are looking for content marketing support. With every feature you add to your site, the list of direct and indirect competitors grows longer.

Finding competitor keywords in SEO Scout

SEO Scout makes it easy to identify your competitors using the Domain Competitors tool. Enter your URL and choose your region, then hit Research.

You might see some huge sites like Wikipedia, YouTube and Facebook appear. You'll notice that these have a high number of unique keywords and a small number of overlapping keywords.

Filter out these sites by setting a limit on the total number of overlapping keywords. Around 1/2 of your own website's unique keywords is a great place to start. This will give you a list of your closest competitors. These sites will be a similar size and scale to your own site. If you want to set your sights higher, set the limit for overlapping keywords much higher.

Data only gives you a small piece of the puzzle. If you've never heard of the sites before, it's time to check out what they offer. Some may be relevant, some less so. You're now closer to understanding keyword and content gaps on your website.

The great thing about SEO is that it levels the playing field. If you can produce a quality piece of content that answers a specific question, there’s no reason you can’t compete with the big organisations with colossal marketing budgets.

A local hair salon might be competing with other local salons, hair care companies, fashion bloggers and beauty magazines in the rankings.

While local salons are your direct competitors, if you want to get your name out there and get eyeballs on your content, targeting keywords that are dominated by companies like GHD, Aveda and Vogue Magazine could be the best route forward. Don’t forget that you’re just as much an expert as these large organisations.

How do I find competitor keywords?

To check a site and see what keywords it ranks for, head to the Competitor Keywords tab under Keyword Research. Then, enter the domain of the website you'd like to explore.

This will extract the ranking keywords and include information about their ranking position, estimated traffic, search volume, cost per click, and this traffic's value. You'll also see if the search term generates any features, such as a featured snippet or People Also Ask panel. Low hanging fruit will have high search volume and low competition.

What to do with this data

In SEO, it's not enough to check a website and extract a list of ranking keywords. Not every keyword is worth your time and effort. You should also check how well those ranking pages perform in terms of traffic and conversions. Are they worth targeting? Make sure you focus on the high-intent keywords that will drive valuable traffic to your site.

Add all competitor keywords to a new content list and run through your closest competitors to create a comprehensive list. You now have a master list of keywords to consider, but your website might already appear in the SERP for these terms. So how do you eliminate common keywords?

Processing the keywords

Enter your website URL into the Competitor Keywords tab and extract the CSV file. Next, extract your master keyword list from the competitor list and check the entries.

Add the contents of both CSV files to a single Google Sheet and use conditional formatting to highlight the duplicates. You now have a list of brand new keywords to target in your campaigns and a list of keywords where your competitors might rank above you.

Compare both lists and identify related opportunities where one website may have the edge over another due to keyword prominence - if they're ranked higher than yours, find out why?

  1. Use the Topic Research tool to improve the content on the page
  2. Create an SEO test to improve the CTR

For missing keywords, you need to create a content marketing plan to plug these gaps. Use the Content Planner to get blog title suggestions based on a seed keyword.

Rinse and repeat

Competitor research isn't a task you should complete once and then check off your list forever. Your competitors will constantly change, with new players entering the field and others changing their SEO approach.

Regular competitor monitoring will help you stay on top of changing search trends and make sure your site isn't missing any key opportunities. But, of course, you should also keep a close eye on how well your content is performing.