I’ve previously took a look at SEO keyword tools for attempting to figure out the best keywords for your content i.e. the ones with potentially the most traffic and the least competition. This can of course be used to make sure that you are going to get the most bang for buck for your content.
However, occasionally you’ll want to mirror closely the keywords that your competitors are ranking on, and competing on from both an organic search, and paid search perspective, particularly if you are fresh to a market. It’s also useful to take a look at the sort of content that is doing well for them from a social media perspective as often you’ll be able to improve on their offering to score links AND indeed uncover keywords which they are receiving good traffic for. If nothing else it gives you a heads up as to what the market is hungry for, and provide you with fresh content ideas.
I’ve taken a look at some of the free and commercial ways in which you can perform this sort of research to gain a competitive advantage.
These deal primarily with organic keywords in the search engines, i.e ones your competitors are ranking on organically.
From the developers of SEOQuake and SEODigger , SEM rush provides really accurate data on the traffic your competitors are receiving. I checked it with three independant domains that I control, and I was very impressed with the accuracy of the information I got back. As well as organic keywords, the free version of SEM Rush also other competitors in organic search, and potential ad / traffic buyers on keywords for that domain. Useful if you are looking to approach people buying traffic. The pro versions allows up to 10000 results per domain, 3000 queries per day, history, export to csv and xls. All results (organic+ AdWords) and API access are included.
Compete have been around a while and I have previously mentioned them along with Alexa (see below) as a contender for monitoring competitors traffic. However, they have recently improved their offering to include competitors organic keywords which allow you to put your competitors domain into the search, and receive the top 5 keyword referrals out of the total for free. Paid access works in a similar way to SEM rush – more data is provided for the commercial options.
You can focus on top performing keywords and traffic, and their search analytics tool allows webmasters to also see what sites get traffic from searches with similar keyword phrases as well as finding keywords which are currently sending traffic to your own or competitors domains.
Alexa have only recently introduced their organic keyword research. They update their data monthly , and their reports show the top 10 queries driving traffic to a particular domain from search engines. One other interesting report shows the traffic on the rise, and the fall for a particular month, which gives you insight into phrases which may be seasonal, or falling out of favour.
PPC Research Tools
These deal primarily with paid keywords in the search engines, i.e ones your competitors are paying for.
Spyfu is a really powerful piece of kit that not only allows you to see competitors paid keywords, but also allows you to see how much they are spending. You can see my own SpyFu review written back in 2008, which is still relevant. Their feature set has moved on since then, with other products such as Keyword SmartSearch, keyword groupie and SpyFu Kombat all providing free limited access for webmasters, and those involved with PPC markets.
A competitor to SpyFu in the space, KeywordSpy offer a variety of interesting research topics on keywords including but not limited to the following: Top Paid Ad Spenders, Keywords with Highest Cost Per Click, Top Ad Spenders Based on No. of Keywords, Keywords with Highest Cost per Day, and Keywords with Most Clicks per Day amongst others. You can use Keyword spy for a variety of applications, but building a list of keywords using your competitors’ keywords is probably one of the most attractive parts of the tool. Pricing for the commercial application starts at $89.99 per month.