Spying on competitors may be frowned upon in other industries, but it’s a go-to strategy in marketing. And it’s all legal!
Sure, you could start a Google search for each keyword, see which competitors pop up, and build a spreadsheet of your findings. But that would take too much time and energy.
Instead, there are plenty of tools marketers can use to “spy” on their competitors and understand their SEO and PPC strategies.
This is why we’re unpacking five key strategies you can use right now to discover your competitors’ SEO and PPC keywords.
Find Their Most-Used Keywords
Using a tool like SpyFu, you can easily see which keywords make your competitors’ strategies tick.
Say your competitor is Salesforce, a customer relationship management platform. Type their website into SpyFu’s search bar, and you can access a gold mine of information about their most valuable keywords.
Right away, you can see that 97% of clicks are organic and only 3% are paid. That means they probably have a strong SEO strategy, and they don’t invest heavily in PPC.
Dive in further to see a breakdown of their organic and paid keywords. For instance, organic keywords include “salesforce login” and “consumer relationship management.” But paid keywords include “cloud services,” “CRM,” and “CRM software.”
You can even see how much your competitor pays for each of those keywords, and how much it costs them each month. Compare this to your own budget and see if you have room to bid against your competitor by using these keywords.
Check Their AdWords History
By viewing your competitor’s AdWords history, you can get a glimpse of their top ads. You can also see which keywords trigger those ads and how much traffic is driven by each ad. This is what those results look like on iSpionage.
With this information at your fingertips, you can compare your competitor’s ad copy to yours. If they rank higher than you do for certain keywords, you can find ways to improve your ad or more effectively bid on those keywords.
Going further, you can even see your competitor’s landing pages for each ad.
Here you can see where they’re directing readers to, how they incorporate keywords into their landing pages, and exactly what kinds of services and products they’re advertising to potential customers.
Find Lists of Other Competitors
Aside from your own list, you might have competitors that you aren’t even aware of. That’s why it’s helpful to use competitor research tools to see which companies are bidding on certain keywords, and to determine if you should be tracking the strategies of other businesses.
For example, here are the lists of Salesforce’s main organic and paid competitors as shown by the SEMrush tool.
For each of these groups, you can dive in further to see how their rankings compare for each keyword and the average cost per click for those keywords. You can even check to see if your company is on that list, and how you rank for organic and paid keyword performance. You can then compare your keyword performance with those of your competitors.
With this tool, can also view inbound links, which indicate where your competitor’s organic clicks are coming from outside of search. For instance, they may be coming from articles on third-party websites. Here is how this looks on SEMrush.
Remember that an important SEO strategy is getting your content linked on other high-quality sites. These links can prove your credibility as a content source and increase your ranking in Google search results. That’s why it’s important to see which sites are linking to your competitors’ content. This can help you see which sites you might want to partner with, or submit guest posts to, in order to drive traffic back to your own site.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to see what your competitors are doing. If you’re putting time and funds into your PPC and SEO strategies, you should be able to make the most informed decisions about your approach.
That’s where competitor research comes in. You can easily see how your competitors rank for certain keywords, which types of ads they’re running, and which gaps leave room for you to swoop in and engage potential customers.