How to Use the Google AdWords Keyword Tool to “Spy” on Competitors’ Keywords

The Google AdWords Suggestion Tool is great for checking out what keywords to use, but try this as well: instead of adding a keyword to access keyword data, use the second option, which allows you to add a website page or domain URL to extract related keywords from the page or site. Use it on your own site or a competitor’s to get useful information on where they rank and for which keywords and how much the competition is “working” each term. Then download the results into an Excel spreadsheet for analysis.

It’s almost always startling to uncover how your competitors are using keywords to draw visitors. There’s no reason why you can’t benefit from their hard work, “borrow” those keywords, and then outrank them!

Make sure to do keyword research based on what your audience wants, not solely on what content the site already has. Here are ways to determine what your audience is interested in:

  • Conduct surveys of your audience by putting surveys on your site.
  • Conduct focus groups and/or use social media listening software to determine what content would be valuable to your audience and then build your SEO efforts around that.

Link Popularity

The more popular your site (largely judged by backlinks), the higher your search engine ranking. I’ll go into this in more detail later, but for now you need to be aware that this is part of the optimization process.

Even links from a local chamber of commerce site or a partner you work with in your industry are worth pursuing to some degree. Just remember that the best “in pointing” links will come from those sites that are most relevant to your business niche and right behind that are those sites that Google just loves in general (like .edu and .gov sites). But before you start link building, you need to know your existing link profile.

The point is that the more authority or highly trusted links you have pointing not just to your home page but to all of the pages on your site, the far better your long-term SEO results.

Google doesn’t provide the best information on this, possibly because the heart of their secret algorithm is built around this concept, so we use a number of tools such as opensiteexplorer.org (from SEOMoz) and majesticseo.com.

Look at how many unique websites link to you (root domains in SEOMoz) versus how many total links. Since one site can link to you thousands of times from the footer at the bottom of the site, don’t get over-excited about numerous links from one site. It isn’t a bad thing if a site keeps mentioning and linking to you from relevant content, but don’t fake it by trying to get many links from one domain.

If your competitors have many more high-quality links with high domain authority than you, then you need to get links comparable to theirs.

While some experts go so far as to say social links may out-do traditional links in a couple years, it may also take ten years for that to happen if at all. However, no SEO plan is complete without a strategy for link building and social links/brand citations/PR.

Where do you currently get your keywords?

photo credit: practicalowl via photopin cc

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