Why You Need a Competitive Keyword Analysis

Joe Dawson

The internet is a busy place, and every brand is trying to ensure they stand out from the crowd. The days of simply shouting loudest and stuffing a web page with keywords to gain attention from the masses have long passed, though. In the 21st century, quality trumps quantity. To flourish, a website must capture the attention of Google's algorithms with the right keywords.

Of course, impressing Google is only half the battle. While all websites must fight to remain in the good graces of the world's most popular search engine, online content must also appeal to human readers. The best way to achieve these twin goals is by undertaking a competitive keyword analysis. This will bolster your search engine optimization (SEO) score while also ensuring you reach an audience interested in what your site has to offer.

What is competitive keyword analysis?

As the name suggests, a competitive keyword analysis involves reviewing and discovering what essential words and phrases successful websites use. The reason for this is simple. If a website sits pretty on top of page one of a Google search result, it does everything right. It's appealing to  Google’s algorithm and a target audience alike.

A sizable element of this success will be the keywords the site is using throughout its content. Nobody will ever find a green triangle on a website that discusses blue circles. The use of keywords in the modern era requires a combination of art and science, though. These essential phrases must be used sparingly. 

Suppose you spam your content with keywords or surround them with irrelevant information or copy. In that case, Google's algorithms will assume you are undertaking quick fix blackhat SEO practices and penalize your site. If you get the balance right, however, you can significantly enhance the performance of your site.

This is why it's so vital to take your lead from successful competitors. Without being too blunt about this, your competitors are currently enjoying the market share you want for your business. One way to turn the table on your competition is by learning from, and improving upon, their use of keywords. 

Why is competitive keyword analysis important?

As we have discussed, keywords are essential to any SEO strategy. If you're running an e-commerce website that specializes in shoes, for example, words like "shoes', "boots", "sandals", "sneakers", and "footwear" will all feature prominently in your SEO. These are the terms that will attract all-important clicks from new leads conducting an online search

The problem here is that every other e-commerce site that sells shoes will also be using these keywords. If these businesses have a bigger budget than yours, they can blow you out of the water when bidding on pay-per-click, or PPC, keywords. If they have a more established presence and online reputation, even their organic SEO performance will exceed your own.

Your business may have a growing and loyal following, but take our word for it; Walmart, TJ Maxx, JCPenney, and the like have a more extensive reach. So, we've established that going toe-to-toe with competitors is not always advisable. However, you can analyze the keywords these large corporations are using and adapt their strategy to enhance your own SEO performance.

How to undertake competitive keyword analysis

Ready to embark upon a competitive keyword analysis? Follow these steps to do so successfully.

  • Identify your competition. This could be monolithic brand names or smaller sites that punch above their weight in terms of performance
  • Conduct a thorough audit of the websites of each competitor, ideally taking a deep dive into each page (we recommend using specialist software for this, rather than relying on your own two eyes)
  • Review the content of each page, paying particular attention to the use of keywords in the copy. What words are used most often? What density of content is made up of these keywords?

Now you have this information, you know what appeals to Google and consumers alike. Alas, simply copying this approach is unlikely to bear fruit. For a start, you risk falling foul of Google's plagiarism detectors, which can spell disaster for page rankings. Equally, as we intimated previously, you may find the prices for paid advertising on these keywords sky-high.

So, what was the point of this investigation? You can use your findings to bolster your SEO profile – and bottom line – in other ways. For instance, consider using your newly discovered keyword information to:

  • Create long-form blogs using these keywords for content marketing, building brand loyalty and future custom
  • Bid on a range of synonyms in your PPC marketing, potentially attracting an audience for a fraction of the cost of popular keywords that your competitors fight over
  • Bid on keywords on other search engines, such as Microsoft Advertising. Bing (along with DuckDuckGo and Yahoo) may not have the reach of Google, but these alternative search engines attract a larger demographic than you may realize
  • Incorporate keywords into images, headings, and alt tags, steadily improving your SEO

If you do this successfully, you'll soon find the results of your site speak for themselves. However, just bear in mind that your competitors will notice this too. Always be prepared to review and refresh your keyword strategy, lest the competition in your niche start looking to imitate your approach and reclaim a share of the marketplace from you.

Should you complete competitive keyword analysis yourself or hire an expert?

This is a choice for you to make as a business, as many factors weigh into your eventual decision. The cost implications of hiring a third party will always be a significant part of your thinking but try not to let an intimidating initial outlay blind you. External support means that you will not need to give up your own time to put new SEO policies and keyword analysis into action. Unlike cash flow, lost time can never be recovered.

Weigh up the pros and cons of mastering competitor keyword analysis against bringing in professional assistance. You know what is best for your business better than anybody else. The most important thing is that you embrace this approach to increasing awareness of your online identity. Whichever method you take, you'll see a return on your investment if you conduct competitor keyword analysis correctly.   

Joe Dawson

Joe Dawson is the Director of Creative.onl. Joe has a passion for creating meaningful experiences. Through design he creates authentic and innovative digital products.

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