Fast SEO Competitive Analysis

Careful keyword research is a time-consuming, often overlooked, but yet foundational aspect of creating a fantastic SEO strategy. Not until we comprehensively understand what people are using to find our client’s products or services in search engines, can we begin identifying issues and focusing on high-opportunity areas. Your SEO strategy is only as good as the keyword research that went into it.

This article will focus on the following aspects of keyword research, the first of a multipart series on Fast SEO Competitive Analysis.

  1. Understand Competitors
  2. Identify How People Are Finding Competition in Search
  3. Use Google Keyword Tool to Identify Search Trends and Quantify Search Volume

Tools Used:

  • SEMrush
  • Google’s Keyword Tool
  • Google Sheets (Excel works) – here’s the Sheet referenced throughout this tutorial

1. Understand Competitors

It’s not necessary to begin keyword research with competitors, but it’s easy! Especially if you have access to third-party tools like BrightEdge, SEOClarity, SearchMetrics, or SEMrush with massive ranking databases. It also increases understanding of the space. For example, many brand keywords would seem to be non-brand if you’re not familiar with competitor names or offerings.

Google Sites Example: Competitor Identification

Google describes its Sites product as a, “…free and easy way to create and share webpages.” Based on that and for the purpose of this tutorial, let’s just grab the top competitors in the results for the Google search “free website creation.”

Google’s Ranking URL:

#1 –

#2 –

#3 –

Now while this strategy seems very focused on a single keyword, it’s representative of the general space free website creation.

2. How People Are Finding Competitors in Search

Now using SEMrush, we’ll grab lists of the search terms for the Google and competitor pages listed above.

Note: If SEMrush is not an option, consider skipping to #3 and using Google’s “Search for new keyword and adgroup ideas” tool. Then run through a tool like Advanced Web Ranking for ranking data.


While downloading these files, also grab a count of keywords for benchmarking and comparison purposes. Make a graph if you want to! We’re already seeing how using this method will meld into a larger competitive analysis.


Optional: For organizational purposes, consolidate these spreadsheets into a single workbook.


3. Use Google Keyword Tool to Identify Search Trends and Quantify Search Volume

Now that we have lists of keywords, we can simply copy and paste them into the free AdWords Keyword Toolfor auto grouping.

Note: There is a 1,000-word limit, but you can upload a file with up to 3,000. To get under the limit, branded terms were removed, all terms and search volume were consolidated, then the top 3,000 were used.


Categories are returned based on the imputed terms.


These results can be exported and added to the existing workbook as well.

Filter the list for only relevant categories and keywords. The final product should be an accurate representation of what searches your client should be coming up for in search engines. Consider sending this list to the client for feedback.


Using a Pivot Table you can group the final categories to see where the highest search interest exists. In this case the largest search volume had “free website” in the search, which makes sense, but there are many less competitive and relevant groupings as well.



Recently we were looking at a number one ranking on a money term for a client, and the click-through rate (CTR) was at a mere 14 percent! This emphasizes the importance of thinking about keyword research in terms of groups and categories and reflects how Google is thinking about sites. Google has to see your site as an authority on particular topics. So for this methodology, the goal is to know where you stand against your competitors for popular search trends, which helps find relevant categories to benchmark and track over time.

For a lot of SEO’s keyword research loses its appeal quickly, but it’s actually pretty fun! Especially in the context of the competitive landscape. This is an area where our clients can really relate and get excited about the opportunity we present to them.

The next article will focus on taking the groupings we pulled out of Google’s Keyword tool for AdWords, and applying them to SEO strategy.


The results from the AdWords Keyword Tool also produced some really nice graphs on general search trends and demographics for the keywords inputted. Use these to help connect with your client. Try to be conservative in your opportunity estimates, but it’s nice to say this is a good guess on how many people are looking for your products/services on the Web using search!


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