DIY SEO #4: Getting Keyword Suggestions From Your Competition

DIY SEO: keyword research - competition researchEvery website has competition.  It doesn’t matter if your are a national business or a local church, your website is competing against other websites for search rankings.  Normally, we think of competition as making things more difficult for us, but today your competition is going to help you out.  So, how do you do that?

Finding Your Competition:
Finding your competition pretty is easy.   Do a search for some of the keywords you have come up with while brainstorming keywords.  The websites you see listed in the results are your competition.  Simple enough.

When Competition Isn’t Competition:
As you are looking up keywords and noting which sites you are competing against, you will probably find some sites which you wouldn’t really consider your competition.   For example, if you are a business that sells appliances, you may find a website that is a forum about fixing appliances…not really your competition.   After all, if someone is looking to buy an appliance, that forum is not going to steal the sale from you.  Even still, they are your competition in the search engines.  If they are pushing you down in the rankings for some of your keywords, they are costing you traffic.

So, there are going to be some websites in the search results for which there is some competition, but they are not a direct competitor of your business or organization.  They are not offering the same thing you are.  Let’s define these two types of competition as “direct competition” and “search competition”.  Direct competition are the sites you find in the search results who are offering similar products or services as you and search competition are sites you find in the search results which do not offer similar products or services.

Using Your Competition:
Right now we are still in the keyword research phase of our SEO work.  So, that is our focus regarding our competition today.  For once, your competition is going to help you out.  They are going to do some keyword brainstorming for you.  Here’s what you’ll need to do:

1. Do a search for some of your keywords and make a list of your competition and pick out the sites that are direct competitors.  In this step we are going to focus solely on your direct competition, preferably those who are doing some SEO themselves.

2. Start visiting the competitors’ websites and look for sites who are doing at least some SEO on their sites.  To determine this, we can use a simple test.  Make sure you are using a browser that displays the title tag in the bar at the top of the browser.  Firefox shows the title tag.  Chrome does not.  Older versions of Internet Explorer do, but the latest version of IE does not.

Navigate through several pages of the competitor’s website and look to see if the title tags of the pages are unique and more than just the site name and page name.  Are keywords being used strategically in the title tags?  If not, then they are not using SEO (or at least not very well).  If the title tags are optimized, then the site is doing at least some SEO.

3. Make a list of 5 – 6 competitor sites where they are doing SEO.  If you cannot find 5 – 6 sites, that’s OK.  List as many SEO’d sites as you find and then use non-SEO’d sites to complete the list.

4. Now, we are going to look for keyword ideas on your competition’s websites.  You could do this manually, but there are also tools that can help.

  • Internet Business Promoter has a keyword extraction tool where you just enter the domain name of the site and they show you what words and phrases they use on the site and how often they are used.  This software does cost a decent amount of money, but the software has several tools which will be helpful with several aspects of your SEO work.
  • SEOmoz has a free tool that does a pretty good job as well.  The down side to their tool is that you have to research each URL of each website individually instead of the whole website all at once.  But it works and it’s free.

As you extract keywords from your competitors’ websites, look for any keyword ideas that you had not already thought of and add them to the keyword list you created from brainstorming.

Additional tips and notes:

Today’s Tasks:

  • Create a list of your competitors.
  • Divide the list of competitors into “direct competitors” and “search competitors”.
  • Manually review or use a tool to extract keywords and find additional keywords to add to your keyword list.

Did you discover competition that you were not aware of?

Did you find new keywords from your competition?

DIY SEO #3: Brainstorming Keywords <- DIY SEO: Main -> DIY SEO #5: Keyword Popularity Research

One Response to “DIY SEO #4: Getting Keyword Suggestions From Your Competition”

  1. This is a super post…can't wait until I have time to do this over the weekend! Love the differentiation between direct competition and search competition. So true but something I never thought about before.