How to find what keywords your competitors are ranking for and how to blow them out of the water

Filed in Blog, Keyword Research, Tutorials by on January 9, 2015 4 Comments

I have just received an email from SEM Rush who have kindly offered me a complimentary account to their analysis tool, which is very kind of them!!

I have read a lot of good things about SEM Rush and it seems a pretty handy tool to have in any SEO’s armoury.

It would be rude of me not to try it out so I thought it would be a good idea to share with you what I found, and how I am now using this tool to spy on my competitors to steal their keywords!!


Disclaimer: I am now an affiliate of SEMRush, which means that should you go on too purchase SEMRush via any of the links on this page, I will receive a small commission for it.    I just wanted you to be aware of that before I go any further. I must admit, it’s not the cheapest tool around so be warned, and I have not written this tutorial for the sole purpose of promoting SEMRush. They gave me a free subscription so I thought it was only fair to share my opinion with you guys! If you want to try it out for free then click here is a link to a 14 day pro free trial!!




keeping a close eye on your competitors is becoming ever more important in terms of SEO.

Knowing exactly what keywords they are ranking for can give you the ammunition you need to outrank them aswell as discovering a ton more keywords that you hadn’t already discovered!!


So What exactly is SEMRush?

Basically, SEMRush provides SEO, keyword and PPC analysis and it does it instantly. It’s database has over 106 million keywords from over 97 million domains!!

The main feature is that you can see what keywords your site is ranking for, which Google analytics and WMT don’t do a great job at.

You can also see what your competitors are ranking for which is pretty cool. Not only that but you can perform in depth keyword research, analysis and identify the highest paying PPC keywords.

There is a ton of stuff you can do with SEMRush and in this post I will be showing you the best feature! and that’s how to steal your competitors keywords and rankings!!


Lets see exactly what keywords you are ranking for

The first thing we do is find out which keywords are driving traffic to our site. It’s really simple and it gives us a good overall picture of our sites SEO status!

For this example I will use a random site I found. I’m into fish tanks and marine aquariums at the minute so I’ll use this niche for now.

I came across this site which has some great information and some pretty cool resources, it’s called

I’ll use this site as my example, so login to SEMRush and simply enter the URL in the top bar and hit search…

This will now provide you with an overview of the sites performance in Google (providing you chose to use Google).


Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 10.19.25



As you can see, this site is doing well already in terms of organic traffic, this overview shows:

  • Organic search traffic
  • Number of keywords ranking
  • Traffic cost
  • Paid search traffic
  • Number of back links (I don’t pay much attention to this, Ahrefs is better)
  • Organic keywords for different countries

Underneath you will find some more information regarding your keywords. This shows you what keywords are bringing in the traffic!!


Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 10.19.48


In the top left it shows us our 5 top performing keywords, there is also an option to expand this too see ALL keywords that are bringing in the traffic.

Underneath you will see a list of our main competitors, this is when it starts getting interesting!! 


Quick Tip To Get A Ton More Traffic To Your Site

The best thing about this analysis is NOT the keywords we are ranking for, It’s the keywords we are ALMOST ranking for.

These are all of the keywords that we are ranking on page 2 and page 3 of Google. They are almost at page 1 but not quite, a little bit of effort will propel them up a few positions, thus bringing in more traffic!!

Here’s how to find them quickly.

Click on ‘positions’

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 10.40.55




This will bring up ALL of the keywords and their positions

As you can see below, there are 11.4k keywords which bring in around 53k visitors per month.


Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 10.45.05



There is a cool ‘filter’ option which we can use to find certain positions, keywords, URL’s, volume and more. In this case I’ll run the filter to see how many of these keywords are actually ranked on page 1 of Google!




Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 11.20.27


Here I have set the filter to find all keywords ranked between 0-10, which basically means they are on the 1st page. The search has shown that 9,469 results are ranked between 1-10, which is pretty impressive!

But now we want to see which keywords don’t quite make the cut. To do this, simply change the filter to:

>Greater than 10

< Less than 30

This will show all keywords on page 2 and 3.


Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 11.22.44


This has produced 2,294 results

That means that there are an extra 2,294 keywords that we could be getting traffic from!!

Once the results appear, we want to sort them by ‘volume’

This is the number of times the keyword was searched for in the past 12 months. It makes sense to target the high volume keywords first.


Here are the top few results:

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 11.27.44



The keyword ‘Betta Fish’ has a volume of 74k and is currently ranking on page 2 at position 19. A little bit of work would get this to page 1 and result in more traffic.

It’s just a case of going through each one and giving them a boost!!

This is an example of a Betta Fish, just incase you wondered!!




Uncovering Your Competitors Keywords and Rankings

Now it’s time to discover exactly who our competitors are, what keywords they are ranking for and how we compare to them.

We will then use this information to steal their rankings!!

Back to the top left menu, we want to click ‘competitors’


Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 11.42.18



Once you click on competitors you will see a competitor positioning map, this gives you a general idea where you stand in terms of keywords in the search results and amount of traffic received from them

The site we have chosen is doing well already, but it seems ‘live’ is outperforming it as you can see below:


Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 11.45.19


We can also see that ‘fish’ is getting a bit more traffic than us although they have less keywords. Maybe targeting some of their better performing keywords would be a good idea!

If you click on the bubble of any competitor it will show you their keyword volume and traffic.

If you scroll down you will see a competitors table which gives details of ALL of your competitors. You will probably uncover competitors that you never thought you had.

You will also see who is dominating your niche and who is creeping up behind you.

This would take you hours and hours to sift through the search engines trying to compile this information!! SEMRush does it in seconds.

Here are the first few results in the competitor table:


Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 11.52.12




From this table you can click on any of your competitors and it will bring up their overview including everything we discovered about our own site earlier.

If I click on ‘fish it will show there snapshot of how they are doing:

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 12.14.42


Comparing Keywords and Rankings

Now we want to get to the cool stuff. Going back to our competitor table, you will see a column called ‘common keywords’.

You will see that has 3.4k common keywords!!

a common keyword is the same keywords both you and your competitor are ranking for in the top 20 Googles search.


If I click on  ‘common keywords’ I will be presented with a comparison table

As you can see, it shows ALL of the keywords that we both rank for. There are a total of 3,388. I’ll just show you top few here:

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 12.27.05


The table allows us to search by Volume and CPC. This is great because we can see the most searched terms.

In the table above you can see that ‘Oscar fish’ gets 18,100 searches but we are only ranked 17, where as is ranked number 4.

So we take this keyword and enter it into Google:


Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 12.33.34

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 12.33.38


We then check out their page to see how it compares to ours.

> If we don’t have a specific page about Oscar Fish then we sure had better get one a.s.a.p

>If we do have a page about Oscar fish then we better improve it’s on page SEO and then look at build a few extra links.

> I personally use Website Auditor from SEO Powersuite to compare pages. This is one of the best SEO tools you can get!

Compare your page to there’s, in terms of content, LSI keywords, social shares, back links, Page metrics.


Now The Powerful Stuff, Find Keywords Your Competitors Are Ranking For That You Are Not

So far we have found out how to see all of the keywords we are ranking and not ranking for. We have also seen how to compare our rankings to our competitors.

This was called ‘common keywords’

Now it’s time to find out the ‘uncommon keywords’.

This stuff is gold as we can quickly and easily fish out (Funny I know 🙂 untapped keywords, which potentially could bring us a ton more traffic.

So let’s go

Click on ‘chart’ above your table:

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 12.49.31


This chart shows us the comparison between our site and the competitor that we have chosen. Where the 2 circles cross over is where the common keywords are found.

Either side shows the unique keywords. If I however the mouse over the ‘unique’ section It will tell me that fish has 8,799 keywords that WE DON’T RANK FOR!!!


Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 12.52.44



Now it’s just a case of clicking on the ‘unique’ section of the circle to see a list of all of the keywords that they are ranking for that we are not!!


Here is a list of 8,799 keywords that we can target:


Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 12.56.52



You can now export this list and search via volume. This has just given you whole bunch of new keywords to target. If you want to get really serious you could target all of the top keywords, and then do a page comparison with your competitor and then work on each page until you outrank your competitor for that search term.

If you want to compare more than 2 domains at the same time, just click on ‘Domain v Domain’

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 13.19.35


Dig a little deeper

It doesn’t end there! Remember you can do this with as many different competitors as you like. You can also find even more keywords simply by clicking on one of the keywords in the list.


‘African Chichilids’ gets a good search volume. If we click on this keyword, SEMRush will go and find a bunch of relative keywords and phrase matches.

As you can see here:

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 13.07.06


That’s just given us a ton more target keywords!!

But it doesn’t end there. You can click on any of these new keywords and it will dig deeper and find you even more closer related words!!

There really is no limit to the amount of keywords that you can find using SEMRush.



So there you have it. A quick guide to spying on your competitors and stealing their keywords and rankings. If you are serious about SEO and building traffic to your site then I can highly recommend SEMRush.

The speed is incredible, it takes a matter of seconds to churn out all of this amazing analysis!!




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Comments (4)

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  1. George says:

    Interesting post. When I had tried out Semrush myself I mist out on a lot of the features mentioned here. Also it was annoying because I could only try 1/5 things that where there. But I guess you’re not the guy to complain to 😛

    I wanted to ask about how does Semrush actually find out about those keywords? Do you have to integrate your account with your webmaster account or does it search and index the serp positions by itself?


  2. Great post!

    There ain’t any real alternatives to Semrush when it comes to keywords, combine it with a tool like Majestic and Ahrefs and you are all set really! With that setup I can do both keyword research, comp analysis and link analysis. Good enough for me!



  3. Nauf Sid says:

    Great tutorial, Jason. After this analysis, all that’s left to do is to create articles on them and build links.

    Also, is there any alternative to SEMRush except SpyFu?


  4. Craig says:

    Semrush is one of my favourite SEO tools, there is nothing else like it on the market.

    One thing I use it for is to input a city into the search box, this then brings back hundreds of location based keywords which I can target for local lead gen.


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