The best part of knowing a competitor’s SEO Keywords is using that information to gain traction in your own rankings. In this new update to SpyFu’s SEO Keyword results, we track twice as many SEO results as before and arm you with action-ready insights to ultimately earn more clicks. And it’s just the start as we add even more keyword results in the coming months.
This feature reveals a website’s SEO keywords, measured by next-generation metrics.
Why search for a website’s keywords?
Your competitor’s SEO keywords are clues toward what content they’re prioritizing and what has slipped. With this SEO tool you can see their rankings and get insights to build your own.
When you search a competitor’s domain, SpyFu’s new SEO Keywords feature helps you pick up ready-to-act advice for gaining ranks and improving your standings.
Your best actions will come from different approaches. We’ll walk you through how the results are organized, what you can customize, and how to get the most out of this tool.
Here’s what you can see and what you can do with it.
- What I can learn about my competitor
- What I can learn about my own rankings (This goes for your clients, too.)
As of May 2021, SpyFu is leaping forward with expanded keyword data. It’s hitting two ways:
- Keyword breadth (Millions more keywords searched)
- Keyword depth (Twice as many results from a SERP)
The effects that you see in your keyword research will be more accuracy, more keyword diversity from a domain, and more domains identified as competitors. Plus, with twice as many results, you will see changes happening earlier because we can detect rankings before they took time to grow onto the first few pages.
Twice as Many Results
This feature is the first to incorporate SpyFu’s expanded keyword results. We are collecting twice as many results as before, and that allows us to see deeper ranking instances from a domain. Every time we collect data from a keyword search, we capture results up to page 10 of the SERP.
Older system: SpyFu collected the top 50 organic results from the SERP.
New system: SpyFu collects the top 100 organic results from the SERP.
This expands our results two ways. When you search a keyword, you see twice as many domains that rank for it. When you search a domain, you can expect to see the site ranking for more keywords.
This will include searches where new content lands a site at #63 when they first publish. We hadn’t shown that as part of the site’s SEO keywords before, but now it’s a helpful “early warning” indicator.
For your own site, these lower rankings can help you see where you are getting traction with new content that just started to rank. Use this as your baseline and start working to increase links to that page–both internal and external.
For your competitor’s site, these lower rankings help you spot emerging threats. If you don’t rank here already, it could be a topic to prioritize.
Of course with more data comes a need for more manageability. We redesigned the domain’s SEO Keywords page so you can confidently act on the keywords you find. Our on-page filters help you know which ones make the cut.
Each filter plays a role in the segments we’re going to cover.
Filters and Topics (Grouping)
Much of SpyFu’s ease-of-use comes from the ability to target keywords that fit your needs. That’s where our filters and automatics topics come in. You can filter for functionality (leave out certain URLs from results), and you can filter criteria based on next-generation metrics that we’ve brought into the SpyFu platform.
In this section we review the ways you can use the filters to your advantage. If you are familiar with these and want to skip ahead, jump to the “My Keywords/My Competitor’s Keywords” section.
Your ability to limit your list puts control firmly in your hands. This lets you focus only on keywords that match a particular phrase. Since you can exclude them, you can ignore those terms that your competitors rank for outside of your field–or maybe their branded terms you don’t want to chase just yet.
One example is excluding “near me” when you compare yourself to larger retail operations.
We like this feature for weeding out pages from the results. As you research a competitor over time, you might see the same powerhouse page ranking for multiple keywords. Once it’s on your radar and you’d like to skip it, you can turn to the URL exclude filter.
Another good practice is to use the include feature to focus on one area at a time.
Your competitor’s blog (and all of its ranking pages) is a great example. You can pull keywords from just those pages and skip unrelated sections.
Bringing in search volume helps you measure the expanse of this keyword when you’re comparing it to others. A lower ranking on a power keyword with high volume might bring in more clicks–and certainly more impressions–than what you get from top rankings on low-search terms.
The numbers reflect searches done in the US on Google.com (or in the UK on Google.co.uk if you are looking at UK data).
We’ve calculated how difficult it would be to rank on this keyword. Filtering by difficulty ratings will help you narrow your choices to keywords within reach. Then you can sort them further based on other metrics.
We look at how the domain’s position rose or fell compared to last month. That “new” icon in the change column will help you spot movement in your competitor’s content or your own rankings.
You can also sort the keyword list by a domain’s ranks to focus on just page 1 results or those that need more gains.
While rank gains are exciting (or frustrating, depending on who’s looking), rank means nothing if it doesn’t deliver clicks. The point of SEO is getting traffic to your page, and that’s measured in clicks. This metric helps you tell how much “bang for the buck” a domain is getting for its ranking.
Usually, clicks go hand in hand with rank changes, but (as we touch on more down the page in Keyword Click Gains/Losses) there are exceptions. That’s why we break this metric apart. It’s important as a standalone figure, because we’ve started to learn from metrics like “searches not clicked” that a top position won’t always have the same kind of return from one keyword to another.
The change figure next to it measures changes in clicks from (roughly) the month prior.
Even More Metrics
We brought in some next-generation metrics from the SpyFu Keyword Overview into the domain SEO keyword search results. Here are more metrics to make smarter decisions about the keywords you choose:
- SEO Clicks (with changes)
- Mobile Searches Percent
- Desktop Searches Percent
- Searches Not Clicked Percent
- Paid Clicks Percent
- Organic Clicks Percent
- Paid Competitors
- Number of Homepages that Rank
All of the keyword results come loaded in a sortable “grid” with select metrics by default. Any of the metrics we’ve listed so far are available as columns you can use to weigh your keyword selections. You can also fine-tune the cost-related metrics from broad match-based costs estimates to figures based phrase match or exact match. Click the icon to customize your view.
Whether they are “on brand” or not, some domains can rank for NSFW terms. Since it’s not always expected, we include a default filter that hides these terms until/unless you choose to show them. And now, something different on SpyFu, you can see what those terms are.
That filter will be tremendously helpful to look for negative match opportunities on the PPC side. Watch for updates on this feature.
One more way of filtering the keywords is to sort them into content topics. Or rather, have SpyFu do the sorting. Anytime you search a domain, you can find their keywords automatically sorted into similar phrases and topics. We’ve treated these as groups in the past, but as topics, they help you come up with strong content ideas.
Here’s what it looks like for asics.com’s Most Valuable (SEO) Keywords.
Instead of reviewing the metrics of one keyword at a time, you can follow the trends for a wider topic. Think “running shoes” and all of its similar terms like discount running shoes, women’s running shoes, and best running shoes for trails. The Topics function rolls those terms–and their metrics–into a broader topic.
That lets you avoid getting sidetracked with one keyword at a time. That’s the role of Topics in the “discovery” phase of keyword research.
Similarly, it’s helpful to generate content ideas around topics that have strong interest. Use the individual keywords to guide you toward subjects to cover within that content, or make those specific keywords into supporting pieces in a hub and spoke style.
With paid keywords, this automatic sorting helps to guide your ad groups, giving you a stronger shot at tying together relevant ads and ad copy.
This integrated grouping tool takes over for a past standalone feature, SpyFu Groupie.
Tip: Along the way, it helps to save and track your new keyword finds. SpyFu’s built-in project manager is a perfect spot to store the keywords you want to keep for future reference. Start a project, give it a name, and add keywords as you find them with the “add” button.
Working with My Keywords/My Competitor’s Keywords
If you’re going to get any insight from a domains’ SEO keywords, look at them as more than a single alphabetical list. We like to break these keywords into segments, sorted by recent action and value to the domain:
- Most Valuable Keywords
- Newly Ranked Keywords
- Keyword Rank Gains
- Keyword Rank Losses
- Keyword Click Gains
- Keyword Click Losses
- Keywords that Just Made the First Page
- Keywords that Just Fell Off the First Page
Let’s look at how these segments help you take action on your keywords and on your competitor’s keywords.
Most Valuable Keywords
Your Competitor’s Site: Here’s the sweet spot of SpyFu’s original promise: find which keywords your competitors rank on that are most valuable.
Your best actions to accomplish this:
“Shop” for good keywords that you can target, remembering to de-prioritize their branded terms.
While you review their strong keywords for ideas, add this timesaver: Go to the additional options at the bottom of the filter list. You will probably have to click “view more.”
Check the box to “Exclude Homepage Keywords.”
This will remove keywords where the targeted domain’s homepage ranks, like branded terms. Similarly, chasing homepages could be an intensive effort with little return. Let the filter save you some future frustration.
One other important note while you gather new keyword ideas. This is where the project manager comes in really handy. It allows you to add ideas here and there as you find them. We suggest using the filters to narrow the list by important, achievable criteria.
Switch to Topics for a broader view.
This 30,000-foot view helps you shift your focus to topics rather than specific keywords. We designed this with content creators in mind.
In this case, consider your own content.
If your site already ranks for a similar related keyword, think about what you can do to optimize that piece for the new related keyword you’ve found. That might help you gain some clicks and impressions.
Review the topics so you can see the forest rather than the trees. Ask yourself:
- What content do I have that ranks in this topic?
- Do I have multiple related pieces that can be combined?
Your Website: Find (or confirm) your most valuable keywords.
Your best actions to accomplish this:
Focus on the keywords that return the most value for your efforts. Then, have SpyFu track them so you can find ongoing improvement opportunities and wins.
Remember to use some of the same tips we mentioned in the previous section: refer to Topics for a wider view while you browse, and use the project manager for organization and rank updates.
Once again, the project manager tracks your weekly ranking performance–just frequent enough to stay on top of changes without getting caught in minutiae.
Keep in mind (as you track your rankings), that you should watch for clicks as the ultimate measure of your ongoing growth and success. Make note of when you made adjustments to your content, like updating your titles and meta descriptions.
I use a spreadsheet for this.
I keep track of dates and changes so I can correlate them with any shift in our ranks and clicks. If you change titles, keep track of what the old title was. You can take action by reverting anything you did that had unexpected, bad effects.
More Action on your Keywords
This will apply to all segments, but we don’t want it to get buried.
When you review your own keywords with an aim to move up the page in your Google rankings, make these practices part of your routine. Ask these next questions and look for opportunities.
Do I have multiple pieces of content in a group that can be combined?
If you don’t have a content management system in place, you can solve this with our keyword filter. Use the “include” keyword filter to narrow your results to a targeted keyword or phrase.
If you had three different pages that rank for a matching keyword (or that phrase is in the title), that filter will return them together. You can then look for any opportunities to internally link to each other, or combine the articles.
If you combine the articles, remember to redirect (301) the smaller article to the larger one. There is also an option to canonicalize one item over another but still keep both pieces intact. That tells the search engine that you recognize the duplicate content, but one should get the authority.
Does my content’s H1 Title include the highest volume keyword that it ranks for?
Usually, you start by aiming for a target keyword with high engagement and potential clicks. That’s probably something you incorporated into your original title. However, when those keywords are lofty goals, here’s advice to work with the momentum you have.
Once your content starts ranking, those keywords give you an outsider’s view of how that page is authoritative. It could rank for a variant keyword that still has high search volume.
We see this with carhop.com, an automotive repair site. Their page “How to Use Coca Cola to Get Rid of Car Rust” uses a similar URL:
The fact that “get rid of car rust” appears in both their URL and their H1 tells me that they were originally aiming for that keyword.
If we look at the SEO keywords for carhop, we can see that the page ranks for two similar keywords.
That first metric to the right of the terms is the search volume. We can do a quick keyword search on “get rid of car rust” to see that rust removal phrased keywords get searched more often than the “get rid of” versions.
Since carhop already has that ranking momentum, this is an excellent case to update their H1 with “How to Remove Rust with Coca Cola.”
If your stronger, already-ranking keyword isn’t in your title, consider adding it. That lets you strengthen your footing on a keyword where you have a shot at meaningful rankings. Those meaningful rankings turn into clicks and impressions.
What do people ask about this keyword/topic?
This is a valuable idea starter. If good SEO content is about fulfilling a search, this is a clear doorway to coming up with topics.
Click through on a target keyword from your list. That opens the Keyword Overview which has a “Questions” section built around that keyword.
Take note of how many searches are being done for each question and how well you can answer it fully.
Return to this section often as you work through the other segments.
Newly Ranked Keywords
Your Competitor’s Site: It helps to paint a picture of the direction they are taking with SEO.
Your best actions:
Keep note of trends and save keywords that are new to you but also higher in search volume and clicks. Treat the competitor like a path-clearing guide to areas you might consider in the near future. Add them to your project for reference.
These are new rankings, but is the content itself new? If not, what changed from before? (Hint: you might want to try the Wayback Machine for this if possible.)
Review any pieces that rank for keywords that you rank for. If they outrank you, add that content to a workflow of your design (notes, a spreadsheet) of work to improve.
Your Website: You already know what you targeted with your new content and optimization. This section confirms what worked. With rankings up to the 100 position, you will see activity early in the process.
Your best actions:
This might be another good time to filter out your own homepage as described in the Most Valuable Keywords section.
Now, using your filtered Newly Ranked Keywords, look for any content entries that followed a change:
- You published new content
- You optimized a page
Let those be lessons for what worked.
Next, look for traffic (clicks) that you gained from individual keywords. (You should be in the filtered keywords view, not Topics.) Use those click counts to determine how much opportunity there is if you should grow your rankings where you already have a foothold.
Keep the homepage filter in place, but switch to the Topics view.
Click a keyword in one of the subgroups, and look at the URL results that rank for keywords in that group. If you have multiple pieces of content, your best actions might be in making them work together. Some options:
- Canonicalize one piece to another
- Link the pieces to each other
- Redirect one piece
- Leave them alone
No matter what you choose, make a note to yourself so you can review your choice when your rankings shift–for better or for worse.
You’re also prime to harness that momentum. Don’t rest. As you rank for new keywords, stay on top of the many ways you can continue to improve your rankings.
Keyword Rank Gains
Your competitor’s site: These are not new rankings, but your competitor has moved up from where we saw them ranking last month.
Your own site: As you continue to optimize your existing work, you hope to see the results here in rank gains.
Your best actions:
Treat these similarly to what you did with Newly Ranked Keywords for both your competitor’s site and for your own.
However one important difference is that gains (vs new ranks) could be a result of returning from rank losses the previous month.
Take note of any algorithm hiccups that might have caused dips across the board. If you see widespread dips from last month, take the “gains” to be a return to normal.
Keyword Rank Losses
Your Competitor’s Site: These are all keywords that your competitor ranked for but lost position.
Your best actions:
Look for the cause, especially if their loss came from someone else’s gain. If you started to outrank them, that is reason to double down on what you did before. If another domain jumped up ahead of them, add that domain to your competitor list.
You can add the new domain as a project (in the project manager) for ongoing reference and frequent keyword rank updates.
Your own site: These are drops in your rankings from what you had last month.
Your best actions:
Ask if this is a rebound from heavy work you did the month before. This happens occasionally when new content spikes. You could have peaked from a surge of promotion and traffic that got you new links.
One more thing to review is the age of that page that dropped in rankings. Google loves fresh, relevant content, and sometimes a content refresh can help give you a boost.
Update any old metrics, clarify some explanations, or add details. Make sure that you adjust the date, too. Any of those actions can nudge you back in the right direction when your content has faded.
Look for more details about technical updates in the “Keywords that Just Fell Off the First Page” section below.
Keyword Click Gains/Losses
Any gains in keyword clicks and in keyword losses tend to match rank gains and rank losses. Your best actions will be similar to what we covered and will probably cover the same content, too.
Clicks follow rankings.
However, there are a few exceptions.
You can lose clicks to new Featured Snippets on the page while still holding your rank. We talk about this with the “Searches Not Clicked” metric. Sometimes Google returns enough information on the SERP–or even in the suggest bar–that answers the searcher’s question.
Your best actions:
The ranking reflects how authoritative Google considers your content to be in regards to the search. The amount of clicks go hand in hand with your position, but they reflect how well the searcher feels you will answer their search. You can help your click count by making sure you have a strong, clear title and a compelling meta description.
Keywords That Just Fell Off/Just Made it to the First Page
Your Competitor’s Site: This is a list of their content that ranked on the first page last month but has since slipped from those top 10 results. Had they jumped to the first page from lower ranks last month, we will include those as “just made it” keywords.
Your best actions:
Focus mostly on “just made it” keywords and add those to your workflow. This might be newer content, but like we explained in the “Gained Ranks” section, it could be older work that has gotten optimized. Check to see what they have done recently–you’re looking for the specific updates that bumped them onto Page 1. If they updated the content, try to find what they did so you can roll that practice into your own work.
Your Own Site: With “just made it” keywords, these are your recent wins that confirm what you have been doing to optimize your content. The “just fell off” keywords are an early signal that something needs attention.
Your best actions:
Celebrate your wins and double down on the work that got you to Page 1 for a search. When it comes to losses, pounce on these quickly. When you lose Page 1 status, you will see a more dramatic loss in clicks and impressions than what you would from other rank losses.
Review the advice from the Keyword Rank Losses section and stay focused on updating your content. Look for broken links on your page, and fix any issues that hurt the user experience on your site.
This might be a good opportunity to run an SEO site audit, especially if you see your rankings slip across your site.
You have plenty of options and opportunities to gain ranks by reviewing SEO keywords. It’s important to stay on top of your own site while also keeping an eye on your competitors.
Our most recent changes bring actionability and new metrics to the field–for your own site and for competitive intelligence. Everything is in place to help you find meaningful answers with clear next steps.