A Step-By-Step Guide To Competitor Keyword Research in 2022

Don’t underestimate the importance of competitor keyword research, learn how to reverse engineer the keywords your competitors rank for.

Competitor Keyword Research Made Easy

*Special Note: This is part 2 of a 4 part series by featured guest author, Jasmine Melikyan, so check back tomorrow.

While some people argue about the importance of keyword research, let’s find the keywords your competitors rank for and reverse engineer their SEO strategy.


One of the few things that have stayed consistent in website optimization is keyword research. It is the basics of SEO. And not only for SEO but for content creation in general. How else can you make sure people can actually find you?


Keywords are words and phrases people use when looking for some information about products, services and anything else. Keyword research is crucial not just for SEO purposes but for marketing as well. They show customers’ problems and questions, and how they are looking for solutions. And if your content is just about what they were looking for, you gain organic traffic. You need to create your content around what people want to know, not what you want to tell them.


I think we can all agree that keyword research is important, but there is one more thing – understanding how to do competitor keyword research. With semantic search driving most search queries you need to change your keyword research strategy accordingly and understanding your competitors’ success is crucial.

Google understands the context of the search terms and delivers the results not by just exact word matches, but by the meaning of the phrases. And keyword-stuffed content won’t work anymore. You need to optimize for a long list of related keywords if you still want to appear in high positions. And besides that, you need to use natural language so that people actually read your content.


Seems too complicated? It’s not, believe me. And to make it easier for you, I am going to show you how to do competitor keyword research to succeed in 2022. It won’t resolve all your content issues, but keep in mind that a large portion of your success depends on targeting the right keywords.


How to Do Competitor Keyword Research

1. Consider Your Goals


Before starting collecting any keyword, the first thing you need to do is to look at your goals.


  • What is your industry?
  • What are your marketing goals?
  • What are your content goals?
  • What topics do you want to talk about?


You need to answer these questions first before diving into the keyword research process. You can’t just choose random keywords because they have high volume and you can rank for them. You need to know whether you want to create content about the topics they cover.


Think of your content as a cluster. What is your main topic, and what are your subtopics? Content clusters are easier to manage. They’ll make your competitor keyword research process easier as all your keywords will be about one broad topic.


So, identify the main topics you want to talk about and you’ll have an idea of what keywords you’ll need.


Don’t forget about your target audience. Who are they? What are they looking for? Gather all the data and ideas you have and decide your core topics. Only then start looking for the keywords.


2. Analyze Your Competitors


One of the best ways to find keywords is by analyzing your competitors. Most of the keyword research tools don’t use data straight from Google, and you can’t know how accurate their data is. If you want more reliable information, use the data about your competitors’ keywords instead. I mean, your competitors are already ranking for these keywords, so you can do it too. At least you’ll know that these keywords are working.


Choose your favorite keyword research tool (Ahrefs and SEMrush are some of the best when it comes to competitor analysis) and do thorough research. Analyze those competitors who are in the same niche and have similar content structures. Also, pay attention to what topics they are covering, the closer they are to you, the more accurate results you’ll get.


Go to Keyword Explorer(Ahrefs) or Keyword Overview(Semrush) and search for all your target topics. Head to the SERP overview and start analyzing.


Find the brands that are dominating in SERPs for your target topics. Pay attention to the DR of the results. Those with DR 70+ are hardly your competitors. These include websites like Amazon, Facebook, Twitter. Their domain authority is very high and they are not in the same niche as you. So skip them and look at other brands.


After finding several good competitors you can export the data about their ranking keywords and add them to your keywords file.


Don’t forget to do research about your website too. Identify the keywords people use to find your website and add this data to your keywords list. Do it for all the topics you’ve found in the previous part. You can use the same tool or Google Search Console as well (or both).


3. Filter out the Results


Now you have a long list of keywords and it’s time to filter them out. Here are the keywords you need to get rid of:


  • duplicate and branded keywords
  • domain names
  • irrelevant search terms that you don’t want to target
  • low-volume keywords that your competitors are ranking for on the third page of SERPs


You might ask why get rid of only the low-volume search terms for the third page? I mean, who wants to appear there? Well, you might find some good opportunities for high-volume ones. Even if your competitors are appearing on the third page, it doesn’t mean you won’t be on the first page with these keywords. Besides it’s all about topical authority and low search terms can actually help you cover your target topic in full, making you an authority in your niche.


That’s all, no need to remove any other keyword. You might end up having thousands of keywords and that’s fine, you may need them all. Don’t get rid of all the low-volume keywords. Especially when you’ve just started your SEO journey, you can’t compete for the high-volume terms. It can take you months and years before you can start ranking for them.


Instead you can create keyword clusters and start creating content one cluster at a time.


One more thing to remember is the user intent. Make sure you fully understand which keyword corresponds to which user intent. If you get it wrong, you might end up having no traffic. No matter how good your content is if it’s not answering the needs of the users, you won’t succeed.


Also, did I mention that Google focuses more on the meaning of the search terms than the exact word match? So you can’t just target the most high-volume keywords and hope it will work. It won’t. It’s better to target keywords of different volumes and difficulty and create your content around them.


Also, include the long-tail keywords in your keywords list without worries. With the coming of voice search, people are using sentence-like search terms and long questions more frequently.

Final Thoughts


Let’s go through the important points.


Start with defining your content and overall marketing goals and only then go to your keyword research process.


There is no right way when it comes to finding the keywords. Though using your competitors’ data can help you find the least irrelevant search terms.


And don’t rush and filter out all low-volume or bad-performing keywords. You might need them in the future.


This is pretty much all you need. I hope I’ve helped you even a bit to conduct better competitor keyword research. And if you’re still struggling, don’t worry, it’ll get better with experience, and don’t forget to check back for tomorrows related post on topical authority.