1. Analyze Competitor URL in Site Explorer
The first step of this process is for you analyze a competitor’s URL. After you have chosen a competitor, go the “Site Explorer” section and enter the URL.
After the analysis is complete, it’s time to move onto step two.
2. Go to Organic Keywords
The second step is click on “Organic keywords” under the “Organic search” section.
This where your keyword goldmine will be. Now, this section alone can give you tons of ideas, but to take your keyword research to another level, you need to filter these ideas. That brings me to step three.
3. Play with Filters
Using the filters is where the magic happens, but before you begin, you need to establish one thing:
What is your website actually capable of ranking for?
Meaning, do you have a firm grasp on the authority of your website?
The reason why you need to is because your site’s authority will determine what keywords you should to target.
For example, if you have a brand new website, then you need to target longer tail keywords. If you have an authoritative website (relative to the competitor you are analyzing), then you can target more competitive keywords.
For this example, I’m going to assume you have a new website. The first step is to filter your results based on “Volume”, or in other words, the average search volume per month.
I’ve found that targeting keywords in the 100 – 1,000 search volume range is a good target for new websites. That’s because keywords in that range are going to be less competitive (and longer tail).
Keep in mind:
This doesn’t mean you should target this search volume range forever. You should step into new higher search volume ranges when your website begins to build authority.
The next step is to mess around with is the “Words” filter. So, if you only want to see long-tail keywords, then you should set the “From” field
You could stop your initial keyword research at this point because of how much you’ve narrowed the results.
But I also like to use the “Position” filter as well. This filter will show where your competitor is ranking in Google for each keyword in your set. I like setting this filter from position 11 and to position 20.
Having this intel is important for a few reasons:
1. There’s a good chance that your competitor isn’t targeting that specific keyword phrase. The competitor is probably showing up for those long tail keywords just because of their page authority. Not because they are specifically targeting them.
2. Many long tails ranking on the second or even third page are going to be loosely relevant to your competitors primary keyword. That leaves an opportunity for you to step in and dominate that targeted long-tail keyword.
Now, I want to show you how you can monitor your competitor’s new keywords.
4. Monitor Your Competitor’s “New” Keywords
Click on “New” under the “Organic keywords” section.
So, you might be wondering why should you care about your competitor’s “New” keywords?
The first reason why you should care is because you don’t want them to get too much momentum.
As pages age, they will acquire more social signals, backlinks, and user signals. All of these signals will not only help your competitor rank, but will also solidify their rankings. And
I’ve noticed many times that there is a “snowball” effect when you hit the first page of Google. That’s because most people will not go beyond the first page when they are looking for resources to link to.
The key takeaway is that you don’t want your competitors to build to strong of a foundation.
You need to monitor what new keywords they are targeting and then make a concentrated effort to compete with them on those keywords. That means you need to create a page that is more valuable than theirs.
Now I want to show you how to find your competitors top performing pages.
5. See Your Competitor’s Best Pages
To find a competitor’s best performing pages (from an organic search traffic perspective), go to “Organic search” and click on “Top pages”.
This is one of favorite sections within Ahrefs because you will topics that have already been validated by your competitors. Backlinks and social signals are validation that the topic has value. It’s also validation that your competitor picked an attractive content angle for that topic.
Lastly, your competitors strong individual keywords rankings are validation from Google that they have fulfilled searcher intent the right way.
This section will give you the ability to create content and pages that your industry actually cares about.
You will also see what type of content you need to create to fulfill searcher intent (the way that Google wants).
Take advantage of the data in this section because it will eliminate a lot of guesswork from your keyword targeting.
Now I want to show you a quick way to find other competitors in your industry.
6. Find Other Competitors
To find your other competitors click on “Competing domains” under the “Organic search” section.
I recommend you go through the process above to extract even more keywords from your other competitors as well.
The next tactic I want to show you is the Content Gap Tool (love this tool).
7. Use the Content Gap Tool
Click on “Content gap” under the “Organic search” section to access this amazing tool.
This is an amazing tool because it will show what keywords you are NOT ranking for, but your competitors ARE ranking for. All you need to do is put your competitor’s URL in to the “Show keywords that any of the below targets rank for” section. You can add more than one competitor, but in this example I’ll only be using one.
Then, put your URL into the “But the following target doesn’t rank for” section and click “Show keywords”.
Now you will have access to keywords and content ideas that you aren’t currently targeting.
It’s your responsibility to compete for these search terms. That means you need to create pages that are much more valuable (and different) than your competitors for these keywords. Do not allow your competitor’s to have smooth sailing!
The last keyword research tactics I want to show you in Ahrefs is leveraging their Keywords Explorer tool.
8. Leverage the Keywords Explorer
To access this tool, click on “Keywords explorer” in the navigation.
All you need to do now is enter some prospective keywords into the field. In this case, I’m going to use a very general keyword “fitness”.
After the analysis is complete, Ahrefs is going to expose you to all kinds of data about this keyword. This tool is excellent for qualifying your prospective keywords, but in this case, we are only going to use for identifying more keyword ideas. To achieve this goal, go down to the “Keyword ideas” section.
This section is going to show all kinds of great keywords related to original seed keyword.
How you go about leveraging these keyword ideas will largely depend on the authority of your website.
For example, it would difficult to rank for a broad head keyword like “fitness” unless you had a super website. Most websites online are not capable of ranking for such a keyword.
That’s why it’s a good to target longer tail keywords like the ones that Ahrefs is providing in this section.
Now you have a firm grasp on how to find keywords using Ahrefs, let me show you how you can validate your list of keywords.