What Keywords Are My Competitors Using? 3 Sneaky Keyword Spy Tools To Find Your Competitors Keywords

what keywords are my competitors using

A question I'm asked often is, "what keywords are my competitors using to rank on search engines and how do I find them?"

…Because chances are they’re already spying on YOU!

Well now you can plot your own sweet revenge to find out what keywords your competition frequently use to get those first-page rankings.

First, let me explain why you might want to even consider checking out your competitors in the first place.

Why You Should You Research Your Competitors Keywords

“But I don’t have competition,” you may say... or “I don’t believe in competition.”

A lot of my clients HATE the word "competition." (Interesting side note: it only seems to bother women.)

In fact, a question I ask all my new clients is "who do you consider to be your competitors?"

This one simple question gets met with a lot of resistance and a most recent response was:

"hmmmmm - I really dont think like that?"

Hey, I have an abundance mentality too and I believe there's more than enough of anything to be shared around.

But these clients with this mentality are totally missing the point and are seriously limiting the potential of implementing an effective and strategic SEO strategy that works for them.

When we take the time to uncover some of the keywords our competitors use, it can be a great way to discover hidden or untapped keywords that we would normally NEVER see.

How MOST People Approach Keyword Research

99% of people do keyword research all wrong and there's a good chance you do too (if at all).

And this is why SEO is not working for most people.

They fire up the Google Keyword Planner Tool and rely on this tool to find ALL of their keywords.

This is a BIG mistake.

The problem with this is that it shows the same keyword suggestions to everybody (including your competition).

This is why so many keywords are competitive and why many people find it difficult to get any traction on Google.

You're not going to stand out from the online crowd if you use the same keywords as everybody else.

The secret sauce when it comes to SEO is to find keywords that are untapped - keywords that MOST people never see.

I cannot stress this enough.

Because when you find keywords that most people don't see, you can easily create targeted articles or landing pages around them… …and rank those pages without needing a lot of backlinks.

3 Reasons You Want To Find Out Your Competitors Keywords

  1. You just want some broad ideas of what keywords you can optimize your site for
  2. Assess which keywords you’d like to include on your site to obtain better organic search results
  3. Find out why your main competitors have websites that rank above you
  4. Why stop at 3. Yes go and steal your competitor's keywords.....hehe

Now let's look at 3 keyword spy tools to check what keywords your competitors are using.

1. View The HTML Page Source Of A Competitor's Website

This is easy. Click on a competitor's website or a website that's similar to yours. You can easily view their keywords following these exact steps:

    1. In your Internet browser, click on View - Page Source (Firefox), or Show Page Source (Safari and Chrome). I tend to right-click to get to the page source.
    • The HTML source code of that page then appears
    • Look for the keywords in the title tag, meta description tag and the keywords tag (if applicable)

You can then read these tags to get keyword ideas for your site:

    • Title Tag - this tag is important and Google gives a lot of weight to the keywords listed here so check the keywords
    • Description Tag - this is the snippet that appears under the Title tag on the search engine results page. Google doesn't use this for ranking purposes but it usually contains many keywords
    • Keywords Tag- not every site will use this tag but it's still worth checking to see what keywords are listed here
view source code to find competitor keywords
HTML source code page for a NY-based photographer

The above image is a screen shot of a HTML source code page for a photography site. I've highlighted the title, meta description and keyword tags.

You can read the keywords listed for each tag to get keyword ideas.

For example, words like NYC Headshot Photographer, New York Headshot, Fashion, Photography, New York City, NYC, NY, Manhattan, Comp Cards, Wedding Photography, Dance Photography etc.

These are words this particular photography site appears to be targeting. Another NY based photographer that competes in the same niche could get keyword ideas for their site or identify similar keywords to target.

The source code of a web page is a great way to identify competitor keywords as well as synonyms too.

2. Enter A Competitor’s Landing Page Into The Google Keyword Planner Tool

Most people use the Google Keyword Planner Tool to enter a broad keyword and check the search volume and competitiveness of that keyword.

There's also another way to use this tool and herein lies our secret weapon number 2.

Enter a competitor’s landing page into the “your landing page” field. Google will then crawl that URL and list the keywords associated with that website.

If you're in the health and wellness niche, you might be interested in checking out the keywords associated with the site Mind Body Green:

landing page URL Google Keyword Planner

And what do we get:

GKP landing page field
Keyword suggestions from the Mind Body Green website

But let's take a step back.

The BIGGEST flaw with using the Google Keyword Planner Tool is that it only shows you keywords that are VERY closely related to what you put into it.

For example, let's say you run an online pet food delivery ecommerce site and you need a keyword for the pet food delivery landing page.

You head to the Google Keyword Planner (GKP) tool and type in a keyword that customers might use to find you, like “pet food delivery online”:

GKP tool example

The tool comes up with these keyword suggestions:

example keyword suggestions
How MOST people do keyword research: very uninspiring keyword suggestions

As you can see, these are VERY close variations of “buy pet food online”, like: “pet food online” “dog food online” “pet food” “buy dog food online.”

These aren't very innovative keywords but those are the exact kind of keywords that the tool spits out.

But the biggest issue when you use the tool this way is that it suggests the same sets of keywords to everybody else, including your competition.

So what's the solution? Type in a competitor's landing page into the “your landing page” field like I did before.

landing page site GKP

In this case, I've entered the homepage of a competing website.

Now we get:

new keyword suggestions GKP
Keyword ideas from a competitor's website using the GKP Tool

What Does This Mean?

We now get four out of the box keyword ideas that the GKP tool doesn’t show most people.

Even better is that these keywords are much more relevant, specific and inspiring than the previous set of keyword suggestions when I entered a broad seed keyword into the tool.

Pro Tip:

Enter Pinterest pages or Wikipedia entries in the GKP landing page field to uncover more keywords

3. Conduct a SEO Audit Using Screaming Frog Spider

I came across Screaming Frog after reading a Neil Patel article when I was conducting SEO audits.

And what a weapon it is.

This is a free tool you can use to crawl other people's websites.

You can use it as a keyword spy tool when you carry out search engine optimization diagnostics such as SEO audits. It's a free download you install onto your desktop.

It suits both MAC and PC and you can use it to crawl your competitor's websites to find out their meta data such as title tags, meta description, heading and keyword tags and other on-page elements.


Want More Free SEO Tools?

Are you ready to use one of the 3 SEO tools to find competitor keywords from this post?

...plus 2 bonus tools that I didn’t have room for in today’s post.

Click here to access.

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  1. What a great resource! I’ve been preaching keywords for the past few weeks, I’m going to share this with my tribe. I love that you put it all in one place. Thank you!

    • That’s great Karen. I’m sure your tribe will love it too. Super simple tips

  2. Wow, I am totally going to go through these and see what I find! My biggest issue is I am not suite sure who I should consider direct competition, so I tend to get “mind-blocked” when I start to think about SEO…I am really glad you wrote this, because I have been thinking a lot about SEO, and how it’s my next mountain to climb, so this will help me dip my toe in the pool and get started :o)

    • Hi Mindy. Many people get mind-blocked when it comes to SEO. Don’t think of it as a mountain to climb. Writing content with SEO in mind should not be a strain. The key is to write as normal as you would and then optimize your content after.

  3. Thanks for the tips. This was very helpful for someone even struggling to figure out keywords and SEO!

  4. Wow what a great post. Thank you so much I can’t believe I’ve never noticed the website area in the google keyword tool. Off to do some spying…..

  5. Fantastic article with great tips! Has not heard of Screaming Frog , have now though and off to try it out! Thanks Miss Sassy, great work 🙂

  6. Thanks for sharing these tools, i have never tried Screaming Frog Spider. The tool i usually like to use for this kind of research are Google keyword tool and alexa. I don’t know if you have tried that, it gives you a lot more information about the website. Thanks…

  7. This info is very helpful Shae. Thank you. Hadn’t heard of Screaming Frog until now. Will check it out.

  8. Thanks for your great article.

    Will check out using the Keyword Planning tool in the way you suggested. Hadn’t thought of using it in this way so thanks for explaining things so clearly.

  9. Thank you – very informative! Gonna save me a lot of time. Just one thing – the Keyword Planner has changed so you’ll have to fiddle around a bit before you get to the keyword ideas tab.

  10. I really like your article, I am your subscriber. Anyway I am using DeepMiner from http://icyseo.com to find great long tail keywords. You can check it out, it’s free.

  11. I enjoyed reading your article.
    For keyword research I use Jaaxy and I’m very happy with it.
    SEM Rush is a great audit tool but it’s not free. So I’m going to try Screaming Frog.

  12. Hello,Shae

    Thank you for your help.I tried before and agree with your suggestion for the landing page.I would like to share with you another free tool I am using for competitors words – Seed Keywords.This is a free tool you can use to crowdsource your keyword research. Thank you again for your useful article.

    Kind regards: Natalie G


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