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How to Steal Your Competitors’ Top Keywords

“Search marketing, and most Internet marketing in fact, can be very threatening because there are no rules. There’s no safe haven. . .” – Mike Moran, social media marketing consultant and president of Mike Moran Group, LLC

No matter how long you’ve been doing SEO or paid search advertising, one of the most significant hurdles is establishing effective keywords that drive clicks, sales and high rankings.

If your business fails to select the right keywords, chances are that you won’t have a business for very long.

While identifying the right keywords can be a challenging and time-consuming endeavor, there is a bit of a work around to help circumvent the process: Get inspired by your competitors.

What many business owners fail to realize is that your competition can be one of your greatest resources.

The top competitors in your niche have likely poured a lot of effort into establishing the keywords they target. Combining tools like SpyFu or SEMRush with a proper testing budget and a decent analytics setup, you can snag your competitors’ top keywords; and the conversions that go with them.

If you’re tired of getting crushed in sales, get ready to turn the tables on your rivals by beating them at their own game.

Here is how you can steal the competition’s keywords in three steps.

1. Set Up Your Analytics

To effectively steal your competition’s keywords and apply them to your ad campaigns, you need to set up the proper analytics.

Setting up conversion tracking with AdWords and Bing are simple, yet time-consuming, processes. You need to get this taken care of to understand how various keywords perform for different actions like form submissions, chat queries, app downloads, purchases, etc. Set up analytics for all of your conversions — this will provide you with a vital portion of the data you need.

While stealing your competition’s keywords sounds awesome, you truly need a firm understanding of the data behind each phrase to optimize correctly and beat them using the same terms.

2. Conduct Competitive Research

Conducting in-depth competitive keyword research is possibly one of the most valuable tactics in search advertising. With the correct tools, you can learn exactly which keywords your competition is targeting. This is where tools like SpyFu and SEMRush become invaluable assets.

With these types of systems, you simply need to input your competitors’ domain names and the tool will return a list of keywords they are utilizing in their efforts.

From here, the game becomes about finding which keywords generate results for your business. The trouble here is that most advertisers bid on far more keywords than they should. This tends to muddy the competitive research waters; if you simply apply the list of all your competitor’s keywords to your own account, you are likely to end up losing your shirt.

To effectively pinpoint which keywords are profitable, and which aren’t worth your time (or your rivals’) you need to do a bit of testing.

3. Find the Right Keywords to Steal

Here is where we will establish which keywords you should ignore, and which ones are generating positive results for your foes. For this to be successfully achieved, you will need to do some testing.

Assuming you are working with a decent budget, you should invest roughly 20 percent into testing new combinations of ads and keywords. If you are relatively new to paid search advertising, you should work with a larger budget than a pro would because you are more likely to make some mistakes or need to do additional testing to gain a modest understanding of positive signals.

Using the competition’s keywords you uncovered earlier, begin to create ads with these phrases and run them for approximately three months. Presuming that you have setup your analytics tracking properly, this time frame should supply you with all the data you need to separate the profitable keywords from the duds.

After running your test for the appropriate amount of time, go to your search account and review the data by heading to the “Keywords” tab and filtering them for Conversions < 1.

This report will display all the keywords you are using that have failed to generate any conversions over the past three months. You can also see how much money you have lost on these phrases by checking the ‘Cost’ column.

This process should not be viewed as money lost; you just paid for an education in unprofitable keywords. Almost all of us go through this trial and error.

To determine which keywords produced the results you were hoping for, filter keywords by Conversions > 1. Here you will find keywords that have generated more than one conversion during the three-month period.

The keywords you find here, your top performers, are likely to be the keyword superstars for your competition as well.

Now that you know which keywords you should be targeting, take your time optimizing your bids, landing pages, ad copy, image utilization, and other elements for a successful ad campaign. Really study the best practices here because the little details are what will assist you in topping your competition.

Stealing your competitor’s keywords truly isn’t all that difficult or unethical. All you need is to setup your analytics properly, employ a powerful competitive analysis tool, and be ready to put a decent amount of your ad budget toward testing. With a little time, patience, and ad optimization, you’ll be able to topple your competition and drive a significant amount of conversions for you brand.

What are your biggest challenges with AdWords? Do you think stealing competitor’s keywords is a bad idea, or is all fair in love and business?

About the author


Tina Courtney

Conscious online marketer, web executive, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney has been creating and fostering online innovations since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, influencer marketing, community management, lead generation, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, and accomplished life coach.  Learn more on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. Visit My Google+ Profile


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