Competitor Keyword Research in SEO: The JDM Approach

Done effectively, competitor-based keyword research is a major component of good SEO strategy – and can also have a big impact on positioning and product development. 

At JDM, we approach competitor keyword research with a goal of holistic learning for our clients. In this post, we’ll talk about our main goals in conducting competitor research for our clients, misconceptions we frequently encounter, and under-utilized sources that consistently provide great insight for SEO strategies and beyond.

 

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Competitor keyword research goals

Our approach goes way beyond scraping data. Our goals boil down to:

  • Understanding industry trends: by looking at what successful competitors are doing, we can also uncover what users are looking for and start planning how to address that with our products and services. 
  • Identifying critical keyword gaps: often, competitor research allows us to find high-performing terms that we previously had overlooked or dismissed as non-viable.
  • Benchmarking: when we look at more established competitors, we are able to create a trajectory for our own keyword growth. This helps us track progress and set realistic goals for our clients.

Not every SEO team seeks to deliver this level of analysis from their findings. This leads us to…

Misconceptions about competitor keyword research

Many brands have come to us thinking that competitor research means straight-up copying what their competitors are executing. What it really should mean is looking at what competitors are doing well and either filling in the gaps or seeking ways to improve using your particular brand strengths and positioning.

Studying competitors, after all, isn’t apples to apples; even in commoditized industries, brand strengths, weaknesses, and offerings are never identical. It’s good to remember that there can be a mismatch of intent when looking at other sites – and that even though competitors may have good search volume, their approach may be leaving conversions on the table for you to grab.

Advanced sources for rich competitor insight – for SEO and beyond

The best research sources can vary by industry, but for just about everyone, studying competitor reviews can be an incredible way to identify gaps in your own SEO strategy – and to discover pain points, use cases, and benefits that you can work into your content, positioning, and even product roadmap.

Especially in e-commerce, you can find made-to-order FAQs from customer questions and great customer insights from one- and two-star reviews – which can sometimes reveal differentiators you should be playing up in your strategy.

My other favorite under-the-radar source of competitor research and of understanding the experience of your own brand’s users is forums (think Reddit, Quora, etc.). If there is something on your site that isn’t flowing or may be confusing, you’ll find people discussing it in forums. They’re also rich sources of new long-tail keywords and question queries that can help build robust FAQ pages.

Perhaps most importantly, great competitor keyword research shouldn’t operate in silos. Asking questions of product, sales, and customer service teams can also help you flesh out your SEO strategy, and you can return the favor by delivering your insights and analytics across teams. 



If you’d like to hear about ways we’ve leveraged competitor research to accelerate our clients’ growth, drop us a line!

 

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