How To Spy On Competitors Keywords With SEMrush?

You stare blankly on your WordPress blog for over 30 minutes and you have absolutely no idea which keyword you should be using to crush your competitors. They are making tons of money (and traffic) and you are dying for that.

Yes, I have been there before one too many times. I tried to use the same keywords that my competitors are using but honestly, I’m no where near their success. I probably do more backlinks and wrote better than most of them but I’m struggling hard to hit the first page of Google, what else about the top 3 spot.

The biggest question is “What had you done wrong?”

Today, you are going to learn exactly how to spy on your competitors keywords and literally crush them (yes, you hear me out loud).

Tools you need:

  1. SEMrush (register for free here)
  2. Excel sheet or blank paper



Why on Earth should I be choosing SEMrush?

There are a zillion keyword tools out there including Long Tail Pro which I highly recommend. Why I would go for SEMrush this time?

The answer is really, really simple. SEMrush provides more information than any other tool out there. In the hands of a beginner, the tool is useless but imagine the power it holds when it is used by an advanced user.

Yes, it is like calling a knight in shining armor cook a full 5-course meals.

I use SEMrush for several reasons:

  1. Advanced keyword research
  2. Analyzing competitors keywords
  3. Determine the keyword difficulties


Advanced keyword research using SEMrush

Let’s assume that you’re a complete newbie … and you hate Google Keyword Planner until death makes you apart. This is where SEMrush comes into play.

On SEMrush search box, fill in the keywords you are interested in and within seconds, SEMrush would provide you a list of advanced data which includes:

  • Keyword summary
  • CPC distribution
  • Trend
  • Phrase match report
  • Related keyword report
  • SE keywords
  • Ads
  • Ads history

search for quality keywords using SEMrush

Take a moment and compare to any keyword research tool out there. I don’t think any of those can match what SEMrush can offer. Period.

Here’s a little summary of the important functions only.

Keyword summary (importance: 6/10)

Providing a general outlook on the keyword you are searching for. The report is based on exact keyword search.

CPC distribution (importance: 2/10)

If you are not an Adword publisher, this is pretty useless for you. It gives you an idea on one thing and one thing only which is CPC.

Trend (importance: 7/10)

The chart will show you how that specific keyword is trending during a 12 months duration. I mark this 7/10 due to the fact that we need to know what’s trending and what’s not for better control and monetization.

Phrase match report (importance: 5/10)

Okay, this is important but due to the fact that the information is all about the number of phrase matches search based on per month basis, I give it a 5/10.

Related keywords report (importance: 8/10)

Love this. It gives you a detailed rundown on the keywords you can use to further enrich your blog post. By default, SEMrush will show only the top 10 keywords. Click on the Full Report button to see the full list or Export button to download the list.

SE keywords (importance: 9/10)

This is a simple chart that shows who is ranking for that keyword (root and article domain). Want to spy on your competitors or simply knowing who are your targets is extremely vital in this business.

I got eyes on you!

Ads & Ads history (importance: 1/10)

Another feature for Adwords publisher. Since I’m not using it, I would skip this part.


Here’s an example of what SEMrush looks like when you search for keywords. Detailed reports are what you’ll 100% get.

how to use SEMrush to find competitors keywords

Analyzing competitors keywords with SEMrush

This is probably the juiciest part of SEMrush which I got to admit, I’m in love with it.

For any blogging business, you need to know your competitors and I would be assuming you know that too. Well if you don’t, just refer back to the SE keywords by SEMrush and you get the top 10 and even top 20 results. Those are your competitors.

To kick start, fill in the domain URL (you can ignore the ‘www’) on SEMrush search bar and hit search.

And the magic happens. You will be spoilt with a HUGE report about the site you had chosen which includes:

  • Organic search
  • Paid search
  • Backlinks
  • Top keywords
  • Keyword position
  • Main competitors
  • Backlink data

And those are just the icing of the cake. You can further check on each categories and further analyze from it. For your information, it would easily take you a few hours to completely analyze your competitors.

How do you spy on competitors’ keywords with SEMrush?

  1. List down at least 3 competitor websites
  2. Use SEMrush to determine the exact keywords they are ranking for ~ I focus on the top 10 keywords
  3. Check on the Keyword Difficulties (more on this below)

With SEMrush, you are going to see what your competitors are doing exactly and how you can monetize them.

  • Let’s take an example that you know your competitors are ranking on ‘spy on competitors keywords’ term.
  • Focus on how they are ranking this keywords (where they get the backlink from, what anchor texts are used etc)
  • Replicate (yes, copy them) and improve by further enriching them (build more backlinks, improve anchor text, using long tail keywords etc)

Now tell me. Do you think you can crush your competitors while they are sleeping? Yes, you certainly do thanks to SEMrush.

SEMrush review

Determine the keyword difficulties with SEMrush

This is another good add-on for SEMrush; keyword difficulties.

For those who are wondering, this feature compliments the above (competitors keywords research) perfectly.

  1. On the sidebar panel of SEMrush, search for Tools > Keyword Difficulty.
  2. Fill in the keywords (one per line and max 100 keywords per time) and click Show difficulty.

You will a report like this:

Find competitors keywords difficulty with SEMrush

SEMrush keyword difficulty is shown in percentage where bigger percentage would be harder to compete compared to smaller percentage.

At the same time, you will also see the number of searches (volume tab), number of results, trends and SERP results.

Personally, my rule of difficulty recommendations would be anything below 70% (competition is tough with anything above 50%).


SEMrush in a nutshell

In short, I can’t imagine life without SEMrush. It is probably one of the most comprehensive SEO keyword research tool I ever seen until date.

You can grab a free SEMrush account here which will give you limited access for life and you find this useful, you can easily upgrade to Pro plan which costs $69.95 per month or Guru plan which costs $149.95 per month.

There you go, my summary wrap up on how to spy on competitors keywords using SEMrush. Tell me what you think using the comment form below and feel free to share this around with your friend!

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