As a Managed Services Provider (MSP) knowing what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) keywords your company should target for your website and how to outperform your competitors in this area can seem like a daunting task.
For most IT Solution Providers, getting to the first page on Google for terms such as “IT Support <City>” where <City> is your local area is the holy grail of SEO. But how do your competitors make it to that number one page in the search rankings? In this post we’ll explore how to find a website’s keywords that are producing organic traffic.
Understanding the keywords that your competitors are using in their own SEO efforts is one way to gain insight into their success, and here are a few simple methods you can use (and your competitors are probably already using) to find out those keywords!
View Page Source to Find Competitors’ Keywords
The easiest way to find out the keywords your competitors are using is to visit their website and then view the Page Source—or the underlying HTML code—for their homepage.
In Google Chrome, you simply click the tools bar (the three lines in the top right-hand corner) then select Tools > Developer Tools. This will display the Source Code in a window underneath the website itself.
In Internet Explorer, click on View > Source to see the HTML source code of the website.
You can then search for these tags to understand the keywords your competitors are using on their website.
- <title>: This tag is a headline description of the page and is the way Google displays your site in listings. The title tag typically contains the primary keyword that a page is trying to rank for.
- <meta name=”description”>: This is the snippet that appears underneath the title tag on search engines’ results. While not a specific ranking factor, many websites incorporate the target keyword into their meta descriptions in the hope of reinforcing what the page is about—which could potentially help lead to a higher click through rate to the site from search results.
- <meta name=”keywords”>: As this is an antiquated aspect of SEO, many sites are no longer using this tag, but it’s worth checking to see if your competitors are using it. In some instances, websites may use the meta keywords tag to keep track of what keywords a page is specifically focusing on, which can provide excellent insights to their strategy.
From the above tags you can get a fairly good feel for the type of keywords your competitors are using to promote their website, and specifically what they’re trying to rank for.
Google AdWords Keyword Planner
The next—and often overlooked—way to find out what keywords your competitors are using on their website is to use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner.
If you haven’t already signed up for a Google AdWords accounts—it’s free to do so and gives you access to the Google AdWords tool suite.
Once you’ve signed up for a Google AdWords account then visit https://adwords.google.com/ and click the “Search for new keyword and ad group ideas” link.
This box is typically used to input a word or phrase, but you can enter the URL of a website (your own or a competitors!) and Google will then show you the keyword ideas for that site – based on the keywords it has found.
These keyword “ideas” should give you a very good indication of which keywords your competitors are targeting for their own SEO strategy.
Ahrefs Site Explorer
Ahrefs is a popular SEO tool suite that SEO companies use for keyword research, backlink analysis, and more. Ahrefs can provide a ton of information about your site, and your competitors’ websites.
Start by creating a free account or logging in if you’re a subscribed user. There is a seven-day free trial, which should provide plenty of time to extract some deep insights about the keywords your competitors are targeting.
Once logged in, navigate to the Site Explorer tool, then drop in the specific URL you want to investigate and hit enter. In the top bar, you’ll see general information about the site—the number of backlinks to the page, referring domains, and specifically Organic Keywords. Click the number below the title for Organic Keywords and you’ll be able to tell exactly what terms this page currently ranks for and the monthly search volume for each term.
This information can help you identify which keywords your site (and your competitor’s site) ranks for—allowing you to adjust your strategy accordingly.
Similar to Ahrefs, SEMRush is an SEO tool suite that provides an exceptional amount of SEO-oriented information. To use this tool, create a login and navigate to the home dashboard. Enter your URL, let the tool work, then scroll down until you see “Top Organic Keywords.” This will show the top traffic producing keywords to the URL in question, as well as the difficulty score (how easy is it to rank for this term) and monthly search volume.
If you click the button that says “View all Organic Keywords,” you can easily export all the keywords this webpage currently ranks for—and use this to create new strategies or to find new alternative keywords to target.
Search engine optimization is still a huge factor in making sure Google finds your website and, in turn, clients can find you via Google.
If you’re unsure of which keywords you should be focusing on, then why not take a look at what your competitors websites are targeting by checking out the Source Code on their website, Google AdWords Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, or SEMRush for further ideas.
While blindly copying your competitors and competing directly with them for keywords is never a good idea, being aware of what they’re focusing on may help you clarify what your own business needs to focus on—and it’s worth knowing your competitors are almost certainly using the same techniques to check your own website out!
Looking to solve another problem for your MSP? Learn more about the N-able MSP product suite