This week I had the opportunity to give a webinar for competitive marketing data tool SEMrush titled Using Keyword Data To Crush Your Competition.

The webinar focused on some key parts of a content marketing strategy, including; top-level competitor analysis, content gap analysis, data visualisation reasoning, content creation techniques and  basic advice on researching key demographics.

The slides are embedded below, or can alternatively be found on SlideShare.

Using Keyword Data To Crush Your Competition

Today there has been a real shift in SEO towards content. Tap into keyword data to drive your content strategy and focus your budget on content that will drive significant gains in organic traffic.

We will work through specific tips and tricks that you can use today:

  • Identifying ‘winners & losers’ in your industry
  • Uncovering fast growing new competitors
  • Analysing your competitor's strengths
  • Mixing together a best-in-class content strategy to grow your traffic

In addition we will also identify 5 keys to success and how you can integrate them into your content marketing strategy moving forwards:

  • Identify key competitor growth
  • Analyse why they’re growing
  • Visualise where you’re falling short
  • Create ideas to target key audiences
  • Research your audience to exhaustion

As well as the slides, the webinar was also recorded and the video can be found below.


Today we’re going to talk about using keyword data to crush your competition. I suppose this is centred mainly around today’s focus in SEO on quality content. So these are just a few methods on how you can improve your clients content strategy.

That’s me. I’m an SEO consultant here at Ayima in the London Office and I’m also a big cyclist. Unfortunately I’m not wearing that today but I’ll be taking you through and if you want to follow or tweet me then that’s my twitter handle there as well.

Ayima began in 2007, we’re headquartered in London and New York and we’re also an SEO partner to Fortune 20 and FTSE clients too.

There are a few of the awards we’ve won at the bottom recently, and also you can tweet @ayima at anytime during the webinar as well.

The first thing we’re going to talk about today is identifying competitor growth. To do this I have actually done this on who are a highly competitive highly insurance comparison site here in the UK. Ayima are not affiliated with Ayima at all; they were selected because they were a site in a highly competitive industry that had seen no natural growth between July 2014 and December 2014 according to the data we’ve pulled from SEMrush.

Our initial steps in this case study is to identify which of our competitors are growth or decreasing in the market and essentially finding a way to learn from them and what we can do with our content.

The first step is to enter our client into the SEMrush search box, making sure we select the correct country code. Then we want to go down to organic research in the left had side menu and select competitors. Again, we’re not affiliated with but it’s an example to use in a competitive industry.

Then we want to export the competitor data for the last six months. It’s up to you the date range; we’ve used six months in 2014 as an example but you would want to use more up to date data, and you may want to do it over a 12 month period.

As you can see this is what we’ll get when you go to the competitors tab. Confused have got a lot of organic competitors you can see its about 23 and a half thousand and what to you want to do is export that using the button on the top right hand side.

Using excel, de-dupe the domains and Vlookup the data. So we’ll grab the domains from both sets of data put them together and de-dupe them. This is because there are some competitors who weren’t there before in six months, and there may be some that were there and dropped off. This may be due to a penalty, or a manual action, or they’ve stopped being a business, which is rare, but happens.

So we what we want to do is set a threshold to identify key winners and losers in this data that we have. As you can see here there are two boxes one’s an example of the thresholds I’ve used in identifying both increases and decreases and you can see underneath are my top organic traffic estimation competitors by domains.

I’ve used relevance as a factor, which is actually sent through with the export from SEMrush. I believe they have an algorithm that determines how relevant a competitor is to your own client. Then you can use that to identify whether they are worth investigating further.

You can see here over the last six months of 2014, we’ve got Go Compare and
Compare The Market seeing massive growth; Money Supermarket has seen small growth. They are probably the three key competitors in the market so they’ll be the ones we’ll be investigating moving forwards.

We’ve identified whose seeing the most growth, we’ve also identified whose seeing the biggest drops. If I go back you see there has seen a 43% drop. What we want to know next is how we can use this data to our advantage.

Using data to identify your competitor’s strengths can be a real boost in addressing your own weaknesses. So now we’re going to use your competitors keywords against them. This is now a separate task, we’ve identified the competitors we want to investigate further and now we’re starting a new task from scratch.

Again we want to enter our URL into SEMrush, and this time we want to export non-brand positions keywords data and search volumes into excel. So you can see its organic research again and it’s now the positions link we click on. What we want to do is then filter this data using the filters in SEMrush and take out the brands words. So here’s an example I’ve put here for Compare The Market, different variations take that out of the data so you’re working on non-brand keywords alone.

Then what you’ll get in your export is something like this picture on the right. So you’ll have your keywords, search volume and a traffic percentage, which comes from the SEMrush data again. So one way to really cut down the amount of data your looking at because if I go back to the previous slide its about 15,000 keywords in the organic search positions tab. So it’s about 15,000 after you’ve removed the brand keywords so it’s a lot of keywords to actually look at. One good way of doing this is to filter out anything that hasn’t driven your competitors any traffic according the data. So anything that is traffic percentage zero for example we’ll just take out and we’ll investigate the other data.

Now for a small business this data might be worth looking at because there are some good search terms in here with some good search volumes that they may be able to target and drive them traffic. Obviously a lot of this based on rankings as well, ranking positions for these keywords in terms of the traffic their going to drive. But for this exercise we’ll use stuff that’s actually driving the competitors traffic. If you wanted to go a step further then investigating this data as well would be an excellent start.

And then what we want to do is categorise and subcategorise the keywords. So we’ve got a list of keywords that are actually driving traffic now and we’ve manually gone through these and given them a category and sub-category. Now there are ways of doing this automatically, Ayima have tools that can do this for us but for this exercise and for anyone in an agency environment that maybe doesn’t have their own tool that can do this for you, I’ve done this manually because its more relevant to you guys. I’ve gone through each keyword and given it a category that’s relevant to the business and then a subcategory within that main category. This is so you can pivot this data and make it really easy to view and kind of visualise for your client.

Another thing that’s really good to do is download all that keyword data for your client. So in this instance we’ve used Confused and we’ve just crosschecked the keywords against the competitors to see; do confused rank for these terms? If they do great, if they don’t, then why not? And this is kind of identifying the opportunities for Confused to attack moving forwards.

As you can see here there is another pivot table example where health & travel their appearing for all of these terms, but there is still a lot of opportunities for Car, Life, Home, for example.

So using data is essential but it quickly becomes useless if your client can’t understand it and an SEO should really build all of their arguments to clients based on data, based on fact. But if you can’t visualise that to a client or put it across to them then it quickly becomes a frustrating experience. So the onus is on you to use that data, use that fact that you’ve found and put it across to your client in a way they will understand and be able to interpret it.

Visualising keyword data, and visualising this keyword data in this instance is important because you need to get buy in to continue working on this kind of process. So a couple of different ways you could this is like a big pie chart for example. It’s a nice visual way of showing a percentage but also a massive chunk, and what’s taking up most of the chunks in this instance? Communications, finance, savings and insurance are taking up a huge portion of that pie of the total landscape. Which by the way is the monthly search volume added together. So it’s all the keywords, all the search volumes added together to create this total landscape.

Here it is, also a hierarchy chart of our kind of total landscape at the top, which is all the keywords combined make up a combined search volume of over 20 million. Then we’ve got our categories at the next level, and then underneath that we’ve split that down to sub-categories. Again this might too much for a client to look at in the first place but it’s a really great way for you to kind of identify each pillar and then opportunities within them. And again here’s the opportunities landscape, so you can here communications is even bigger for Confused in this instance along with five finance as well, there both really big so theirs obviously a lot of opportunity there for them to target moving forward. And again we have our hierarchy chart but this time with opportunities only, so the keywords they currently rank for are not in this at all.

As you can see in December 2014 Confused didn’t actually rank in the top 20 SERP positions for 455 keywords that drove traffic to a competitor with a combined search volume of over 14 million. So there’s a massive amount of opportunity that’s been identified here.

Now this task in itself, especially if your doing it manually and depending on the amount of keywords you have could potentially take you around a day to do so it’s important to bare that in mind if it’s a task your going to undertake for your clients and you have specific timesheets you have to adhere to.

So this is going to potentially take a day maybe more depending how many keywords you have to look at for example.

Content creation doesn't need to be sexy or cost millions in order to work for you. I think there’s a massive misconception in the industry that creating quality content means going out and creating a beautiful expensive resource that’s dynamic and looks fantastic. But at the same time you could just add an extra article on the site or a new blog post. It doesn’t necessarily have to be this big expensive project. They’re wonderful and if you can get sign off for that, great. But you also need to look at the smaller areas you can exploit as well because it’s a lot cheaper to do for the client so your more likely to get buy-in for those tasks.

So we want to create content that works, so I’ll focus on some of these smaller cheaper resources because I think it’s more relevant from big corporate accounts down to small local businesses as well. So we’ll look at creating this kind of content that’s works for you and your brand.

So here we have these opportunities pillars that we’ve already identified. And the way we want to approach creating content is in two ways. So the first way is to identify the problem first. So an example of this is; “I’ve just been made redundant” and this is relevant to your finance category with your opportunities of 3,500,000 which is fantastic. So how do we drill even further? If I’ve just been made redundant what do I need to know, put yourself in that position.

A potential article is “three things to do within 24 hours of receiving a redundancy letter” so that’s a really Buzzfeed-esque article, or “listicle”. It’s also relevant to the person that’s looking for that, so it could be targeting a lot of different long tail keywords. But it’s also relevant to for example the income category. You could drill down even further into that income sub-category and see what keywords could we use in this article or focus around.

The second way is to go for product first. So for example “mortgages”. I want to drive more traffic to my mortgages section, they’re not performing well enough. So again this relevant to finance and a potential article around mortgages is saying right well, what do I need to drive it to more. So you could say “How do you increase your credit score to get the ideal mortgage”. It’s something someone would search for, its semantic and it’s a relevant article to how someone would be looking to approach the mortgage category. Obviously it’s relevant to mortgages, at the same time it’s also relevant to credit score as well, so there’s a massive opportunity there that you could be exploiting.

This actually brings me onto my next point, which is linking opportunities. Another great thing you can do with your content is actually to interlink them and use lots of different sections. So for example “how to save £100 on your lunch hour”, we’d all love to save £100 on our lunch hour, I know I would. So an article that’s relevant to this would be fantastic. And its relevant to a lot of different sections; communications, finance, energy, insurance. And why is it relevant to those sections? Well you could update your broadband, get a better broadband deal. Banking, you could get a new savings account or you get yourself a new current that could potentially save you money.

Gas and Electric. Again, updating your energy supplier, looking at the new deals, or is there a way you could cut costs in your home to save you money?

Finally, car insurance. Car insurance is one of those things you can always get a better deal every year. It’s something that a lot of people now are starting to do, updating their insurance yearly, because they know they’re going to get a better deal.

There are things to consider when creating this kind of content. Appearing for a broad range of searches is valuable for brand visibility. Which is an excellent argument. But things you need to bear in mind with this is that users will be at a different stage of the conversion funnel, they’ll probably be a step back, they’re not looking for a physical product, they’re looking for guidance.

This is where brand visibility comes in, because a user stumbles on your article and goes wow this is really good, this is really useful, I’m going to bookmark this, I’m going to save this for later, I’ll come back to this, but I also know that this is an article that’s been made buy Confused, so when I go to buy am I going to go to buy from Confused because they’ve given me this really great advice.

That’s the step before their buying step in the conversion funnel, but it’s really valuable to get in front of these people so that you’re in the back of their minds when they actually do come to purchase.

Different content will have varying conversion rates, so mortgages will have a longer conversion time than mobiles, where someone’s looking to buy. For example, mobile phones, I can read an article and find it really helpful, and then go and buy the same day. Whereas mortgages, I may have to do a lot more research into mortgages, what kind of mortgage I want and then compare them, which may take a few months to go through, so there’s varying conversion rates on your content.

Finally, you want to keep your content semantic it’s really good to keep stuff relevant to voice searches, so Google Now, I search a lot with Google Now, I think it’s become more common. But also, it appeals to hummingbird, and it also doesn’t conflict with your key products pages, so you know, your big landing pages, like car insurance for example. It’s not going to compete with that, but it is going to support that, and that’s really important to have that supporting content nowadays onsite.

You can create the best content imaginable, but if the market isn’t there, it will fail. You’ve now created these fantastic articles, but are they for the right people, are they for the right demographic? We’re now going to look at some ways to analyse our demographic.

Someone that’s fresh out of university and can’t get a job is a different demographic to a person whose retirement fund has collapsed. Again, a man going on holiday with his mates, or friends is a different demographic to a man going on holiday with his family. Potentially different ages, potentially different attitudes, outlooks, they might want different things out of their holidays.

This is a tool that’s really handy to use, it gives you a really good start on analysing your demographics, the YouGov profiler. You can find the tool here

This is the home screen that you get, you get a search box and a drop down box. We’re looking at travel and holidays. So this is a typical example of people who are interested in travel and holidays, it’s a lady, 60+ and she has quite a bit of spare change. You can also see specific brands that she likes. She’s very particular with a lot of brands, but when it comes to travel, she’s not that fussy with who she flies with and who she buys from, she’s clearly just looking to get the best deal.

If we want to write a specific article about EasyJet (who this lady buys from), we can go back and type in EasyJet. We can see that a typical customer is a man in his late 20’s, so clearly not the same demographic as the lady before. And that’s what you really need to focus on with your articles, you need to investigate who you want to write it for, who’s going to get value from this article and who will actually read it instead of leaving your page and going back to the SERPs.

Basically, content must be created with the same detail as any SEO task for it to truly be called quality. Quality content is a word that’s used a lot within our industry, and what does it really mean? It means you need to drill down into your task properly and approach it with the same detail as a technical SEO task for example.

It’s really important for you to focus on it properly, when it comes down to content you may only get one shot at creating content for a bigger brand and then they might give it to another agency. So you really need to invest in that, because if you do a good job for them they will give you repeat business. It’s important you stand by quality content and make your content quality.

The keys for success, let’s go over what I’ve spoken about today. First you need to Identify key competitor growth, then analyse why they’re growing, then visualise where you’re falling short, create ideas to target key areas and finally research your audience to exhaustion. Then you can actually look at writing your article.

Thank you very much.

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