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Discover the Best Keywords of Other Sites With SEMRush

One of the fundamentals of SEO is keyword research.  Keyword tools are used by search experts to find keywords to target.  Two of the more popular tools are Google AdWords: Keyword Tool and SEO Book Keyword Suggestion Tool.  These type of tools are useful because they tell webmasters how often a keyword is searched.  However, they don’t tell you which keywords are sending traffic to a given site.

If you could figure out the traffic-generating keywords of the sites in your niche, wouldn’t that be helpful?

Fortunately, there is a new keyword tool called SEMRush.  SEMRush allows you to find the top keywords that are sending traffic to any domain and even specific URLs.  More specifically, it searches through a large database of popular keywords and keeps track of the sites that rank in the top 20 results of Google for those keywords.  So, whenever you search for a site on SEMRush, it shows you the popular keywords that site ranks for in the top 20 Google results.

The tool costs $25/month but you can export the keyword lists to xls (Excel) and csv.  So, you can use it for one month and just export the keyword lists of many sites.  All this data should give you enough keywords to target for the next couple of months.

There is a free account but it only shows you 10 keywords and you can only used the tool 10 times an hour.

If you have a newer site or your site doesn’t have a lot of links, I would go after long-tail keyword phrases.  These phrases have 3 or more words.  These search terms have less competition since less sites are optimizing for them as opposed to shorter phrases.

One tactic is to find sites with similar stats as your site.  For example, you could find sites with similar PageRank, Alexa, Compete, or Quantcast scores.  Then, research those sites on SEMRush and you’ll have yourself a great keyword list.


  1. By Chung Bey Luen posted on March 4, 2009 at 4:42 pm
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    What I like this tool is it will suggest you related keywords and their corresponding traffic volume.

  2. By James posted on March 7, 2009 at 11:28 pm
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    You say “If you could figure out the traffic-generating keywords of the sites in your niche, wouldn’t that be helpful?”.

    Turning that on its side slightly – and forgive me if this seems a bit of a short-sighted idea (I’ve only been involved with SEO for a month now) – we can assume that all the sites you’d research using SEMRush are your competition, so what about a strategy using the site that can funnel out keywords that *aren’t* being targeted by the competition?

    I mean, if you were to research your keywords and come up with a list of words and phrases that you’re interested in targeting, then research the competion’s sites and see which words and phrases they’re using, you could compare both lists and cross off words and phrases that the competition are already targeting. Whatever’s left could be words and phrases worth targeting, without having to worry about how they play with the competition. Granted, whatever’s left over probably won’t have large search volumes and prime words and phrases will likely not make it on to such a list, but I guess this strategy would be more suited to those going for long-tail searches.

  3. By Dee Barizo posted on March 8, 2009 at 2:23 am
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    @Chung
    Yes, those features are definitely useful.

    @James
    I like your idea. It’s great in theory.

    However, in my experience, most keywords have some competition unless you’re in an obscure niche. And the keywords that don’t have a lot of competition, don’t send that much traffic.

    Many people started websites in the last couple years, so finding a keyword that doesn’t have any competition at all is a tough bet.

  4. By James posted on March 8, 2009 at 12:20 pm
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    Dee, I suppose I’m slightly biased, coming as I do from my own angle, which is identifying niche themes and content!

    This early on, I’m nowhere near to targeting single keywords- just the long-tail phrases that produce smaller volumes of traffic, but seem to be much more focused on what the searcher wants.

    It’ll be interesting to see how such an idea could play out, practically- if only just to see which phrases are left over after being crossed off the list!

  5. By Dee Barizo posted on March 8, 2009 at 9:54 pm
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    @James
    Why don’t you do a test and report back to us? I’d be interested to know if there are a lot of keywords that don’t really have any competition yet still send some traffic.

    You can email me of your findings at my gmail account, which is just my full name as one word. I sometimes forget to check my blog comments.

    Of course, you don’t have to tell us the exact keywords since that is a nice competitive advantage. But you could give us a general report on the number of keywords you found.

  6. By Gotlib Dyster posted on March 26, 2009 at 3:22 pm
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    Thank you for review of SEMRush!
    Please let me know if you have any suggestions or ideas about improvement of it.

  7. By James posted on March 26, 2009 at 5:08 pm
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    I’ll probably give that experiment a try on my next project and let you know :)

  8. By Dee Barizo posted on March 31, 2009 at 1:32 pm
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    That’s great, James :)

  9. By Rodrick posted on September 17, 2009 at 6:04 am
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    Hello,

    I purchased Brad Callen’s latest version of Keyword Elite 2.0, but haven’t had a chance to use to discover all of the new features.

    I’m pretty excited about making the time to put those features to work so that I can cut my niche market keyword research to a fraction of the time.

    I do own all of Brad’s software products and I’ve been pretty impressed.

    If anyone has used it, I’d be very interested in what your tanglable results were.

    Rodrick Etienne
    The Home Business Growth Coach
    http://budurl.com/discoverniches2

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