How to Mine a Competitor’s Categorical Keywords

Photo of author

By Boris Dzhingarov

The days where you could pick any relevant keyword, write a short blog post that included it, and show up in the search results are long over. Over time, search engines have evolved and algorithms are now prioritizing content based on website authority, intent, and user-friendliness, even if that means that the question is directly answered in the search engine results page. As a result, marketers are moving towards keyword categorization, and a topic cluster-based approach to SEO.

Why is Keyword Categorization Important?

One of the major benefits to keyword categorization is that it means marketers have to measure SEO success based on several semantically related keywords, rather than simply ranking for a single keyword. By categorizing keywords to yourself, your direct competitors and your SEO competitors, you are provided with a benchmark that you can use as a starting point for planning your content strategy. Finding your competitors’ categorical keywords will provide you with a blueprint that you can use for success.

How to Identify Your Top Competitors in Organic Search:

Before you can identify and mine your competitors’ categorical keywords, you will need to know who they are. There are various ways to find both your primary and secondary competitors. Primary competitors will sell the exact same products or services as you do to the same target audience, while secondary competitors won’t sell a product or service that directly competes with yours, but do produce content, products or services for a similar target audience. You can use the following to find your primary competitors:


By searching for your products and their alternatives in Google, you have an easy way of checking who your main competitors are. Any companies selling the same products or services as your business, that come up at the top of search results when you search for keywords that are relevant to your brand and are not a large publication should be added to your list of primary competitors.

Related Articles:  What's the Correct Way to Use Keywords in Content?


You can use SEMrush’s Domain Overview report to find all the top-level information for your site including Paid Search, Organic Search, Keywords and Backlinks. You can also find a list of your main organic competitors using this tool. When you click on ‘view full report’, you will be provided with further details on the common keywords and total keyword and traffic metrics. You should mainly focus on sites that have a similar level of organic traffic and a high number of keywords in common with yours.

Methods for Keyword Categorization:

There are various methods of filtering and tagging keywords including basic tools like Excel or Google Sheets, or more advanced approaches with BigML, Python, and other programmatic methods. Either way, both will lead to you having a categorized and semantically related keyword list. You can get started by pulling competitor keywords using SEMrush. Here are some of the main ways that your business can identify opportunities using keyword categorization:

Mid-Range or Long-Range Topics:

These are topics that tend to include a higher volume of keywords on pages four to ten of Google’s search results. While you are somewhat ranking for these topics, it typically means that you are going to have to overhaul the content significantly in order to get it to the first page of Google. Whether you can revamp the content that you have or scrap it all and start all over again to get to page one will depend on the competitiveness of the topic. It’s also worth looking into the topics that you are barely ranking for; determine how well these topics are aligned with your goals before deciding if any work is needed.

Related Articles:  Keyword Research Basics

Second and Third Pages:

You can use categorical keyword research to help you find and identify any topics that have a higher keyword volume on the second and third pages of the search results. Over the short-term, this can be the quickest return on investment when it comes to keyword targeting. Once you have well-organized keyword research data, you will be able to easily see which URLs are ranking for these keywords and how your competitors are doing in comparison, providing you with information that you can use to focus on improving, expanding, or optimizing these pages to bring them to the first page of results.

Competitive Insights:

One of the major benefits of categorizing keywords is that it helps you to identify the factors that are helping other sites succeed in search engine results. By conducting keyword research on your competitors, you can find out more about what their strengths or weaknesses are in terms of topics. Once you have information on the keywords, you can dive a little deeper into the domain to find out more about which variables are supporting them in their rankings. Consider the following:

  • How are the best-performing websites structured compared to yours?
  • What content formats are ranking the best? Are pages with images or videos typically ranking better than text-only content?
  • What are the sources and quality of the links back to the top-performing topics? How many links do they have?
  • What is the length or the depth of the content? Although long-from content does not always mean an automatically better ranking, it can sometimes make a difference.
  • How well is the content meeting the intent of the user? How well is the topic covered by your competitor?
Related Articles:  8 Reasons Why Your Page Rank Has Tanked

Conducting keyword research to mine your competitor’s categorical keywords will provide you with a better understanding of why certain pages rank better than others and what it will take to get your site to rank higher for the same keywords. Once you have this information, you have the blueprint that you need to work on your site to improve content creation, SEO, and website development efforts to ensure that it is in line with the other variables that are necessary for better ranking for certain keywords. Depending on what your overall business and marketing goals are, you can put this information to use for general sales and revenue, new and improved product lines, planning marketing campaigns, engaging and building trust with your target audience, and more.