Best SEO Software 2020

The 6 Best Competitor Keyword Research Tools for 2020

Want to learn what keywords your competitors are using? Here's the six best software tools that will help you identify your competitors' top search terms.

Competitor keyword research is an efficient way to identify high-performing keywords that will help you stay ahead of the competition. It's one of the top keyword research tactics used by effective digital marketers.

SoftwarePundit has identified the 6 best software tools for competitor keyword research. These tools will help you:

  • Identify promising keywords that you can target with your search programs
  • Find the keywords your competitors are using
  • Discover the websites that you compete with online

Table of Contents

What Are Competitor Keywords?

Competitor keywords are the search terms that drive the most traffic to your competitors' websites. These are the most important keywords that customers in your market are searching for on Google and other search engines. Researching competitor keywords is a valuable tactic to find new keywords that you can target with your SEO and SEM programs.

The 6 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords in 2020

The 6 best tools for finding competitor keywords are below. We also highlight each tool's pricing and who the tool is best for.

ToolStarting PriceBest For
SEMrush$99.95 Pro PlanMarketers managing paid and organic search
Ahrefs$99 Lite PlanMarketers focused on SEO and backlink building
SpyFu$39 Basic Plan Marketers who want a high-quality tool at a low price point
Alexa$79 Insight PlanMarketers who can afford the $149 upgrade to find keyword gaps
SERPstat$69 Lite PlanMarketers who want an all-in-one SEO tool cheaper than SEMrush and Ahrefs
iSpionage$59 Starter PlanMarketers who find value in its landing page gallery and competitor alerts

How to Find Competitor Keywords Using SEMrush

SEMrush is our favorite tool for competitor keyword research. SEMrush provides two reports that you can use to identify the best keywords for competitive websites. SEMrush is an all-in-one SEO tool that offers a broad set of features beyond keyword research.

Organic Search Report

First is the Organic Search Report. This report allows you to see the keywords that drive the most traffic to any competitor website. Here's an example of the keywords that drive the most traffic to the Food Network website:

SEMrush Keyword Organic Keywords

This SEMrush report provides in-depth information about your competitors keyword performance. As you can see below, you can see how competitors are performing in search over time, as well as keywords broken down by position and major position changes:

SEMrush Keyword Organic Keywords 2

Keyword Gap Analysis

The second SEMrush report that you should use for competitor research is the Keyword Gap Analysis report. This report shows you the keywords that work best for you competitors where your website does not rank. To generate this report, you enter your own website and up to 4 competitor websites. Here's an example of the Keyword Gap Analysis report where foodnetwork.com ranks well, but allrecipes.com does not:

SEMrush Keyword Gap Analysis

This is an efficient way to identify a high number of keywords that you can begin targeting through content marketing and paid search campaigns. We recommend starting with high-volume keywords where your competitor ranks in the top 5 positions, and have low keyword difficulty.

How to Find Competitor Keywords Using Ahrefs

Ahrefs is another exceptional tool for competitor keyword research that we regularly use at SoftwarePundit. Ahrefs has two primary analyses for competitive keyword research. Like SEMrush, Ahrefs is an all-in-one SEO tool. Ahrefs is the strongest tool for backlink research.

Organic Keywords Report

The Organic Keywords report in Ahrefs is similar to SEMrush. One benefit of Ahrefs is the ability to filter keywords based upon position, volume, keyword difficulty, CPC, traffic and SERP features.

Ahrefs Keyword Organic Keywords

Content Gap Analysis

The Content Gap Analysis in Ahrefs is very similar to the Keyword Gap Analysis in SEMrush. Using this report, you can identify the best keywords for your competitors where you do not rank. A valuable benefit is that Ahrefs allows you to compare 10 domains vs. 5 with SEMrush.

Ahrefs Keyword Gap Analysis

How to Find Competitor Keywords Using SpyFu

SpyFu is an excellent competitor keyword analysis tool that lets you spy on your competition. It is a user-friendly tool at a cheaper price point than SEMrush and Ahrefs.

SEO Keywords Report

SpyFu provides an SEO Keywords report that you can use to find your competitors' top keywords. A useful feature is the ability to sort the list by rank, search volume, click volume, as well as newly ranked keywords, and rank gains & losses.

SpyFu SEO Keywords Report

Kombat Report for Shared Organic Keywords

SpyFu also provides a Kombat report that allows you to compare your keywords to keywords of up to 2 competitors. This functions very similarly to the SEMrush and Ahrefs reports. This report is very easy to use, although it comes with less functionality compared to SEMrush and Ahrefs.

SpyFu Kombat Report

PPC Overview Report

SpyFu also allows you to see what your competitors are doing in paid search. The PPC Overview report allows you to see your competitors' most profitable paid keywords.

SpyFu Most Profitable Paid Keywords

How to Find Competitor Keywords Using Alexa

Alexa is a useful tool for finding competitor keywords. It provides data on your website's keywords, traffic sources and audience. The tool can be used to analyze the same data for any of your competitors.

Site Keywords Report

Alexa has a Site Keywords report that provides a lot of valuable information about your competitors' top organic keywords. A nice feature is the ability to quickly filter for keywords with high share of voice, low competition and long-tail keywords. Seeing paid keyword data requires an upgrade to the $149 plan.

Alexa site keywords report

Competitor Keyword Matrix

If you upgrade to the $149/month plan, you get access to Alexa's Competitor Keyword Matrix report. This report allows you to add up to 10 competitors to see share of voice for organic and paid keywords, as well as a table that identifies your most valuable keyword gaps. This report works for organic and paid keywords.

Alexa competitor keyword matrix

How to Find Competitor Keywords Using SERPstat

SERPstat is a trustworthy tool for finding competitor keywords. Similar to SEMrush and Ahrefs, SERPstat is an all-in-one SEO tool that has a broad range of features.

Organic Keywords Report

SERPstat features an easy to use Organic Keywords report that shows you the top keywords for any website. The report has useful data for each keyword including keyword difficulty, volume, traffic and competition.

serpstat organic keywords report

Domain vs. Domain Report

SERPstat also has a Domain vs. Domain report that can be used to identify keyword gaps. This tool allows you to enter up to 3 domains.

serpstat domain vs. domain report

How to Find Competitor Keywords Using iSpionage

iSpionage is a useful tool to discover your competitors keywords. It does not offer the breadth of features compared to other tools in this list, and has a less user-friendly interface. It's unique features include a landing page gallery and competitor alerts.

Organic Keywords Report

iSpionage offers an Organic Keywords report that allows you to see top performing keywords for any website. While useful, this report has less data and is harder to use than other options highlighted above. One advantage is that the data is split out between Google and Bing.

iSpionage organic keywords report

PPC Keywords Report

iSpionage also offers a PPC Keywords report that provides competitive intelligence on the paid keywords that work best for your competitors. For each paid keyword, the report shares data on the first date it was detected, last date, number of days advertised, average search volume and average position.

iSpionage PPC keywords report

Bottom Line

There are numerous software tools to support your paid and organic search efforts. These are the six best tools specifically for competitor keyword research.

While all these tools will get the job done, we recommend starting your search with SEMrush, Ahrefs or SpyFu. If you are in the market for an all-in-one search tool, then SEMrush or Ahrefs are likely your best options. If you have a lower budget and need a tool specifically to provide data on your competition's keywords, then we recommend SpyFu.

Bruce Hogan

Bruce Hogan is Co-founder & CEO of SoftwarePundit, a technology research firm that provides advice, information, and tools to help businesses thrive. Bruce has experience investing at multi-billion dollar private equity firms, leading teams at venture-backed Internet companies, and launching new ventures. Bruce graduated summa cum laude from the Wharton School of Business.