Analyze and Counteract the Organic Keyword Strategy of Your Rivals


Goal: Reverse engineer your competitor’s SEO keyword strategy.


Ideal Outcome: Obtain a standardized audit revealing the pages, keywords, and topics your competitor ranks for organically.


Prerequisites: None.


Why This is Important: Your competitors might rank for high-value, high-volume keywords that you could potentially target. This analysis allows you to replicate successful strategies or content from your competitors.


Tools Needed: Ahrefs and Google Sheets.


Timing: Start this process when you begin your business and monitor your competitors every couple of months.


Responsible Party: The SEO specialist.


Included Resource


Click below to copy the “Organic Keyword Reverse Engineering” template:



Environment Setup


  • Create an Ahrefs account if you don’t have one:

  1. Note: Ahrefs’ 7-day trial is no longer available. If a paid plan is not feasible, consider a cheaper alternative like Ubersuggest.


  • Identify the competitor to reverse engineer:

    • Choose the applicable option below:
      • Option 1: Identify competitors for a specific keyword.
      • Option 2: Identify competitors across all keywords.
      • Option 3: If you already know which competitor to analyze.


Option 1: Identify Competitors for a Specific Keyword


  1. Search your keyword in incognito mode on Google.
    • Ensure your IP address matches your target market (e.g., use a US IP for the US market).

Search your keyword in incognito mode on Google



  1. Review the organic results on the first page.
    • Select a competitor slightly larger or smaller than your business.
    • Avoid large brands like Wikipedia or Coca-Cola as their resources and assets might be incomparable to yours.

Review the organic results on the first page



Option 2: Identify Competitors Across All Keywords


  1. Open Ahrefs and query your own domain:

Open Ahrefs



  • Click ‘Organic Search’ and select your target country.

Organic Search



  • Review your top 10 competitor list.

top 10 competitor list



Option 3: Known Competitor

Skip to the next chapter if you already know which competitor you want to analyze.


Export Your Competitor’s Organic Keywords from Ahrefs

  1. Query your competitor’s domain in Ahrefs:

Open Ahrefs



  • Click ‘Organic keywords’ in the sidebar.

 Click ‘Organic keywords



  • Select the country for analysis and click “Position: Top 10.”

Position: Top 10



  • Export the data by clicking ‘Export’ → ‘Start Export’ to download the keywords as a CSV file.
  1. Note: Export as many rows as possible within your account’s limits.




Import Competitor Keywords to Your Template

  1. Open your copy of the “Organic Keyword Reverse Engineering” template:
    • Select Cell A1.




  • Click ‘File’ → ‘Import.’

File Import



  • Choose ‘Replace data at selected cell’ → ‘Import data.’

Replace data at selected cell



  1. Navigate to the “2) Keyword Buckets By Page” sheet:
    • Review the table displaying your competitor’s pages ranked by current organic traffic.

Keyword Buckets By Page



  1. Table Interpretation:

Table Interpretation



  • Page URL: URL of the competitor’s page ranking in search results.


  • Keyword: Displayed when you expand the URL column by clicking the ‘+’ button, showing a breakdown of all keywords the page ranks for in the top 10 results.


  • Total Volume of Search Query: Total monthly estimated query volume for all keywords that the page ranks for in the Top 10.


  • Total Current Traffic to URL: Total monthly estimated traffic driven to the page by keywords ranking in the Top 10.


  • Average Keyword Difficulty: The average difficulty (1 to 100 scale) of ranking in the top 10 for the keywords.


  • Keyword Bucket: Manually fill this field with the parent topic or keyword for each page.



  1. Assign Keyword Buckets:
    • For each URL, expand the line to see the keyword breakdown.
    • Skim through the keywords and assign a Keyword Bucket in the respective column.
    • Minimize the URL and move to the next one.
    • Repeat until all URLs have Keyword Buckets assigned.

 Assign Keyword Buckets



You now have a comprehensive document showing the pages driving the most traffic to your competitor and the keyword buckets and topics they are leveraging to achieve their rankings.