people spying to see a competitor's keywords

There are several ways to find your competitor's keywords, but we're showing the two that are quick, and don't cost anything.

There are other ways to find your competitor's keywords using online tools, but our goal is to show you how to do it without having to spend any money. Just time.

We should also mention, to search for keywords for your website, as well as see your competitor's keywords, there's also Google's Keyword Planner Tool. That's free, but more involved to use. We use Google's Keyword Planner whenever we're searching for keywords for our clients' websites.

The two simplest ways to see your competitor's keywords.

The first method is looking at the keywords on your competitors' home page's Page Title (also called a "Title Tag"). Page Titles are, arguably, one of the more important things to include on your homepage, because they're one of the first things Google looks for to determine the content of your site. (Of course, there are many things that are important on a homepage, but we're just talking about keywords now.)

To see how Google displays your Page Title on their search results page, watch the first 40 seconds of this video.

Go to the homepage of any competitors' website. (In this example, we're not using an actual competitor's website.)

Roll your cursor over the browser tab (don't click), and the top keywords they're using for their Page Title will appear directly under the browser tab. We've highlighted those words in a red box to make it easier to see. The keywords this particular website uses, that are most important to them, are "Assessment tests, Language proficiency levels, (and) English proficiency test."

competitor's keywords in their browser tab

Google recommends using no more than 65 (or so) characters and spaces for a Page Title/Title Tag on any page. Why? Because that's all the characters Google shows on their search results page.

Some websites either:

• Don't have keywords in their browser tab, in which case you'll see the name of the company or organization, as you'll see in the screenshot below. That is not SEO.

SEO is about people searching for what you do. If someone searches for your company's or organization's name, assuming there's no other entity with your name, then you'll show up in a Google search. SEO is about using keywords, to show up in a Google search, when someone doesn't know your company name.

website with no keywords in the browser tab

• Or worse, they haven't put anything in as their Page Title: not even their company or organization name. When that happens, the default words: "Home Page" appear as the Page Title. That's a giveaway that company's SEO efforts aren't being taken as seriously.

website with the words home page as their homepage page title

Finding the main keywords your competitor's use on their homepage.

Now that you've found the keywords your competitors use for the Page Title/Title Tag, here's how to find their main keyword they use on their homepage.

First you need to know that websites use different levels of headings, called H1 tags, H2 tags, H3 tags, etc. The most important header on the page is designated with an H1 tag.

An H1 title tag shows a website's main keyword phrase, because that's a factor in Google's algorithms, which determine what your website is about. Google gives the most importance to the H1 tag because it should indicate the most important content on your homepage.

To find the H1 tag on a homepage (though this can be done for ANY web page), go to the website (we're using our website for this example), and:

  • Click the "Tools" drop down menu (the screen shot below is from Firefox),
  • Scroll down to "Web Developer,"
  • Then to over to "Inspector," and click.

screenshot for how to find a competitor's keywords under Tools dropdown menu

At the bottom of the browser window, you'll see a window come up with the homepage's code. (We've highlighted the area with a red box, but of course, there won't be red box on the website when you do this.)

screenshot of inspector tool highlighted

Then do these simple steps:

  1. Roll your cursor over the main headline on the page, in the example in the screenshot below, the main headline is "a columbus ohio website design firm."
  2. Look for those words in the Inspector tool. If they have an <h1> "tag" surrounding them, those are the most the keywords that website is using on their homepage.

screenshot of inspector tool highlighting the h1 tag

One important note we should mention is there should only be one H1 tag on any page on a website. The next most important keywords on a webpage should be designated with an H2 tag. You can have multiple H2 tags on a page.

Now you know what your competitor's most important keywords are. And if you Google those keywords, and their site shows up in the search results, then you know they're good keywords.

Back to the top

How Google displays your Page Titles and Meta Descriptions.