Like many internet businesses, we rely heavily upon organic rankings for exposure, inbound leads, and ultimately sales.

We’re always on the lookout for new and exciting ways to improve our overall keyword portfolio. So 6 months ago, I was tasked with growing our traffic by a certain (read: large) amount in less than half a year.

My initial reaction? “Welp, I’m screwed.”

We already had a pretty strong organic presence. And needless to say, the SEO space is particularly competitive and saturated with well-optimized content. If you’re not sure how to go about this, I’d highly recommend you make your way through Moz’s guide on the subject.

So I set out looking for new and interesting ways to leverage the tools at my disposal. SpyFu came through in a big way for us.

Utilizing its many features, I was able to revamp our content marketing and ultimately increase our traffic by almost exactly 50% in 6 months.

stats in google analyticsTo be fair, we leveraged a number of tools to great effect while pursuing this goal. But SpyFu, in my opinion, stands a cut above the rest.

Here are 5 simple ways (that you can mimic) that we used SpyFu to grow our organic traffic.

1. Scout for New Competitors

One of the best things about SpyFu is the ease with which you can discover new competitors.

Staying on top of the SERPs is no easy task. It takes dedication, skill, and often a dose of cunning.

One of the most common things for SEO practitioners to overlook is the arrival of new competitors. After all, it can be hard to make forwards progress if you’re always looking over your shoulder.

But it’s necessary, and that’s where SpyFu comes in handy.

Doing a weekly search is more than enough to take the temperature and stay on top of any new arrivals. If a new competitor pops onto the scene and starts making headway, you’ll notice it right away.

see your new competition on chartI found this incredibly useful, and I was able to get out ahead of newcomers without issue. Part of growing organic traffic, is (perhaps ironically) preserving the traffic that you’re already earning from existing content.

Over the past 6 months there were numerous occasions where I saw a great piece of content from an unknown competitor start to get traction. We were able to bring our resources to bear to produce something bigger and better.

If you take your eye off the ball, it’s all too easy for competitors to pick up the slack and replace you in the SERPs. If this happens, while you may be gaining search traffic from new keywords but losing it from top real estate you used to have under your control.

2. Identify Content Gaps With “Kombat”

The truth is, no matter how hard you try to stay on top of things, there are going to be times where you miss new keyword opportunities.

Maybe your competitor identified a trend before you did. Or maybe you didn’t check the news for a week and missed the chance to cover a big story in your industry.

Regardless of the reason, the Kombat section in SpyFu was invaluable to us.

In my own searching, I found over 10 promising keywords that a number of our competitors were ranking for. Better yet, the content they’d produced was poorly optimized and had minimal distribution.

look for opportunities like these using ombatSimply open the Kombat section and make sure you enter your domain as the first of the 3. Then add two of your competitors and check for the “weakness” section. See anything that looks worth pursuing?

Take a closer look at the specifics for those keywords, and look at what content your competitors have ranking. Are they building links to it? Is the keyword prominently featured? Does the content match the searcher’s intent?

I found countless examples where we were able to write more compelling content to cover those same keywords. Within weeks, we were “winning” on those keywords, and our traffic was growing.

3. Shift the Keyword Focus of Existing Content

We all know that SEO is a dynamic industry. Not only because Google is constantly updating their algorithm, but also because search trends can substantially shift without much warning.

Sometimes, we’ll do our homework and produce content aimed at serving a handful of popular search terms, only to find a few months later that we weren’t getting any clicks from it.

This can be due to a handful of reasons like:

  • Lost popular interest
  • New buzz-words for the same topic
  • Misunderstood user intent
  • Introduction of featured snippets for that keyword or keyword family

The “Keyword Groups” and “SEO Keywords” tools came in handy here. By taking a look at the keyword groups our site and pages currently ranked for, we were able to identify a number of articles that needed some realignment.

keyword groupsKeep your eyes peeled for any pages that are ranking well but aren’t getting clicks. A quick peek in the Keyword Research “Overview” section will give you a good idea of what you might be missing.

Further, you can look carefully and see what terms your content is currently ranking for, and you may find some unexpected wins.

Those are often what you’ll want to capitalize on. Look for keywords you might not have considered (or thought were too much of a reach) but that you’re earning ranks for, and double down on those opportunities.

4. Find Old Content to Repurpose

I’m pretty organized with my approach to content creation, and I usually give serious thought to the keywords that we go after.

That being said, nobody is perfect. I found that a handful of articles I’d published over the years were somewhat lacking. One or two contained outdated information. Another few fell victim to a shifting keyword landscape where our target phrases were no longer getting any volume.

But, the content itself was still compelling, served user intent successfully, and just needed a little “touch-up”.

To find these opportunities, I’d recommend combing through your Google Search Console and Google Analytics data. Keep your eyes peeled for anything that’s been showing a decline in rankings, traffic, or both.

losing interestIf you want to do a deep dive on this, check out this guide published at Search Engine Journal.

I actually like going a step further, and plugging in keywords that are doing well already. You can set yourself a recurring reminder every few months to go through your articles that are more than 1 year old. Snag the keywords, and put them into a spreadsheet.

Now, head over to SpyFu’s Keyword Research section, and click the “Related Keywords” tab. This can help illuminate some of those missed opportunities.

Take one of the keywords you found wasn’t performing as well as it used to. Then browse through the recommended related keywords that populate. In most cases, you can quickly ascertain if there are better keywords for you to focus that existing article on.

As with even the most basic keyword research, you’ll want to mindful of CTR, competition, and (of course) search volume.

There’s no set formula for success here, but the more you do it, the better you’ll get at identifying which opportunities are worth going after.

5. Take Inspiration from Competitor’s PPC Campaigns

PPC is, in general, a whole different beast from SEO. So I’m not going to go down that rabbit-hole today.

Suffice to say that we definitely make use of (and derive great value from) SpyFu’s PPC research capabilities. But the title of this article was how we used SpyFu to grow organic so, let’s not stray too far off topic.

Generating new keyword ideas can be tough. One way to get some quick ideas is by spying on your competitors’ PPC target keywords.

adwords advisor ratingsMany times you’ll find competitors are bidding on terms that they’re not ranking for organically. By comparing and contrasting the data between their paid keywords and organic rankings, you can often identify some high-value and attainable targets.

Specifically, I like to look for a general correlation between CPC and SEO difficulty scores. Then scan through the results for a larger divide than what you’re used to.

Are your competitors paying a lot for a keyword that doesn’t have a particularly high SEO difficulty score? That’s a prime target for you to swoop in and capture traffic with some high quality (and SEO optimized) content!

Final Thoughts

I personally want to take this opportunity to thank the SpyFu team for building, maintaining, and growing such an incredibly useful product.

We’ve made gains in our market that simply wouldn’t have been possible without the keyword and content research capabilities that SpyFu brings to the fold. So consider me a fan.

I hope you found this guide useful. Further, I trust you’ll be able to use these tactics to great effect in your industry.

Just go easy on me if you decide to use them on keywords we’ve made progress on huh? 😉

About Sam Warren

I’m the Director of Marketing at RankPay, a top-rated SEO service that helps thousands of small businesses earn higher search rankings.