One Insanely Actionable Content Marketing Strategy That Will Generate You 74% More Search Traffic


Are you tired of your competition outranking you? Or even worse, seeing them rank for keywords that you don’t even show up for?

In this post, I will teach you, step by step, how to identify keywords your competition is ranking for and how to create content that will outrank them. This approach is so effective that by leveraging it on Quick Sprout over the last 12 months, I’ve been able to increase my search traffic from 160,773 visitors to 280,428 visitors a month.

That’s 119,655 more visitors a month. Or 74% more search traffic per month.

Before we get started, you need to create a list of all your competitors first. Once you have the list with the corresponding URLs, you can put those URLs into SEMrush.


For the sake of this blog post, let’s assume Quick Sprout is your competitor. You would enter into SEMrush.


In the left sidebar, click on the navigation option “Organic Research,” and then click on the “Positions” option.


Make sure the graph is set to the “All” time period option, and then click the “Export” button. At this point, you’ll be given three options.


Click the CSV option. This lets you get a data dump of all your competitor URLs and the keywords they rank for.

Here is what the CSV should look like if you typed in Quick Sprout’s URL.


Once you have your CSV file, you are ready to start analyzing the data.

Analyzing the data

Open the spreadsheet, and delete all columns except keyword, search volume, and URLs.


Now that you’ve removed the unnecessary columns, you need to highlight all of the URLs in the URL column.

csv 1

Once you select the URLs, right-click, scroll down to the “sort” option, and then click “ascending.”

csv 2

You’ll get a “Sort Warning” popup on your screen. Select “Expand the selection,” and click “Sort.”

csv 3

You’ll notice that the homepage URL and the keywords the homepage is targeting will be at the top. Delete the rows that contain the keywords for the homepage URL.

You are doing it because you want to go for long tail phrases as they will drive more total traffic, and they are easier to rank for. Typically, internal pages rank for more long tail phrases than a homepage, which is why you want to delete the rows that contain the homepage URL.

csv 4

Now you want to select all of the content under the keyword, search volume, and URL columns.

csv 5

After you have selected the content, scroll up, and select the “Data” navigational option. Then select “Pivot Table.”

csv 6

You should see a screenshot that looks like the image below. Make sure the data is in the same fields and same order as in the image below.

csv 7

Click on the blue arrow, then click “By value”, and then “Greater Than.”

csv 8

Make sure you enter 3,000 for the amount as you only want to target keywords that have enough search volume. The last thing you want to do is focus your efforts on ranking for keywords that only get searched a few hundred times a month.

Keep in mind that search volume doesn’t mean clicks to your site. For example, if you rank number one on Google for a term that has a search volume of 10,000, you’ll be lucky if you capture 20 to 30% of those visitors.

csv 9

You should now see a CSV file that looks like this.

csv 10

Now, you see all of the internal URLs on your competitor’s site, the keywords it is ranking for, and the search volume for each keyword.

The keywords that SEMrush shows you are the only ones for which your competition ranks in the top 20 results on Google. These are the keywords you want to go after.

Create new content

Now that you have a list of keywords your competitors are going after, you should look at their content.

Once you do, create your own content, incorporating similar keywords. The key to this process is to make sure your content is better than your competitor’s. If it isn’t, you won’t generate more social shares, links, or traffic.

If you are having trouble with the content creation process, read the following guides:

A great way to ensure that your high-quality content gets seen is to follow the steps in this blog post I wrote. It will ensure that you are getting the exposure you need so that you can outrank your competitor.


It isn’t very difficult to outrank your competition and generate more search traffic than they do. All you have to do is follow the steps above, using SEMrush and the CSV file you export.

Once you do that, make sure you focus on writing and promoting high quality content. It works so well that by following my own advice, I have been able to increase Quick Sprout’s search traffic by 74%.

How else can you generate more search traffic through content marketing?


  1. Thank you Neil! I actually canceled my SEMRush subscription and I’ve been regretting it. I think it’s time to reactivate it.

    • Sarah, let me know how it works out!

    • Onlinephotoshop :

      I’ve got a 6 month membership for free. write a review for them or promote their product.

    • Great resource Neil.
      Although I am using this from long time and I am huge fan of SEMRUSH competition analysis feature.

      Sarah- You can enjoy the unlimited use for a day & for a week by registering via your social media logins.
      Reply here if you need any further help.

      • Hi, thanks for the tip!

        I hope this works because the prices is really steep. It’s even more expensive than majesticSEO.

  2. Lewis - Marketing Bees :

    Love it! It’s not something I’d actually considered in 2014. It’s the sort of thing SENuke (and similar tools from early 2000s) used to do for you on autopilot.

    But this is a clever way to complete keyword research.

    Let’s just hope your competitors aren’t doing it to you too 😉

  3. Excellent strategy! I’ve been doing the same too.

    And remember to check other competitors as well.

  4. Outranking competitor keywork is a good strategy, but the content creating its another story

    • I agree that content creation is the hardest. It also takes a long time to determine if you’re doing it incorrectly.

      Wonder if there is a quick way to determine if your content is good when you’re just starting out? Like when you don’t even have a blog or are considering a blog.

      I know that I’ve had clients that wanted to start a blog but didn’t feel that their efforts would be worth anything.

      • Kyle, I would be very interested in this. I have been considering starting a blog for awhile now and it would be nice to know if I’m working in the right direction or not.

        Anyone please let me know if there is some kind of blog training available out there.

      • Kyle,
        That’s a great question. I have found that testing out content on social channels works really well. If you see some type of positive engagement off of a photo, meme or even a short message regarding the topic you can get an idea of what resonates with your community. Aside from that you really just have to go in and start writing.

      • Kyle and Ron,

        I am right there with you on the blog topic. My company just rolled out our blog the last couple of months and I have been curious if we are doing it correctly. It took us a while to start it because of exactly what you were talking about; is it worth the effort? We haven’t gained much traffic to it so far, but I feel regardless it is good for our site as we are adding new quality content pages regularly now.

        I am going to sign up with SEMRUSH and hopefully I can hone in on my competitors and publish new content that not only gains traction, but helps outrank competitive keywords.

        Is it worth the effort? I certainly think so, if you’re persistent.

  5. Great stuff Neil. Please write more on such topics which can help beginners like us rank better in Google SERPs. Thanks!

  6. Ujjwal Kumar sen :

    Hello @Neil

    That is just awesome.

    I mean you have once again written this article just like a master piece.

    One Question Neil, How would you get time to write this much lengthy articles, I just don’t understand

    Please if possible let me know your schedule.

  7. Neil,

    Nice ranking tidbits. Perhaps another article subject for using catchy titles to grab the traffic you’re ranking for would be appropriate after this?

    Thanks again,

    • Brian, definitely! Thanks for the suggestion 🙂

      • I’m with Brian, I’d love to be able to write better, catchy titles. This is especially true when so many of my articles are shared through Triberr – I really want those click throughs.

        Many thanks for this article above Neil, I’ll be analysing the data and seeing which opportunities I can work on.

        Thanks again for another great tip.

  8. great info , i will try this out.

  9. Deadly tactics, so much better than using Google keword tool to look for keywords. Firing up SEM Rush right now…

  10. Very cool! I can see how this is going to add a lot of value to our SEO strategy. Thanks for posting~

  11. Great article Neil! Loved the step by step process tu setup the spreadsheet correctly. I think the approach is great, but, once you have the better piece of content with the appropriate on-site optimization, how do you get it ranked above your competitors? A great second part for this post would be how to promote that piece of content so that it gets enough links to outrank your competitors.

  12. Gr8 stuff Niel… I hope it will help me and others too

  13. I’d heard about SEMrush recently and was not sure how one could use it. Thank you for the step by step guide,

  14. Great slide tutorial and tips, Neil! I’m not currently using SEM Rush, but why not get it and begin playing around with all of their features and tools… not to mention, implementing your ideas for generating more content and traffic along the way.

  15. Thank you Neil once again for sharing a good piece of information on finding keywords to rank. Everything is quite well written and quite easy to follow and I have also signed-up for SEMRush today.

  16. Its always good to read from you. Thank you for providing such useful information sir. But it would be great if links open in a new tab that you provide.
    thank you

  17. I came here KNOWING..not hoping that you’d have an amazing post Neil and I was right. I do have one issue though, whats up with the social buttons covering up the post? Does it really need to be smack dab in the middle of the post area? I’ve never missed seeing it when it wasn’t there but off to the left edge of the screen. Just saying, its very annoying.

  18. Don’t know how to thank you Neil, wonderful article 🙂 I think I did the right thing by signing up for your newsletters.

  19. very nice article. This is the same techinique i am using months ago. really love SEMRush. Perfect for those who wish to extend their keywords in website. also get to know more about website performance. They have somehow also managed to get google analytics no keywords issue. Loyal SEMRush Customer

  20. Brilliant


  21. hello Neil,

    Very good & informative post & I was doing the almost the same R&D in my SEMRUSH account before reading your post. But I wasn’t aware of this step by step process to track competitors keywords ranking report & use for our SEO.

    I doing this same. Thanks Neil again for this tutorial
    Today I read your whole story in your ABOUT US page , hats off to Neil for your efforts & hardwork now you are example for us .

    Best Regards
    Sourabh Rana

  22. It’s a logical approach but I suspect this advice will only work for site that are already going well in the search rankings. Ie. If you already have over 150k visits per months this tweaking will take it even higher.

    I’m not sure this will have much impact on a site that has just a few hundred visits per month trying to compete with a site with 100k+ visits per month.

    It’s a useful tip for the traffic rich getting traffic richer.

    • Ian, I would have to disagree. I think this strategy can work on scale. You really have to focus on what works for other blogs in your industry. If you can replicate and expand on content that already converts for your competitors then you can achieve similar results.

  23. SEMRush is AWESOME! I use it at least once a day. But it is pricey…. worth every penny tho 😉

  24. I guess this is the first time someone posts about using semrush effectively,I had it in the past but could not know how to benefit from it,Now I do;thanks Neil for this fantastic post.

    • Fred, glad you found the article helpful. Please circle back and let me know what you think based upon the new facts I provided.

  25. Great strategy Neil, also great resource in your post Thanks Neil 🙂 can i ask you to make posts or guide in how to build mail list with new strategies?

    • John, glad I could help. I think that’s a great suggestion and I’ll definitely see if it’s feasible for me to do a guide on that topic. In the meantime check this out:

  26. Thanks for this great strategy Neil.
    Is it just me or your screenshot images are too small to read?
    I think it’s because of your blog theme but images need to be click and zoom function.

  27. Neil, I am confused. You say to list your competitors, but the way that I know who my competitors are is by knowing who outranks me for the keywords I want to rank for. So I already know the keywords. I am online only and am competing with etsy and sundance for example. I also am using keywords who only get fewer than 100 views a month in many cases (you say don’t waste time with keywords that get in the hundreds!) . In many cases, my content is better than the competitors already (some competitors don’t even have content: just an image with a price beside it). So, as I said, I am confused. I don’t understand how this can help me.

    • Cluny, It looks like you are doing all the right things then. You may be the content and digital leader in your niche. If that is the case you have to ensure that you continue doing all the right things. People always come and go atop rankings so make sure you are doing everything right to stay competitive.

      • Thanks for responding to me Neil! I used to be #1 for most of my keywords until about 2 or 3 years ago. Then everything changed although I could never directly correct any penalty to my site. But I keep reading and keep trying.
        Thanks for all your good information!

  28. Please note that I don’t mean to be rude. I read you all the time.

  29. Neil, does this post assume one has an SEMRush membership? I tried following the steps but when I try to download the csv report I get taken to a checkout page to purchase a membership.

    • Mike, yes you would have to get an account first. That is kind of their process and you should definitely sign up for an account… it’s worth it! Let me know if you need help along the way 🙂

  30. Hei Neil, i need your opinion, what site that must be our competitor? an established site or still in development status site but the traffic is increasing?

    thanks in advance, Rizki

  31. Mind blown! This is a masterpiece, Neil! Unfortunately, SEMRush doesn’t show everything. I still remember how I used a couple of years back to collect all the keywords competitors were ranking for. Unfortunately, that feature is no longer available. Nonetheless, it is going to help me to a great extent. Possibly, the next step would be to use these keywords in Market Samurai or some other long tail keyword tool and finding out more profitable keywords.

    • Jay, glad you found it helpful. I think you touch on an important point. You should definitely use all the tools at your disposal to get a full picture of what is going on. With that being said SEMRush offers a lot of help and makes the whole process easier. Please let me know if you have any questions with anything at all 🙂

  32. Thanks for Sharing Good Information ..

  33. Nice strategy. Glad to read this information.

  34. Thanks, for providing this useful information, now we can experiment this method.

  35. I am using the same strategy for finding Long Tail competition KW but the issue with SEMRUSH is that its not available in nations like India which if I am not wrong deliver majority of traffic at Quick Sprout.

    But still if I have to find KW’s for a new adsence site SEMRUSH is the best.Though would love to hear Niel’s advise on Alexa and Similarweb for the same strategy.

    • Hey Jatin

      You can use any tool to gather keyword ranking data of competitors.

      The spreadsheet technique is the same after you gather the keyword data.

  36. Thank you!!! Really a wonderful guide- will try this strategy for my new landings – before I just analyzed the keywords on Google – but taking them from competitors seems to be more effective

    • Victoria, glad you found it helpful. Let me know how the strategy works for your new landing pages. Competitor data should really help you out!

  37. Content Marketing has been my problem for a very long time. After reading your blog for a while, I am now able to grab the techniques. Thanks for your simplified explanations and yes now I am an avid reader of your blog! 😀

  38. Abhishek Singla :

    Probably the best keyword planning strategy out there. Have already started doing it on our projects. Bookmarked it. The stepwise explanation was great. Moreover, it is always wonderful to read your replies and the kind of engagement that you get in your blogs because of your replies.

  39. Once again you nailed it Neil,
    i love These kind of insanely practical tips.Going to try it.
    i am assuming that it will be a time consuming and hard task but it’s worth it.

  40. Mind blown, this is just amazing.

  41. Shubham Khatwani :

    Hey Neil,

    First of all awesome article like awesome and you believe me or not I was looking for that only an Actionable Content Marketing Strategy and Found today at your Blog. Thanks for Sharing with us !!

    • Shubham, glad we could connect. It’s great to see that you found what you were looking for. Means I was doing my job 🙂

  42. Thanks for the tip! Any alternatives to SEMRush we could also use? thanks in advance

  43. I am in Nigeria and it seems SEMRUSH does not cover that domain. What do I do? Many thanks for the great work.

    • Hey Sylva,

      As I mentioned to Jatin above, you can use any tool to gather keyword ranking data of competitors.

      The spreadsheet technique is the same after you gather the keyword data.

  44. That’s an excellent strategy Neil,
    I have been following this very strategy since last month. It’s been highly effective.
    One can also use KeywordSpy for the same, or even Alexa.

    Meanwhile great post, competitor strategy is the best one.

    • Akshay, glad you find it helpful. I think the other tools you mentioned are very helpful as well. Looking forward to hearing much more from you. Keep up the great work!

  45. Farcas Gelu Danut :

    Thanks! Awesome, good point!
    I need to use this!

  46. Hi Neil, great instructions as always! I’ve tried it but when wanting to export csv file I was brought the a payment page to sign up for a SEMRUSH membership. 🙁
    Don’t they have any free option?
    Thank you.

  47. Great article Neil,
    I’ve assumed you like my marketing mentor, after to know a lot of marketing sources, the internet is infected for millions. I am working in a new MSP (Managed Service Provider) website and your rich marketing material will help me to start the right way.
    Thanks man!! Receive a Brazillian BIG HUB!

  48. Holy crap Neil! That is just genious! I have usend a lot of keyword tools, but have never done research on competitors. This blog post rocks!

  49. Very, very helpful article Neil. Thank you. Though we have a Semrush account, I am yet to discover all its potential and I’m so glad you were able to set me off with something so useful!

  50. SEMRush is a great tool…anyway thanks for delivering us such a great article.I appreciate the time you spend for this wonderful post.

  51. Hi Neil,
    When I tried to export organic keywords they ask me to buy their membership, isn’t any free trial or something available?

    Waiting for your reply.

  52. Hey Neil,

    That’s a cool way to do a keyword research and if we combine this with content marketing then the SERP rankings can be dominated on lot of keywords:)

    Looking forward for more cool stuff

    Have a great day

  53. Hey Neil! Great article, as always. Like many others, I struggle to find the time to write as often as you do but as you say, gotta work it in there.

    Just wanted to comment that SEMRush is great, but I like to combine it with SearchMetrics data as well. These two sites use two completely different methods for calculating traffic and they often disagree with each other. But when they agree, I usually find I’ve hit a real “honey hole.”

    Thanks as always for the great info! You are one of very few writers in the search industry who provides real value in your posts. I never feel like I read the whole article and then go, “So what’s the punchline?”

    • Steve, I think combining multiple services can really go a long way towards providing you with the best metrics. Thanks for the tips and feedback and support!

  54. Hey

    Love you work 🙂

    A question, what if 95% of the url’s returned from the website just list the homepage URL ?


  55. Thanks for sharing the strategy Neil. What sets your blog apart is that you actually share actionable and useful information such as this. I’ve actually been using something similar to great effect and it definitely works.

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  58. MarianHJones :

    Incredible idea. Thank you!

  59. Thanks for this great post

  60. thank you far sharing useful articles

  61. Thanks Neil, You have shown us a good way get more traffic and outrank our competitors

  62. I’d love to use SEMRush, but they don’t service New Zealand, one of our key international markets where the competition is beating us.

    Need to find another tool

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