Complete SEMrush Keyword Research Guide (Template Included)

Last Updated: September 29, 2020

SEMrush already makes competitor keyword research super easy…

But this SEMrush Keyword Research Template helps to automate the process, strategize keyword opportunities, and organize an SEO Roadmap.

Here’s the 6-step process for SEMrush keyword research:

  1. Determine Competitors
  2. Find Competitor Keywords
  3. Export Untapped Keywords
  4. Import Files To Google Sheet
  5. Begin Keyword Mapping
  6. Create Target Pages

If you don’t already have a SEMrush account, get a 7-day trial to get a free account.

We’ll be using their toolkit to access competitor insights and keyword data.

Step 1: Determine Competitors

There are 2 ways to find your SEO competitors…

Option 1 – For New Websites (Less than 3-6 months old)

Newer websites will almost always have less webpages and organic keyword rankings than competitors.

If this is the case, find SEO competitors by performing an organic search for the primary target keyword + city.

Performing a localized keyword search on Google.

This will return local results – this includes Google Ads, Local Pack, and localized Organic Results.

For now, we’ll only be looking at the Organic results…

Finding local competitors by performing keyword research.

In this example, we didn’t need to move past the 1st page of Google to find the top competitors for our keyword.

Pro Tip:

Ranking in Local Pack can generate tons of calls for local businesses, and shouldn’t be ignored. Use this Google My Business Audit Guide to improve rankings in Local Pack by leveraging competitor insights.

For some keywords, local directories like Yelp, niche lists, and local news outlets might appear like this…

An example of Yelp appearing on the 1st page of Google for a localized keyword while doing competitor research.

It’s important to exclude these from keyword research.

Once organic competitors have been identified, note them in the SEMrush Keyword Research Sheet by copy & pasting the homepage.

An example of adding competitor websites to the SEMrush Keyword Research Template.

Now, I’ll cover the second method to find organic competitors…

Option 2 – For Aged Websites (Over 6 months old)

For websites that have been around for awhile, it’s possible to find SEO competitors much faster by using SEMrush’s Organic Research Tool.

Just enter your domain…

An example of adding a domain to SEMrush's organic research report to begin keyword research.

And then scroll down to view the main organic competitors…

SEMrush's Organic Competitor and Competitive Position Map reports.

Generally, it’s best to choose the top 3 competitors with the highest competition level and with most keywords in common.

Using SEMrush's SEO Toolkit to find website competitors.

Afterwards, enter the competing domains into the keyword research sheet.

Finalizing the competing domains sheet.

Once each competitor is entered, a link will be automatically generated to view each competitor’s keywords.

Pro Tip:

It’s always a good idea to use both keyword research Option #1 & Option #2 to validate one another.

For now, we won’t use these keyword links, but they’re super helpful for quick access and easy reference.

Step 2: Find Competitor Keywords

To find competitor keywords, we’ll be using SEMrush’s Keyword Gap Tool.

Just enter your domain, and the domains of each competitor.

Adding competing domains to SEMrush's keyword gap analysis tool.

Next, add a filter to view only competitor keyword rankings from positions 1-30.

Filtering SEMrush keyword data to only include keywords that rank in the top 30 positions.

We’ll want to be looking at the following keyword filters:

  • Missing Keywords – those that your website does not rank for, but all competitors do.
  • Untapped Keywords – those that your website does not rank for, but at least 1 competitor has rankings.
Untapped keywords provided by SEMrush's keyword gap report.

Now, we’ll want to export these lists for further analysis…

Pro Tip:

It can be super helpful to apply other filters like excluded branded keywords related to competitors such as business names, or to only include keywords directly related to services.

Step 3: Export Untapped Keywords

To export the competitor keyword list, just choose the “Export” option, and download as a CSV file.

Exporting competitor keywords from SEMrush.

Be sure that the correct files are exported, which should be the “Missing” and “Untapped” keywords.

Step 4: Import Files To Google Sheet

Head over to the “Import Sheet” within the SEMrush Keyword Research Template.

Import the keywords from SEMrush to this sheet using the following steps…

  1. Select cell A1
  2. Go to “File”
  3. Select “Import” from the dropdown
  4. Choose the “Upload” option
  5. Select “Replace data at selected cell”
Importing competitor keywords to the template for further analysis.

Repeat this process for each additional file exported from SEMrush (if applicable).

Step 5: Begin Keyword Mapping

Once each file has been uploaded to the “Import Sheet,” the “Opportunities” sheet will automatically be populated with the competitors’ keywords.

This includes the keyword and monthly search volume.

If the keyword is relevant to your website, select “yes” and “map” the keyword to the name of a new (or existing) webpage.

Next, duplicate or rename the “Homepage” sheet with the new (or existing) target page name.

Finalizing competitor keyword research using the SEMrush Keyword Research Template.

This will automatically map each keyword to that target page, and the process can be repeated to map other keyword to different target pages.

Note, the formula in the first cell for target pages may need to be deleted and copied in order for the function to run.

Pro Tip:

This process can be used to create site structure, and plan prioritized content to be published on the website by creating additional target pages. Site structure can be shown by a visual hierarchy of sheet colors.

Each “Target Page” sheet will contain several data points that makes it easy to assign a page value, and provides a link to the ranking pages which can be used as examples to create and publish the content.

Step 6: Create Target Pages

Once keywords have been mapped, the content will then need created.

In some cases, an overwhelming amount of content may be needed.

Pages can be prioritized based on the “Click Value” of a target page.

The click value is a calculation of the keyword’s monthly search volume multiplied by the cost-per-click (CPC) data.

This makes it helpful to prioritize which pages should be created first.

Pro Tip:

Don’t forget to add keywords to a tracking software like SEMrush in order to measure progress an track progress. This should be done before publishing the content (Target Pages).

Following this process makes keyword research super easy and scalable by adding automation and organization to the keyword research process.

And if done correctly, leads to increasing keyword rankings and website traffic which means…

Happy SEO-ing 🙂