This post was written by Nicole Hess.
Recipes are amazing. A good recipe for a complicated dish that turns out perfectly makes me feel like a chef. It’s a great feeling. I want you to feel great after using this tool, so I’ve listed out the steps to using the tool like a recipe.
This recipe for the Topic Opportunity Finder (built by Sean Malseed) should guide you to reveal what the competition has been cooking – that is: writing, publishing and gaining organic rankings. The end result of this tool will be columns of “topics” for which the competition has organic rankings. And that’s not all, each topic will come with the keywords, search volume for those keywords, and our site’s ranking (if we have it), see below for one topic example.
Don’t read recipes? Get right to the finished product.
The Topic Opportunity Finder is a sweet efficient tool to identify the topics that websites are ranking for.
This is best served for a site who wants to know the gaps between their site and the competition.
It can be presented as a spreadsheet or simplified into a nice presentation with your insights regarding certain topics (should we target the topic, or not, and why?).
Prep Time: 15 min, Baking Time: 5 min, Serving Time: 5 min
Total Time: 25 min
- SEMrush account & API (comes with all Pro accounts – only needed if you want to compare rankings between domains)
- Internet connection
- Topic Opportunity Finder tool
- Have identified 1-2 competitor websites (best if they actually do well in organic search)
- A target website for which content creation is a goal (or you want to prove should be a goal)
Step 1: Go to SEMrush and get your API key. There’s 3 steps to finding it, here they are. Set aside and save this API key for later.
Step 2: In SEMrush, enter in your competitor’s domain. Go to Organic Ranking > Top Organic Keywords > View Full Report and then Export keywords. Follow this short video for instructions:
Step 3: Repeat step 2 for another competitor.
Step 4: Combine both exports into one sheet. Did you paste more than 50,000 keywords? If so, proceed to Step 5.
Step 5: You can only paste 50,000 keywords into the Topic Opportunity Finder. If you have more than this, reduce the number by removing duplicates, brand names, and keywords with less than 100 monthly searches. Also any keywords that include “cheap” or “free” are usually good to remove. Most of my clients don’t do free or cheap things.
Using the Tool
Step 1: Submit the form above to get a link to the Topic Opportunity Finder. Click on the link and wait for the Google sheet to open.
Step 2: Make a copy of the Google sheet.
Step 3: On the tab labeled “Settings” paste in the Semrush API key (from Step 1 of the Preparation) in the box next to “SEMrush API Key”
Step 4: Again, on the “Settings” tab enter your domain (i.e. not your competitors).
Step 5: Double check your excel sheet created in Step 4 of preparation to be sure you have less than 50,000 keywords.
Step 6: On the tab conveniently labeled “Paste SEMrush competitor keywords”, paste the competitor keywords you exported from SEMrush in Step 2 of preparation.
Step 7: Wait it out. Grab a coffee or a pint, this could take a few minutes.
Step 8: After you’ve finished your drink, go to the “Topic Opportunities” tab and see all the topics!
Step 9: Make a copy of it. Copy the entire “Topic Opportunities” sheet and then paste “As Values”. Do this so the whole sheet doesn’t have to reload every time you open it and waste a bunch of your time.
Now it’s time for your creativity and strategy to shine through. Remove topics that don’t align with your (or your customer’s) brand, needs, or goals OR keep them to show how different you (they) are from their competitors. Create a presentation to walk through the different opportunities.
In my world no recipe is complete without reading reviews. So let me present them. Up until now we’ve just used the tool internally (a lot) so all I can offer you is a use case.
Use Case: Find new content for a client who already has 500,000+ pieces of content.
We have a client who was doing pretty well in organic search for their existing content. So we knew that if content was created, we could get organic traffic to it. But what to create?
To answer this, we knew that a keyword by keyword based approach would slow us down in creating pieces of content that could rank for a variety of searches. We wanted to find topics to write about that would be interesting to visitors too. We also knew that competition had been gaining ground, but couldn’t put a finger on what topics specifically.
So we took a step back. Maybe they’re doing better than their competition overall, but what are the weaknesses we can exploit?
So wait?! I thought we were talking about topics? Of course we are. Again, for our client we needed to give them topics actually write about and not just a keyword to include in the post. So we had to take it a step further.
Using the Topic Opportunity Finder we found 4 topics representing over 600 keywords and 581,000 monthly searches in total. Do we anticipate to rank for all that search volume? No. Our goal was to find new topics that our client could write about and receive organic traffic for. And are they? You bet! And so are at least 8 other Greenlane clients. We find it so helpful time and again that we thought others might like it too. See for yourself!