In short, Tomb Raiding SEO is a clearly defined SEO process which we have given a name.
It’s a combination of competitor research and correlation SEO to identify (or “raid”) competitor articles that you should be able to compete in the SERPS for.
Tomb Raiding SEO is not:
- Some new magic left field technique that you never saw coming. We use a combination of techniques, clearly defined into a repeatable process.
- The only KW research method you’re ever going to need.
A pre-requisite for Tomb Raiding SEO
In order to use this technique, the website you are doing the research for is going to need to have some (not necessarily a lot) authority. If you’re starting a brand new site today, you won’t be able to use this technique.
The technique relies on the fact that we are going to be able to find weaker competitors. If you are starting a website today, you are the weakest competitor.
The Tomb Raiding SEO Process, Step by Step
Below are the steps that you need to carry out in order to execute the Tomb Raiding SEO technique.
- Find a BIG list of competitors
- Calculate where you sit in the competitor landscape
- Raid competitors for their best performing articles
- Correlate content with the weakest competitor
- Sort by traffic levels and start writing
Below I describe the above steps in more detail.
Finding a BIG list of competitors
When it comes to excelling at this technique, the bigger the list of competitors you can find, the better results you will get. We use tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs and Google to find a big list of competitors.
In SEMRush you can go to the organic research page and click on the competitor’s tab as shown here:
In Ahrefs you can go to the competing domains tab as shown here:
Ahrefs also has another place to find competitors which gives you a slightly different list as shown here on the ‘organic search’ tab of site explorer. I generally find this gives fewer but more accurate results. Give it a try for yourself!
Another way to supplement your list with sites that won’t show up in Ahrefs or SEMRush is to simply Google the keywords that these sites are ranking for. This will give you additional sites that you will not see in Ahrefs or SEMRush because these tools try to find mainly competitors that are at a similar traffic level to your own.
At this point you can go in to the tools again with the additional competitor list and find their competitors. And repeat. It’s endless.
Reviewing your list
Once you have your list, check each of these sites to ensure that they are a true competitor targeting the same niche and topics. You will find a lot of sites that don’t quite align and if that’s the case, just exclude them from your list.
You can very much go down the rabbit hole with this, finding an unlimited number of competitors if you also search for the competitors of your competitors and so on.
As I said above, the more competitors you can find the better results you will get, so keep searching for as many as you have the willpower to do.
Your place in the competitor landscape
This is a simple, if not time consuming step. Gather the following industry metrics for each of the sites in the competitor list in addition to your own.
- Domain Rating (DR) – From Ahrefs
- URL Rating (UR) – From Ahrefs
- Domain Authority – From Moz
- Page Authority – From Moz
- Trust Flow – From Majestic
- Citation Flow – From Majestic
There is no getting around it, you need Ahrefs for the first two but you can get the rest of the metrics for free, 3 sites at a time, from Website SEO Checker. (They also have a paid version that allows you to check URLs in bulk and without an annoying ReCaptcha.)
Simply add up all these metrics to give a total that crudely identifies the sites that are more authoritative than our own and the sites that are less. By using metrics from multiple sources, we hope to average out any discrepancies to give us a more accurate picture of where we sit amongst our competitors.
Of course, these are all third-party metrics that are not endorsed by Google but this is the best we have to work with and we’ve found is more than good enough to give us great results.
An example table is shown below where our own site is highlighted in yellow.
Raiding competitors for their best performing articles
Once we’ve built the above table, we then take a closer look at those sites that are below us in the list.
Again we use tools like Ahrefs and SEMRush to identify the articles that these sites are ranking and getting traffic for, with the reasonable assumption that if they are able to rank for these articles, with a stronger authority we should be able to as well.
“When using traditional keyword research techniques for most sites you can typically expect to find that around 20% or your articles get around 80% of your traffic. By using the Tomb Raiding SEO technique we find that we’re able to get a better hit rate as our competitors have already done the hard work for us, letting us know which articles are their top 20%!”
In Ahrefs go to the ‘top pages’ section as shown below:
The result of this exercise is that we might pick 25 articles from one site, 15 from another, 12 from the next one and so on. It varies from site to site and niche to niche but you can decide which articles are worth going after by looking at the volume and traffic columns above.
This gives us a huge list of articles that we can write and if done correctly, we should be able to rank for too. And this is where the name “Tomb Raiding SEO” comes from. We are raiding our competitors for their best performing articles and leaving behind anything that we don’t want.
Correlate content with the weakest competitor
Once we have identified our list of articles we need to get them written. Our competitors have already given us the winning formula for how to structure our articles and the topics to include so we want to follow suit.
Therefore, we aim to correlate our article to cover the same topics as our competitor. This absolutely does not mean plagiarizing the competitor, as this can get you in trouble with the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) but we can certainly look at the articles and make sure we cover the same topics.
Be sure to change the wording of the sub-headings and the title of the article but do make sure that the same topics are covered. Rewrite the article from scratch but do your best to cover the topic in a more complete way than the competition. Correlate the number of sub-headings and images to the competitor article too.
We generally add around 10% more words than the competitor article. This allows us to cover the topic in more detail and if possible and some FAQ content.
You can use tools such as Surfer, Marketmuse or Frase to add a further level of competitor correlation but we have found that correlating against a single overperforming competitor article gets great results on its own.
Prioritizing the articles to write
Last but not least, we need to decide which articles to write first. Simply, we list the articles by the highest traffic volumes and get writing. Nothing more complicated than that.
At Niche Website Builders we’re always trying out new SEO techniques and as with the Tomb Raiding technique, we systemize them and define a very specific process. It’s super important for us to be able to make this process repeatable so that all our customers can experience the same consistency of product and results.
To share one example from my own portfolio.
I purchased an aged domain on the 11th of October 2020. It was only a DR16 with 104 referring domains. We love aged domains at Niche Website Builders because it’s a very cost effective way of jumpstarting a site’s authority. This gave me a great foundation and I was able to use the Tomb Raiding technique for keyword research given that I was able to find weaker competitors in my niche straight away.
The site went live on the 12th of November with 9 articles and approximately 13,500 words.
As a side note, I found a site in the same niche on the Niche Website Flippers Facebook Group. It was a smaller site with almost no authority (DR 0.2), 25 articles and 7k sessions every month. I purchased this for a modest price and then migrated the content to my site and 301 redirected all the pages.
It’s been a year now since the site launched and I now have 300 articles published (I added articles slowly at first as I had limited writer capacity at the time and then more quickly as I saw the site was clearly gaining traction).
In less than a year, this site is getting around 250,000 sessions a month and earning around $2,700 from Ads.
Of course, all my content is written by the wonderful team at Niche Website Builders.
Here are the costs to date:
Aged Domain: $2,480
Site Purchase: $1,500
Content: $31,500 over 12 months (450,000 words)
Total Spend: $35,480
Earnings to date:
I have a number of options for monetization but I’ve not explored these yet. Currently, I am just monetizing with Ads from Ezoic which I added to the site in June.
Ezoic Revenue to date: $9,739.79
Value of site at 40x: $110,000
$119,739.79 – $35,480 = $84,259.79
A great result so far with great content written at Niche Website Builders and Tomb Raiding SEO.
Try it out for yourself and be sure to report back how you got on.