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One thing I know for sure is that even if a site only had one keyword on it, it would be possible to rank for more than one keyword; in theory, based on the fact that a keyword being in the text of a site is not a requirement for the site to rank on that keyword. Which means that you can't even use the site's own text as a 100% based line for mapping a site's rankings across all possible keywords.

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if for example there were only two websites in the world, google and moon.com that had a single word on it saying "moon". then it would probably show in search results for crescent and other synonyms as well. that's my speculation. – Evgeny Oct 31 '10 at 2:50
up vote 1 down vote accepted

SeMRush is a good tool for this, it obviously won't be a comprehensive list of keywords, but the most accurate and comprehensive info I've seen.

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You win, selecting you as the answer -- thanks posting! – blunders Nov 1 '10 at 21:21

You can use tools to show incoming links to the site, and check the anchor text of those links. Yahoo site explorer is commonly used for this.

Then you can also check the keyword density on every page of the site and pick the keywords that show up most often.

Finally, if you own the website then google webmaster tools is your friend. It shows both the probable keywords you rank for and actual terms people used to find your site. Google analytics or any other analytics software can also help with this.

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@Evgeny: All very good points, thanks! – blunders Oct 31 '10 at 2:19
You might want to checkout spyglass seo, the trial version is good enough for yours purpose. find it on most download sites, like cnet. – Evgeny Oct 31 '10 at 2:26
Keyword density really doesn't indicate what keywords a page ranks well for. That's how Altavista worked and that's why it's dead. – John Conde Oct 31 '10 at 2:33
You don't have to know all of them. You just need to know the ones people are actually using. If no one is searching using a search term then ranking first for it is pretty useless. :) – John Conde Oct 31 '10 at 2:51
Blunders, actually you do get notifications even without the @. – John Conde Oct 31 '10 at 2:59

If it's your website a great place to see what you rank well for is your site stats. It doesn't break down which terms are top ten but it does show what people are using to find your site. You can then use any number of tracking tools to tell you where you rank for those keywords quickly and easily. That's more useful then knowing only which ones are top ten because:

  • being in the to 30 (e.g. first three pages) is considered where you want to be. Yes, being top ten is ideal but statistic show you can get good traffic up to position 30. That's where results drop off dramatically.

  • if they are not already #1 you can consider tweaking your pages to improve those rankings to drive even more traffic in. You know you're in good shape already and if you can identify areas of improvement you can then be sure those pages are optimized to deliver maximum traffic


External sites are difficult to do because you don't have any access to their data. What you could do is check to see where they rank on the keywords you rank well for and are trying to rank well for. The more they match the more they are a competitor to you.

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@John Conde: Thanks for posting, and yeah tracking the keywords after you've found them is easy, and it's semi-easy to develop a list if you control the site. Main focus is on developing list of external sites as a benchmark. – blunders Oct 31 '10 at 2:50
Actually, it is possible to determine which words you rank in the top 10 for via referrer data, since the Google referrer URL will include an SERP number. Here's an example of it being done using Google Analytics (but you could do it yourself too): yoast.com/track-seo-rankings-google-analytics – Lèse majesté Oct 31 '10 at 2:52
That's a handy thing to know. Never even thought of using Google Analytics for that. Gonna have to make that a staple of my GA accounts. – John Conde Oct 31 '10 at 3:11
@Lèse majesté: Cool, thanks! – blunders Oct 31 '10 at 3:22
Yea, I literally just read that article last night. I thought it was a cool trick too. – Lèse majesté Oct 31 '10 at 3:27

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