Our Local Competitor Research Cheat Sheet

local competitor researchNo matter if you are just starting a local SEO campaign, or if you are scratching your head wondering why your current approach isn’t working, conducting local competitor research can help give you the answers you need for success.

Check out our cheat sheet on local competitor research to see what might be holding your rankings back.

15 Key Things to Analyze

When you search for your key terms, you will want to analyze the companies that show up in the local pack and examine the following aspects about their Google My Business Profile:

What Is Their Name on Maps?

Based on research we have conducted in the past year, we have noticed that the name of your business can have a major impact on whether you will rank highly on maps results or not.

Where Are They Located?

Earlier in the year, we wrote a blog post detailing how proximity can impact search results. Given this, results can vary based on where the user is searching from.

This can also mean that your own location can skew the results of your research. I recommend using this Google Chrome extension that allows you to change your location so you can see unfiltered results. And yes, they have it for Firefox as well.

Are They Breaking Guidelines?

If you are in the local SEO community, you are likely well aware that spam listings on Google Maps is a real problem. One thing to note, though, is that competitors ranking above you could actually be breaking Google’s guidelines for being on Maps. Here are things that businesses aren’t allowed to do:

  • Use additional keywords in their business name
  • Use virtual office spaces or private residences as their address
  • Send users to spam websites
  • Have duplicate listings of a business
  • Along with other tactics

Thankfully, there is a way to combat the spam on Maps. Check out our spam submissions post for details.

What Is Their Main Business Category?

Are your competitors using the same business category as you on Google Maps? According to research by Krystal Taing at Local U, your main category is crucial to your rankings.

How Many Reviews Do They Have and What Is Their Average?

Getting more positive reviews for your profile is a great strategy to give your listing more strength. So you may notice that your competitors could have a higher rating and more reviews than your profile. However, we’ve found that this is not always the case.

How Old Is Their Listing?

While you are browsing their reviews, you can get a gauge on how long they have had their listing based on their oldest review. A while back, local SEO expert Joy Hawkins mentioned that it can take six months to one year for a listing to start gaining rank. So if your listing is still young, this could be why you haven’t seen results yet.

Where Does Their Listing Link To?

Did you know that the page you chose to use as your website link in your profile has more leverage than you may realize, especially if you are a multi-location business? With this in mind, sending all your listings to your homepage could be holding you back.

When looking at your competitor’s website link, you can go deeper into some on-page SEO analysis.

Optional: Take It One Step Further

After examining the landing page their listing is pointing to, you can also go a step further and assess the following things about their website link:

  • How many words are on the page?
  • Is the page internally linked across their site?
  • How many backlinks does the page have? What about their domain in total?
  • Do they have any local links?
  • What is their domain authority?
  • What is the page authority for the listing link?
  • Do they have schema implemented?
  • What is the link’s page speed?

Note: For the above questions, you will need the help of tools such as Screaming Frog, Moz’s Link Explorer, and Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

Concluding Your Results

The most important step of all after conducting your research is comparing it to your own listing. So be sure to repeat the process for your own business so you can see a side by side view on the differences between your listings. This can help you create a strategy to make improvements.

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