local seo audit - analysis

How To Conduct a Competitor Analysis for Local SEO

Do you ever wonder how some local businesses seem to thrive online with great rankings in Google while their Google Business Profile just seems to popup for every search term? You may wonder, what's their secret, why are they doing so well while my business seems to be languishing online.  You may think, “my business is just as good as theirs, maybe even better”……so what exactly is going on here?

While there might be various factors at play, one significant aspect could be their mastery in utilizing Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to outrank competitors on search engine results. But how do you get to peek behind the curtain and understand what your competitors are doing right? That’s where Competitor Analysis steps in.

Competitor Analysis in the world of Local SEO isn’t about sparking rivalry; it’s about understanding the strengths and weaknesses within your local online market, allowing you to adopt strategies that work, and avoid those that don’t. It's understanding the “why” so you can begin to implement the “how” when it comes to Local SEO and getting your business to rank high in the local Google search results.

A thorough competitor analysis can uncover a wealth of information, from the keywords your competitors are ranking for to the kind of content that resonates with the local audience. By dissecting these elements, you can tailor your SEO strategies to meet the needs of local customers better, and as a result, climb higher on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

With the benefits of competitor analysis, local businesses can look forward to an improved online presence, increased web traffic, and ultimately, a robust foundation for enduring online success. So, are you ready to dive into the realm of insightful competitor analysis and unlock new growth avenues for your local business? Your journey towards mastering Local SEO and understanding the competition begins here.

#1 Understanding Local SEO Competitor Analysis

Diving into the world of Local SEO Competitor Analysis is akin to being a detective. You're on a mission to uncover the secrets behind your competitors' online success, aiming to replicate and even surpass their achievements. This venture is critical for any local business aiming to make a mark in the digital space.

Identifying Local Competitors

The first step in your investigation is to identify who your true competitors are in the local digital marketplace. It's not about a generic sweep; it's about zeroing in on those businesses that closely mirror your operations, products, or services. Look through the search results of Google for the top keywords that customers would use to find a business like yours and write down the top 3 businesses that keep showing up at the top of the search results.

Utilizing tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs can be a boon in this phase, helping you discern who is ranking for the same keywords as you are in your locality. The essence of accurate competitor identification is that it helps channel your efforts and resources effectively, ensuring that you're not chasing shadows but are on a guided path to uncovering actionable insights. These tools have paid options as well as limited free options available.  Moz also offers a free competitor analysis tool you can use along with a bunch of other free SEO tools you can use (on a limited monthly basis).

MOZ competitor analysis

Analyzing Local Competitor’s SEO Strategies

Once you have a list of your real competitors, it's time to dive into their SEO strategies. On the one hand, on-page SEO analysis reveals how your competitors are optimizing individual pages for search engines, shedding light on their keyword usage, headers, and meta descriptions. On the other hand, off-page SEO analysis gives you a glimpse into their backlink profiles and social signals. A healthy backlink profile is often a strong indicator of good search engine rankings, and understanding this aspect can open doors to backlink opportunities for your business. The beauty of SEO strategy analysis is that it helps tailor a more potent SEO blueprint for your business. It’s about learning from the successes and failures of others to forge a path that avoids known hurdles.

Evaluating Local Competitor’s Online Reputation

Now, shift your focus to the online reputation of your competitors. Online reviews and ratings are more than just stars; they are reflections of customer satisfaction and areas of improvement. Similarly, evaluating how your competitors are engaging with their audience on social media platforms can provide a wealth of insights. It’s not just about the number of followers, but the level of engagement and the nature of content shared. This phase is crucial as it helps understand what customers value and identify areas where your business can shine. It’s about carving a niche where your business can thrive, backed by a well-rounded understanding of the local online landscape.

You can run a  Google search for your top coopetitors and see what their Google review ratings are (star rating and the # of reviews) along with other top review sites they are getting reviews from such as Yelp, Houzz, Homestars (Canada) and Trip Advisor.  How does your business stack up against the competition?  Do you need more reviews?  Do you need higher ratings?  Do you need to start getting reviews from other platforms other than Google?

You'll also see that sometimes Google will even tell you what review sites other than Google they are using to evaluate a business.

google reviews

#2 Conducting Local Keyword Research

Local Keyword Research is much like mapping out the treasure trove in your local digital market. It's about understanding what terms your local customers are typing into search engines when they are looking for products or services you offer. But, it’s not just about identifying these keywords; it's about analyzing, prioritizing, and utilizing them to your advantage.

Tools for Local Keyword Research

Venturing into keyword research requires robust tools that can provide you with accurate data. Tools like Google Keyword Planner or Ubersuggest are helpful and free tools you can use. Moz also has a free keyword analysis tool you can use. They can help you unearth local keywords that are relevant to your business and have a substantial search volume. Having this data at your fingertips aids in making informed decisions on which keywords to target.

Analyzing Keyword Gaps

Identifying keyword gaps is about finding opportunities where your competitors are gaining traction, but you haven't yet ventured. For instance, let's say you run a local bakery, and through keyword gap analysis, you discover that a competitor is ranking well for “gluten-free cakes in Charlotte,” a keyword phrase you haven't optimized for. This insight is a goldmine, showing you a potential area to focus your SEO efforts on and cater to a segment of the local market that is searching for gluten-free bakery options.

You'll most likely find dozens of keywords that people are searching for that your website is not trying to rank for.  For every keyword opportunity that you find, think about your website and if you have a service/product page for that keyword or a blog post covering that topic.  When people search for something in Google, Google will try and match that search query to the best page it can find to answer that query…..does you website have content to match these keywords?

The other thing to keep in mind is the relationship between your website and Google Business Profile. Google will scan your website to see how strong that website is for your industry/topic and then scan the content on your website. Google will then take that into consideration when showing your Google Business Profile listing in the search results. So if your bakery has a page dedicated to gluten free baked goods then Google is more likely to show your Google Business profile listing for someone searching for “gluten free bakeries” near them.

Creating a Keyword Optimization Plan

With a list of valuable local keywords and an understanding of the gaps, creating a keyword optimization plan is the next logical step. It's about strategically incorporating these keywords into your website’s content, meta descriptions, and titles. This plan should also extend to your content marketing efforts, ensuring that the topics you choose to write about are aligned with the local keywords you aim to rank for.

Undertaking Local Keyword Research is not a one-time task; it's an ongoing effort. The digital landscape is dynamic, with customer preferences and search algorithms continually evolving. Staying updated with the local keywords that matter to your business and adapting your SEO strategy accordingly is crucial.

Imagine the edge you'd have if your bakery started ranking at the top for “gluten-free cakes in Charlotte.” Not only would this likely drive more traffic to your website, but it could also translate to increased foot traffic to your bakery from locals who are on the hunt for gluten-free options. Through diligent local keyword research, you’re not merely chasing higher search engine rankings; you’re connecting with local customers on a deeper level, understanding their needs, and directing them to a solution—your business.

A significant percentage of users (75%) don’t scroll past the first page of search results, emphasizing the importance of ranking high in local search results. – Search Engine Watch

#3 Assessing Local Competitor’s Backlink Strategies

Unlocking the secrets behind your local competitors' backlink strategies is like having a backstage pass to their online success concert. Backlinks, the links from other websites to your own, are like votes of confidence in the eyes of search engines. They signal that other sites find your content valuable enough to link to. Now, if your competitors are ranking higher, they might be having a robust backlink profile. Let's delve into how you can assess their backlink strategies and what you can learn from them.

Where are your top competitors getting their links from? Are there opportunities for you to get similar links for your website?

Another tip is to take Google the phone numbers of your top competitors and look through the first few pages of search results. You will be able to see what websites and directories they are listed in and offer you an opportunity to get a listing as well.  We use the phone number because that is the most unique identifier for a business, more so than their name and address.

Tools for Backlink Analysis

Embarking on backlink analysis calls for robust tools that can provide you with detailed insights. Tools like Ahrefs or Moz can be quite handy. They can help you dissect the backlink profiles of your competitors, giving you a clear picture of where their backlinks are coming from and the quality of these backlinks.

Identifying Backlink Opportunities

Once you have a good understanding of your competitors' backlink profiles, it's time to identify backlink opportunities for your business. Here are some local link opportunities you might find:

  • Local Business Directories: Places like Yelp or the local Chamber of Commerce.
  • Local Blogs and News Websites: Guest posting or getting featured in local stories.
  • Community Organizations: Sponsorships or partnerships with local nonprofits.
  • Local Events: Sponsorship or participation in local events.
  • Industry-Specific Directories: Listings in directories related to your business niche.
  • Local Suppliers: Links from the websites of local suppliers you collaborate with.

Developing a Local Backlink Building Strategy

Armed with insights on where your competitors are getting their backlinks from and having identified local backlink opportunities, crafting a backlink building strategy is the next step. It’s about reaching out to these local platforms and fostering relationships. It’s about creating valuable content that local blogs might want to link to or engaging in community events that could earn you a mention (and a backlink) on a local news website.

The essence of assessing your local competitors’ backlink strategies is to discover new avenues for building your own backlink profile. It's about learning from what others are doing right, finding local opportunities to earn quality backlinks, and crafting a strategy that propels your business higher on search engine rankings. Remember, every quality backlink is a step towards establishing your local business as an authority in your field, which in turn, is bound to attract more local customers both online and offline.

72% of consumers who conducted a local search visited a store within a five-mile radius. – Hubspot

Evaluating Local Competitor’s Content Strategies

Peering into your local competitors' content strategies is akin to flipping through the chapters of their online success story. It’s about discovering what type of content resonates with the local audience and how you can craft your narrative to captivate and convert. So, let’s dive into how you can evaluate local competitors’ content strategies and what gems you might unearth in the process.

Check out my course on Udemy for developing a great content strategy.

Content Quality Analysis

Quality is the cornerstone of valuable content. Dive into your competitors’ blogs, web pages, and other content offerings. Are they providing insightful information that addresses the audience’s queries? Are their posts well-structured and easy to read? Understanding the level of quality helps in setting a benchmark for your own content. Tools like Grammarly or Hemingway Editor can aid in ensuring your content adheres to high-quality standards.

Local Content Gap Analysis

Conducting a local content gap analysis involves identifying topics or local keywords that your competitors are ranking for, but you haven't touched upon. For instance, if you’re a local gym owner, and you find a competitor has a series of blog posts on “home workouts during lockdown,” that’s a cue for a potential content gap. This phase is about uncovering opportunities to provide valuable local-centric content that your competitors may have missed or not fully explored.

Creating a Local Content Plan

With a clearer understanding of the local content landscape and the gaps you can fill, crafting a local content plan is your next move. It’s about planning topics that cater to local interests, seasonal events, or common queries. The objective is to provide value, engage the local audience, and improve your site’s relevance and authority in the local SEO sphere.

A perfect example of the power of localized content could be a series of blog posts by a local lawn care company on dealing with common lawn pests prevalent in North Carolina. Such content addresses a local issue, showcases the business’s expertise, and is highly relevant to the local audience.

Evaluating your local competitors' content strategies is not about imitation, but inspiration. It’s about understanding what topics resonate locally, how you can address them uniquely, and how you can better serve the local audience with your content. It’s a stepping stone towards building a robust local SEO strategy that not only ranks well but resonates with the local audience, driving more engagement and conversions for your business.

So to break it down really simply, if you see keywords that your competitors have pages for and you don't, create pages for them as well.  Just make your content bigger, better and more informative than your competitors.  Also consider adding more dimension and depth to your content by adding related images, statistics, facts, etc., to further enhance your content.

96% of marketing decision makers say content marketing has been effective for their brand.

Implement the E-A-T Strategy

In the world of SEO, E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. It's a framework that Google uses to assess the quality of content on websites. Your aim should be to embody these three pillars in your online content, not just to please search engine algorithms, but to offer real value to your local audience. Let's dissect how you can implement the E-A-T strategy to outshine your competitors.

Google looks at each website (domain) and judges its topical authority on a particular topic. The more authoritative and trustworthy your website is for a given topic the more likely Google is going to trust your website as use it to rank in Google for people searching for online for that topic. It's like Google considering you an expert on a certain topic in a particular location ( lawn care in Charlotte, NC).

Establishing Expertise

Being a local business, you possess a wealth of knowledge about your industry and the local market dynamics. It's time to showcase this expertise through your content. Create informative blog posts, how-to guides, and insightful articles that address common questions and challenges your local customers face. The objective is to become the go-to resource for valuable information in your industry within your locality.

Amplifying Authoritativeness

Authoritativeness is earned through consistent delivery of valuable and accurate information. It also comes from recognition by others in your field. Engage with local industry forums, participate in community events, and don't shy away from collaborating with other local businesses or influencers. Every piece of content should reflect a level of authority that makes both search engines and users trust the information you provide.

Building Trustworthiness

Trust is a treasured commodity in the digital world. Ensure that your website is secure, easy to navigate, and transparent in terms of business practices and policies. Include clear contact information, business hours, and customer testimonials. Transparency builds trust, and trust enhances your online reputation, which in turn, positively impacts your local SEO.

Outperforming Competitors in Content

Now, armed with the E-A-T strategy, aim to make your content bigger, better, and more engaging than that of your competitors. If they have a 500-word article on a topic, can you create a 1000-word comprehensive guide? If their content is purely textual, can you provide engaging videos or infographics? The goal is to offer content that is not only more informative but also more enjoyable and engaging for the local audience.

Implementing the E-A-T strategy is about setting a high bar for your online content. It's about striving for excellence in providing value, gaining recognition as an authority, and earning the trust of your local audience. By doing so, you're not just aiming for higher search engine rankings, but for a stronger connection with your local community, which is the bedrock of enduring online success.

Tracking and Measuring Local SEO Performance

Tracking and measuring your Local SEO performance is your compass. It tells you whether you're moving in the right direction or if it's time to change course. It's about gauging the impact of your SEO strategies on your online visibility and overall business growth. Let's delve into how you can effectively track and measure your Local SEO performance.

Setting Up Local SEO KPIs

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are your measuring sticks. They could range from website traffic and rankings for local keywords to engagement metrics like click-through rates and local backlink acquisition. Identifying the right KPIs is crucial as they provide a clear picture of your SEO performance over time.

Google KPI's to track that are easy to follow would be organic traffic growth for your website along with the increase in organic traffic for specific pages on your website. In Google Business Profile you can track how often your listing is showing up in the search results each month, what keywords your listing is getting triggered for as well as other metrics like the # of phone calls you listing is receiving each month and how many people are asking for directions from your listing.

Tools for Local SEO Performance Tracking

Harnessing the right tools is essential for accurate tracking. Google Analytics, for instance, can provide a wealth of data on website traffic, user behavior, and conversions. Similarly, Google Search Console can offer insights into your site’s search performance. Utilizing such tools will enable you to track your KPIs effectively and glean actionable insights.

Analyzing and Interpreting Local SEO Data

Data in itself is just numbers; it’s the analysis and interpretation that bring out the stories behind these numbers. For instance, a sudden spike in website traffic after a local event sponsorship could indicate a successful local branding effort. Regular analysis of your SEO data helps in identifying trends, understanding the ROI of your SEO strategies, and making data-driven decisions for future strategies.

By rigorously tracking and measuring your Local SEO performance, you are essentially keeping your finger on the pulse of your online health. It's about knowing what's working, what's not, and where there's room for improvement. It provides a framework for continuous learning and improvement, which is crucial in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

Consider a scenario where your analysis reveals a high bounce rate on a particular service page. This insight could lead to optimizing the page for better user experience, potentially resulting in higher engagement and conversions.

In a nutshell, tracking and measuring are not mere chores but powerful tools in refining your Local SEO strategies. They provide a clear pathway to understand the impact of your efforts and to continually enhance your online presence in the local market. Through meticulous tracking and insightful analysis, you are not just chasing metrics, but paving a solid foundation for sustained online success and local market leadership.

Start Your Competitor Analysis Today

Stepping into the arena of Local SEO with a solid game plan is a move towards local market dominance. It’s about understanding the landscape, the players, and carving out a unique space for your business. Through the lens of Competitor Analysis, Local Keyword Research, Backlink Strategy Assessment, Content Strategy Evaluation, E-A-T Strategy Implementation, and Performance Tracking, we've navigated the essentials of boosting your Local SEO.

With a roadmap in hand, it's your turn to drive the narrative of your online success story. Venture into the domain of Local SEO with a well-armed strategy, measure the waters, learn from the insights, and iterate for better outcomes. Your quest for local market leadership begins with the first step into insightful Competitor Analysis and strategic SEO planning.

Have questions or need help with your Local SEO? 3Bug Media is a local SEO company in North Carolina, specializing in helping local businesses establish a strong online presence online. We also help with content strategies, link building, lead generation and more. Contact us today to learn more and to schedule a free consultation.


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CEO at 3Bug Media
Gary Shouldis is the founder of 3Bug Media, a web marketing company that helps businesses create 360 Marketing Strategies to dominate their market. His blog is read by over 20 thousand small business owners a month and has been featured in the N.Y. Times Small Business, Business Insider and Yahoo Small Business.