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5 Areas to Focus Your Local SEO Competitive Analysis

Picture of Connor Wilkins
Connor Wilkins

CMO, Direction.com

how to run a local seo competitive analysis

Keep your friends close, and your competitors closer when it comes to local SEO – observing their strategies helps keep your tactics ahead of the curve.

What Is A Local SEO Competitive Analysis?

A local SEO competitive analysis refers to researching, evaluating and comparing the on-page and off-page factors influencing the local search visibility of business competitors within a geographic area.

The key elements of an effective local SEO competitive analysis include:

  • Identifying direct and indirect competitors for relevant keywords and categories
  • Evaluating local rankings in Google for core search queries including keywords, location modifiers and natural language searches
  • Comparing Google My Business profiles and metrics like photos, reviews, categories and local prominence
  • Auditing on-page optimization including title tags, meta data, content, links and structured data markup
  • Analyzing backlink profiles, anchor text and linking domains driving organic authority
  • Researching citation sources like Yelp, Facebook and industry directories
  • Reviewing social media presence and engagement levels
  • Monitoring online reputation including customer sentiment and reviews
  • Identifying differences in optimization and tactics impacting performance

The goal is gaining strategic insights into the local SEO success factors that allow top competitors to rank highly. This analysis informs opportunities to improve visibility, outperform competitors and win more local organic traffic.

Why Should I Analyze Local SEO Competition?

There are a few key reasons why analyzing local SEO competition is important:

  • Identify Gaps – See where competitors are ranking for valuable keywords that your business isn’t, revealing opportunities.
  • Benchmark Progress – Track your keyword/ranking progress against competitors to gauge optimization effectiveness.
  • Inform Strategy – Discover which factors are influencing rankings so you can focus your efforts for maximum impact.
  • Set Realistic Goals – Understanding the competitive landscape allows creating achievable SEO goals.
  • Monitor Threats – Keep an eye on competitor SEO changes that could threaten your visibility.
  • Leverage Opportunities – Spot areas where competitors are under-optimized to capture traffic.
  • Outperform Rivals – Research shows 17% higher revenue for firms that perform better than rivals in organic search.

You should analyze local SEO competition to gain insights into the tactics that offer the best ROI for outperforming other local businesses. 

5 Areas to Focus Your Local SEO Competitive Analysis

When we analyze local SEO competition for our clients, we focus on 5 areas, which tend to inform our strategies:

  1. Keyword Usage 
  2. Local Backlinks
  3. On-page Local SEO
  4. Local Schema Markup
  5. Local Directories

1. Keyword Rankings & Content Creation

To create a winning local SEO strategy, it is important to analyze the top competitors in a given market.

Keyword analysis tools such as Ahrefs and SEMRush can provide valuable insights into what methods and strategies your competitors are using to gain an edge over the competition.

Step 1: Identify Top Competitors

To run a keyword analysis in Ahrefs and SEMRush, the first step is to identify the top competitors in a given market. This can be done by researching websites that appear prominently in local search engine rankings for related keywords and queries (top 10 organic results on Google).

Once this information has been gathered, each competitor’s website should be added as a search target within Ahrefs or SEMRush.

Step 2: Identify High-Value Keywords

Next, it is important to identify which keywords are used by competitors when attempting to optimize their websites for the local market. The best way to do this is by looking at both organic search visitor data as well as backlink profile data from within Ahrefs or SEMRush.

This will provide details on which specific keywords are driving targeted traffic as well as which links are helping them achieve higher rankings for those terms.

Step 3: Run A Keyword Gap Analysis

In SEMRush, you can run a keyword gap analysis to see what keyword you rank for, which keywords your competitors rank for, and where the biggest opportunities are.

Leveraging these metrics will inform you of the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors’ online presence, enabling you to craft more effective local content to give you an edge in the SERPs.

Utilizing this competitor research can also help you understand which topics might be most profitable in terms of content creation and link-building campaigns, allowing you to further optimize your existing strategies.

Step 4: Quality Check Your Competitor's Content

In addition to running keyword research, be sure to analyze your competitor’s content with this checklist:

  • Who is writing the content?
  • What is the content about?
  • When is the content being written?
  • Where is the content focused (locally)?
  • Why is the content being written?
  • How many social shares is the content getting?
  • How many reviews are listed?

2. Local Backlinks

Running a local backlink audit on your top competitors in Google is a crucial step to creating an effective local SEO strategy. By examining your competitors’ backlinks, you can generate ideas for new content and uncover link-building opportunities. Here’s how you can get started:

Step 1: Identify Your Competitors (Again)

The first step to running a local backlink audit is to identify your competitors. To do this, search for relevant keywords that are related to your business on Google and analyze the results. Take note of the businesses that appear on the first page of search results as these are likely to be your top competitors in the area.

Step 2: Analyze Your Competitors’ Links

Once you have identified your main competitors, it’s time to analyze their links. You can use a tool such as Ahrefs or SEMrush to examine their backlink profile and gain insights into which websites are linking to them. Take note of any high-authority websites that are linked to their site, as these could provide great opportunities for link-building down the line.

Step 3: Identify Opportunities

The next step is to identify opportunities for acquiring new links by analyzing both aggregate data (such as domain authority) and individual links pointing toward your competitors’ sites. This will give you insight into which websites have linked out in the past and what kind of content they tend to share or promote. With this information, you can tailor content specifically designed for those websites to acquire a new link from them.

Step 4: Monitor Changes Regularly

Finally, it’s important to monitor changes regularly to stay ahead of your competition. Set up alerts for when new websites start linking out or when popular existing links disappear so that you can quickly identify any opportunities for gaining additional links before anyone else does. Keeping track of changes will help ensure that you remain one step ahead of the competition and position yourself as an industry leader in terms of local SEO performance.

3. On-Page Technical SEO

To create a winning local SEO strategy via on-page technical SEO for top competitors in Google, the following steps should be taken to ensure success:

Step 1: Continue Analyzing Your Competitors

You’ll need to first analyze your top competitors’ on-page technical SEO efforts to uncover what they are doing right and where improvements can be made. This includes researching their keyword usage, content structure, website design and architecture, page speed optimization, mobile compatibility, usage of structured data markup, and much more.

Step 2: Optimize Your Website's Organic Search Performance

Once you have identified potential areas of improvement from your competitor analysis, you can begin to optimize your own website’s organic search performance.

This involves carefully optimizing your content and HTML elements such as:

  • titles and meta descriptions
  • creating new pages that are optimized for specific keywords
  • improving page load times and user experience (UX)
  • implementing schema markup for better search engine visibility
  • fixing broken links or redirects when necessary
  • creating high-quality backlinks from other websites and blogs in your industry
  • ensuring that all pages are accessible through XML sitemaps

Step 3.: Set Up Local SEO Structures

Creating an effective local SEO strategy requires setting up various structures such as:

  • local landing pages which should target specific locations or regions using location-based keywords;
  • utilizing localized content on blog posts;
  • ensuring that NAP (Name Address Phone) information is accurate across all directories;
  • registering with online review sites;
  • building relationships with local influencers/bloggers in your area;
  • making sure that all social media accounts include location information;
  • submitting business profiles to relevant directories like Yelp;
  • using proper local citation formats;
  • optimizing images with geo-tags;
  • promoting the website in the local community through events or sponsorships;
  • leveraging geo-targeting features within AdWords to target customers in a specific region by displaying ads only when a person searches for something related to that region

Step 4: Monitor & Measure Progress

Lastly, but most importantly, it is essential to track progress over time by monitoring search engine rankings for important keywords as well as measuring website traffic from organic sources over time via analytics tools like Google Analytics. This will help you determine if your local SEO strategy is working or if there are opportunities for improvement by making adjustments accordingly.

4. Local Schema Markup

Schema Markup is code that helps search engines better understand the content of a website and improve how websites are displayed in SERPs.

It can also help increase the visibility of a website when it appears in related searches or when users ask questions through voice commands or on social media.

There are several types of Schema Markups available including Organization, Place and Product, which can each be used to target specific searches related to the topic or product being discussed on the page.

For example, if your business is selling cameras, you might want to use the Product Schema Markup so that when people search for “buy digital camera” your website will appear amongst other relevant results.

Step 1: Analyze Your Competitor's Schema Markup Code

Once you have identified what type of Schema Markup your competitor is using, it’s time to analyze it further and make changes accordingly.

You should start by looking at what information your competitor has included within their Schema Code and then compare that with what information you have included within yours.

It is important that all the key elements such as product name, description, price etc., are accurately reflected within both codes so that there aren’t any discrepancies between them which could affect rankings or user experience negatively.

Additionally, make sure that any details regarding special offers or discounts are also correctly indicated within both codes so these can also be picked up by search engines easily.

Step 2: Format and Implement

Once you have verified that all of the necessary components are present in both sets of code, you can then look at how they are formatted differently and adjust accordingly if needed.

This could include changing certain characteristics such as names/titles from singular to plural form or adjusting punctuation marks etc., so they match exactly with those found in competitors’ code.

By carefully examining both codes side-by-side like this, businesses can ensure their local SEO strategies remain competitive against those of their rivals by creating effective yet accurate Schema Markup code which helps boost visibility in SERPs across all devices and platforms involved.

5. Local Directories

In order to create a more effective local SEO strategy, it is important to research which local directory sites your top competitors are on. This information can be used to help build a stronger presence in the local market.

Step 1: Research Directories Where Your Competitors Are Listed

One way to find out what local directory sites a business’ top competitors are on is to perform an online search with the competitor’s business name and keywords such as “directory listing” or “business listing”.

This will generate a list of websites where the competitor may have their business listed. It is also possible to filter the search by location so that only local listings appear in the results.

Another suggested method for researching local directory sites is to use Google My Business Insights. With this tool, you can view the number of locations where your competitors have registered their businesses and compare it against your own profile.

This information can be used to identify gaps in your local SEO strategy and inform decisions about where you should focus resources for maximum impact.

Step 2: Create Local Listings On Relevant Sites

Once you have identified potential local directories, it is important to double-check them before signing up by checking if they are reputable and actively maintained.

You should also check that they offer valid ratings and reviews or other customer feedback opportunities which could contribute towards building brand trust and credibility with potential customers in the area.

Step 3: Quality Check Your Listings

Finally, when signing up for any directory site it is important that all contact details provided are accurate and kept up-to-date so that customers can easily reach out with questions or inquiries when needed, as well as help Google verify that your business exists at that location as part of its verification process.

In Conclusion

If you want to rank higher in Local SEO results, it is important to understand what your competitors are doing. With a little analysis, you can discover their strengths and weaknesses, and use that information to improve your own website ranking. There are many factors involved in local organic competitive analysis – from keyword usage to content organization and on-page technical SEO. By taking the time to assess all of these areas, you can develop an optimization strategy for your site that will help you rise above the competition in Local search results.

If you want to get started without all of the guesswork, contact our team of local SEO experts to schedule a free consultation. 

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