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Monitoring Competitors: 8 Detailed Blueprints for Getting the Job Done

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Connor Wilkins


The Power of Monitoring Competitors SEO Strategies

Keeping a vigilant eye on your competitors’ local SEO strategies is not just about staying competitive; it’s about uncovering hidden opportunities to outshine them and capture a larger share of your local market.

Monitoring competitors keyword usage, backlink profiles, and more provides invaluable insights that can shape your approach to local SEO.

This practice empowers businesses to identify gaps in their own strategies and to discover innovative methods to enhance their online presence, ensuring they stay one step ahead in the ever-competitive local search landscape.

Building on the foundation of our previous article that delved into the nuances of conducting a local competitor analysis, this article will guide you through the ongoing process of monitoring competitors. 

What's the Significance of Monitoring Competitors?

The competitive landscape in Local SEO refers to the environment in which local businesses vie for prominence in search engine results within a specific geographical area.

It encompasses the strategies, tactics, and performances of businesses that are competing for the top spots in local search queries, particularly on platforms like Google Maps and local search results on search engines.

Understanding this landscape is crucial for several reasons.

Firstly, it reveals the level of competition within a particular local market, highlighting how aggressively businesses are optimizing for local search.

Secondly, it offers insights into the SEO strategies that are working for others in your area, which can be invaluable for shaping your own approach.

Finally, a clear understanding of the competitive landscape helps in identifying underserved areas or niches in the market, providing opportunities to differentiate your business and capitalize on gaps left by competitors.

In essence, grasping the competitive landscape in Local SEO is about more than just knowing who your competitors are; it’s about understanding their strategies and performance to inform and enhance your own Local SEO efforts.

5 Key Metrics to Monitor

Understanding your competition is as vital as knowing your own business. Below we’ll share critical metrics that every business should monitor when analyzing their competitors.

By keeping a close eye on these metrics, you can glean insights that will shape your local SEO strategy, helping you to stay a step ahead.

1. Local Search Rankings

The primary metric to monitor is where your competitors rank in local search results for key terms. These rankings provide a clear picture of who is dominating the local search landscape and why.

Utilize SEO tools like Google’s own Search Console or Ahrefs to track these rankings. These tools offer insights into not just the position, but also the fluctuations and trends over time.

2. Keyword Usage

Analyzing the keywords your competitors are targeting reveals much about their strategy. Are they focusing on broad terms, specific local phrases, or a mix of both?

Use keyword research tools to dissect their approach. Understand which keywords are driving traffic to their sites, and identify any gaps in your own keyword strategy.

3. Backlink Profile

Backlinks are a cornerstone of SEO. Review your competitors’ backlink profiles to see where they’re gaining their authority. Are local blogs or directories linking to them?

Tools like Ahrefs and Majestic can be used to analyze these profiles. Look for patterns in the sources of backlinks and consider how you can establish similar connections.

4. Local Content

Delve into the type of content your competitors are producing. Is it blog posts, local guides, or something else? How frequently are they publishing, and what engagement does it receive?

Use this analysis to refine your content strategy. Aim to fill in the gaps or produce higher quality, more engaging content than your competitors.

5. Online Reviews and Ratings

Online reviews and ratings can provide insights into a competitor’s reputation and customer service. High ratings often correlate with higher trust and thus better SEO performance.

Regularly monitor major review platforms like Google My Business, Yelp, and TripAdvisor. Pay attention not just to the ratings, but also to how your competitors respond to reviews.

6 Blueprints Used to Monitor the Local Competition's SEO Strategies

Step 1: Identify Top Competition

Identifying key competitors in your local area is a critical step in shaping your Local SEO strategy. This involves pinpointing other businesses within your vicinity that are competing for the same customer base and search engine visibility.

Here’s a step-by-step blueprint to effectively identify your local competitors:

Blueprint to Identify Local Competition

  1. Define Your Niche: Start by clearly defining your business niche or industry. Understanding your specific market segment helps in accurately identifying who your direct competitors are.
  2. Conduct Local Search Queries: Perform searches on Google using keywords that are relevant to your business, along with your location. For example, if you run a coffee shop in Austin, try searching for “coffee shops in Austin.” Pay attention to the businesses that appear in the top search results, especially in the Google Local Pack.
  3. Explore Google Maps: Use Google Maps to search for similar businesses in your area. This can reveal competitors that you might not have been aware of, who are also targeting the same local audience.
  4. Check Industry Directories: Look at local business directories and industry-specific directories. These can provide a list of competitors who are actively working on their Local SEO.
  5. Analyze Social Media: Social media platforms can be a goldmine for identifying competitors. Search for local businesses in your field on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. See who is active, engaging with the community, and has a strong follower base.
  6. Monitor Local Media and Advertising: Pay attention to local media, including newspapers, magazines, and local blogs, as well as outdoor advertising. Competitors who invest in these areas are likely also focusing on their Local SEO.
  7. Use SEO Tools: There are various SEO tools available that can help identify your local competitors based on keyword rankings and other metrics. Tools like SEMrush, Moz, and Ahrefs offer features for competitor analysis.

Once you’ve identified your key local competitors, you can start analyzing their strategies, strengths, and weaknesses, which will be invaluable in developing a more targeted and effective Local SEO strategy for your own business.

Step 2: Analyze Competitor On-Page Tactics

Below, we’ll guide you through a meticulous analysis of your competitors’ on-page SEO tactics.

By dissecting their use of keywords, scrutinizing the structure of their websites, and evaluating the quality and strategy of their content, you can uncover the secrets behind their local search success.

This step-by-step blueprint will equip you with the knowledge to not only understand what your competitors are doing right but also to identify opportunities where you can gain a competitive edge. 

Blueprint to On-Page Analysis

  1. Begin with a Competitor Selection: Identify your top competitors by conducting local searches related to your business. Choose a mix of direct competitors and those currently ranking high in local search results.
  2. Keyword Analysis: Visit each competitor’s website and note the keywords they use, especially in prominent areas like the homepage, service pages, and product descriptions.  Analyze how these keywords are integrated into their content, noting any local-specific terms.
  3. Website Structure Evaluation: Review the layout and navigation of the competitors’ websites. See how they categorize their services or products and how easy it is to find local information.
  4. Metadata Inspection: Examine the meta titles and descriptions on key pages. Are they using keywords effectively? Do they include local city or region names?Check the headers (H1, H2, H3) across different pages for keyword integration and relevance to local SEO.
  5. Content Quality Assessment: Evaluate the overall quality of the content. Look at the length of the articles, use of images and videos, and any other multimedia elements that enhance user engagement.
  6. Content Strategy Analysis: Determine the range of topics covered in their blogs or news sections. Are they focusing on local events, guides, or industry-specific information?
  7. Review Internal Linking: Observe how they use internal linking. Are there links to other relevant pages within their content? This can give clues about their SEO strategy and content hierarchy.
  8. Compile a Comparative Report: Create a detailed report of your findings, comparing each competitor’s on-page SEO tactics. Highlight areas where they excel and where there might be gaps or weaknesses.
  9. Strategize Based on Findings: Implement changes such as better keyword integration, improved meta data, a more intuitive site structure, and enhanced content quality to outperform competitors in local search rankings.

Step 3: Assess Local Citations and Directory Listings

Local citations and directory listings are fundamental in establishing a business’s online presence and credibility.

By meticulously assessing how your competitors are represented in these directories, you can uncover the building blocks of their online authority.

This section will guide you through the process of evaluating your competitors’ directory profiles. 

Blueprint to Local Citation Analysis

  1. Compile a List of Relevant Directories: Start by identifying the most relevant local and industry-specific directories. This includes general directories like Google My Business and Yelp, as well as niche directories specific to your industry.
  2. Conduct Competitor Research: Search for your competitors in these directories. You can do this manually or use tools like Moz Local to streamline the process.
  3. Evaluate NAPW Consistency: In each directory, check the consistency of your competitors’ Name, Address, Phone number, and Website URL (NAPW). Inconsistencies in these details can affect local SEO performance.
  4. Note Directory Types and Presence: Observe the types of directories where your competitors are listed. Assess the quality and authority of these directories.
  5. Analyze Profile Completeness and Quality: Look at how thoroughly and professionally your competitors have filled out their directory profiles. Do they include detailed descriptions, business hours, photos, or additional information that enhances their listing?
  6. Check for Additional Features: Some directories allow for additional features like customer reviews, responses, or posts. See how your competitors are utilizing these features to engage with their audience.

Step 4: Review Backlinks

Off-page factors like backlinks play a pivotal role in determining a website’s authority and ranking.

Understanding how your competitors build and leverage their backlink profiles can reveal powerful insights into their broader SEO strategy.

This section will walk you through the process of dissecting your competitors’ off-page SEO tactics, focusing on their backlink profiles, local partnerships, and community engagement.

Blueprint to Backlinks Review

  1. Select the Right Tools: Begin by choosing an SEO tool that specializes in backlink analysis, such as Ahrefs. These tools offer comprehensive insights into backlink profiles and competitor strategies.
  2. Analyze Competitor Backlink Profiles: Use your chosen tool to examine the backlink profiles of your main competitors. Look for the total number of backlinks, the diversity of link sources, and the quality of these links. Pay attention to patterns in their backlink profiles. Are there specific types of sites that frequently link to them, such as local news sites or industry blogs?
  3. Assess Local Partnerships and Sponsorships: Look for evidence of local partnerships or sponsorships that might be contributing to their backlink profile. This can include links from local chambers of commerce, community events, or local charity drives.
  4. Document Link Building Opportunities: As you analyze your competitors’ backlink profiles, make note of potential link building opportunities for your own business. This could include guest posting on blogs they are featured in or engaging with the same local organizations.
  5. Develop a Backlink Strategy: Based on your findings, formulate a strategy for building high-quality backlinks. This might involve reaching out to local websites for partnerships, participating in community events, or enhancing your social media engagement.

Step 5: Monitoring Competitor Reviews and Responses

Online reviews are the digital word-of-mouth, playing a crucial role in shaping a business’s reputation and Local SEO.

Understanding how your competitors manage their online reviews and customer interactions offers valuable insights into their customer service strategies and public perception.

This section provides a roadmap for effectively monitoring your competitors’ online reviews and responses on platforms like Google My Business, Yelp, and TripAdvisor.

Blueprint to Monitoring Competitor Reviews

  1. Identify Key Review Platforms: Determine which review platforms are most relevant for your industry. Common ones include Google My Business, Yelp, and TripAdvisor.
  2. Analyze Competitor Reviews: Visit each competitor’s profile on these platforms and study their reviews. Look for trends in what customers praise or criticize. Note the overall rating, the number of reviews, and the frequency of reviews they receive.
  3. Observe Response Strategies: Pay close attention to how competitors respond to reviews. Do they thank customers for positive reviews? How do they address negative feedback?Assess the tone and timeliness of their responses.
  4. Document Patterns and Tactics: Keep a record of notable response strategies and patterns you observe. This might include personalized responses, offering solutions, or asking for direct contact to resolve issues.
  5. Evaluate Engagement Levels: Determine how actively your competitors engage with their reviewers. Are they responding to all reviews, or only select ones?
  6. Learn from Best Practices and Mistakes: Identify effective strategies used by competitors in managing their online reputation. Similarly, note any mistakes or shortcomings in their approach.
  7. Develop a Review Management Plan: Based on your observations, create or refine your review management strategy. Consider implementing practices that have been successful for your competitors and avoiding their mistakes.

Step 6: Develop a Strategic Game Plan

After a comprehensive analysis of your local SEO landscape and competitors, the next crucial step is to distill these insights into strategic recommendations.

This stage is where your analytical efforts bear fruit, transforming data and observations into actionable strategies that give you a competitive edge in the local market.

In this section, we’ll guide you through the process of crafting these recommendations, ensuring they are tailored specifically to your unique business needs and objectives. 

Blueprint for Applying Your Strategy

  1. Synthesize Your Findings: Start by reviewing the data and insights gathered from your competitor analysis. Identify key themes, strengths, and weaknesses in your current local SEO strategy compared to your competitors.
  2. Identify Competitive Opportunities: Look for gaps or areas where you can outperform competitors. This could be an underutilized local keyword, a lack of presence in certain local directories, or an opportunity for stronger community engagement.
  3. Recommend On-Page SEO Enhancements: Propose improvements in keyword usage, meta titles, descriptions, and content quality. Tailor these suggestions to target local search queries more effectively.
  4. Advise on Off-Page SEO Tactics: Develop a plan for building quality backlinks and enhancing your online authority. This might include strategies for local partnerships, sponsorships, or guest blogging on local websites.
  5. Improve Local Citations and Directory Listings: Decide where you should list your business and how to ensure NAPW (Name, Address, Phone number, Website) consistency across all platforms.
  6. Refine the Content Strategy: Brainstorm ideas for content that resonates with the local audience, such as local news, events, or guides.
  7. Set Metrics for Success: Define clear metrics and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to measure the success of these recommendations. This could include improvements in local search rankings, website traffic, or customer review ratings.

Take the Next Steps to Get Ahead of the Competition

As we conclude our deep dive into the intricacies of monitoring competitors in Local SEO, it’s clear that the process is both an art and a science.

From identifying key competitors and analyzing their on-page and off-page SEO strategies to studying their content and social media engagement, each step provides valuable insights.

We’ve learned how critical it is to assess competitors’ local citations, directory listings, and how they manage their online reviews and responses. These insights not only reveal areas for improvement but also help in tailoring a robust SEO strategy that positions your business ahead in the local market.

Remember, the journey to mastering Local SEO is ongoing and ever-evolving. Staying ahead of the curve requires not just monitoring competitors but also continually adapting and refining your strategies based on newly emerging trends.

If you’re looking to gain an edge in your local market, don’t navigate this complex landscape alone. Book a free local SEO strategy session with us. Our experts are equipped to analyze your specific market, identify key opportunities, and develop a customized plan that maximizes your local presence. 

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