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As we can see lately, there is a fierce competition in local search and local SEO. For the marketers who are trying to promote their websites locally, it is essential to do a thorough surface‑level research before hitting the market. As there are many resources for local SEO and many best practices, here we will discuss some specific tested, and proven methodology, which even though may not be fitting right for every purpose. Primarily, we will look into the matters of how to find local competitors, assess their data, and then how to plan to outperform then in the search game.
The major advantages of competitive research include:
- You can deep dive into the consumer market and understand it well.
- You can draw out who exactly are your ideal customers and specifically target them.
- You may get a better understanding of what other providers in your same business do to become successful.
- By knowing how others are successful, you can also plan your strategies by following the suit rather than trying to reinvent the wheel all over again.
Choosing the competitors
Before you start with the local SEO, one need to identify at least six competitor brands which are into your same niche to compare. These can be tagged as the search competitors who are actually ranking for the same search terms you are also fighting for and also two direct business competitors. If you don’t know who your search competitors are, then try to use any good analytical tools like Google analytics to find them.
Testing of hypothesis
Once if you have isolated the trends and identify the element, which has a positive impact, then you are making a hypothesis to test. This approach will allow you to test constantly and find out what works and what not. Building on those positive elements alongside eliminating the elements which don’t end up in results will lead you to natural success. You have to make your business decisions on the basis of the conversion data than based on your emotions.
An ideal competitor analysis will provide a clear insight into your target market and allow you to test and succeed. The whole idea behind competitor analysis is to get a clear snapshot of your stance in the competition and isolate the factors you miss online to create an impact and work on those.
Competition Analysis methodology
Once if you identify the competitor sites URLs, prepare a sample set by also including:
- The home page of the competitor
- Two or three product pages
- Two browse pages, as well as;
- A key page which acts a hub for the informative content or news.
To ensure a fair comparison, make sure you gather the same data from all competitor websites alike.
You can prepare the checklists for the above elements and then scoring may range from 0 to 4 for each based on the relative performance of the competitors. In this scale, a 2 means an average performance. Say, for example, if each of the sample set has a unique H1 tag at each page, then each competitor can be given a score of 2 to optimize it technically. You may evaluate sample pages for:
- Just one title tag per each page.
- Title tag rightly placed inside the H1 tags
- Now or minimal extraneous tags in the title.
- No inline CSS and ideally no span tags in the title.
Some other scoring methods as specified by Searchical for the page title are:
- The sample sites’ titles aren’t duplicates of another.
- Character count is ideally less than 80.
- Title ideally reflects the context of the page content.
- Domain name is present in the title in a consistent fashion.
Quality of content
Quality of page content is mostly a subjective measure, but when it comes to comparing different brands, here are some key things you have to evaluate for scoring.
- Are the ‘information’ pages in question discuss relevant topics in nearly 400 words?
- Is the content interesting to the target readers?
- Are the pages well written with valuable information?
Quality of media
Similar to content, you can check the quality of images and videos too. This is also largely subjective, but you can primarily judge the media based on:
- Resolution of the images and videos
- Whether the media contents are unique or from stock resources?
- Whether the same media is repeated on different pages?
Audience and engagement
In this, you can check the number of root domains linking to the pages. This is also based on the number of ‘do follow’ LRDs (linking root domains) connected to each domain. It is easy to pull this number through the Open Site Explorer (OSE) of Moz or using tools for Ahrefs.
You have to assess the quality of the linking domains. This is where we can get the quality of the LRDs of sites in consideration. If you can log these data into a spreadsheet, you can have a graph which illustrates the overall quality of LRDs with which you can grade different domains. For this collection of information, you have to set a timeline, ideally a year or so.
You can plan a user experience (UX) exercise to assess this. You may visit the URLs of each of the sampled competitor sites as if those are the landing page from your search. Then check what is the call to actions in those. Consider what would be the next logical step in the user journey after landing on the page. Do you get the right information from there and in what order the click-through is?
Even if you aren’t an expert in UX, one can do the assessment from a first-time user point of view. Document those areas on the web pages where you get confused or feel frustrated and others which give you a better experience.
Such an analysis will help the evaluators to holistically understand the areas of scope in the search landscape than simply guessing the best practices and make an action plan. Once if you initiate this analysis, then you will find the trends emerging among the competition and can expose some niches in which your site can excel and outpace the competitors.