Part 2 of our local SEO guide may take you to an unexpected next step.
Most business owners are eager to decide on the keywords. This seems to make sense because that’s what “everyone” tells you.
Most agency sites have you doing this first.
However, to ultimately choose the best keyword phrases after determining your users intent (see part 1), you should spend a little time analyzing your competitors.
If you’re not on page 1 of the search results in Google what are your competitors doing that gets them there? It has nothing to do with whether they are better than you. The “small guy” can bet the “big guy” in the searches simply by doing it better. Let’s take a look.
What to Look at from Your Competitor
The good news is you don’t have to contact your competitor. You also don’t need to hire a research firm. Simple searches in Google will reveal all you need to know to get started. First, do a search on a search phrase you think consumers will use and you believe would be great for your business to rank in the page 1 results. Let’s use the term mattress as we did in part 1. Remember the box in the diagram with common questions?
This “People also ask” box doesn’t appear in every result. But, if it does, use it. Also, look at the bottom of the search page and see the “Searches related too” phrases listed.
Choose one you think is most likely to be used by your market consumers.
For “mattress” these two places seem to show that “best mattresses” or “best type of mattresses” would be a good place to start. For this example, we’ll pretend we’re a mattress store in Tucson, AZ.
Also, look again at the “Searches related to” section at the bottom of the page. In this case, the results show “mattress stores Tucson.” This would be another good research term because shoppers ready to buy or near ready to buy would be using this phrase.
A consumer wouldn’t use the phrase “mattress stores” if they were researching types of mattresses. Does that make sense?
How to Analyze Your Competitors’ Content
Now that you see which of your competitors is in the top of your market search results, spend a little time looking at their content online. Go to their website and take a look at:
- How often they publish new content
- Who writes the content
- What subjects they write about
- Where or what does the content focus on
- Why is the content written
- How long their articles and other content is on average
- Notice how often they use keyword phrases you believe customers search with
This process is necessary because you must understand your competitor’s content strategy so you can mirror it or do better. You won’t have to do much more to do better.
Now you must look at other factors that contributed to their 1st page search results.
Discover Where Your Competitors Get Backlinks From
In most cases, your local competitors get the most important back links from online directories. The most popular include sites like Yelp, Yellowpages, Angies List, Google My Business, Bing Places, and others.
Cities and markets have other business listings unique for your market.
You can find most of your competitors links with a free tool from Moz. You will need to sign up with a free account to get the data.
Some competitors get links from places like the local chamber of commerce, partner businesses, etc. You may be able to make some relationships of your own where you agree to get back links from relevant local sites. You want the links from places relevant to your market.
Remember, it isn’t the number of back links your competitor has that matters. It’s the quality. Competitor sites can have hundreds of back links. Some even have thousands. But often only a handful have any real meaning to Google.
You will win the back link game by having more of the higher quality sites linking to your business than your competitor.
Taking the Steps Right for Your Business
It’s important as you continue with our local SEO guide that you do not get too bogged down in every detail of your competitors online presence. If you do, frustration will follow.
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