Consultants: Competitive Analysis for Local Ranking - What are top factors you check?

whiz

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Pareto's principle states 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.

I'd like to know the Pareto distribution (80/20) of local competition analysis so I can get to the meat faster.

Does anyone have a checklist they run down when scoping out the competition? Or an order of operations?

I just don't know what to prioritize when I'm performing a competitive analysis. I want to be able to determine how high I can rank in a given market so I can gauge the return on my efforts if I am to proceed with local SEO work.
 

Linda Buquet

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Re: What are the first/most important things you look at when determining competition

Welcome Whiz!

WOW what a great question to get some discussion around!

Do you mind me asking, are you a consultant doing Local Search for others or a business owner. Because if a consultant I'd want to move this thread to the "Consultant's Corner" where it might get more exposure/replies.
 

whiz

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Re: What are the first/most important things you look at when determining competition

Thanks for the warm welcome Linda. I would have posted in an Introduction forum but I couldn't find any.


I'm an aspiring local consultant. I understand a lot about SEO, but it seems that local SEO is a different ball game.

I have spent the past weeks prospecting and refining my sales pitch for several industries, and I want to know if I'm overlooking crucial bits of information when it comes to predicting the type of results I can provide for my (future) clients. This includes things like:


- being able to determine ROI.

- noticing a stiff market where it is unlikely to rank Page 1.


The last thing I would like is to have someone pay me $X,XXX/mo to get a negative ROI.

To determine ROI, I'm just calculating:

Search Volume * CTR * Conversion from Web Page to Contact (phone, email) * Average Conversion from Contact into Client (Someone actually signs up) * Average Lifetime Value of Client


Let's say a term gets ~1000 searches/mo and you estimate that the #2 spot will get maybe 8% of clicks.

Let's say the webpage is well made and matches the search intent. Of those 80 people that land on the website, let's say 20% pick up the phone and call.

Then let's say the calls are well-qualified and the phonepeople are well-trained. They convert at 40% .

Let's say the average lifetime value of a customer in this industry is $5k.

1000 * 0.08 * 0.2 * 0.4 * 5,000 = $32,000/mo.

Swing it 25% either way and I predict a range of $24k-40k of on-boarded lifetime value, per month. Not profit, but lifetime value that is redeemable as long as the business is run smoothly (treats people right, delivers on their value propositions, etc.).

---

For predicting highest achievable rank, I currently just look at links and the websites on Page 1.

If the websites are crap with crap links, it looks easy enough to rank. If I'm looking at say, a dentist, and I notice that they try to appear local but they're really part of an affiliate network of 300+ dental centers backed by big $$$, then I get a little scared.

But yeah, I'm really bad at this part. I really only look at the professionalism of the top websites, try to determine if they're part of something bigger, analyze links, etc.


So what am I missing? Is there something crucial when analyzing competitors that is a "make-or-break" type of thing?

I would hate to put $$$ and time into a market only to barely make Page 2. But right now I'm choosing smaller local markets with under 1k search terms and it seems like most of the competition is manageable. I could be naive though.

What do you guys think?
 

Linda Buquet

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Re: What are the first/most important things you look at when determining competition

Thanks for all that added detail!

I changed the title a little to make the topic more visible and moved post to Consultant's Corner. I'm over and out for today and gone in the AM, but will try to Tweet this tomorrow to get more insights.
 

whiz

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Re: What are the first/most important things you look at when determining competition

Thanks Linda, much appreciated.
 

JoshuaMackens

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Re: What are the first/most important things you look at when determining competition

My method is probably different than others but:

1. Check population of city
2. Check keyword SERPS for use of title tag
3. Use Majestic to scope backlinks of top competitors
4. Check review numbers of competitors

In Local SEO, believe it or not, it's not much more difficult than that.
 

JoyHawkins

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Re: What are the first/most important things you look at when determining competition

I normally will take a competitor website and throw it into Ahrefs and see what their top ranking pages are and if my client has pages on that same topic.
 

whiz

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Re: What are the first/most important things you look at when determining competition

My method is probably different than others but:

1. Check population of city
2. Check keyword SERPS for use of title tag
3. Use Majestic to scope backlinks of top competitors
4. Check review numbers of competitors

In Local SEO, believe it or not, it's not much more difficult than that.
Why check for title tag? To know if they're actively targeting a keyword?

And do reviews hold that much weight?

Let's say Company A is #1 with 50 reviews.

Company B is #10 with 5 reviews.

If Company B can get 100+ reviews, will he see an increase in ranking? Perhaps to top 5?
 

whiz

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Re: What are the first/most important things you look at when determining competition

I normally will take a competitor website and throw it into Ahrefs and see what their top ranking pages are and if my client has pages on that same topic.
Ahrefs is at the top of my shopping list.

I'll hopefully be able to justify the expense soon.

Currently using KWFinder and their other tools (Serp checker, link checker) because I was able to find it at like $35/mo.

I cannot wait to have real professional tools
 

whiz

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Would BrightLocal's Local Search audit tool help? They have a slick report that would show much of the needed info? I would think would be good to share with a prospect too, to help them see where they stack up and why they need help.

Local Search Audit | Complete SEO Audit Analysis Tool

Sample report here: Location Dashboard | Local Search Audit
Thanks Linda.

I'm checking the tool out right now. It's loading results.

That sample report is a white-label someone did through BrightLocal?
 

talhaawan

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Re: What are the first/most important things you look at when determining competition

Hi,

The very first thing i check is the number of backlinks top ranking sites have.
Skip the authority ones "yelp etc ..."
Do an audit of the backlinks. I mostly look for the backlinks that we can acquire, and they are most of the time citations/directories in local seo.

you can use backlinkwatch . com if you do not have ahref at the moment.
Used to use that a lot when i started ;)
 

Linda Buquet

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Thanks Linda.

I'm checking the tool out right now. It's loading results.

That sample report is a white-label someone did through BrightLocal?
Yep all their tools are white label for consultants/agencies.

One word of advice though... at least this is my thinking.

I would never give that to a prospect or email it to them. It would be too easy for someone to say look at everything this one consultant found out for me. But he's charging X, can you do it for Y?

I would share it and just go over the high points either in person, or with real-time screensharing - so you could point out just enough for them to see they have a problem, but they can also see there's a lot more there - knowledge you have that they probably need to address.

"This is just our 1st meeting so I don't want to overwhelm you with all the different ranking factors and where you stand. We'll just cover some high points but then if we end up working together, I'll share the other issues with you along with a plan for how we can address them."

So it's a bit of a tease, or hook if you will, but totally true. You'd bore them to death and be there for hours if you went into all 200 ranking factors upfront. haha
 

whiz

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Yep all their tools are white label for consultants/agencies.

One word of advice though... at least this is my thinking.

I would never give that to a prospect or email it to them. It would be too easy for someone to say look at everything this one consultant found out for me. But he's charging X, can you do it for Y?

I would share it and just go over the high points either in person, or with real-time screensharing - so you could point out just enough for them to see they have a problem, but they can also see there's a lot more there - knowledge you have that they probably need to address.

"This is just our 1st meeting so I don't want to overwhelm you with all the different ranking factors and where you stand. We'll just cover some high points but then if we end up working together, I'll share the other issues with you along with a plan for how we can address them."

So it's a bit of a tease, or hook if you will, but totally true. You'd bore them to death and be there for hours if you went into all 200 ranking factors upfront. haha
Of course.

In other words, don't speak "alien".

My sales pitch plan involves focusing on one high priority, easily understandable problem to get my foot in the door and develop a relationship and some trust, then I can move onto other things.

I might not even show something like this because its just too technical.
 

Conor Treacy

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ahrefs is a critical component to our SEO services - don't shy away because of price, and I advise not finding something else that will "work for now". Bite the bullet, get their package, it will pay off in spades with just 1 customer!

We have used BrightLocal for years and it's great, but over this year in particular we've found other processes that shed a better light (for our particular needs). The software overall is awesome though and a great tool for many. Their side-by-side GMB compare is excellent in prospecting - wish I could find someone that only offered that :)

With prospecting and client meetings, there are definitely those meetings that you're just giving a taste, a few action items, but use the report for yourself to guide them on the meeting rather than just sending it off in an email. While they may get someone else to do it, that's OK, they weren't your ideal client anyway so no great loss.

We also have meetings with clients that, and it sounds awful when I put it into words, we purposely overload with information. We could have a 1 hour prospect meeting and their head is literally spinning with all the things they could be doing. The fact that there's so much to do can easily be a closer on the sale.

We use both methods after we've "read" the client. All our meetings are in person or via Zoom Meetings (for those not local).

If you're pitching President or CEO or those that were told they need SEO, then you're doing a short report with bullet points. If you're pitching someone that knows what SEO is, read up on it, but maybe not know how to implement, then you're digging into the longer report.
 

Digitaldar

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When I do a local audit, I am looking for (in this order, more or less):
- domain authority and list of backlinks that competitors have which my client does not
- Reviews
- citations (super easy to acquire on behalf of client but this gives you an idea of how many you need)
- photos in Google My Business (easy enough)

It's 4:30am right now and i haven't yet had coffee so I'm sure I'm missing a few things :)

I tell the client they cannot expect to be visible in the maps section until they beat the competition in all of the above areas :) Then of course there is the geography of the searcher compared to the business that has to be factored in...

Darlene
 

JoshuaMackens

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Re: What are the first/most important things you look at when determining competition

Why check for title tag? To know if they're actively targeting a keyword?

And do reviews hold that much weight?

Let's say Company A is #1 with 50 reviews.

Company B is #10 with 5 reviews.

If Company B can get 100+ reviews, will he see an increase in ranking? Perhaps to top 5?
I check title tags via Google SERP's because if a website doesn't have their Title Tag optimized, they're not doing SEO. It shows me just how competitive the market is at a quick glimpse.

I check reviews for much the same reason. If the SEO company is not doing active review generation then they're not doing everything they can to win the day and I know I can beat them.

To answer your question about review weight, I would say it's ~10% or so. Now, it may have gone up recently because I've noticed in the local pack rankings on mobile that they are showing review snippets with keywords highlighted based on what you searched. So maybe there's a lot more weight on them.

My above process is honestly just to be able to quote a client. From my process I can predict quickly how much it will cost.

My process may not be exactly what you're looking for but using, I can tell you if a market is competitive at all or not.
 
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Hey Whiz,

I'm way late on the draw here, but there's a ton of ways to use reviews as your foot in the door to earning clients and there's a very real impact beyond ratings. Having stars in the organic SERPs can definitely impact CTR.

Here's an article we wrote about ROI for Review Management. We also have a lot of articles about pitching online review management to prospects, here, here, and here.

Hope that's helpful.
 

diptimayee

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For local search, location of your business is the most important factor. And when determining competition level, the distance between your business location & target city and that of your competitors play a vital role.
 

Digitaldar

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Would BrightLocal's Local Search audit tool help? They have a slick report that would show much of the needed info? I would think would be good to share with a prospect too, to help them see where they stack up and why they need help.

Local Search Audit | Complete SEO Audit Analysis Tool

Sample report here: Location Dashboard | Local Search Audit
This is what I was thinking also Linda! I tell my clients that they cannot expect to outrank a competitor until at least they beat the competitor in top citations, domain rank, GMB reviews and photos - this is overly simplistic but gives them something tangible to work with. Of course you could have 25% of the backlinks but have better quality and beat the competition - when that happens, I'll explain why. Till then, clients have a hard road ahead of them to get more positive reviews and incoming links (or work with me to do so) :)
 

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