In this last blog post of the Local SEO keyword research series I am going to teach you how to analyze competition for keywords that you have found.
Competitive analysis in SEO is complex, however for Local SEO it is very straightforward and only needs to be performed for our service in location keywords.
What are Service In Location Keywords?
Service in location keywords are simply keywords made up of a service and a location, such as Accountants in Liverpool.
If you have been following the keyword research process you should now have a spreadsheet containing, industry, service, problem and geographical keywords.
You’ll now need to merge all of your “seed” service keywords with your geographical location keywords before you can analyze the competition for each combined keyword.
How to quickly & easily combine your Service Keywords with you Location Keywords to create your Service In Location Keyword List.
Thankfully there are free tools online to make this a pain free process!
Head over to https://www.toptal.com/marketing/mergewords where you can simply paste in your service keywords and your locations before pressing merge.
You can then copy and paste the list back into your spreadsheet.
Make sure that you use all of the targeted towns in your area list, you’ll need research for each.
How Do You Analyze What It Will Take To Rank In Google Local Maps & Organic Search?
Our analysis is going to cover ranking for two separate algorithms in Google search, Local Maps Pack and Organic.
We are going to look at the competition in the top 3 spots and reverse engineer their back link profile.
Google Maps ranking revolves around 3 factors:-
- Proximity – Distance from searcher to the business
- Prominence – How well prominent you business is online
- Relevance – The relevance of our Google My Business listing, website optimization & links to the search keyword
Proximity can’t be changed, every business is even on this one. Your business address is your address and is where it is. By maximizing prominence and relevance you can take higher rankings in maps, even if you are not the closest relevant business to the searchers location.
Prominence & Relevance – These can both be manipulated through SEO and it’s these that we need to analyze during our competitive research.
Check Your Competitors Citations
A key factor in the Google Maps ranking algorithm is Prominence, citations are a key factor in calculating prominence of a business online. This is why they are important for Local SEO.
Most businesses will only need around 50 citations, depending upon the competition.
You can check your competitors’ citations using a tool like Bright Local, just sign up free and enter their business details.
In the image below I have checked the results for
Order citations for your business here and my team will build them for you.
Using Ahrefs To Analyze The Local Competition
Ahrefs.com is a paid SEO tool, fortunately for a small business doing you own SEO you should be able to do all the research needed within the 7 day trial period, which is just $7 (approx £5).
In Google Maps rankings relevance comes from on-site optimization but also from link relevancy.
Organic rankings are influenced by onsite optimization, link relevance and link authority.
We use Ahrefs to check the relevance and authority of our competitors websites and the links that point to them.
Signup for your trial account at Ahrefs.com
Assessing The Competition in Ahrefs
Once logged in you are able to assess the competition for any keyword by heading to the “Keywords Explorer” tab on the main menu and entering you “service in location” keyword like so:
When the results page loads scroll to the bottom, you will see a table like this:
Don’t be worried by all the data, this table simply shows the search engine results for the “service in location” keyword you entered.
Here’s what the numbers mean:
AR – the strength of the backlink profile in comparison to all websites in Ahrefs index, 1 being the strongest.
DR – Ahrefs rating score for the domain name, based on back links,
UR – The same as DR but for the URL of the website in the results. (Google indexes and ranks individual webpages, not whole websites)
Back links – The number of back links pointing to that exact page.
Domains – The number of domains that have pages linking to this page.
Looking at this image, there appears to be absolutely no correlation between strength of the domains, individual web pages or numbers of back links; that is totally correct because relevance is the key ranking factor, followed by authority (which comes from these numbers).
That is the reason why JohnKerraccountants.co.uk rank in at 6th, with a DR of only 2 in comparison to the sites above them who have DR’s ranging between 56 & 91.
We can get a much deeper look at the competition with Ahrefs, let’s now take a look at the relevance of the back links of JohnKerrAccountants.co.uk vs Tax Assist who are ranking number 1 for this search term.
Looking At The Relevance & Authority Of Links In Ahrefs
If you click on the number of backlinks for any of the results you will be taken to the “backlinks” section of “Site Explorer”.
I clicked on the number 77 of JohnCarrAccountants.co.uk and this is what I see:
The results show all backlinks of the website, data about each link and data about the page the link is on.
On the left side of the screen
The blue text is the Page Title, while the green is the URL.
For a page to be totally relevant we would want to see both Liverpool and Accountant in the blue and green text for a page.
Look at the mentions of liverpool, accountants & tax in the left column – these are relevant pages to have links from.
On the right side of the screen
The blue text is the anchor text while the green is the URL. It is important for anchor text to be varied but natural as described in The Definitive Guide To Local SEO.
DR indicates the Ahref Domain Rating of the page the link is on.
UR indicated the URL rating for the actual page that the link is on.
RD indicated Referring Domains, the number of domains on which links point to this specific URL.
IMPORTANT NOTE: You may have noticed that the link that has the highest UR rating, also is the only result that has any RD (Referring Domains) – this is because links pass authority along with relevance.
This is why the use of Tier 2 links is popular with SEO’s and why we use them in all Local SEO campaigns.
Generally the higher the UR, the more authority a link will pass, although the number of outbound links from a page affects that.
Now you should be able to understand how the number of links is not the only ranking factor, but how both relevance along with authority also influence the ranking equation.
Considering Relevance In Local SEO
Great relevance is the reason why this particular website is able to rank where it is without masses of authority. If they were to add that into the mix while maintaining relevance they would rank higher.
Relevance to the keyword comes from these components of a page, in this order:
- The domain name itself (www.yourwebsite.co.uk)
- The page URL (www.yourwebsite.co.uk/yourpage)
- Page Title – The blue text on the left hand side of the Ahrefs screenshot
- H1, H2, H3 on the page
- Page content
You should now be able to assess the competitive nature of your service in location keywords and assess how far your website is away from that baseline in terms of relevance and authority.
That monster blog post completes the local SEO Keyword Research series! I hope that in the series you have learnt how to thoroughly do keyword research for local SEO and understand how relevance and authority affect the rankings.