DIY SEO #9: Determining Local Competition

Local search is becoming more and more prominent as time goes on.  For local businesses and organizations, this means you have to consider both regular SEO and local SEO as you market yourself.

If you are a national / international organization, then you can sit this step out.  Feel free to go into the other room and have some cookies and drinks.  This step is all about local.

What’s The Difference?
We already looked at our competition in universal search, what’s the difference between the universal results and the local results?   Competition in local search is quite different than the regular search results.  It’s less about on-site optimization and links and more about location(s), reviews, and citations.

Just as with the Step 8, we are going to gauge the competitiveness of your local competition by searching for several keywords (this time local keywords) and taking a look at some of the competition that comes up in the search results.  We will be looking at the results in the Google Places listings and Bing Business Portal listings.

3 Factors To Look At:
When determining how competitive your competition is in the local market, you need to look at three factors.

1. Location: Google and Bing tend to have a center of town (or centroid) from which they measure out.  The closer to the “center” of town, the more relevant they think you are and better position you are in to rank well.  You can determine the center of the city by looking up just the city in map.  If you are seeing competition that is right near the “center”, then that makes them more competitive.

2. Reviews: The more positive reviews and ratings you get the better.  Reviews can overcome location, at least to an extent (your not going to rank well in city 50 miles away because of good reviews :) ).  Reviews do not have to be in the specific local search engine listing either.  Both Bing and Yahoo look at other sites, like and to find reviews.

Does it appear that your competition is actively getting new reviews?  One of the nice things about reviews is they have dates.  So, if your competition has 50 reviews, you can see if they got them all in the last 6 months (indicating they are actively seeking reviews) or if most of the reviews are old.  Remember we are not only trying to gauge how competitive the competition is but also how actively they are working to stay competitive.

3. Citations: This is a Google Places factor.  Citations are listings for your business or organization in other places on the web.  Theyinclude the organization’s name, address, and usually phone number.  These can be structured citations like listings in Internet Yellow Pages or other local listings sites or unstructured citations like mentions in a blog or news article.  You can find the citations in a Google Places listing by scrolling down to the “more about this place” section.

Citations are a signal to the search engines that a business or organization are real.  They also function a little like links in regular SEO in that the more citations you have the stronger the listing and that different citation sources have different value (e.g. A listing in is worth more than a mention on your brother’s blog). The more citations the better.

Side Note: One of the most important elements to citations is consistency.  As you work to get citations or just find sites that have cited you, be sure you have the same organization name, address and phone number.

Let’s tally the votes.
Now that you’ve gotten the competition info for several key competitors, take a moment to put the information together and get a complete picture of each of your competitors separately as well as all of your competitors as a whole.  We’ll address what to do with this information in a future step.

Tip: If you have a little trouble with the information staying abstract, you can score each competitor on a scale of 1-10.  Give 1-3 points for location, 1-4 points for reviews and ratings, and 1-3 points for citations.

Today’s Tasks:

  • Search some of your keywords (both competitive ones and moderately competitive keywords) and find several competitors (at least 10, but the more the better).
  • Check each competitor’s listings for location, reviews / ratings, and citations.
  • Total up the data for each competitor individually and all the competitors together.

Photo by amirjina

How competitive is your competition?

Do you have any questions about local competition?

DIY SEO #8:Determining the Competitiveness of Your Competition <- DIY SEO: Main -> DIY SEO #10: Planning Your SEO Strategy

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