How to Research Your Local Competitors’ SEO

Local Competitor Research


You have high hopes, you have goals, you have dreams, and you have aspirations… You’re going to be #1 in the Google Local Search! Trust me, you’re not the only one. Everyone in your city wants to be at the top spot, so what are you going to do that will make you stand above your competitors to own that #1 position?

Well first, you have to know what your competitors are doing if you are going to do better than they are. Do they have 13 citations? Then you get 14 citations. Ok, it’s not that simple, but seriously, whatever they are doing, you do it better. Where do you look to find out what they’re doing? Well, fellow ePointer, I’m glad you asked. #LetsGetYourResearchOn

Now for this example I am a plumbing company located in Murfreesboro, TN. So, I go to Google and type in “plumbing companies in murfreesboro tn”. What do I find? Somebody in my spot, so let’s see what we can do about that.
Local Search Results


Check Your Local Competitors’ Business Listings

I’m going to show you 3 ways to check up on your local competitors’ business listings without spending a dime.

1. Moz Local

I’ve mentioned Moz Local in a previous post or two, but they are definitely worth mentioning again. So I head to Moz Local and type in Rutherford Plumbing Heating and Cooling, the zip code, and click on their listing. This is what I see.


Moz Local Search Tool


They are 67% Complete which is not too bad, but they don’t even have a listing for Infogroup, Superpages, or Factual. Bonus for me because it’s completely free to list my business with those sites. My plumbing company: 1, Rutherford Plumbing Heating and Cooling: 0.

Next, let’s look at the incomplete section of Moz.
Moz Incomplete Section


I know you can’t see what those red dots mean, so I’ll tell give you the break down of each one.
Facebook: Add 1 more photo
Bing: Add 5 more photos
Yahoo: Add 1 more photo
Citysearch: Add 1 more photo and 1 more category
YellowPages: Add 5 more photos and 1 more category
Hotfrog: Add 5 more photo
Acxiom: Add 1 more photo and 1 more category
And of course, Infogroup, Superpages, and Factual have no listings

Next, let’s look at the inconsistent section.
Moz Inconsistent Section


As you can see, it looks like there’s something missing from some and a red dot by others that doesn’t look like there’s a problem at all. However, the one’s that don’t look like there is a problem, the “Court” in the address was provided as “Courts” when it was submitted. You discover this is you hover over the red dot. And there’s a few more inconsistencies that’s much of the same thing.

2. Yext

I know what you’re thinking, Yext costs money. And it does, but it does not cost money to see the errors on your listings. I head on over to Yext and insert my Business Name and Business Phone Number and see what the results are.
Yext Listing Errors


Yext says there is 139 errors, which is not totally true because as we can see below, it displays an error of an “Unverified Business”. That’s because you are not verified through them. Excellent sales tactic.
Yext Errors Image 2
Yext Errors Image 3


Factual is showing up not listed which coincides with what Moz Local just told me. And, there are wrong phone numbers and a different name above. Everything else not seen in the pictures is just “Not Found” because it hasn’t been listed in that particular directory.

There’s a total of 2 wrong phone numbers, 2 wrong addresses, and 11 listings not found.

3. Yahoo Local

Yahoo Local is also a paid service, but just like Yext, you can scan your website for free and see the errors you have in your business listings.
Yahoo Error Results

Well, not 3283 errors like Yext said, and actually, 59 errors is not that bad. I wouldn’t technically count it as 59 errors, because if a business is not listed in a directory, I strongly believe they count that as about 3 errors – 1 for the address, 1 for the phone number, and 1 for the business name. I’m not 100% sure about this, it’s just what it seems like to me.
Yahoo Errors Image 2


Factual is still not listed. I don’t mean to be a Factual Junkie, but for one, it’s consistently not been listed which shows all these directory scanners are actually doing their job, and two, it’s a major directory that we need to be listed in.

After the Yahoo scan, there’s a total of 1 wrong phone number, 2 wrong addresses, and and 7 listings not found.


What Do Their Reviews Look Like?

Reviews matter, period. Not only do they matter for the search engines, but they matter when people look for your business and are wanting to decide who to do business with. Before we look at how to see all the reviews for the company, let me point something out to you.
Local Search Results Image 2


In this picture of the SERP (Search Engine Result Page) for “plumbing companies in murfreesboro tn,” Rutherford Plumbing Heating and Cooling has 8 Reviews, yet Roscoe Brown has 9 reviews. Although Roscoe Brown has more reviews, Rutherford Plumbing Heating and Cooling has a 4.4 Star Rating compared to Roscoe Brown’s 4.3 Star Rating.

Just because a business has a higher Star Rating doesn’t mean they will rank higher. R&S Plumbing has a 4.4 Star Rating but fewer reviews than Roscoe Brown. Roscoe Brown might have more and better citations, a better link profile, and of course they have more reviews. More reviews alone doesn’t make you rank higher either. Just remember there’s a lot of things going on behind the scenes that determines the ranking of a website.

Don’t get laser focused on reviews but know it is important to have them for the search engines and potential customers.

You saw from the SERP page, Rutherford Plumbing Heating and Cooling has 8 Google reviews. Luckily, Moz Local helps us see reviews from some of the other local directories. You can actually be in any tab on the Moz Local Tool and just scroll to the bottom and see the all the reviews.
Moz Review Section


So on top of the 8 Google reviews, they have 2 Yelp reviews and 2 Yahoo reviews.


Yelp Reviews Image

I can click on the Yelp reviews and see they have a 3 Star Rating, and the Yahoo reviews are actually the same Yelp Reviews, so they have a total of 10 reviews – 8 on Google at a 4.4 Star Rating and 2 on Yelp at a 3 Star Rating.

Some advice: Don’t try to get reviews on every local directory. In the Google search, Google only shows the reviews and Star Rating on Google, not Yelp, Yahoo, or any other directory. However, it’s important to get reviews on those, too.

Top 4 directories to get reviews are Google, Yelp, Yahoo, and Facebook. Maybe Foursquare if you’re feeling antsy.


On to the Link Profile

Why check backlinks? Well for one, it’s a major factor in Google’s ranking algorithm because it shows the importance of your site and two, you might find some competitor backlinks that you could actually get links from as well.

I will use Open Site Explorer to see the link profile of Rutherford Plumbing Heating and Cooling, although there are others such as MajesticSEO, Ahrefs, and even Bing Webmaster Tools.

The great thing about Open Site Explorer is you can actually compare up to 5 pages (A.K.A. competitors!) plus it has an array of other valuable tools, but we’re just going to look at their backlinks in this article.

Let’s see what we get when you pop their business address into the search box of Open Site Explorer.


Open Site Explorer Image 1


Take note of the Domain Authority and Page Authority because that’s important. Domain Authority is 16 and Page Authority is 26.

Notice the number of Root Linking Domains which is the different websites that link to Rutherford Plumbing Heating and Cooling, and now look at the Total Links. Clearly they are listed on some Root Domains more than once. To get a more accurate and clearer view of those pages, click the pull down menu where the arrow is and choose “only external”.
Open Site Explorer - Only External


And this is what you’ll get:
Open Site Explorer Image 2


The Domain Authority and Page Authority of the linking domain is important so don’t over look that (it determines the “link juice” passed by that domain), but the the first thing I notice is that a lot of the links are coming from the same Root Domain. I can’t help myself. I have to check out what all the hype is about and look what I find.
Open Site Off Click


They are linked in the sidebar, and that explains why there is so many links. But if they are listed there with other businesses, then my business can be listed there as well. What I would do is contact the webmaster of that page and ask how I can be listed there. Some websites charged to be listed, but some don’t, so it’s worth a shot to get a free link out of the deal.

Total Root Domains: 3, the Total Links: 87, Domain Authority: 16, Page Authority: 26


Let’s See Their On-Page SEO and Social Signals

On-page optimization plays a big role in websites because if your website is not crawlable, it can’t be indexed properly. Also, Social signals matter. Maybe they are not incorporated in the Google algorithm, and Matt Cutts flatly states they are not, but let’s not over look them.

We’re going to head over to Quicksprout and use an awesome tool Neil Patel has put together for us to use for free. Bonus: you can compare up to 3 competitors! We’re only going to focus solely on the top-spotter here, so let’s see what we have.


Quicksprout SEO and Speed Score


We can see the SEO Score and Speed Score, which both are pretty good. It’s important your website loads quickly, otherwise visitors will click off and go away, and Google knows this, which is why the speed at which a site loads is important.


Quicksprout Site Warnings


Here you see some warnings, nothing major, but it is recommended fixing (we’re actually hoping they don’t because that gives us an advantage). I’d like to point out the Title Tag of the page. Yes it’s too long, but notice the keyword “Murfreesboro”. It’s important to throw a keyword or two in the Title Tag, and I’m not saying keyword stuff the title. Make sure it is relevant to your business and location.


Quicksprout - Social Shares


They have a low social share count, and like I said, social signals are not in the Google algorithm but good to have many rather than a few. We’re going to have a blog for our website that produces interesting, insightful, and shareable article so we don’t have a low share count ;).


Let’s Crunch Some Numbers

We have numbers to work with now, and that means we can set a goal and beat the competition.

Business Listings

Moz Local: 67% Complete Rate
Yext: 2 Wrong phone numbers, 2 wrong addresses, and 11 listings not found
Yahoo Local: 1 wrong phone number, 2 wrong addresses, and 7 listings not found


Google Reviews: 8 with a 4.4 Star Rating
Yelp Reviews: 2 with a 3 Star Rating
Yahoo Reviews: 2, but were actually taken from Yelp and displayed on Yahoo

Link Profile

Domain Authority: 16
Page Authority: 26
Linking Root Domains: 3
Total Links: 87

Quicksprout’s Tools

SEO Score: B+
Speed Score: 89
Social Shares: 8 (Very Low)



In order to beat your competitors, you have to know what they’re doing so that you can do it better. I touched on a few things to get a birds-eye view of where your competitors are. Check their business listings (and there are many local directories out there) to see what they’ve done good and what they have not done good and capitalize on their vulnerabilities. Look at their reviews and see how you can do it better. Gaining a review ultimately depends on the service you provide your customers, so make sure you put the customer first and show them where you are located on the internet to leave you a positive review. See where you competitors are getting their links from. In our example, we seen a perfect opportunity to get some of the same links they have, plus we’re going to have some awesome content that provides a great value so people will link to us… right? :) Look for your competitors mistakes when it comes to on-page optimization so you don’t make the same ones and be social on social media.

This isn’t the beginning and ending guide, but hopefully this will get you started in researching your local competitors. What other techniques have you used to check-up your local competitors?


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David Prochaska is the founder of ePoint Digital, Inc., a US based digital marketing agency which specializes in helping businesses increase their online presence and visibility. David is an expert at traffic generation and local SEO and loves every aspect of internet marketing.

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  1. Thanks for the insights David.

    • No problem, Mona!



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