This case study was created using an LRT Superhero account.
Some of the use cases explained in this case study are not available in lower plans.
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Local SEO: Google likes local businesses
Every business can take advantage of the benefits of local SEO. Google keeps on optimizing its local search results. After the 2014 Google Pigeon Update, the importance of local SEO has grown.
If you want to stay competitive, you need to start a local SEO campaign. You can start with consistently listing your website in local, authoritative business directories, write content that's relevant for your industry. If you write an article, make sure to include the name of your city or region in your title.
Then you need to study your SERP competitors, find guest post opportunities, find local influencers in your niche and start building links that will help improve your local rankings. We have the tools to do all that and more.
Our LRT Certified Professional, Mario Schwertfeger wrote an interesting case study about how you can do local search engine optimization using LinkResearchTools and Impactana.
Read on and learn how to:
- Identify local competitors with the SERP Research tool and CKA
- Identify promising keywords using CKA
- Quickly compare domains for a first competitor analysis
- Perform deep competitor analysis with Competitive Landscape Analyzer (CLA)
- Use the SERP tool to identify potential citations
- Use the Common Backlinks Tool (CBLT) and the Missing Links Tool (MLT) to generate further citations
- Use LORT to review the found opportunities
- Involve Influencers in your link building via Impactana
- Detect new links & citations by using Link Alerts (LA)
We look very much forward to your feedback.
- Enjoy & Learn!
Christoph C. Cemper
Local SEO is becoming more and more important – especially for small and medium enterprises even if they don’t sell their products or services on the internet. On the one hand, Google doesn’t deliver local results not only for local queries like “Italian restaurant New York” anymore.
Now, Google also delivers local results also for generic queries when it detects a local intention e.g. through the users IP if the user is locked in with his Google+ profile or searches by smartphone with activated GPS.
As I am searching just for “Italian restaurant” from our office in Munich I will get results for Italian Restaurants in Munich even without especially adding Munich to the query.
On the other hand, we can see a huge increase in mobile searches. And mobile searches are often local searches.
One special characteristic of local search is the fact, that there are different ways that you can rank within local SERPs. So let’s have a look at a typical local search result. Let’s search for a steakhouse in Buenos Aires:
In the first red box, you can see results that are called Google My Business Listings. You can create and maintain a Google My Business Listing for your business yourself.
In the second box, you can see the organic search results. In this section, you can rank with the website of your local business, or you can be found in one of those local directories and lists that often rank in these section for local queries. In our Buenos Aires steakhouse example, we can only see lists, directories and so on for our query on page one.
But we can also see websites of restaurants in the organic search results, e.g. if we are looking for “Italian restaurant Hong Kong”:
In these results, you can see two different websites of some Italian restaurants in Hong Kong.
In general, there are three pillars you have to optimize for Local SEO. First of all, you have to optimize your website. For this part, you can use LRT to identify your local competitors and compare their (better ranking) websites to your website.
Besides the website you also have to optimize your Google My Business Profile as it has an influence on the organic ranking of your website, since it can rank itself in the Google My Business Listings.
The third pillar of Local SEO are the so-called Citations. These are mostly entries on local directory pages, but also on industry directory pages or review platforms like Yelp. One shouldn’t use all the spammy possibilities for Citations but focus on relevant and authoritative, important Citations. LinkResearchTools can help you to identify the most relevant opportunities as we will see in the next chapters.
Good Citations help your organic ranking and increase the rankings of your Google My Business Listings if you maintain them seriously and take care of having the same NAP (name, address and phone number) on every other website that your address is mentioned on as you have on your website and Google My Business Listing. But Citations are also often a top search result itself. This is another reason you should pick at least the best ranking lists and directories and place your business on them.
Like the website, the Google My Business Listing and Citations are the three pillars that you should optimize, there are quite a lot of local ranking factors. Two of the most important ranking factors are reviews and local backlinks. Considering reviews, the focus should be on Google reviews, but you also should gain reviews on other platforms like Yelp for example. Also are local backlinks a very important ranking factor in local search. According to Google local backlinks became even more important after the Pigeon Update. No question, that LRT can provide you helpful data in this fields, too.
2. Identify local competitors with SERP Research Tool and the Competitive Keyword Analyzer Tool (CKA)
I could imagine that at this point many readers may argue that they even know their local competitors even if they don’t use a tool for a competitor analysis. Yes, you might know your local competitors but most of the time you don’t know all of your local SERP competitors. For this reason, you should use a tool like LRT to identify your local SERP competitors.
Let’s take Steve Nash Fitness World from Vancouver. If you want to detect the strongest local SERP competitors you could use the SERP Research Tool.
To do this, you just have to enter the Domain and then put the relevant keyword set into this tool as you can see it in the example below. Afterward, we also should select Canada as our Search Engine Country and google.ca as the Search Engine that we prefer. Last but not least, select Basic SEO stats, Impactana Content Marketing Metrics, and Trust & Power Details as your metrics and then run the report.
After running the report, you should export it as CSV or XLSX.
After exporting the file, you should isolate the Domain of each URL so that you can delete all Google Maps results in this table.
After that, you should also filter for just the TOP20 results for each keyword in the Rank column as we only want to identify the strongest local SERP competitors.
Now you can filter as you like and create pivot tables that show you the most interesting competitors that compete against you for the pre-defined keywords.
By doing this for Steve Nash Fitness World you’ll find URLs like:
Quite a good choice of competitors that you maybe didn’t have in mind – but these guys are your competition according to the pre-defined keywords.
You can use these data to analyze a few things, for example, you could analyze which local backlinks those competitors have got or how they optimized their On page SEO.
Another tool that is even easier to handle to get quick results is the Competitive Keyword Analyzer (CKA). You only have to insert your target keywords, choose a search engine, language, and country and then wait for the results.
After running the report, you’ll get a nice overview of the TOP10 Competitors for each keyword.
Now you can analyze these data like you want to and for examples extract the guys who are your main competitors in your opinion.
Another use case for CKA in your Local SEO process is the analysis of the ranking potentials of your relevant Local SEO keyword set. You can put a set of local keywords into the Competitive Keyword Analyzer (CKA) to identify keywords that you can rank for with just a little effort. You can put up to 25 keywords in your report. In the following example, I selected keywords that are important for a real estate agent in Boston, Massachusetts.
By the way: if you want to exclude pages like Wikipedia or Craigslist from your results, you can exclude them in the project settings of your project by adding them to the Domain Blacklist.
After running the report, you will get the TOP 10 results for each of your analyzed keywords.
So you will get a heat map that shows the difficulty to rank for each keyword, including different metrics for all of the competitors that rank for those keywords.
The darker the fields on the heat map the harder the competition for this keyword according to the chosen metrics. If the first three fields of any keyword are dark green, it is very hard to get a good ranking for this keyword. If most of the fields are light green, it is easier to rank for those keywords, as in the example above the keyword ‘real estate Boston’.
Besides the heat map, you’ll also get an overview of your competitors’ metrics for each keyword so that you can identify your main competitors for a specific keyword.
After you have identified the main local competitors in your industry and your region you can do a quick analysis with the Quick Domain Compare Tool (QDC). Let’s take a hairstylist from Houston, Texas as an example. So we analyze five of competitors via QDC:
- Trendz by Tammy Black
- Blue Mambo
- Therapy Hair Studio
- Visible Changes
You just have to enter the domains of the five competitors you want to analyze and after that start the report.
After the report ran through, you’ll get a quick overview of those competitors. In this case, we can see that trendzbytammy.com and visiblechanges.com are dominating this check. They are both ranking for a huge amount of keywords, and both have a lot of backlinks. And they are the only hairstylists that have .edu and .gov backlinks.
Trendzbytammy.com has quite more backlinks than visiblechanges.com (whereas visiblechanges.com is dominating the social signals), but if we take a look at the relation of backlinks to domain popularity, we can see that trendzbytammy.com seems to have a huge amount of sitewide links. Maybe they have got some spammy backlinks. LRT Trust of Zero could be the first indication.
In this case, we should inspect their backlinks with care and just pick out the cherries. Visiblechanges.com instead seems to have a normal backlink profile on the first view.
If you want to dive deeper into competitor analysis after the QDC, you can run a report with the Competitive Landscape Analyzer (CLA). As we analyzed hairstylists from Houston, Texas, we should take another hairstylist from Houston, Texas as our URL to compare it with other hairstylists from Houston. So let’s assume that we have to do Local SEO for planetcurls.com.
We just enter our URL and then add our five competitors from the QDC. In CLA, you can choose between a Sample Analysis and a Full Analysis. If you select ‘Sample Analysis” the links won’t be validated in real time. The advantage of the ‘Sample Analysis’ is the fact that it is quicker than the ‘Full Analysis’.
Right now we will choose the Sample Analysis due to the speed advantage and because also non-existing links could be potential link prospects for our website.
After that, we will also set the sitewide filter to 5 links and then start the report.
When the report is complete, you need to classify at least 80% of the anchor texts to get precious data. You can classify those anchors very fast inside the keyword table. Learn more about how to classify the keywords in LinkResearchTools and why this is important for you.
You can classify the keywords into ‘brand’, ‘compound’, ‘money’ or others. While doing this, we can observe something that we already assumed in the previous chapter. Regarding the anchors, trendsbytammy.com seems to have a lot of malicious backlinks with non-topical and very spammy anchors like “can I buy estrace vaginal cream in internet”.
Even when you have a local business, someone may launch a negative SEO attack against your website. To to detect any negative SEO attack in time, you need to at least setup Link Alerts that informs you about new links to your website as soon as the Link Alerts Tool (LA) finds them.
Another abnormality you can see during the classification of the keywords is the heavy use of money anchors by therapyhairstudio.com
After classifying the keywords, you can compare yourself to your competitors considering different metrics. For example, you can see that planetcurls.com has far fewer Nofollow-Links than the competitors.
Another comparison you should always look at is the ‘metric comparison by keyword’, as your link profile shouldn’t consist of too many Money Anchors. But this point doesn’t seem to be a problem in this case.
As you can see above, considering the Link Status planetcurls.com might look a little bit unnatural. Of course, you have to keep in mind that we are talking about Local SEO and most local businesses such as Planet Curls don’t have a big amount of backlinks.
For the sake of Local SEO, it’s more important to pick out great topical, relevant links or local links from your competitors. You can do this inside the CLA by filtering the backlink list for different metrics like for example Power*Trust.
Otherwise, you could run a BLP report of your strongest competitors, in this example visiblechanges.com.
But now we want to go further and find out how you can find good citation sources by using LinkResearchTools.
As mentioned above one very important pillar of Local SEO are Citations. Most of the owners of local businesses and brick and mortar stores know most of the relevant directories and list. But with some extra work you can explore some great additional citation sources.
Citations should be either relevant to the location or relevant to the niche. Good directories, lists and so on can support your local rankings. But as mentioned above, they also can be SERP results themselves or can be search engines themselves. So you should dig for good Citation opportunities.
A tool that is useful for this task is the SERP Research Tool we already used for identifying competitors.
Let’s assume that we have to do some local SEO for a Sydney law company /lawyer. We can collect the most valuable keywords for this company and put them into the SERP Research Tool.
Now you can go through those results and identify good Citation sources like:
So let’s do some Local SEO for car rental in Cape Town, South Africa. Let’s analyze this topic from the point of view of Vineyard Car Hire (vineyardcarhire.co.za).
Don’t know your SERP competitors? Then LRT provides a quick-and-dirty solution to detect your SERP competitors by using a feature of the Quick Domain Compare Tool (QDC). Select the “Find Competing Pages” feature and then enter your keyword and the right search engine and language.
In our example, we will now take avis.co.za, budget.co.za, europcar.co.za, rentacheapie.co.za and drivesouthafrica.co.za as competitors.
After defining our SERP competitors, we have to open the Common Backlinks Tool (CBLT). You can put up to 50 competitors and identify common domains or page (depending on which mode you choose in ‘Common Links Strategy). Normally I prefer to choose the ‘Page/URL’ option to get more useful results. But as we are doing local SEO and local businesses often have fewer backlinks we should choose the ‘Domain’ option. In this case, I will also run the full analysis to validate the links and also to activate all 24 sources, so that we will have more link data.
The result is a list of domains that link to at least two of those competitors. To narrow our focus on the most important hubs, we can filter Co#, for example from 4 to 5 competitors. So we will get domains that link at least to 4 of our chosen competitors.
Of course, you should review those final results to decide whether they are a Citations option or not. So I wouldn’t try to get a backlink from blog.ru for example. But other results like southafrica.info with a Trust-dom of 5 seem to be very interesting for maybe a Citation or, at least, a backlink.
Two new criteria you’ll get with the full analysis are two metrics from Impactana called Buzz and Impact. Buzz is a metric to measure likes and shares of your content. But these metrics can all be manipulated easily. Impactana introduced another metric call Impact, which summarizes clicks, views, comments, downloads, backlinks and referring domains.
A similar tool that can identify those hubs that you are not on yourself is called Missing Links Tool.
After running this report, you’ll get quite a lot of opportunities for industry / local backlinks or citations if possible.
Just a short hint: you should be on local competitors only if you want to identify mainly local link / Citation opportunities. If you want to identify the most important industry site, then you should choose the biggest competitors nationwide.
8. Use LORT to review the found opportunities
Not sure if the opportunities you found are good opportunities? If you are in doubt, then you should use the Link Opportunities Review Tool (LORT), which helps you judge those opportunities.
But before you can judge those links, you first have to do a Link Detox report, because LRT evaluates the new link opportunities based on the actual DTOXRISK of your link profile. In general, a Link Detox report is something that you should do on a regular basis to continually assess the risk of your backlink profile and avoid a Google Penalty or a negative SEO attack.
9. Link Detox as preparation for LORT
Let’s go on with our car rental company from Cape Town - vineyardcarhire.co.za. As I mentioned above, you should categorize at least 80% of your keywords.
After doing this with vineyardcarhire.co.za we can see a High Domain DTOXRISK of 2.509. This company should check their backlink profile!
P.S.: Of course even as a local brick and mortar store you should run a Link Detox report on a regular base to avoid such toxic backlink profiles and to avoid possible penalties.
To show the benefits of LORT we now have to pick some of the URLs that we found with the Common Backlinks Tool (CBLT) or the Missing Link Tool (MLT) for example. Here are some of those URLs:
Now we will check these link opportunities with LORT to see if those backlinks are useful or not. To do this, we just have to put these URLs / Domains into the Link Opportunities Review Tool (LORT), choose the right baseline Link Detox Report and then run the LORT report.
After doing so, we will see the results. In this example, we can see that most of these link prospects have got a very low DTOXRISK and a low Link Audit Priority so that we can start the outreach to gain some industry or local backlinks or to build up citations.
Another often heard tip for building backlinks from your local area or your industry is to build relationships with influencers to ask them for backlinks or to help you to outreach your content.
But is there an easy way to find and identify useful influencers in your niche or your area?
Yes, there is. With the help of Impactana, it’s easy to identify those influencers.
Let’s assume you want to do content marketing for a restaurant in London. Let’s search for influencers for this topic in Impactana.
We start a search for “restaurants London” and select the tab Influencers:
Here we’ll find a woman who calls herself inher30s, who writes about food, London and restaurants and has a great reach. Could be a perfect match!
In this Impactana profile, you also can select ‘Content by inher30s’ to see other content that was created by inher30s. After filtering we can see the result where we find an article from inher30s about a restaurant in London.
Maybe we could invite her to our restaurant and try to build up a blogger relation with this influencer as she has an impact in this niche.
If we go back to our search for ‘restaurants London’, we will find a great bunch of content about this topic, for example, “The 100 best restaurants in London.” By clicking on ‘View Sharers,’ we will find an overview over guys who shared this content.
By taking a look at those sharers, we’ll find a London Lifestyle Blog with a great reach. Maybe we should involve those guys in further outreach activities and content distribution in the future to get some local backlinks. (We just have to click on ‘Detailed Info’ or ‘Outreach’ to get in contact with them.)
Another amazing feature of Impactana is the Alert feature. For example, if we want to get all the latest content published by ‘inher30s’ for example, we just have to type in ‘authoredBy:”inher30s” and then push the alert button, so that we will get an alert if ‘inher30s’ publishes new content.
Of course, it could also be interesting to set an alert for every content on ‘restaurant London’ that will be published in the future. This way we have the opportunity to find new rising blogger-stars that write about ‘restaurants in London’ for example.
So let’s search for ‘restaurants London’ and set an alert on this topic.
But there are many more ways to use Impactana Alerts, like:
- Competitor domain alerts
- Publisher alerts
- Comment alerts
- Interview alerts
- Intitle alerts
As we already said not only are local links valuable links but also links from industry websites are great to have. For example, you could set an alert for interviews on the topic ‘restaurants London’ so that you will get an alert every time anybody publishes an interview on the topic ‘restaurants London’. Maybe there is an opportunity to get an interview about your restaurant on those sources. Just search for ‘restaurant London’, set the ‘Interview’ filter and push the ‘Alert’ button.
As especially directories have got keywords like ‘restaurants London’ in their title we also could set up an entitled alert to informed about new sites that have got ‘restaurants London’ in their title.
Last but not least there are quite a lot of options, filters and Advanced Search Options you can use to find further opportunities supporting your local SEO activities.
But now let’s get back to the LinkResearchTools and have a look at the Link Alerts Tool and how we can use it for our Local SEO efforts.
Last but not least you should also use the Link Alerts Tool (LA) to observe your backlinks (considering negative SEO) and of course to detect links & citations opportunities that you competitors are using.
Link Alerts scans the web for all new links to your website. It collects backlinks from 24 different link sources and sends you an e-mail notification when your website or your competitor’s websites get new backlinks.
These are some of the opportunities for which you can use LinkResearchTools and Impactana to strengthen your local SEO actions.
As we have seen in this case study, there is a broad bunch of tools that you can also use specifically for the different tasks you have to fulfill in your local SEO strategy with a focus on citation building, local link building, and local influencer reach. LinkResearchTools is an important toolkit that can help you build your local SEO ground.
With Impactana in your local SEO toolbox, you can strengthen your local relationships to build up a solid and sustainable growth in your local search engine optimization efforts.
A word from Christoph C. Cemper
Our Certified LRT Professional, Mario Schwertfeger conducted and wrote this analysis.
I am thrilled by the detail and structure he accomplished in his case study. Therefore, I'm happy to publish Mario Schwertfeger's research on our site.
Our goal is to provide our user community and clients with quality service and knowledge. Our Certified LRT Professionals are key to achieving this goal.
I look forward to his future work, and recommend Mario Schwertfeger to work with you, whenever you get the opportunity!
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