Comprehensive guide to local SEO competitor analysis

Breton Towler
March 29, 2024

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Comprehensive guide to local SEO competitor analysis
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Every local business starts out dreaming of being the leader in their community. However, your ascendancy quest will be much tougher if you don’t know who your competitors are.

Once you’ve identified your local competitors, you need to take time to unlock their strengths and weaknesses so you can refine your local SEO strategy accordingly.

Sizing out your competitors will help you understand what you’re up against in organic search, while giving you valuable insights into your target customers’ market.

Analysing your local SEO competition isn’t as straightforward as looking through the windows of other businesses on your street. However, if done right,  you’ll thrive in even the most hotly-contested local search environments.

Ready to get competitive? Let’s look at what constitutes a strong SEO competitor analysis for local businesses and how you gather and use this data to your advantage.

What is a local SEO competitor analysis?

An in-depth analysis of your local competitors is a pivotal early step in formulating your SEO strategy. This process involves scrutinising your competitor’s online presence in various fields, including content quality, Google Business Profile (GBP) optimisation, keyword usage, local backlinks, location proximity, online reviews, and website structure.

By uncovering competitor strengths and weaknesses, you can highlight gaps in your strategy and capitalise in areas where they may be falling short to stay ahead of the local competition.

Competitor analysis for local SEO can be advantageous for your business in the following ways:

  • Building a stronger brand by identifying your unique value proposition and delivering marketing messages that resonate with customers.
  • Spotting gaps in the market that are yet to be filled — new products, services, content topic gaps, etc.
  • Understanding your target market better and how best to reach them.

How to find local competitors

Your local SEO competitors are businesses that rank highly in the local Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for search queries relevant to your products or services within your geographical area. They are who you’re battling against them for visibility in Google Maps and the Google-3 Pack, as well as Google Organic results.

While you might have an idea who your local competitors are from the products and services they offer, this might not translate online. Here are four essential research methods to help you locate your true local competitors in the digital world.

Local keywords

Keyword research tools like Ahrefs enable you to find the local keywords your local competitors are targeting on their websites, in their content, meta tags, and GBP. Analyse the performance of both short-tail and long-tail keywords — is there any your competitors are ranking for that you’re not? Or perhaps you’ve spotted a high-volume, relevant keyword they’ve overlooked that you can jump on instead?

A good starting point is listing your core products and services and then performing Google searches with these, along with your location. For example, if you’re a hotel in Leeds, you might search for “best hotel in Leeds” or “hotels in Leeds”.

Take note of your target keywords and what section on the SERP page your competitor ranks for them — local 3-pack, Maps, or organic.

Google search and maps

Always prioritise the competitors ranking well in organic search, maps, and the local pack. Investigate what’s contributing to these results, and record how many times they appear for different keywords across the three sections. The more you see them, the more it demonstrates they are doing something right and driven to achieve local SEO success.

Location is an important ranking factor that helps shape who your competitors are. Google personalises results based on the user’s precise location, and a competitor’s proximity to users could explain why they rank highly.

If we look at the image below, which shows a search for “beauty spa in Lincoln”, the local 3-pack comprises businesses in the city centre. In other words, they match the “in Lincoln” part of the query.

This is why it’s important to understand how close you are to your competitors, as your proximity could be limiting progress. Of course, if your verified address is too far from the target location to rank, the solution isn’t as simple as moving your business address elsewhere. Instead, you may need to change your target location, and target other keywords and services that make your business unique.

An excellent example is if we change our previous search query “beauty spa in Lincoln” to “private spa Lincoln” (see image below). All three business locations shown in the local pack are different, and even more noticeable is the performance of the Old Rectory Spa in organic search, despite its considerable proximity to the city centre.


Don’t ignore your competitors’ performance in local directories like Tripadvisor and Yelp. These aren’t just marketing opportunities, but also a chance to positively impact your overall search engine visibility. Local directories tend to feature highly in the SERPs. If your business names features alongside glowing feedback and reviews, it can instil trust in potential customers.

From a competitor perspective, are there any directories where they’re listed but you aren’t? Also check if any directories are linking to your competitors’ websites.

Social media

Social media plays a big part in local SEO. If your competitors are proactive on social media and have a strong presence, they’re likely driving traffic to their websites from these platforms. Don’t focus on how many followers they have — you’ll benefit more by taking note of their most successful posts and engagements.

Use relevant hashtags to find your competitors’ accounts, along with their top posts. They can help inform your own local social media marketing strategy, but you’ve still got to stay original and on-brand. 

How to analyse competitors’ local SEO

Now you’ve compiled a list of your local competitors, you can dig deep to see what factors are aiding their triumphs. We’ve highlighted six of the best research methods to employ and the type of data and information you need to create your local SEO competitor analysis.

Assess websites

User experience is another crucial local SEO ranking factor. Open your competitor’s website up from the local pack, organic search, or their GBP. You will either be directed to a homepage or location page, depending on whether the business is single or multi-location.

While these pages are typically structured differently, there are plenty of questions you can ask yourself when reviewing them. Here’s a starter for ten:

  • Is the website quick to load?
  • Is the website easy to navigate?
  • Are there many service pages in the navigation?
  • Is the website mobile-friendly?
  • How does the design compare to your website’s?
  • Does it feature awards, customer reviews, and testimonials?
  • What type of content are they writing about (if any)?
  • Does the location page discuss local services?
  • Is the content original to that location page, or is it a carbon copy of what’s on their other business location websites?
  • Is there a CTA users can easily view and interact with?

This list is not exhaustive, but if your website lags behind in any of these aspects, it can help you refine your website accordingly.

Evaluate content strategies

Content brings in traffic, so look at the types of content your competitors publish. Is it written guides, or do they mix it up with Q&A content or video content? Look at their best-performing pages to see what types of content drive the most traffic. It can also pay dividends to look at what backlinks your competitors use — key topics or local search terms relevant to your industry may also be absent in their content. 

With these insights, you can review existing and plan fresh content that aligns with your content marketing to generate maximum impact. 

Evaluate their Google Business Profiles

A detailed and current GBP kept is the unsung hero behind a local SEO sitting in the top positions. Take the time to browse your competitors’ profiles, especially those occupying the local pack hot seats.

Many features are directly visible on the profile, such as their business name, primary category, business description, attributes, photos, reviews (average score), and services. For further insight, like viewing a business’s additional GBP categories, you’ll need a tool like GMB Everywhere.

It’s important to note how much time your competitors invest in their GBPs. Do they reply to reviews and Q&As? Are they regularly publishing Google Posts? Are they promoting seasonal offers or special discounts on their local profiles?

Remember, your GBP aims to update users with as much accurate and relevant information about your local business as possible. Sometimes, all it takes is a few adjustments to your attributes or categories to improve your local pack rankings. However, it’s best practice to keep all business details up-to-date and the content on your GBP fresh.

Check their social media 

As social media plays a key role in local SEO, surveying your competitors’ actions on Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter) can be invaluable. Look at what hashtags they’re using — do they create their own, jump on trends, or mention their brand? Look at the hashtags and posts that gain traction and see if you can adopt them in your social media strategy.

Other things to observe are:

  • The platforms they use (and don’t use)
  • The frequency of their social media activity
  • How they communicate with their followers. Do they encourage and respond to comments? Do they use more visuals and less text?
  • The content types generating the highest engagement.

Social listening can be especially effective, so analyse social conversations in your local community and those about your competitor’s brands and products. This can help you identify potential customers and experiment with different ideas.

Examine how competitors manage their reputation

Whether it’s word of mouth or online reviews, successfully managing your online reputation can help develop strong, long-term relationships with customers and even win new ones. Investigate how your competitors respond to criticism of their products and services. Do they acknowledge positive feedback promptly?

Consumers trust local search results more than ever, so ensuring positive content about your business appears at the top of the SERPs is vital. Think of ways to be proactive to manage your business reputation, whether through participating in community events or simply being transparent with customers.

Utilise tools to check competitor performance

Different tools can be handy for analysing local SEO competitor performance, including keyword rankings, social presence, and GBP listings.

Local SEO tools can help you outrank the competition by offering a multifaceted view of the competitive landscape, enabling you to make informed decisions on customer engagement tactics.

How to develop your local SEO strategy based on competitor analysis

By performing a thorough competitor analysis, you can uncover valuable insights about their strategies and identify opportunities to enhance your own. Remember, the goal isn't to copy your competitors but to use them as inspiration and measurements to refine your local SEO strategy accordingly.

From content creation and link building to social media campaigns and review management, this careful and comprehensive comparison will empower you to outperform your competitors.

Final thoughts

While leveraging valuable insights about your competitors will help you gain a competitive edge, it’s just as important your local SEO presence is optimised across all your communication channels. If you’re a multi-location business, this isn’t always easy. Thankfully, we created Mirador Local — a local SEO tool that enables you to easily update all your GBPs from a single, easy-to-use dashboard.

Keeping all your communication channels up-to-date is more important than finding out the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. However, our software gives you the time to carry out both tasks in a time-efficient manner.

Beat the competition today.