In business and therefore in SEO it is essential to monitor your market and particularly your direct and Local competitors – search marketing is after all one big competition, a war played out over thousands of search term battles and won with tools, strategy, information and code. This process often starts with powerful web analytics using the SEO tools available on our platform and then requires careful interpretation of the competitor analysis. The information in this article is equally applicable to both SEO and Local SEO. Markets everywhere are moving to a “pay to play” approach, adsense and online advertising is getting more expensive every year, smaller firms with limited budgets will find it increasingly difficult to compete for paid advertsing exposure – many don’t realise it but we are in a land grab situation right now and it makes sense to grab your share of search results sooner rather than later as it will only become more dificult to do so.There are many ways to test your competitors digital prescence, you can do simple things like pretend to be a customer browsing for your service and see where your competitor is listed and how they are listed. You should always use this technique but be aware though that this approach has significant limits: while it gives important information in practical terms in can only yield very incomplete information too. Using this approach alone is not practical it would be very time consuming to attempt to get a complete picture so I would always recommend using purpose built SEO tools. Use Professional SEO tools!! you will get a complete picture that is a hundred times more accurate in seconds than you could piece together in days or weeks using more manual methods. For example our own platform achieves this directly by allowing users to input a number of competitor website details and then reveals all about their optimization in moments through a range of competitor analysis reports. The actual details of a comprehensive online competitor analysis are covered in great detail with our SEO tools and plan so I won’t go over that here, suffice it to say that what often happens is the struggling small business owner does not do that, they will perform a sort of manual competitor analysis, or just theorize and trial things and usually it simply does not solve their problem. Here’s a real example that is typical, I have changed the names of the dentists involved and the state wasn’t Florida but it’s a good example of the type of reaction that we have seen clients engage in before they subscribe to our service. A dentist called “Tampa Dental Centre” might notice a competitor two blocks away (Brandon Dentistry) gaining more customers while his business stagnates or even declines as naturally churned customers are not replaced. So the Tampa Dental Centre decide to take action and start to mirror the things they can see Brandon Dentistry doing. They can’t see the competitor’s actual sales information but they can see the customers going in, they know they hired more staff and see more deliveries, “they just appear busier”. Brandon Dentistry have already changed their logo and redecorated the frontage of the practice, so the Tampa Dental Centre do the same. They also changed their website layout and design so the Tampa Dental Centre does that as well, they hired a great new receptionist so the practice manager at the Tampa Dental Centre pressurizes his staff to raise their game. At some point the practice manager at the Tampa Dental Centre realizes that after making “all the same changes” as Brandon Dentistry that it simply hasn’t worked – they have failed to gain the kind of traction that Brandon Dentistry has achieved. Worse still two years of stagnation have passed, scarce time, money and energy have been wasted and it seems they have got nothing in return. At this point anything can happen: knee jerk reactions or panic decisions about locations, products, costs, services, prices and promotions, thankfully instead some business owners come to us! Competitor analysis for Local SEO There are things you know and there are things you don’t know. There’s also everything in between those two extremes such as things you can deduce or suspect but those beliefs can be wrong. We need to think beyond the easily observable. Correlation is not causation, did Brandon Dentistry get busier because they made the practice look nicer and they redesigned the website? Or did they have they have the motivation and funds to do that because they were somehow getting more leads and felt that investment would be worthwhile to increase their conversion rate of leads into customers? First thing is first – one thing that we do know is that nearly always sales begin with customers being aware of the business, in this digital age overwhelmingly sales begin on the internet. So the first thing to do is use our SEO tools to make sure that you are easily found on the internet by the people who might become your customers.There are many many ways to do this and this is the core purpose of our SEO platform, read our homepage or the detailed pricing page to understand more. Over 90% of sales either start from, or involve evaluation using the internet. Being easily found on the internet is a foundational key to sales. Without the foundation of online customer awareness it doesn’t matter how nice your business and website looks, nobody will visit your site and you will have to struggle for a share of the paltry 10% of sales that don’t involve the internet and that’s especially hard as a new business. If you recognize yourself in this scenario don’t worry all is not lost, investing in the look of your business and website will help to convert website visitors into business customers, it will all count towards your overall marketing success, but you must now make sure that your potential customers are aware that your business exists, this is where many businesses are missing out on an essential strategy: Local SEO for local businesses. In our example Brandon Dentistry have rightly focused on the aesthetics of the digital and physical presence of the business because once aware of the business this makes prospects more likely to consider being a customer and it positively adds to the customer experience making customers more likely to become repeat customers. However, in addition most likely before even starting any makeover work on the business or the website, Brandon Dentistry optimized their digital presence with only local customers in mind. It’s worth repeating but as I said before having a great web design and blog is fine, you can make the most amazing website but if nobody visits your beautiful website it will end up being nothing more than a useless expensive distraction. If you have already invested in your website now is the time to start making that investment pay back with Local SEO. Remember particularly who your customers are: you are a local business owner looking for local customers. Focusing on this will help you to maintain a good approach to local SEO. When considering your competition an important part of SEO for Local business is mobile and location known searching, it is vital that you consider and take advantage shift in local search algorithms. The millennial generation overwhelmingly use smart phones for shopping and will only make a purchase when they have researched it online, remember in 2016 it’s almost certain that the majority of browsing sessions will be use mobile devices not desktop pc’s. Also remember that the search engine algorithms will serve search engine results based on proximity in location to the search engine user, this is always the case for GPS enabled mobile devices and increasingly true for non-mobile devices too. As a local business owner you must be SEO optimized for mobile. Needless to say the Localadwords platform has the most powerful SEO tools to make sure that your website is optimized for mobile browsing. Local SEO is about you as a business owner making sure the information about your products and services gets to any local potential customer. No matter what you service you provide, plumber, carpenter, dentist, construction, divorce lawyer, attorney, physical therapist, gardener, tree surgeon, plastic surgeon, personal injury lawyer, grass cutting, auto sales, luxury landscaping, cosmetic surgery, babysitter, and all other kinds of services that you might be involved in it all begins with people in your local area being aware of you. To take advantage of this, you need the very best local SEO tools. While many companies will offer you free local SEO tools, you should know that it can never come with the complete set of SEO tools and analytics that you need. Furthermore a fragmented incomplete set of SEO tools results in poor optimization, inefficiency and time wasted. In fact 99% of users will never complete or even come close to completing the optimization required. Other “SEO Experts” will offer you outdated and frankly harmful advice. Be careful the internet is full of advice that is years or even decades old, yet Google Bing and all other search engines are continually updating their search engines and the rules have changed significantly, in the end the only sensible long term SEO solution is to follow Google approved guidelines use a professional ethical company that maintains a completely up to date SEO approach such as the ones we include in all our SEO services which start at just $14.99 – Why take the risk with your income? At Localadworks we are very proud to offer the best SEO tools available, the SEO market and digital marketing in general is sadly awash with very dubious services and products. At Localadworks we made the decision at the very beginning that we had no interest whatsoever in dishonestly selling poor quality services based upon misinformation that can harm not help businesses, we remain true to that principle and that will never change. We only offer the best SEO tools available from just $14.99 a month PLUS a full, right up to date, detailed, white hat SEO Google Webmasters approved, SEO plan that works directly and in perfect harmony with our platform and SEO tools. For those that want it we also offer a full managed SEO service and use our own highly skilled and experienced Local SEO experts and do the work for our clients. In terms of high quality SEO Services, we are priced very competitively, we provide affordable SEO that is very effective. Paying for a quality service might cost you more than say a cheap “buy a thousand Facebook likes for $5” type service, but the long term results far outweighs any “savings” you might think you’re making. SEO whether local or general – is a long term investment which when done properly produces the best ROI of all marketing spend, free customers! Local SEO is not complete if the approach taken is not a top to bottom approach. To achieve this, a thorough analysis of your websites position in the digital world this is imperative to establish and map-out the required strategy. If a website was never in place, then one can be created WEBSERVICES created; but if one existed, then that’s a good place to start. A check of the on-site SEO is undertaken to determine if it is locally optimized or not. The off-site SEO analysis, specifically your Google Places listing is then checked to ensure it is optimized, appealing and error-free. This forms the foundation on which other activities and top local SEO tools will be anchored. The rest is an on-going SEO work that will include developing a content strategy that works. Building links with relevant and authority blogs and websites to boost traffic, generating reviews from your customers or clients, and enterprise listing on sites like YELP, RedBeacon and many, many more. With local SEO and SEO generally, you can never afford to take a backseat. There are constant changes to the rules of the game due to algorithm changes on search engines like Google and Bing, you need to always stay in the loop, and adjust accordingly. Only the best local SEO tools can guarantee this. Some key questions to ask yourself as a local business are “Is my business locally advertised?” “Is my business fully optimized for local search?” “Does my local advertising work?” If your answers to all of these questions is anything other than a resounding “yes” then you should take action. Now that you know your competition’s secret, what will you do with it?