There’s one main idea driving the motivation to market and advertise your business: getting more visibility. And in most cases, that means gaining more visibility for your brand than your competitors currently have. If you can make your brand more visible and more desirable than your competitors, you’ll gain loyalty from the majority of the market, and your sales will grow as a result. Knowing this, it doesn’t make logical sense to work with your competitors or draw attention to them in any way. Any mention you give them takes away from the difference in your visibility, and you could potentially lose a few customers as a result.
However, working directly with your competitors, and at times giving them mention, is actually a worthwhile strategy for local SEO. With the right approach, you’ll greatly increase your domain authority and local relevance, and any traffic you lose to your competitor will be more than made up for by the increases you see from local searches.
First, consider the local relevance factor. Google is constantly updating its index to determine which businesses are local where, and what those businesses do. It searches for contextual clues throughout your content, your links, and the prominent titles on your website. One obvious strategy to increase the local relevance of your brand is to include your city and/or state in much of your web copy. But another, even more valuable strategy is to mention your competitors.
When Google crawls the web and sees you and your competitor’s name frequently mentioned together, it will learn to form a connection between them. Because your competitors operates in the same region and the same industry, you’ll gain extra authority from both a local SEO and industry-based SEO perspective. That means your domain authority will increase, your rankings for local keywords will rise, and you’ll enjoy the benefits of far more organic search traffic.
There’s another major search benefit to using your competitors’ names. Imagine a prospective customer who is searching for a solution both you and your competitor offer. They’ve only heard of your competitor before, but they want to do some research before buying. They search Google for your competitor’s name.
If your brand frequently mentions your competitor’s name, it’s highly likely that you’ll be the second result to pop up. That means you have a shot at stealing your competitor’s otherwise untouchable branded search traffic.
Now that you know the benefits of mentioning and using your competitors in a local SEO strategy, we can focus on the day-to-day tactics that make these benefits possible. There are several strategies you can use, both onsite and offsite, but using them in conjunction with each other will give you the greatest benefit.
Mutually Attending Events
Your first option is to find out what local events your competitors are attending, and attend them. Local event attendance is a great local SEO strategy in itself, since you have the perfect opportunity to submit a press release and write new content featuring local keywords, but if you can capitalize on your competitors being there too, you can sweeten the deal. Consider interviewing a representative from one of your competitors at the event if you really feel like going all-out.
First, understand that “exchanging links” regularly can get you into trouble—if you constantly swap links with one partner, Google will suspect you of link manipulation and you’ll likely be penalized accordingly. However, occasionally swapping guest posts can only serve to strengthen both of your sites. You’ll trade authority and diversify your content blend, all while increasing your local relevance. It really is a win-win situation.
Writing Industry-Covering Review Articles
This is one of the greatest strategies you can use since it capitalizes on a very specific type of query. Write an article that covers all the options consumers have for businesses like yours in the area. For example, you could use an article to ask and answer the question, “who is the best plumber in Albany?” In the article, detail yourself along with all your competitors, but do try to keep the article unbiased. Anyone looking to comparison shop will find your article easily, and you’ll have the home field advantage since the article is featured on your site. You might lose a few visitors to your external links, but the information you provide will allow you to win out in the long run.
Mimicking Your Competitors’ Backlink Profiles and Followings
Finally, take advantage of the work your competitors have already done. You can use a backlink profile tool like Moz’s Open Site Explorer to review and see what types of links your competitors are building. While you don’t want to copy this exactly, you can draw inspiration from it and discover new local sources you haven’t previously considered. You can also engage with your competitors’ social followings; you can usually determine whether each follower is a local resident, and you can definitely tell they’re interested in your industry. Sometimes, all it takes is a simple mention to earn a new loyal follower.
Don’t hesitate to use your competitors when trying to build your local SEO presence. While it might seem strange or counterintuitive at first, soon you’ll find that the strategy has immense net value to your brand. Build yourself into a recognizable local presence, keep user experience at the heart of what you do, and you’ll see multiplied incoming traffic as a result.