Last month we launched our latest tool, Local Search Grid. By now, you’ve hopefully had a chance to try it out and see for yourself how it can add a new dimension to your local SEO analysis and reporting. If you haven’t, then head over to our launch post to learn all about it.
On the surface, it’s clear to see how Local Search Grid offers more ways to understand ranking performance, but dig a little deeper and there’s a whole host of new insights now at your fingertips.
I’ve been using Local Search Grid for a number of weeks now—creating reports for different businesses in different industries to really test the limits of the insights that can be uncovered. And long before release, I spoke to eager BrightLocal customers to learn how they’d want to use it. In this post, I’m revealing everything I’ve found along the way. So here they are: nine ways Local Search Grid can truly level up your local SEO analysis and reporting.
1. Compare keyword performance in more detail
We spoke about the limitations of single-location rank tracking in our launch post, so I won’t go over the same ground, but essentially, Local Search Grid will give you much greater insights into how well you’re really ranking in local search by showing you what’s happening in local searches made in the area around your business.
One of the first decisions you’ll need to make when setting up a Local Search Grid report is choosing what keywords to track. You can monitor up to five different keywords, so you’ll want to make sure you’re tracking your most important keywords.
Local Search Rank Checker is a great place to start when deciding which keywords for your report.
These could be keywords that have the highest search volume, and therefore the highest traffic potential. You’ll be able to quickly reference this in the ‘Count’ column in your Local Search Rank Checker report. (Quick note: search volume estimates are only available on our SEO Pro plan)
They could be keywords that are the most profitable to your business, or client’s business, despite having lower search volumes. For dentists, these could refer to more expensive procedures like ‘cosmetic dentistry’ or ‘dental implants’.
They could be keywords where you’ve struggled to see improvements, and where you really need those extra insights to figure out what could be holding you back.
Or you could come at it from a position of protectionism: by tracking your top performing keywords so you can react faster to any loss in visibility.
Whatever you decide, I’d personally recommend going for a spread of different keywords to reveal greater insights into the competitive landscape and the level of relevance Google places on your business for each service you offer.
Now that you’ve got a good understanding of what to track, let’s take a look at what you might find. In this post, I’m going to be using a dental practice in Tampa, Florida as an example.
For the query ‘cosmetic dentist’ you can see that this business is ranking in the top three positions in every single grid point—awesome! That’s a lot of potential traffic and leads.
For the query ‘teeth whitening’, though, it’s a different situation. Yes, they rank in the top spots in search locations very close to the business, but the rest of the map is made up of orange and red grid points.
A standard single-location rank tracking tool, simply reporting the ‘Position 1’ at the business address, wouldn’t reveal the disparity of search visibility between these two keywords. Without having this broader view on rankings, further optimization to increase search visibility for ‘teeth whitening’ might not be considered a priority.
2. Spot previously unseen changes to search visibility
As well as being able to compare keyword performance in much more detail, Local Search Grid is also useful for spotting drops in search visibility that you might normally miss.
Let’s say a local algorithm update hits. You check your single-location rank tracker and everything looks pretty rosy—a few keywords have dropped a couple of positions but there’s nothing to suggest you’re going to lose a huge amount of traffic. However, that might not be entirely true…
Because Local Search Grid tracks rankings over multiple search locations, you’re now able to see if a slight drop in rankings is actually more significant.
Within Local Search Grid, you’ll have a single metric to tell you this right away: Average Map Rank. It measures the average of all your rankings within your selected grid so you can instantly understand broader changes in search visibility. The color-coded timeline at the top will also help you monitor any changes over time.
With this added insight, you’ll be able to react quicker, and start reversing the situation earlier.
3. Benchmark against competitors
Local Search Grid doesn’t just tell you how your business is performing, it also measures the search visibility of all the businesses ranking within your grid.
When you hover over a Grid Point, you’ll see the top three ranking businesses from that search location—pretty handy, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
If you scroll down, you’ll see a competitor benchmark table that shows you the top ranking competitors within your grid. It’s ordered by the Average Map Rank, so you’ll know exactly which rivals you need to overtake.
Local Search Grid also provides review benchmarks that show you how many reviews each competitor has, as well as their average star rating. Reviews are an important ranking factor that influences a business’s ability to rank, so if you notice that your business has significantly fewer reviews or a lower average star rating than the top ranking competitors, it might be time to prioritize review generation.
Note: we’ll soon be adding more metrics to this table to help benchmark against more ranking factors, so keep an eye for that update!
4. Identify competitors that are outperforming their location
Proximity is a big part of how Google determines which businesses to show in local search results. Makes sense, right?!
When someone performs a local search for a business, they’ll likely want to see businesses close to where they’re searching from (depending on the business type). But that doesn’t mean you can’t rank beyond the constraints of proximity; there might even be competitors that are doing just that already. Here’s how to find these…
Just below the competitor benchmarking table, you’ll see a map that shows the business locations of the top ranking competitors.
In the example above, we can see that most of the top ranking businesses are located fairly close to each other— but there’s one business that’s further afield, at the bottom of the map.
Even though this business is only the 7th-highest ranking business within the grid, they’re clearly doing something that’s allowing them to outrank competitors who are much closer to the original search locations.
If there was one competitor we’d want deeper insights on, it’s definitely this one.
So what are they doing right?
Well, Local Search Audit can help you figure that out. You could take this competitor and run a full audit of their search performance to learn what’s helping them rank so well.