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How to Mine for Competitor Insights Using BrightLocal’s Review API

How to Mine for Competitor Insights Using BrightLocal’s Review API

When Kogneta’s Jordan Choo contacted us saying he’d created a brand-new free tool using our Reviews API (find out more about our APIs here), we just knew we had to share the results with you. Here, Jordan shares his exciting new tool designed to help you analyze your own reviews and mine competitor reviews for insights.

Read on to find out how you can benefit from the Kogneta and BrightLocal Reviewalyzer…

There’s no doubt that reviews should be a critical part of a business’s local marketing strategy, not only from an SEO perspective but from a reputation standpoint as well. This is perfectly illustrated in these online review statistics.

With more and more businesses generating reviews on a yearly basis, how do you use not only your reviews but your competitors’, to successfully grow?

BrightLocal Online Reputation Management Survey

Thanks to a new tool that I put together using BrightLocal’s handy Review API, you’re now able to mine your competitors’ reviews at scale and incorporate these findings into your SEO and overall marketing strategy.

Reviews are just one thing to look at when performing competitor analysis for your local SEO. I’ve found it to be extremely useful in understanding not only what makes a competitor stand out from their positive reviews, but where they drop the ball by looking at their negative reviews.

So without further ado, I am happy to introduce…

BrightLocal and Kogneta’s Reviewalyzer

You can grab your version of the Reviewalyzer by making a copy of it here.

How to Use the Tool

With the help of BrightLocal’s Reviews API, we’re able to use AppScript, which is a JavaScript-based language, to create a miniature app inside of Google Sheets to gather the reviews of multiple businesses in bulk. Below you can find a step-by-step process on how to get it running and how to leverage the tool for your own business.

Add Your BrightLocal API Credentials

The first thing that you’ll want to do is get your BrightLocal API credentials. You can find your API key and API secret by navigating to your Account Setting drop-down, and clicking on the API Access option. Once the API Access page loads, you’ll be presented with your API Key and API Secret as shown in the annotated screenshot below:

BrightLocal API key

Copy your API Key and API Secret into the Config tab in the BrightLocal and Kogneta’s Reviewalyzer. Your BrightLocal API key will go into cell C5 and your BrightLocal API Secret will go into cell C7 which is the annotated step 2 and step 3 in the screenshot below:

BrightLocal and Kogneta Reviewalyzer

Get Business Directories

Now that you’re ready to connect with BrightLocal, the next step is to pull in all of the business directories that you’re able to analyze reviews from. To do this, click on the BrightLocal Reviews dropdown and select the Get Directories option.

BrightLocal and Kogneta Reviewalyzer
You’ll then start to see all of the business directories populate in the RAW – Config tab.

Enter Business Information

The next step is to start entering the information for all of the businesses that you want to pull reviews for. If you don’t know offhand which competitors you should be analyzing, then I highly recommend using BrightLocal’s Local Search Audit which will provide you with some of your top competitors.

Using the Businesses tab, fill in the information for each business that you want to pull reviews for in the white column (columns D to I). If I wanted to pull reviews on burger restaurants in New York City, it would look like this:

Reviewalyzer example

Note that the directory column (column G) has a handy drop-down option where you can select from the directories that you pulled in the previous step from BrightLocal.

Get Reviews

Now we can finally pull in the reviews. To do this click on the BrightLocal Reviews dropdown and select the Get Reviews option.

Get Reviews Reviewalyzer

The Job ID, Batch ID, and Status columns will then populate with some information.

You’ll notice that the script will finish running but, the status column will be set to In Progress, there’s no need to worry as in a minute or two you’ll see that it changes to complete and the RAW – Reviews tab will be full of reviews. This is due to BrightLocal’s batch API, which you can read more about here.

Once your status column is updated to complete, you can then navigate to the RAW – Reviews tab to see all of the reviews that BrightLocal’s API gathered. 

Reviewalyzer Data

Analyze Reviews

This is where the fun starts and we start analyzing the reviews to pull juicy insights from your competitors.

If you haven’t noticed by now there is an Insights – Positive and Insights – Negative tab, these tabs take the reviews that you just pulled in and execute an n-gram analysis on them showing bi, tri, and quad grams.

The Insights – Positive tab only looks at reviews that scored 5 or higher while the Insights – Negative tab only analyzes reviews that scored a 3 or lower. 

Positive review insights

In the screenshot above, we can see the commonly used words and phrases in positive reviews by Shake Shack. A few common themes that we can see across these bi, tri, and quad grams are:

  • The burgers are the best according to these reviews
  • Their location is relatively clean 
  • Their meals are a good price

Negative review insights

On the flip side, if we look at Shake Shack’s negative reviews we can see two common points of pain emerging:

  • There are long wait times
  • It was overcrowded with a lot of people

How to Use the Results

Now that you have these insights, the next step is to use them against your competitors and, in our case, this is Shake Shack. Here are a few ways that I would use these insights:

In Web Copy

Using the insights from the negative reviews, you can add copy across your site that addresses the negative view that people have about your competitor by saying that it’s an issue that you don’t have. 

If we were McDonald’s or Burger King, we would use the reviews that reference Shake Shack’s wait time as ammunition to create callouts on our website saying there is less than a two-minute wait time for your food.

In PPC Ads

One super sneaky way of using these reviews is to run a PPC conquesting campaign on your competitor and having one of your main headlines call out the competitor on common things mentioned in their negative reviews. 

Referring back to our Shake Shack example, our ad copy could say something such as “Tired of crowds when trying to enjoy your burger?” or “Get your burger in less than 30 seconds!”

To Improve Business Processes

A third, and likely most important, strategy that I recommend is to leverage the insights from the positive reviews to improve your own business. By understanding what people like about your competitor, you can incorporate that into part of your business.

If we look at Shake Shack’s positive reviews of it being consistently clean and the meals being a good price, I would want to make sure we are cleaning our restaurant frequently enough and that our burgers are priced fairly.


The above three strategies only scratch the surface of how you can use your competitors’ reviews against them and mine reviews for insights. If you have a unique way of using competitors’ reviews share them in the comments below!

P.S. Want to find out how BrightLocal APIs can work for you? Get in touch with our Business Development team now.

Or, if you’re doing something cool and innovative like Jordan with our APIs already, drop us a line and let us know!

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Jordan Choo
About the author
Jordan Choo is the managing partner at Kogneta, a franchise digital marketing agency, and the shy half of AgencyAutomators. Jordan has over 10 years of experience and has been helping franchises profitably and predictably grow by triple digits. He can be reached on Twitter at @JordanChoo or @Kogneta.

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