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So I'm interested in leveling up my competitive industry audits. I've been reading a lot on it lately, but nothing beats a conversation with others pros, so I figured I'd kick things off.

two main things I'm interested in -

1 - finding the right competition to keep an eye on.
What I've been doing so far, if I'm jumping into a new industry I cobble together my list of 10 high competition cities, mainly going off population count, with maybe 15 minutes of digging around to see if I can find any industry related reports that'll give me a leg up on that.

Pick a handful of companies that pop up consistently across a number of keywords. I move along quick, but it seems like this would be an awesome place to automate a bit, especially since volatility in rankings are really important, and a single snapshot isn't enough to solidly say who's kicking ass, especially with recent changes in the Google algorithm. Any favorite tools for automatically every x weeks pulling 3-pack data in csv form to play with? Been working with ahrefs lately, there's some great tools there but didn't see that specifically.

Also of minor interest, I noticed that two weeks ago the 3-packs for wedding photographers at least were really different when searching with or without city (using ad preview tool). city + keyword had a lot more questionable results vs just keyword, 3-packs seem to be a lot more in line with each other this week though. I know there was that big shake up early January, maybe that got adjusted a bit in this industry at least? This is the only industry I've been looking at lately.

2 - once I've got my competitors I really want to dig into, I've been using ahrefs to see what looks interesting. I'm not 100% sure what I'm doing though, backlink research is a little new to me, but it's time to get up to speed on it.

So far, I've been starting by going through the first 50 links for a few competitors profiles by hand for a bit, just to get the lay of the land and the flavor of what they're doing. I know the intersect tool to see if there are sites that link to multiple competitors, and I saw the hack that Linda posted a month ago or whatever to use that to find sites that link to multiple pages on a single competitor's site. Beyond that though, I feel a little lost in the data. Anyone have any favorite algorithmic approaches to sift, or do you all prefer a more hands on method? I know some stuff you need to get your hands dirty with, but I also have a friend that's a professional data scientist, and we've had some interesting talks about big data and his thoughts on what I'm trying to do. Either way, figured I'd open it up for conversation and see what people thought.
 

DanLeibson

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I think your process is great so far. Another thing you should look at when you are doing your research on a vertical is look at a list of the top pages getting links for the winners in each city and see what type of content is getting linked to and what those links are. Majestic and AHREFs both have reports for this.

We generally break down our competitive link research in to a few areas:

- Quantity of links to domain and key ranking pages
- Quality of those links
- Some light quartile analysis e.g. what average of their top links look like versus the average of all their links
- Percent of links with commercial/geo/branded/generic anchor text
- Types of content getting links

And probably some other stuff I am forgetting.
 
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Thanks Dan! That helps a lot actually... I've read to check out which pages are pulling links the best, but somehow forgot to actually do that yet. I'll definitely be taking some time to update my to-do list with this advice, appreciate it!
 

Linda Buquet

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Here you go. 2 new powerhouse posts on backlink building.

<a href="http://www.localsearchforum.com/local-seo-ranking/40109-local-link-building-mega-jackpot-mike-ramsey-whitespark.html">The Local Link Building Mega Jackpot! From Mike Ramsey & WhiteSpark</a>
 
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Right on, thanks Linda and Joy! Added to my list, though I'll be chewing on those backlinking resources for a while I think. Good stuff!
 
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