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Using SEMrush to Track SEO in Multiple Cities

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Using SEMrush to Track SEO in Multiple Cities

Luke Harsel
Using SEMrush to Track SEO in Multiple Cities

Do you want your website to be seen by searchers in more than just one location? Whether you operate a business with multiple locations or a just single location serving a larger area, being found by searchers in more than one location is good for business.

SEMrush now has a new multi-targeting feature within the Position Tracking tool that allows users to now track ten devices or locations in a single project.

This post will talk about how you can use SEMrush to assist your multi-location SEO strategy so that your website can be found by searchers in multiple cities and devices. We'll also share an example project we created to showcase how the feature works.

Table of Contents:

What Are the Challenges of Targeting Multiple Areas?

As a local service company, it is not uncommon to want to serve customers in a geographic radius extending beyond a single city.  

Most local businesses will benefit from being found in local search results for more than just their business location. There are plenty of services where a customer searching online would be willing to travel to a neighboring town or city just to get the best service.

For example, a plumbing company based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania would likely also want to have visibility in the surrounding suburbs and southern New Jersey. In the map below, you can locations as close together as Philadelphia, Cherry, Hill, and Upper Darby that could actually trigger different search results for the same keywords.

google-maps-semrush

The tricky part as a website owner is being aware of exactly how well your website is ranking for your target keywords in those other areas. When you check the search results on your own using a regular Google search, you only see the results Google provides based on your specific physical location.

With multi-targeted rank tracking, however, you can monitor the results in multiple cities at once.

Because the local SEO industry is growing and practically forever changing, it’s going to be a challenge. Google’s updates don’t slow down, and with the rise of location-based services and technology, it appears that there will only be more changes and developments on the horizon.

In a 2016 industry survey, 39% of SEOs said they expected Local SEO to get “harder or much harder” in 2017. This can be especially true for anyone tasked with getting a website visible in more than one location.

In order to rank a website in search results across multiple cities, you will need a specialized local SEO strategy for each area. This means building local links in each city you want to target, having consistent NAP information on all of your citations, updating your Google My Business page, and using Schema markups for things like reviews, events, and offers.

How can SEMrush help?

Before you decide what geographic areas you want to target, you will need to do the market research and assess how and where you should start.

A multi-targeted Position Tracking campaign can make this process a lot more convenient. Previously, SEMrush users would have to set up a new Position Tracking project for each location or device that they wanted to target. But now, SEMrush Position Tracking offers an all-in-one dashboard to follow sets of keywords across 10 locations and devices in the same project.

By tracking a group of service related keywords across multiple cities, you can evaluate where you already have visibility and where you should focus your efforts to get more traffic from other areas.

You probably don’t know off the top of your head how well your website is ranking in cities other than your main location. You also might not know who your biggest competitors would be in different areas.

With a multi-targeted tracking campaign, you will be able to research both of these points and more. This means you can use a single Position Tracking project to analyze visibility in ten different locations or ten combinations of locations and devices.

Devices include mobile, desktop, and tablet, making it easy to track how your website appears across all types of search results.

To illustrate what you can learn with a multi-targeting campaign, we created an example project tracking organic mobile search results for 100 keywords related to “food near me” in ten cities across California. Our main tracked domain was Yelp.com and we added the top competing websites from each city to see who was giving Yelp the most competition.

You can request read-only access to our project, or check out the infographic below for a summary of what we found.

Infographic

food-near-me-california-semrush

Unsurprisingly, Yelp.com was the most visible for our tracked keywords in each city. However, after Yelp there is some interesting competition for the runner-up spot. Eater.com, Tripadvisor.com, and Eat24hours.com (a yelp-related domain) all found significant visibility in each city.

What are the Limits of this Feature?

Each time you add a new location, the amount of keywords in the location will count towards your limits. So if you choose to track the same 50 keywords across 4 locations, it will count as 200 keywords in your account’s keyword budget.

Please note: This new multi-targeting feature is only available at the Guru and Business level. It is not available for Pro or free accounts.

Request read-only access to our project.

What can you do with a multi-targeted campaign?

  • Identify local search volume differences in different cities so you can evaluate where there is the most demand for your product or services.

  • Discover your biggest competitors in different cities so you know how challenging it will be to outrank the websites ahead of you in each location.

  • Compare traffic estimations for ten different locations/devices from a single dashboard to save time and stay on top of your campaign.

  • Compare mobile and desktop visibility for target keywords to easily assess your mobile SEO.

  • Analyze your competitor’s top landing pages to inspire ideas for your own website and learn from their mistakes.

  • Compare traffic estimations for different locations and devices to understand how each location or device contributes to your website’s traffic.

If you don’t want to have to check your project every day, you can set up custom triggers to be notified of any significant dips or spikes in the results. This makes it easier for you to stay on top of your SEO or PPC without having to check the same dashboard every day.

How to Identify Local Volume Differences

Keyword research is an essential step in any marketing strategy, but many keyword research tools only provide you with search volume estimations at the national level. If you are executing a local strategy, it would be better to research the local search volume of your target keywords in your targeted city. To find local volume differences on SEMrush, take the following steps.

  1. Set up a Position Tracking campaign and target a specific city showing local volume

Position-tracking-local-volume

2. Add your target keywords and start tracking

3. Once your campaign is running, select Device & Location above the tabs

4. Choose “add new device or location”

add-new-device-location-semrush

5. Add a second location using the same keywords and device type

If there are geographic modifiers in any of your keywords (i.e thai restaurant san francisco) change the modifiers to align with your second location (thai restaurant san diego).

6. Navigate to Devices and Locations tab

7. Double check that volume is set to “local” at the top of the interface

8. Sort the table by volume and compare the differences for each keyword. It may take Position Tracking up to one day to gather local volume on the city level, so check on your project after a day or two to get accurate data.

local-volume-semrush

If you see a difference in search volume between two cities with similar population levels, you can infer that the city with the higher search volume has a higher demand for the product or service, right? For example, if “delivery food near me” has a higher search volume in San Diego compared to San Francisco, you could say that a food delivery website has more opportunity to market itself in San Diego.

How to Discover Local Competitors

Another important step in scouting out a new area to target will be identifying exactly who you will be competing with for traffic in each town. If you are a local service business like plumbing, there could be a different plumbing business that ranks at the top of the local pack in every town you look at.

  1. Open your Position Tracking campaign with multiple locations

  2. Select which device and location you want to analyze

  3. Navigate to the Competitors Discovery tab

  4. Set volume to “local” at the top of the interface

  5. Sort the table by Visibility to see who has the most high rankings for these keywords

  6. Sort the table by Estimated Traffic to estimate who’s getting the most visitors from these keywords

local-competitors-semrush

Taking these steps, you can discover your biggest competitors for visibility and estimated traffic for each location or device in your project. If you have unique competitors on mobile, analyze why their mobile site is better than yours. If one of your competitors is beating you in multiple areas, look at how they target each separate location. By analyzing a competitor’s landing pages, you can see their strategy. Look into what they do on their website that attracts backlinks and how they rank so well.

In the Competitors Discovery tab you can also learn how much visibility your website already has in each area. This will assist you in your decision making on whether or not you should target a new location with SEO or PPC. If you already have some visibility and your competitors are within reach, this is a sign that you can compete with them. However, if you have no organic visibility and there’s a high number of competitors in a location, you may want to avoid spending time working on your SEO there.

How to Compare Mobile and Desktop Visibility in the Same Dashboard

For any competitive website, it is critically important to have a strong presence on mobile as well as desktop, since it has been reported that now over half of all searches come from mobile devices. Take these steps to set up your dashboard tracking your site performance on mobile and desktop results.

  1. Set up a Position Tracking campaign

  2. Choose your location and set the device type to “desktop”

  3. Select Device & Location above the tabs

  4. Choose “add new device or location”

  5. Change device to “phone” and add keywords from the first location you set up

  6. In the Devices & Locations tab you can compare visibility trend, estimated traffic, and average position of the website on mobile and desktop results

mobile-and-desktop-data-semrush

In the screenshot above, you can see an example project targeting mobile and desktop results in two different cities - Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Even if you only care about ranking in one geographic location, you will still want to know how well your website appears in mobile as well as desktop search. Tablet search results are available to track as well and each device counts as one of your ten locations in your limits.

So you could track mobile and desktop results for five cities, or mobile, desktop, and tablet results for three cities and have one more location or device left over to target.

How to Analyze Your Competitor’s Top Performing Landing Pages

If you want to know how your competitors are getting ranked ahead of you, just take a look at their landing pages. You might discover some ideas for your own strategy based on what works well on their website. Finding a competitor’s top-performing landing pages on SEMrush is easy. Just take the following steps:

  1. Open your Position Tracking Campaign

  2. Navigate to Landing Pages tab

  3. Set volume to “local” at the top of the interface

  4. Enter your competitor’s domain in the blue field above the table

  5. Sort by Estimated Traffic to see the pages on their site that acquire the most organic traffic from your target keywords

  6. Click the blue arrow beside the URL to inspect their page

competitors-landing-pages-semrush

The list of pages in this report are a great source of information if you want to learn how to create content that will rank in your niche. Take a look at your competition’s top pages and analyze what they do well to acquire backlinks and answer the questions that people ask in search.

How to Compare Traffic Estimations for Different Locations and Devices From One Dashboard

If you have visibility in more than one location, you can estimate how much traffic each area is sending you based on how high you rank and how much search volume each keyword has. In Position Tracking, there is an Estimated Traffic metric in the visibility graph that provides this estimation for your website. The number displayed is an estimate of daily visits based on where in the search results the website ranks.

  1. Open up your Position Tracking campaign with multiple locations or devices

  2. Navigate to Devices and Locations tab

  3. Set volume to “local” at the top of the interface

  4. Select Estimated Traffic above the line graph to compare which areas are sending the most search volume to a website. The numbers represent daily estimations of traffic coming from your target keywords

multiple-traffic-estimations-semrush

Ending thoughts

There is a lot you can accomplish for your local SEO strategies using SEMrush. Take these tips and formulate a plan to grow your business by targeting new areas. Don’t forget, to request read-only access to our tracking “food near me” keywords on mobile results across ten cities in California project, just click this link.

What is your advice for performing SEO in multiple locations? Let us know in the comments!

Luke Harsel is a content writer at SEMrush.
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