How Competitive Is It To Rank for Local Toronto Queries?

How Competitive Is It To Rank for Local Toronto Queries?

Ranking in Toronto Local SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages)

Ranking in Toronto Local SERPs

How can your business rank in some common local Toronto queries? In this article, I will show you what the data suggests.

Our clients need a realistic understanding of what it would take to start ranking high for specific keywords.

After all, anyone who promises to deliver the first organic placement on the first page for all your keywords is scamming you or has some hack that regular SEO practitioners have yet to discover.

Local Keywords to Examine

I will examine five local keywords, see the top 3 organic results, and look at some data from Semrush to try to understand how hard it may be to rank for that particular keyword.

I’ve chosen to examine the following five local keywords:

  • burger Toronto
  • Toronto dry cleaners
  • Toronto dentist
  • Toronto movie theatre
  • Toronto marketing firm

Also, just to let you know, I’ve written a comprehensive guide in relation to local SEO within Toronto for businesses. It has some really good pointers about the overall Toronto SEO market.


I used an incognito window to ensure my past searches, cookies, and other factors did not affect the results. I also made sure the results were queried using a Toronto IP address.

Some of the SERPs have map packs integrated on the top. For the results with the map pack, I’ve skipped it to examine the top 3 organic results.

Here is what we got for each keyword:

burger Toronto

Toronto dry cleaners

Toronto dentist

Toronto movie theatre

Toronto marketing firm

How I Used Semrush

First, I looked at Semrush data about how competitive these keywords are and the average monthly searches. Keep in mind, these results are filtered to only show relevant searches within Canada. I plotted the information in this table.

KeywordSearch Volume/MonthKeyword Difficulty
burger Toronto59024% (easy)
Toronto dry cleaners14031% (possible)
Toronto dentist59043% (possible)
Toronto movie theatre21041% (possible)
Toronto marketing firm4037% (possible)

Then, I looked at the authority score, backlinks, and visitors of the top 3 results for each keyword to see what I can find. I used the data to make these tables. I highlighted some interesting finds.

Keyword: burger Toronto

RankURLAuthority ScoreBacklinksVisitors/Month

Keyword: Toronto dry cleaners

RankURLAuthority ScoreBacklinksVisitors/Month

Keyword: Toronto dentist

RankURLAuthority ScoreBacklinksVisitors/Month

Keyword: Toronto movie theatre

RankURLAuthority ScoreBacklinksVisitors/Month

Keyword: Toronto marketing firm

RankURLAuthority ScoreBacklinksVisitors/Month

Remember that the authority scores from Semrush, Ahrefs and other sources should be taken with a grain of salt. The only company that knows what the actual ‘PageRank’ values are is Google (and they won’t tell us).


Based on the data gathered, the top results are taken up by mid to high-authority and established domains.

There are exceptions to this in the queries “Toronto dentist” and “Toronto dry cleaners.”

the first result for "Toronto dry cleaners"

As you can see, the first result for “Toronto dry cleaners” is this URL with an authority score of only 11. The URL has 97 backlinks, which is still quite a bit, considering these are backlinks pointed to the URL, not the domain.

The quality of those backlinks matters; however, another underlying cause for this result being the first is something else.

If you look at the user’s search intent regarding this query, you will realize that certain users are typing this query to navigate to a specific page.

search intent

In this circumstance, Google has determined that this is a partially navigational query for users to find the website This is likely the reason it is the number one result.

Another thing to point out here is although is not an exact match domain for the query “Toronto dry cleaners,” it still contains the words.

Some SEOs believe there is value to having the words within the keyword in the domain name.

In the past, there was a period where registering exact match domains for your desired keyword guaranteed top results. Those days are long gone.

The other one that stands out is, in the 3rd spot for the same dry cleaners query.

This URL has an authority score of 16, which is on the lower end. 635 backlinks are pointing to this URL, which could explain why this result shows third.

In another case, for the query “Toronto dentist,” we can see that appears in the 3rd result with a page authority of 11.

The page has 5.6k backlinks pointed at it, which could explain why it’s ranking 3rd.

Is It Still Possible to Rank?

Based on the keywords we looked at, one was estimated to be easy to rank, and the rest were in the possible category.

Although most results were taken up by established medium to high authority domains, newcomers still have opportunities.

As someone involved in SEO, I know it would take a lot of work and a few months to add a newer site to these SERPs. However, with the right plan and hard work, it is possible. Read my article on the E-E-A-T guidelines to understand what Google is aiming to rank in terms of good content.

An important role a professional SEO analyst plays is advising clients on which keywords are worth chasing and which are not. Sometimes, it just isn’t worth the time.

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