How to Build a List of Local Business Types

It can be a little difficult to find a comprehensive list of business types or industries in your area. I was quite happy when I discovered this approach. Although it won’t find every possible business type, it will quickly uncover many, if not most, of them.

These steps are based on the use of the subscription-based tool AHREFs. If you’re in the SEO industry, you likely already have a subscription. If not, you can get a 7-day trial subscription for $7 at ahrefs.com.

Once you have a list of business types, you can then use Google to find a list of businesses for each type. Once you’re done, you can have a list of nearly all businesses in your area (or any area) for all the business types that you’re interested in. This is useful for B2B customer prospecting and various types of market research.

Your mileage may vary a little, but in Waco, Texas, where I’m running these reports, thumbtack.com ranks well for most types of local businesses. And it has a URL structure that lends itself well for narrowing down results to a specific city.

If I do a Google search for: thumbtack waco then click through on the first relevant result to visit thumbtack.com, the URL that I’m sent to is:

https://www.thumbtack.com/tx/waco/handyman/

This is visible in the address bar of the browser.

By experimenting a little with AHREFs, I found that https://www.thumbtack.com/tx/waco/ is the prefix, or first part of the URL, for all of the businesses in Waco, which makes perfect sense.

Based on that, I enter https://www.thumbtack.com/tx/waco/  into AHREFs site explorer tool and select the prefix option. This causes it to only return results that match this prefix.

thumbtack prefix URL in AHREFs site explorer

Then I click “organic keywords” to show the organic keywords report. This lists the keywords that thumbtack.com ranks in the top 100 positions for on Google. There are several hundred results, and nearly every one is a type of business. There is some duplication or similarity across some of the results, but this is useful, too, since it shows how people are searching for those businesses. (If you want, you can use “Include” to filter the list further.)

ahrefs keyword report - business listing

I can then export the full list to a spreadsheet and save it for further work.

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