Most of the general public has no idea what local search actually is – let alone how it works or how to win at it. Generally, business owners don’t understand why their website and business blogging does not rank on at the top of search engines – they just want to be ranked at the top.

Bring up algorithms, keywords, and links, and they check out. The truth is, it is now harder than ever to rank at the top, especially for businesses that solely focus on a metro area.

According to research shared by Adam Dorfman at a Deconstructing Pigeon panel, small businesses located 20 miles outside of the center of the city experienced a significant drop in rankings for queries with the name of the metro area. (Pigeon is Google’s latest algorithm update.)

SEO concepts and best practices don’t have to be a long conversation requiring significant background reading. You are probably already aware of the necessity of local SEO if you’re a C-level executive or business owner.

So in an effort to keep things nice and simple, here’s how it all works.Atlanta vs. Marietta and Local SEO

This is the simple SEO math equation explaining how businesses in a suburb of a larger metro area competes locally on search engines.

Let’s assume that you own a chiropractic practice where there are 50 competitors in your suburb, like Marietta, Ga. There are roughly 10 to 12 possible spots to rank for on page one of Google (the organic part of search results pages). That means 40 practices won’t appear on page one.

Now, let’s factor in the surrounding areas. You obviously want to also optimize to the surrounding areas to bring in more traffic. There are 5 surrounding areas you want to target, so add another 250 competitors. We also can’t forget to account for the city itself. Atlanta is a large city, so let’s say a simple 500 competing for 10 to 12 spots.

You get the point: Given the highly competitive nature, you have to send Google the right signals if you want your site to beat out and outrank the hundreds of other challengers.

And to send the right signals, you have to

  • Have great content that stands out
  • Present a great user experience (how people interact with your website)
  • Be active on social media
  • Get killer reviews

Just having a website and a blog won’t cut it these days.

Obviously, not all of your competition will be doing the four things listed above, which helps. But each day, your window of opportunity is rapidly closing as more and more businesses are realizing what it takes to win at local search.

Still have questions around winning at local SEO? Let us know if you have any questions or would like to continue the discussion.

Also, I highly recommend checking out one of our blog posts on the importance of an SEO content writer for your business if you’re looking to get started.