Most local businesses do not just want to be visible for searches in their local area. Many also want to be visible in their surrounding locations.

A few years ago, search engine visibility in adjacent locations was easily achieved by building out dedicated location pages around those nearby areas.

These location pages contained information about the business, along with information about the local area. This would be enough to make Google think that the business in question was local to the area that is targetted by the location page.

Therefore, If someone searched for your business-type in the area that your location page was dedicated to, the relevant location page of your website would appear.

Local SEO has changed since those days, and ranking for adjacent areas is much harder. It is still possible, but only in locations where competition for local search is weak.

Here is a guide on how to assess your competition in local search to see if you stand any chance of ranking with relevant location pages.

Check how many competitors there are in the location you are targeting with your page

For local business searches, Google ranks businesses that it knows to have a physical location in that given area.

Therefore, if you are trying to rank a location page of a business that is not actually in that location, you are unlikely to rank highly, even if your location is near to the searched one.

Google primarily assesses where a business’s physical location is through its Google My Business listing.

You can see all the businesses with a Google my business listing in a given area by searching: “business X in location Y” and clicking on the map that Google offers at the top of the search.

Here is an example of this for the search: “car garage in Harlem”

As we can see by the high number of car garages in Harlem, a garage in a nearby area, such as Melrose, will be unlikely to rank for a Harlem related search, even if they have a dedicated Harlem location page.

Given that page one of a Google results page only has 10 listings, you want to look for areas that have fewer than 10 businesses in the map for any given area.

If the front page of Google is dominated by directories, you could rank a location page

Often when you search for a local business in Google, the front page will contain a combination of local businesses and directories.

Directories tend to get delivered by Google when the search engine cannot find appropriate businesses to show.

This means that if you make a local search, and the front page of Google is dominated by directories, then your chances of ranking a location page is high.

While businesses that have a primary location outrank those who do not, a well put together location page, with lots of information about both your business and the relevant area, generally outrank directories.

If over half of the websites on the front page of Google are directories, rather than actual businesses, then it may well be worth creating a dedicated location page in a bid to rank for that local area.

If you have a far more powerful website than your competitors, then you can outrank them with a location page alone

Bigger brands tend to succeed with multiple location pages as they have more powerful websites than their competitors.

In this context, “power” is measured in a number of ways, that includes the size of your website, the amount and quality of content on each page, and the number of external links pointing to it. The number of external links is the biggest determinant of a website’s power.

Even small businesses can outrank competitors using location pages if they have significantly more powerful websites than what is around them.

Paid SEO tools such as Ahrefs can be used to measure a website’s power, with DR being the metric that describes this (it assigns a score out of 100).

Even if you do not have these tools you can estimate a websites power in the following ways:

  • Looking at the size of the website – in particular how many pages it has
  • Looking at how much content is on each page and its quality
  • Looking at how much the company’s brand is mentioned on the internet at large by using the search: “[brand]” -site:[URL of brand].

The power of websites tend to reflect the size of brands in the offline world. If you have a bigger offline brand than the businesses that you are competing with when trying to rank your location pages then you have a realistic chance of success.

Oli Graham is the Marketing Manager at copywriting agency RightlyWritten.

Local stock photo by Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock