Local SEO Strategy Guide

Matthew Anderson

14 min read Last Updated Sep 30, 2022

local business seo

The hoopla surrounding local business SEO boils down to one simple thing — people want things fast. Think about this: you want to order pizza for dinner tonight. It makes sense to order pizza from a place that has good reviews and is nearby, or else, you’ll be eating cold pizza for breakfast. Searching for ‘pizza near me’ online is the way to find restaurants that deliver/make pizza near you. 

This search behavior is increasingly becoming common. The numbers are already pretty massive — for example, there was a 150% growth for phrases like “near me now”. In this local SEO guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about SEO for local businesses and how to use it to get more customers to your business online and in person.

What is local business SEO?

Local business SEO is essentially strategies that help businesses promote and market their products and services to local and nearby potential customers. 

How is SEO different from local SEO? Put simply, local SEO has a geographical component. If you search for pizza, local pizza places will rank higher than pizza joints that are several miles away. Irrelevant or generic information about pizza will likely be at the bottom of the search page. 

If you want to get all of the nearby potential customers who are looking for a product or service like yours, local SEO or optimizing for near me searches should be an essential part of your marketing. 

Benefits of local SEO

If you want to attract more local customers and grow your brand in your community, local SEO is something you need to focus on. Here are some of the benefits that local SEO provides:

  1. Better visibility online: When you focus on local SEO best practices, the likelihood of ranking higher on search results increases. Therefore, the higher you rank, the more customers will see your business and potentially visit your website. 
  2. More traffic to your physical store: Not only will your efforts to increase your local SEO presence bring you more visitors to your website, but it will also drive customers to your physical store location. Because local SEO is focused primarily on the area around your business, you’re more likely to reach local customers who are willing to visit your store in person.
  3. Improve your online reputation: Once you learn how to do local SEO, you’ll find that more customers will find and visit your business whether online or in person. When you actively ask happy customers to leave reviews, you will build a positive reputation with potential customers and continue to build upon it the more customers you get
  4. Be more competitive: If your local competitors haven’t learned how to do local SEO marketing, you can get a step ahead of them by following your local SEO strategy. You will be more likely to reach more local customers than other businesses that aren’t actively focusing on local SEO.
  5. More trust, and more sales: As your presence grows online and in your community, you will become a trusted name to your local customers. More than ever, customers rely on positive reviews and a good reputation to choose the businesses they want to visit, and buy from. So, the better your local SEO efforts, the better your reputation, and the more customers are willing to purchase your products.

How do Google’s Near Me searches work?

Let’s consider another example (maybe this time one let’s consider one that won’t make us so hungry). You want to get your teeth cleaned. Ideally, you would want the dentist to be near home or your workplace and not at the other end of the city. Nobody wants to spend an extra 45 minutes each way, driving to and from the dentist, when there are good dental health providers available everywhere. 

While Google isn’t the only search engine that people use, it is still the crowd favorite. The word Google and Search are used synonymously today and as a business owner, you should take advantage of that.

But first, let us understand how Google’s near me searches work. Even if your local SEO company handles all your queries, you as a business owner need to be aware of these things. By understanding all the factors that play a big role in determining your ranking, you can make informed decisions.

According to Google, there are three factors that matter: distance, relevance, and prominence. 

  • Distance: The closer you are to your customer, the higher you will rank in “near me” searches.
  • Relevance: The more relevant your business is to the search query, the higher your search ranking is.
  • Prominence: This factor works slightly differently from the other two factors. If you have great reviews and a good rating, you will be ranked higher. So for example, if you have a beauty salon with a 4.9 rating and lots of great reviews, chances are that you will rank higher in local search than a competitor with a low rating and fewer reviews, who is closer to the customer.

Tips for local SEO

There is a lot that you can do to improve your local search rankings. Here are a few local search optimization tips for better local SEO results:

  • Optimize your Google My Business page
  • Create content that is local and relevant 
  • Work on internal links
  • Create a mobile-friendly website
  • Increase your social media engagement 
  • Have consistent NAP
  • Optimize online directories and citations
  • Perform a local SEO audit
  • Optimize your content for SEO
  • Add locations to your website
  • Participate in your local community
  • Get more links with high authority

Optimize your Google Business Profile page 

Once again, Google is a huge asset to a business. Tap into this resource as much as you can. If you haven’t already, claim your Google Business Profile. If you have one already, update it with all your current information — location and address, contact information, working hours, parking, holidays — update your profile with any information that you think is important to your customers.

The only thing worse than not having a Google Business Profile (GBP) page is to have one with incorrect information. Research shows that 68% of customers stop using local businesses that have wrong information in their listings. And remember to verify your GMB page, because verified businesses are twice as likely to be trusted by consumers.

One of Google’s recent changes is that GMB profiles that use keywords in descriptions will rank higher. Talking about this change, Google said “The information in question is accurate. While it’s not guaranteed to improve the ranking, it could, depending on other factors, as well as information that is found online associated with the business.”

Ensure that your Google My Business page has all the keywords related to your business that your customers might be searching for. 

Create content that is local and relevant

If you are trying to tell customers that you are a prominent local player — it’s time to make sure your content reflects that. It is important to create blog posts on topics that are relevant to your business with content curated for a local audience.

For example, if you have a small business that sells jams and jelly, having a couple of recipes that also mention where you shop for your ingredients or how you source them locally is helpful. If you are a pet hotel (gotta love our furry friends) having information about local veterinarians who are on call or a list of local events (think dog shows or adoption events) on your website will give search engines highly relevant on-page local signals.

Blogging or recycling your old content to make it more relevant is a very important marketing tip for small and medium businesses

Search engines value user-generated content like reviews and comments. By sending our regular review requests, you will ensure a steady stream of relevant content onto your website, GMB page, and social media. Repeat after us: there is no such thing as too many reviews.

Most businesses have a website, even if it’s a simple one that just gives customers contact information. However, the days of having just a homepage with contact information are long gone. It is strongly recommended to have enough content for search engines to crawl through and help you rank. One way you can do this is by having a blog, as we already talked about earlier in the blog post. 

If you have a great blog with content that your reader loves, you can help it rank higher by creating internal links. Without going too much into the technicalities, internal links help search engines crawl through websites more easily. When you add internal links, search engines better understand how much content you have on your website and its relevance better when you add internal links.

In addition to having enough content to be able to create a good network of internal links, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Use relevant links: Don’t just randomly link pages that are connected very faintly. The idea is to link to relevant pages on your websites that have things in common. If you are a dentist and have a blog about the importance of flossing and another blog about a healthy nighttime routine, it makes sense to link them. However, don’t like a post that talks about bird feed and how to groom your dog, just because both are related to pets. 
  • Use anchor text: This is important. Remember, Google is also becoming smarter every year. Anchor text is the link text or clickable text that takes a user to an HTML hyperlink.  Highlight natural text fragments that are relevant to the topic and link away!

Create a mobile-friendly site for better local business SEO

Nine out of ten smartphone users conduct local searches on their mobile devices. Chances are that if your website isn’t suitable for a mobile phone or takes forever to load, your customers will move on to the next search result. Search engines are similar.

While there is a lot that you can do to have a mobile-friendly site, here are two things you should be paying close attention to:

  • Page speed: Google has indicated that its algorithm uses site speed as a signal to rank pages. I never stay on a website that takes too long to load. Your customers are no different. You can make sure that you keep best practices for page speed in mind (think optimizing images, etc.) 
  • Website design: Avoid flash and design your site for easy touchscreen navigation. If your website is too frustrating for the user to use on their phone, chances are that they will bounce.
How to get more reviews without spending hours online

Increase your social media engagement

Social proof is important for both your customers and for search engines. It can help your business drive revenue and attract new customers. 

Social proof goes a long way in convincing potential customers to give your business a chance. Share your GMB page and other content (blogs, photos, your favorite reviews) on social media to rank higher in local business SEO.

Have consistent NAP

Having consistent information on name, address and phone number information (NAP) across listings is key to high rankings. The more consistent your business listings, the better chance you have of ranking on ‘’near me’’ searches. These listings or citations are considered proof of prominence and are the 5th most important factor determining your local search ranking. Start with ensuring that your GMB profile information is correct and then maintain consistent information across all major sites like Facebook, including industry-specific ones like ZocDoc.

Optimize online directories and citations for consistency

If Google can’t figure out what business information is accurate when it looks at online directories, there’s a good chance that it won’t show your business in search results. That’s why you need to make sure that you optimize all listings in directories and citations for your business for consistency and accuracy.

There are a few things that you can look for to make sure your information is accurate across all your listings like incorrect phone numbers or addresses, abbreviations, and misspellings can all impact how Google sees your business online. It’s also important to remove any duplicate listings on online directories to avoid confusing Google.

Perform a local SEO audit

SEO is a constantly changing process that you have to keep up with if you want to get ahead. You can do the research, and make the changes you think are necessary, but you can get a much more detailed idea of how your business is performing online with an SEO audit.

When you do an SEO audit of your business, you can make sure that important aspects of your online presence are functioning properly so you can rank higher in search results. You can conduct an audit of how your Google Business Profile is appearing in SERPs, how your on-page SEO is performing, whether your site can be crawled by Google, and how you compare to your competitors.

Optimize your content for SEO

When you create a new piece of content like a blog, you have to include all of the necessary details that search engines look for when ranking a piece of content. Therefore, if you want to rank, you need to know what parts of your blog need to include high-volume keywords.

When you write your content, make sure that you have your primary keywords included in your URL, title tags, meta descriptions, headers, and throughout the content itself. That way, Google will associate your content with the keyword you’re trying to target and keywords related to that topic too. Without adding keywords to those important parts of your content, Google will likely pass you by for the next piece of content that appears more relevant for that keyword.

Add locations to your website

If you own a multi-location business, you need to include location pages on your website. Location pages will provide your visitors with the name, address, phone number, operating hours, and reviews for each of your individual locations directly on your website.

If you own a single location business, you can still add your location on your “about us” page. That way your customers will have all the information they need after visiting your website to visit your store in person.

Participate in your local community 

Not everything you do to improve your local SEO strategy has to be online. Getting directly involved in your community gives you great PR opportunities that translate to increased digital attention as a result. The more involved you are, the more attention you’ll get and the more you can direct your customers to your website.

For example, you can sponsor events in your community, get involved with your local Chamber of Commerce, or get yourself highlighted by your local media and drive that attention directly to your business online to boost your online presence. You can also ask those organizations to directly link back from their site to yours to increase your domain authority by building backlinks.

Speaking of links, building more inbound links from high authority sites can show Google that your business is reputable to your customers and rank you higher in search results. As we mentioned above, directly reaching out to organizations like your local Chamber of Commerce to link back to your site can help build your authority.

You can also consider guest posting on high-domain authority sites. You can reach out to specifically targeted websites with your own written content that might appeal to them and ask them to publish it on their site with a link back to your website. Some sites may require a fee to publish on their site, but it can still be an effective way to build more links with higher authority to your site.

How can Birdeye help

With Birdeye you can manage listings across 150+ sites, send automated review requests and post them as social proof on social media — local business SEO conquered! Do all this and so much more from just a single dashboard. Watch our demo to learn more.

Originally published Mar 13, 2020 5:40 PM, updated Sep 30, 2022

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