Local Business SEO: Your 2020 Guide

Satya Kandala

8 min read Last Updated Mar 25, 2020

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”. 

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. 

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 business SEO

There is a lot that you can do to improve your local search rankings. Here are a few 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 your Google My Business 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 My 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 My Business (GMB) 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 changes in 2020 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.

Work on internal links

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 kickass 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.

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 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.

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.