The Customer-Centric Approach to Local Search: Understanding How Your Audience Finds You

There are dozens of ranking factors to consider regarding local search. From the quality and quantity of your reviews and how well-optimized your GMB profile is to various on-page and off-page factors. However, there’s one trend that ties them all together: customer-centricity.


Nowadays, consumers are more empowered than ever. BrightLocal recently reported that about 98% of them use the internet to research their local business, compare your products and services, and decide which one can best serve their needs and wants—all done without leaving their home.


This highlights how crucial having a better understanding of how your target market behaves and how they find you. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of having a customer-centric brand in boosting your local business, fostering customer loyalty, and generating leads. You’ll have the core knowledge to become a customer-centric company by the end.


Featured image illustrating a hand pointing downwards on a map with multiple pins, representing the navigation and discovery aspects of customer-centric local search.

What is Customer-Centricity in Local Search?

Customer-centricity in local search means understanding your target audience’s behavior and preferences and tailoring your local SEO marketing efforts accordingly. It involves building customer relationships, prioritizing their experience, and meeting their needs to establish trust and loyalty. However, being genuine is crucial, as customers can detect insincerity. This approach is essential for business leaders with local businesses or multiple locations.


Why Customer-Centricity Matters for Local Businesses

For local businesses, customer-centricity is vital when competing with larger brands. Personalizing communications and tailoring local SEO efforts to meet customer preferences foster stronger connections, loyalty, advocacy and influence consumer behavior.


Understanding local customers’ buying behavior and providing positive experiences, including detailed reviews, saves time and energy for consumers. By prioritizing customer needs, businesses can enhance customer lifetime value, drive revenue, and fuel growth.


Let’s explore the importance of customer-centricity in local SEO with Starbucks as an example.


Starbucks exemplifies customer-centricity, going beyond friendly service and personalized drinks. They prioritize accuracy and consistency in local search, ensuring up-to-date information on directories like Google My Business. Their website is regularly updated with new offerings, store hours, and events. Post-visit, Starbucks collects feedback to improve services. This customer engagement strengthens local SEO visibility and reputation.


Becoming a Customer-Centric Business: How to Top Local Search Results

So what can we gather from the brand?


Starbucks sets an example that shows how a more positive customer-centric strategy can help improve local search visibility and reputation. The following practical customer-centric strategies can help you do the same.


A. Create location-based websites

If your business operates in multiple locations, create separate landing pages for each location. This allows you to optimize your website for each location and provide new customers with specific information about that location. Make sure each landing page includes your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) information, reviews, and other relevant information.


  1. Include your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) on every page of the site: This information should be consistent across all your online platforms, including your website, social media, and local directories.
  2. Include a Google Maps widget that displays your business’s location and directions: This is especially important for businesses with a physical location, as it makes it easier for customers to find you.
  3. Optimize for local keywords: When optimizing your website for local SEO, one of the most important things to do is to identify and target local keywords. Local SEO can be more.


In Starbucks’ case, they have the Starbucks Store Locator, where customers can search for the closest store location in their area.


B. Develop localized content

Local content helps customers connect with your business on a more personal level. Content such as customer reviews and user-generated content.


  1. Create high-quality, localized content: This content is great for search engine optimization as it helps you target local intent and queries. Examples of localized content include blog posts, videos, articles, and podcasts that are tailored to a specific location.
  2. Use and optimize localized keywords: Localized keywords help search engines understand your business and its relevance to local searches. Make sure to use a brand voice that is known and used in that area.
  3. Continuously monitor your content’s performance: Monitor the performance of your localized content to see how it is ranking in local SERPs. Make adjustments as needed to ensure your content is reaching its intended audience.


Starbucks’ hit these points with its “Stories and News” section, which features topics related to the local community. This type of content not only helps customers connect with the brand but also gives it an edge in local SEO.


C. Optimize Listings and Platforms

Would you believe that many business owners haven’t claimed ownership of their businesses on Google My Business? This is a big mistake as you’ll be missing out on local SEO opportunities.


Claiming and optimizing your local business listings on platforms like Google My Business, Yelp, and Bing Places is essential for increasing your visibility in local search results.


To get started with optimizing your local search listings and platforms, consider the following tips:

  1. Ensure that your Google My Business listing is up-to-date: Include your business hours, location information, and contact details. This will make it easier for customers to find your business and get the information they need.
  2. Optimize your presence on other popular local directories: Review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Facebook can help improve your online visibility and increase your chances of appearing in relevant search results.
  3. Regularly monitor your local search listings: Be sure to keep an eye on and identify any issues or opportunities for improvement. This could include responding to customer feedback, updating information as needed, and adjusting your strategy based on changing market trends or customer needs.


Starbucks has claimed and optimized its Google My Business listing with up-to-date information on their business hours, locations, and contact details, making it easier for customers to find them when searching for coffee shops in a particular location. Additionally, Starbucks has a strong presence on popular local directories such as TripAdvisor, Uber Eats, and Yelp.


D. Encourage Customer Feedback

Reviews not only influence consumer and consumer buying behavior but also provide businesses with insights that can be used to improve the customer experience.


According to studies, 91% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business, and 84% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Moreover, businesses with more reviews and higher ratings from loyal customers tend to rank higher in local search engine results.


  1. Monitor your reviews: Keep an eye on your reviews regularly to identify any pain points or issues that need to be addressed.
  2. Learn how to respond: Responding to customer feedback, both positive and negative, demonstrates your commitment to your customer satisfaction. But many fail this part, as it’s easy to get defensive. Learn how to mitigate a situation and make sure your response is professional and emphatic.
  3. Ask for reviews: Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews on your business listings by asking them directly. A customer’s experience is paramount, so a gentle reminder to leave a review can go a long way. This can be done through follow-up emails, social media posts, or in-person interactions.
  4. Make it easy to leave reviews: Ensure that the process of leaving reviews is simple and straightforward. Include links to your review sites on your website, in your email signature, and on your business cards.


This strategy is where the coffee company truly shines. Starbucks has encouraged customers to leave their feedback both online and in-store through its creative marketing campaigns. Online, they implemented”My Starbucks Idea” where customers submit their ideas for new drinks, food items, store designs, and other suggestions. The ideas are then reviewed by Starbucks’ team, and the most popular and feasible ones are implemented.


The brand also encourages feedback through its mobile app, where customers can provide ratings and reviews of their purchases and leave reviews of individual store locations.


These only prove that Starbucks’ Coffee is a solid customer-centric organization that genuinely captures its audience’s feedback, making them one of the most successful local marketing strategies today.


Standing Out in Local Search with a Customer-Centric Approach

When companies genuinely put their customers first, they can reap a variety of benefits and provide the best possible experience for their existing customers. it’s a two-way street where both parties benefit from the relationship.


Businesses that adopt this customer-centric approach to local SEO are more likely to see a higher ranking in local search results, increased website traffic, and improved visibility online—all of which lead to better ROI and overall success.


However, this approach is not a simple task. It may require a significant cultural shift and a change in mindset internally and externally, as well as a long-term commitment and an understanding of customers’ complex buying behavior and decision making.


To achieve customer-centricity, local businesses should focus on customer behavior, delivering exceptional customer service, encouraging and addressing customer feedback, and optimizing their local search presence.


By taking these steps, businesses can establish a strong foundation for success in local search.