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how to do keyword research for local seo

How To Do Local SEO Keyword Research: A Step-By-Step Guide

a keychain with keys representing local keyword research

Local keywords aren’t just strings of text; they’re the secret sauce that can catapult your website to the top of search engine results.

Why do they matter so much? Simple: local keywords connect you directly with your target audience. They’re the digital signposts that guide potential customers straight to your online doorstep. By tapping into your local market’s specific language and search habits, these keywords turn your website into a bustling hub of relevant traffic.

But here’s the catch: uncovering these powerful phrases is like finding needles in a haystack. You need more than just intuition; you require the big guns: precise and strategic research.

Why? Because the right keywords are relevant, competitive, and incredibly specific to your business and location. This isn’t just a matter of chasing the latest buzzwords; you must understand your target audience’s unique language and how they seek out services like yours.

Our blog is about to lift the curtain. We’re serving up a step-by-step guide to local SEO keyword research that’s as straightforward as it is effective. Tailored for small to medium-sized businesses, this guide cuts through the jargon and complexity, offering a clear path to SEO success.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting, prepare to gain insights that will transform your online presence. Let’s dive in and turn keyword research for local SEO from a daunting task into your competitive advantage.

Step 1: Understand the Basics of Local Keywords

We know, we know. You’re here to learn how to do keyword research, not learn what local keywords are. But before diving headfirst into SEO keyword research, you must develop a rock-solid understanding of what you’re working with. This isn’t just a preliminary step; it’s the foundation of your entire strategy.

Think of it as learning the rules of the game before playing. Local keywords are unique beasts in the SEO jungle. They require you to think like your customer, understand what they need, and learn how they express those needs in search queries specific to their locale. Without this insight, you’re essentially navigating in the dark.

At their core, local keywords are specific phrases that people use when searching for products or services in a particular geographic area. These aren’t just any words thrown together; they’re carefully crafted combinations that reflect how real people in your community are searching online.

Think “best coffee shop in downtown Austin” or “emergency plumber near Miami Beach.” These phrases are more than search terms; they’re virtual street signs pointing directly to your business.

Why do these geo-targeted nuggets matter so much? One word: precision targeting. By integrating local keywords into your digital presence, you’re directly addressing the needs of your immediate market. You’re not just casting a wide net in hopes of catching a few relevant customers; you’re fishing in the right pond where potential customers are already swimming.

Local keywords are the keys to unlocking targeted visibility. They ensure that your business appears in search results when and where it matters most.

For instance, a person searching for “handmade leather bags in San Francisco” is likely to be more interested in finding a local artisan shop rather than a generic online retailer. By optimizing for local keywords, businesses can attract more foot traffic, phone calls, and specific inquiries.

The outcome? Higher conversion rates compared to more generalized searches.

Local keywords also help in building community connections and brand loyalty. When your business pops up in local searches, it reinforces your presence and commitment to the area. This boosts your local SEO rankings and establishes your brand as a go-to source within the community. It creates a sense of trust and reliability (essential qualities for any business looking to thrive in a competitive market).

Let’s not forget how local keywords are evolving with voice search and mobile usage. Phrases like “Where to buy fresh flowers near me” or “Best Thai restaurant open now” are becoming increasingly common as people continue to use smartphones and voice assistants for location-specific needs. By tapping into this trend, you can reach people located close to your business who can actually  shop from you.

The demand is high. And local keywords are the bridge that connects you to potential customers waiting to take action, i.e., read a blog, make a purchase, avail a discount, etc.

Recommended Read: How Local SEO Works and Why It Matters

Step 2: Identify Your Target Audience and Their Search Habits

This step is the cornerstone of effective local SEO keyword research. It’s like knowing your customers’ favorite coffee order: the more specific you are, the more precisely you can cater to their tastes.

This step goes beyond mere demographics; you must delve into your audience’s psyche and carefully unravel their needs, preferences, and behaviors. What are they searching for? How are they phrasing their queries? Are they using desktops or mobile devices? Are they looking for quick answers or comprehensive information? And, most importantly, why are they initiating these searches?

Start by building a customer persona . If your business is a local bakery, your primary audience may be busy professionals looking for quick breakfast options or parents seeking birthday cakes for their kids. Each group has distinct search behaviors. Professionals may search for “quick breakfast spots near me,” while parents may look for “best custom birthday cakes in Miami.” Knowing these nuances will help you tailor your keywords effectively.

How can you build a customer persona? Use this chart as your cheat sheet:

See what we mean?

Next, analyze search query patterns. Thanks to tools like Google Analytics , you can dive deep into the kind of queries that lead people to your site. Look for patterns in the language used.

  • Are your visitors using formal or casual language?
  • Are they searching for specific products or broader categories?

This analysis will give you a glimpse into their search habits and help you fine-tune your keyword strategy.

Understanding the ‘when’ and ‘why’ behind searches is vital for tailoring your SEO strategy to align with your audience’s needs at specific moments. Seasonal trends, local events, and time-of-day patterns offer invaluable insights into consumer behavior.

For example, the surge in searches for “flower delivery” around Valentine’s Day reflects a seasonal trend, indicating a prime opportunity for florists to optimize for these keywords. Similarly, local events like festivals or sports games can trigger specific searches related to the event, e.g., “parking near [event venue]” or “fast food near [festival location].”

The time of day significantly impacts search behavior and intent. A restaurant may notice increased searches for “lunch specials near me” during midday, suggesting that office workers or locals are looking for quick dining options. In contrast, evening searches may shift towards “best dinner spots” or “romantic restaurants,” indicating a different customer segment or dining intent.

This pattern recognition allows businesses to optimize their keyword strategy for different times of the day. It’s a great way to ensure your business appears in search results exactly when your target audience is on the hunt.

Understanding these temporal search patterns also aids in content scheduling and ad targeting. By aligning your content release and advertising efforts with these peak search times, you can maximize visibility and engagement.

For instance, promoting special lunch deals on social media just before noon or highlighting dinner menus in the late afternoon can capture the attention of potential customers precisely when they’re making their dining decisions.

Clever, right?

Another aspect is understanding the ‘intent’ behind searches. Are your potential customers in the research phase? Or are they ready to make a purchase? Someone searching for “best Italian restaurant in NYC” may still be deciding, whereas a search for “Italian restaurant NYC reservations” indicates a readiness to dine. Tailoring your keywords to match these intents can significantly impact your conversion rates.

A little too much? Experts can help. This step of the local keyword research process isn’t all fun and games. Instead of taking things into your own hands, turn to SEO keyword research services to make the job easier for yourself. A keyword research agency will streamline the process and turn what may seem like an insurmountable task into a well-orchestrated plan of action.

When you hire keyword research experts, you’re not just outsourcing a task; you’re gaining a partner who brings expertise, tools, and strategies that are essential for success in local SEO to the table. You don’t have to waste valuable resources and time figuring out how to do keyword research. Experts will dive deep into understanding your business, your competitors, and your local market.

Step 3: Analyze Your Local Competition

a set of binoculars

This is a critical step in mastering local SEO. It’s like playing chess; to win, you need to understand your opponents’ moves. By analyzing your competitors, you gain insights into what works (and what doesn’t) in your specific market. This can help you refine your strategy for better results.

Start by identifying your main competitors. These may not always be the biggest players in your field, but they are those who rank well in local searches. Use search engines to see who appears for your targeted local keywords. Take note of businesses that consistently pop up in these searches; these are the ones you’re up against!

Once you’ve identified your competitors, examine their online presence. Look at their websites and note how they’re structured, the kind of content they’re producing, and which keywords they seem to be targeting.

Pay special attention to their homepage and main service pages. Are they using local keywords effectively? How is their messaging tailored to the local audience? This analysis will give you a clear idea of the SEO tactics they’re employing.

And don’t just stop at their websites. Check out their social media profiles, Google Business Profile (GBP) listings , and any other online platforms they’re active on.

  • How are they engaging with their audience?
  • What kind of reviews are they getting?

Social media interactions and customer reviews can offer a wealth of information about their reputation and customer service (which are integral to local SEO success).

Another critical aspect to consider is their backlink profile. Search Berg’s tools can help you analyze where their backlinks  are coming from. Backlinks from local businesses or publications can significantly boost local SEO. By understanding where your competitors are getting these links, you can identify potential opportunities for your own link building strategy.

We also recommend analyzing their content strategy. Which topics are they covering? Are they focusing on local news, events, or topics relevant to your community? This can give you ideas for your own content strategy and help you identify gaps that your competitors may be missing.

While it’s important to learn from your competitors’ success, it’s equally important to spot their oversights and weaknesses. Think of it as a game where you mirror the good moves and capitalize on the missed opportunities.

Are there local keywords that they’re overlooking? Perhaps there’s a buzz in town about a new community project or a popular local event they haven’t tapped into yet. These uncharted territories are your gold mines.

Let’s say you own a café in Ithaca. You notice that none of your competitors are using keywords related to “dog-friendly cafes in Ithaca.” If your café welcomes furry friends, this is a golden opportunity to target a niche yet passionate segment of the market. By optimizing your online presence with these specific keywords, you can attract dog owners looking for a place to enjoy a cup of coffee with their pets.

Consider the community topics and local happenings that your competitors may be missing out on. Maybe there’s an annual jazz festival in town, and none of the local music shops are talking about it online. If you’re in a related business, creating content around this event could position you as a community-engaged and relevant option for music enthusiasts.

Keep in mind that the goal of analyzing your competitors isn’t to become a carbon copy of them; it’s distilling key insights from both their triumphs and missteps to craft a formidable and customized local SEO strategy for your own business.

This process is like a skilled chef tasting a rival’s dish, not to replicate it, but to understand the flavors and techniques that make it work and try to create something uniquely delectable in their own kitchen.

By thoroughly understanding your competition, you can pinpoint areas where your business can shine. The goal is to find that sweet spot: whether it’s a particular service you offer that others don’t, a unique aspect of your customer service, or a community initiative you’re part of.

This analysis also helps in preempting your competitors’ next moves. By keeping a pulse on their strategies, you can anticipate market trends and adapt faster, staying one step ahead. Instead of just reacting to what they do, you’ll proactively shape your strategy to lead the market.

Learning from your competitors’ failures is just as important. Their missteps can offer valuable lessons on what to avoid and pitfalls to be wary of. This knowledge can save you time and resources.

Recommended Read: Lessons You Can Learn From Your Competitors

Step 4: Utilize Keyword Research Tools Effectively

Google’s Keyword Planner  is the crème de la crème of local SEO keyword research tools. It’s integrated within Google Ads and it’s the go-to for many SEO professionals.

This tool allows you to discover new keyword ideas based on exact match and phrase match keywords. By inputting phrases related to your business, you can uncover the volume of searches, competition level, and even the potential cost-per-click for paid campaigns. It’s a crystal ball that helps predict which keywords could drive traffic and conversions!

Beyond the numbers, Google Trends  is like the heartbeat monitor of the public’s interest in certain topics. It shows you the ebb and flow of keyword popularity over time and geographically. You can see if certain terms are trending upwards in your local area (which could be invaluable for seasonal offerings or tapping into emerging local interests).

Search Berg’s tools take a complementary approach by focusing on actionable data tailored for local businesses. Imagine a tool that not only suggests keywords but also offers insights on how to integrate them seamlessly into your content.

Search Berg’s toolkit can analyze your website and local online presence; it can then cross-reference this with extensive local search data to provide personalized keyword recommendations. This could include long-tail phrases that have a proven track record of success in your specific area or industry-related terms that are gaining traction among local consumers.

While Google’s tools offer a broad overview of keyword performance, Search Berg’s tools can drill down into the nuances of your local market. They can identify gaps in your current strategy where specific keywords can make a significant impact.

For instance, if there’s a local festival or event that’s unique to your city, Search Berg’s tools can help pinpoint related keywords that are more likely to be used by your community.

Another aspect where Search Berg’s tools excel is competitor analysis . While maintaining ethical research practices, these tools can give you a peek into which keywords your competitors may be targeting successfully and where there may be opportunities for you to edge in. This can help you make strategic decisions about where to focus your SEO efforts.

Search Berg’s tools can also assist with on-page optimization by suggesting keyword placements likely to yield better search engine results. This could mean identifying the ideal spots for your keywords within meta tags, headings, and throughout your website’s content to ensure you’re fully optimized for local search.

Effectively utilizing local SEO keyword research tools often requires more than just a do-it-yourself approach; it’s a craft that benefits greatly from the acumen of seasoned SEO experts. These professionals bring a wealth of experience and context to the table. They can discern patterns and insights from keyword trends that may be invisible to the untrained eye. For instance, they know that a spike in search volume might be a fleeting trend or a sign of lasting change in consumer behavior.

In this symbiotic relationship, tools provide the raw data while keyword research experts craft the narrative to ensure that your business builds a sustainable and effective local presence online.

Step 5: Master the Art of Long-Tail Keywords for Local SEO

Long-tail keywords are specific phrases that people use when looking for detailed information or nearing a purchase decision. They typically comprise three or more words.

Unlike broad terms that draw in high volumes of traffic with varied intents, long-tail keywords are laser-focused queries that speak to a specific need or question. They may draw less traffic individually, but collectively, they have higher conversion rates because they catch users further down the sales funnel.

For local businesses, long-tail keywords often include location-based details that target individuals searching for products or services in their area, e.g., “organic bakery in downtown Denver” or “emergency plumbing services in Queens, NY.” This precision in search intent makes long-tail keywords a critical element for effective SEO and a valuable asset for businesses aiming to capture a targeted audience.

To find these valuable long-tail phrases, start with the core terms that define your business and branch out. For a local bakery, it starts with “bakery” but grows into “gluten-free birthday cakes in Seattle” or “artisan bread in Capitol Hill.” The key is to combine your basic product or service with additional descriptors and local qualifiers.

The next step involves delving into the questions your customers are asking. Tools like ‘People Also Ask’ boxes in search results can be goldmines for discovering long-tail queries. Engage with your audience, conduct surveys, or mine Q&A forums related to your industry for common inquiries. Each question contains the seeds of a long-tail keyword that reflects real-world search behavior.

The goal is to capture the way people speak or type when looking for specific information. This is where integrating local colloquialisms or vernacular can be particularly potent. A term like “hoagies” might be more prevalent in Philadelphia, whereas “subs” could be the go-to in another city. Incorporating these subtleties can dramatically enhance your local keyword targeting.

Step 6: Incorporate Geographic Modifiers into Your Keyword Strategy

Step six in local SEO keyword research involves the strategic use of geographic modifiers. These are location-specific terms that potential customers use when they’re looking for services or products in a particular area. The right geographic modifiers can turn a generic keyword into a local search powerhouse.

The starting point is identifying the geographic terms relevant to your business. For a business with a physical location, this may be as straightforward as the city or neighborhood’s name.

But don’t just stop there. Think about how people in your area talk about locations. Do they refer to specific districts, popular street names, landmarks, or local nicknames? Including these in your SEO keyword research can significantly narrow down the competition and increase your site’s relevance to local searchers.

For example, if you’re a realtor in NYC, rather than targeting the highly competitive keyword “real estate agent,” you could use “Upper East Side condo listings” or “Brooklyn brownstone realtor.” These long-tail phrases with geographic modifiers reduce competition and attract a more focused demographic.

Incorporating these modifiers requires an understanding of how far your business’ influence reaches. A local coffee shop may focus on the neighborhood level while a specialty medical practice could draw patients from across the city or even the region. Use this knowledge to determine the scale of your geographic modifiers from neighborhoods to cities to regions.

It’s also important to consider the various ways people might search for the same location. Some might type “LA” while others may search for “Los Angeles,” and some might even use colloquial terms like “City of Angels.” Including these variations in your keyword research for local SEO ensures you cover the full spectrum of potential searches.

Leveraging tools like Google Business Profile (GBP) can help you understand the geographic areas where your business appears in local searches. This insight allows you to tailor your keyword strategy to match the actual search behavior of users in those areas.

And let’s not forget the importance of data. When it comes to fine-tuning your keyword strategy with geographic modifiers, the data holds the key to unlocking potential growth areas. Start diving into analytics to dissect where your website visitors are geographically rooted.

You’re not just supposed to track dots on a map; you must understand the journey your customers are taking to find you. Tools like Google Analytics  offer a treasure trove of information. They break down traffic sources by region, city, and sometimes even neighborhoods.

This data serves as a compass; it directs you to the geographic terms that are successfully drawing visitors. Perhaps it’s the “downtown” prefix or the inclusion of a well-known local park that’s channeling traffic your way. Conversely, the analytics may reveal untapped regions. Areas with less traffic could indicate a need to amplify your presence there with additional targeted geographic terms.

Work with an experienced keyword research agency to master the use of geographic modifiers.

Step 7: Leverage Local Events and Trends for Keyword Inspiration

Tapping into local events and trends for keyword inspiration is like unlocking a treasure chest of opportunities for your local SEO efforts.

These community happenings are focal points of interest and conversation that shape your local audience’s search behaviors.

By aligning your keyword strategy with these events and trends, you’ll gain access to a wealth of terms that your community is actively searching for.

Tune into the local calendar. Every community, big or small, is a tapestry of events that define its cultural and social landscape. From the buzz of the annual county fair to the excitement surrounding high school football derbies, these events are pivotal moments that shape search behaviors. Think of them as seasonal peaks in the online search world.

These local events act as magnets for search queries. When the county fair rolls into town, for instance, the focus isn’t just on the fair. Surrounding services and topics also become highly relevant.

People might start searching for “best parking near [county fair]” or “family-friendly restaurants near [fairgrounds].” These keywords, tied closely to the event, capture a specific audience looking for practical information or related experiences.

Similarly, high school sports events can trigger a flurry of localized searches. Keywords like “[high school name] football schedule” or “best spots to eat after [high school name] games” become hot commodities. These terms target an audience that’s already engaged and looking for additional resources or activities.

In a fascinating twist of events, Taylor Swift’s attendance at Travis Kelce’s matches  became a unique opportunity for savvy local SEO strategists. This intersection of sports and pop culture set off a notable spike in local search queries: a trend that astute businesses swiftly  capitalized on.

how to do keyword research for local seo

Source: https://www.dispatch.com/

Local eateries and entertainment venues near the stadium recognized the potential and adapted their SEO strategies to include keywords like “Taylor Swift at [Highmark Stadium]” and “Travis Kelce game highlights.” These targeted keywords perfectly captured the excitement of the moment; they cleverly drew in fans and onlookers who were eager to be part of the buzz.

Local restaurants, in particular, saw a golden opportunity and introduced keywords like”pre-game dinner before Taylor Swift appearance” or “best spots to watch Travis Kelce’s game near [location].” This strategic move increased their visibility in search results and connected them with a crowd looking to enjoy the game and perhaps catch a glimpse of the pop star.

Such instances exemplify how local businesses can leverage current events and popular trends to enhance their local SEO efforts. By staying attuned to what’s happening in their community and responding with timely, relevant, and engaging keywords, they can tap into the public’s interest and see a substantial uptick in local engagement and traffic.

Social listening is a critical tool here. Platforms like X  can provide real-time insights into what’s trending locally. A food festival, for instance, might inspire searches for “best street food vendors” or “food festival tips.” By identifying these trends early, you can incorporate relevant keywords into your content ahead of the curve.

Don’t overlook the local influencers and news outlets, either. What they talk about often sets the agenda for local searches. If a local blogger raves about the burgeoning art scene, terms like “contemporary art galleries in [Boston]” or “art classes near me” might see a spike.

Similarly, if the local news features a segment on a community garden project, searches related to “community gardening in [Seattle]” or “volunteering for green projects in [Chicago]” could rise.

Also, think about the local issues that are important to your community. Is there an ongoing development project that’s the talk of the town? Or perhaps a historical restoration that’s capturing everyone’s attention? Keywords related to these topics can draw traffic and demonstrate your engagement with local matters.

Keep in mind that your business doesn’t always have to be directly involved in these events or trends. As long as you’re part of the local dialogue, you’re on the right track. For example, even if you’re a digital marketing firm, using keywords like “marketing tips for [local event vendors]” during the festival season can put you right in the middle of the local buzz.

Want to find the right keywords around local events and trends? SEO keyword research services will come in handy here.

Recommended Read: Real-Time SEO Content Writing: A 7-Step Process for Everyone

Step 8: Optimize “Near Me” Search Queries

Embracing the “near me” phenomenon in search queries is a game-changer for local businesses seeking to maximize their digital footprint.

This seemingly simple phrase has revolutionized how customers find products and services in their immediate vicinity; it offers a direct channel to connect with potential clients who are ready to engage.

The first step in optimizing “near me” searches is understanding how, when, and why your potential customers use them. This is where you dive into local SEO keyword research tools to analyze the popularity of different “near me” queries related to your business.

Are people searching for “coffee shops near me” more often than “cafes near me”? This data can guide you in tailoring your website and content to meet these specific searches.

Pay attention to the variations in these queries. Some users may search for “best pizza near me,” while others may look for “pizza delivery near my location.” Each variation presents a unique opportunity to capture a different segment of the market. By incorporating a range of these phrases into your SEO strategy, you’ll cover a broader spectrum of potential searches.

Location accuracy plays a big role in helping you make the most of “near me” searches. Ensure your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) are consistently listed across all online platforms (including your website, social media, and local directories). This consistency helps search engines confidently associate your business with local search queries.

Leveraging local landmarks can also be a smart tactic. If your business is near a well-known location or landmark, include references to it in your content. For example, a boutique near Central Park might benefit from using keywords like “boutique near Central Park” or “fashion stores near Central Park.”

Step 9: Assess Keyword Difficulty and Search Volume

Keyword difficulty, often referred to as competition, is a measure of how hard it would be to rank for a particular keyword.

High difficulty means lots of competition (typically from well-established sites). On the other hand, low difficulty suggests an easier path to the top of search engine results pages (SERPs). For local businesses, assessing this factor is key to identifying achievable targets in the SEO landscape.

Conversely, search volume reflects the number of searches a particular keyword receives. High search volume indicates a popular keyword but also often comes with higher competition. Low volume keywords might be easier to rank for, but they won’t bring as much traffic.

The trick lies in finding that sweet spot: keywords that have a decent volume but aren’t so competitive that ranking for them is a Herculean task.

To assess these metrics, start by using local SEO keyword research tools. Many of these tools provide a difficulty score and search volume data for each keyword. For local SEO, you must look at these metrics from a local perspective. A keyword may have high competition globally but could be less competitive in your specific area.

Analyze the keywords your competitors are ranking for (especially those with a strong local SEO presence). This can give you insights into which keywords may be worth pursuing and which ones may be too challenging to tackle.

For example, a small boutique might find that “women’s clothing store” is highly competitive, but “artisanal women’s boutique in [San Francisco]” might be a more achievable target.

It’s also important to consider the relevance of the keyword to your business. Sometimes, a keyword with lower search volume but high relevance can be more valuable than one with high volume but low relevance. These keywords may bring in less traffic, but the traffic they do bring is more likely to convert.

Does it seem a little overwhelming? Hire keyword research experts who can take the reins for you. These professionals will utilize a suite of sophisticated tools and their in-depth knowledge to discern which keywords will effectively boost your local SEO efforts.

Take your time and carefully do your research to find the right keyword research agency that’s right for you.

Step 10:Monitor and Adapt Your Keyword Strategy

This is where local SEO keyword research strategy meets agility.

The first part of this process is monitoring. You need to keep a close eye on how your chosen keywords are performing. This involves regularly checking your website’s ranking for each keyword, analyzing traffic patterns on your site, and observing how these patterns correlate with changes in your keyword strategy.

Tools like Google Analytics  and Google Search Console  can be indispensable for this purpose. They can show you how much traffic you’re getting, which search queries are bringing people to your site, and how users are engaging with your content.

Monitoring should also include keeping tabs on your competition.

  • Are they ranking for new keywords that you haven’t considered?
  • Have they made changes to their website that are improving their SEO?

Competitive analysis tools can provide insights into the keywords your competitors are targeting and their relative success. This is a great way to generate ideas on how to adjust your strategy.

Another critical aspect of monitoring is staying up-to-date with changes in search engine algorithms. These algorithms can change frequently; what works today may not work tomorrow. Staying informed about these changes can help you understand shifts in your site’s performance and prompt you to make necessary adjustments to your strategy.

Adapting your keyword strategy is the next critical step. Based on the insights you’ve gathered from monitoring, you may need to revise your choice of keywords. This could mean shifting focus to more effective keywords, abandoning those that aren’t performing well, or even capitalizing on new keywords based on emerging trends or new products/services in your business.

The goal of adapting your strategy isn’t just chasing the latest trends but aligning your efforts with your target audience’s evolving needs and interests.

For instance, if you’re a local retailer and you notice an increasing number of searches for sustainable products in your area, you may start targeting keywords like “eco-friendly apparel in [Atlanta]” or “sustainable fashion brands near me.”

Seasonal trends can also play a significant role in how you adapt your strategy. A landscaping business, for example, might focus on keywords related to lawn care in the spring and snow removal services in the winter. By adapting your keywords to the season, you’ll ensure that your website is always relevant to what your potential customers are looking for at that time.

User feedback and interactions can also provide valuable insights into how you may need to adjust your keywords. Pay attention to the questions customers ask in emails, social media, and reviews. This feedback can reveal what your customers are really looking for and how they describe their needs (which might differ from the keywords you’re currently targeting).

Content refreshes are an integral part of adapting your strategy. Updating your website and blogs with new keywords, based on your ongoing analysis, can help maintain or improve your search rankings. It’s also an opportunity to keep your content relevant and engaging for your audience.

Adapting your strategy also involves experimenting with different types of content and seeing how they perform in terms of keyword rankings. You might find that certain types of posts, e.g., how-to guides or listicles, perform better for your target keywords than others.

Finally, it’s important to set regular intervals for reviewing and adjusting your keyword strategy. This could be monthly, quarterly, or bi-annually (depending on your resources and the level of competition in your industry). Frequent reviews ensure that your strategy remains aligned with your business goals and responds effectively to the ever-changing digital landscape.

Start Working with the Local SEO Whizzes!

Starting your local SEO keyword research journey can be daunting (especially when you’re aiming for top-notch results).

This is where the value of working with experts truly  shines.

Local SEO is a complex field that requires a deep understanding of search engine algorithms, local market trends, and effective keyword strategies. Tackling it alone can be overwhelming, and even with the best intentions, you may miss out on key opportunities or nuances.

This is where Search Berg enters the picture. Our team of local SEO experts brings a wealth of knowledge and experience. We understand that local SEO isn’t just a matter of inserting keywords into content; it’s the art of crafting a strategy that resonates with your local audience and aligns with how they search and engage online.

With Search Berg, you’re not just getting basic keyword research for SEO. You’re tapping into a suite of local SEO services that are tailored to your specific market and business needs. Our approach is thorough and data-driven; we focus on what works best in your industry and for your audience. Our experts stay updated with the latest SEO trends, and algorithm changes to ensure that your strategy remains effective and ahead of the competition.

Are you ready to experience the sheer power of local SEO keyword research? Our digital doors are open! Sign up for our SEO keyword research  and local SEO services  today. We’ll start off with a free consultation and craft a hyper-specific plan that meets your business’ unique requirements.

Let’s get started !

how to do keyword research for local seo

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Local SEO: The Definitive Guide

This is the ultimate guide to local SEO in 2024.

In this new guide I’ll show you:

  • How to rank in the 3-pack
  • How to build NAP citations
  • How to optimize your Google Business Profile

Let’s get started.

Local SEO: The Definitive Guide

1. Local SEO Basics

The Map Pack

2. The Map Pack

Local SEO Keyword Research

3. Local SEO Keyword Research

Local SEO Ranking Factors

4. Local SEO Ranking Factors

Google My Business

5. Google My Business

On-site SEO for Local Businesses

6. On-Site SEO For Local Businesses

NAP Citations

7. NAP Citations

Local Link Building

8. Local Link Building

Advanced Local Tips & Strategies

9. Advanced Local SEO Tips and Strategies

Chapter 1: local seo basics.

Local SEO Basics

In this chapter, we’ll cover the basics of local SEO.

First, you’ll see interesting data that proves that SEO is a must for any local business.

Then, I’ll show you how The Map Pack works… and the best way to track your Map Pack rankings.

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is the practice of optimizing a business’s visibility in local search results. Key tasks include identifying relevant local keywords, optimizing a business’s Google Business Profile , and creating consistent NAP citations. It is an essential process for businesses focusing on increasing localized traffic, leads, and brand awareness.

Why is Local SEO Important?

I’m not going to throw a bunch of random stats at you.

But I do want to briefly show you a few fascinating statistics to highlight just how huge SEO is for local businesses.

46% of all searches in Google have “local intent” ( Search Engine Roundtable ).

46% of all searches in Google have "local intent"

29% of all Google SERPs contain a local pack in the results ( RankRanger ).

29% of all Google SERPs contain a local pack in the results

76% of consumers that search for something local on their phone visit a store that day ( Google ).

So it’s clear that local searches make up a huge chunk of the SEO world. And if you can get your local business in front of these searches, there’s a good chance they’ll be walking through your door a few minutes later.

How Does Local SEO Work?

At a high-level Local SEO works like “normal” Google search.

When someone does a search, Google scans through its index to provide the best results for that person’s query.

What makes Local SEO unique is that Google uses a different set of ranking factors to rank the local search results .

In fact, local SEO has a set of unique ranking signals, including:

  • The location that the person is searching from
  • NAP citations
  • Presence of Google Business Profile listing
  • Keywords used in Google Business Profile profile
  • Sentiment of online reviews
  • Keywords used in online reviews
  • Number of “check-ins” at that location
  • Shares on social media
  • Google Maps star rating for that business

Chapter 2: The Map Pack

The Map Pack

Chapter 2 is all about The Map Pack.

In this chapter you’ll learn:

  • How Google’s local Map Pack works
  • How to track your Map Pack rankings
  • Helpful local SEO tools
  • How to rank in Google organic for local keywords

So if you want to get a crash course on The Map Pack, you’ll really enjoy this chapter.

Intro to The Map Pack

The Map Pack (also known as “The Local Pack”) is a set of 3 local business results… with a map of their locations pulled from Google Maps.

The map pack

For example, when you search for “Barber Boston”, Google has a Map Pack at the very top of the results.

Google SERP – Map pack

With the “normal” search results underneath it:

Google SERP – Normal results under map pack

I’ll show you how Google ranks businesses in The Map Pack later in this guide. But for now, just keep in mind that The Map Pack has its own algorithm with its own set of rules.

Sure, some ranking factors (like backlinks ) can help you rank in local and traditional organic results.

But others (like NAPs) are pretty much only important for ranking in The Map Pack.

One thing I should point out:

Google doesn’t only show local results for keywords that contain a specific city or state. If Google thinks that your search needs a set of local results, they’ll show it to you… even if the keyword isn’t obviously local.

For example, when I recently searched for “gardener” in NYC, Google gave me a Map Pack.

Google SERP – Gardener – Map pack

This is important to keep in mind as you do keyword research for your local business. Yes, you want to optimize for “store + city” keywords.

In many cases, the generic “store” keyword without a location gets more search volume than the “store + city” version.

With that out of the way, let’s see how to track your local SEO rankings.

How To Track Map Pack Rankings

One of the first steps in any local SEO campaign is to benchmark where you’re at.

Specifically, you want to see where you rank in The Map Pack. And track your Map Pack rankings over time.

Pretty much every rank tracker on the planet has Map Pack tracking.

Local rank trackers

The issue is that, with local SEO, where you’re searching from is HUGE. In fact, the Map Pack results can be completely different from one mile to the next.

For example, let’s say someone searches for a “coffee shop” on 72nd st and 2nd avenue in NYC.

"coffee shop" NYC search – Location A

Those results are going to be super tailored to where that person’s standing.

In fact, that same search performed a few blocks away can bring up a completely different site of Map Pack results (or the same results in a different order).

"coffee shop" NYC search – Location B

if you only track your local rankings from a single location (like “New York”), you’re only seeing a small sample of where you actually rank in the real world.

Which is why you want to get super granular with your local rankings. That way, you can see where you rank across your entire city or local area.

I recommend a tool called Local Falcon for this kind of detailed Map tracking.

LocalFalcon – Homepage

But there are others, like Local Viking , that do pretty much the same thing.

Anyway…

The first step is to choose your business name (Note: this feed comes directly from Google Maps. So to use this tool, you’ll need a Google Business Profile profile already set up).

Local Falcon entering business name

Then, choose a keyword you want to check your rankings for.

Local Falcon entering keyword

Finally, choose how specific or broad you want your rank tracking to be.

For example, here’s a 5-mile (8km) rank tracking radius.

Local Falcon – Setting up search radius

It’s set up with a 7 x 7 grid, which gives you a great idea of where your business ranks across this entire area.

(This grid can go right up to 15 x 15 if you really want to see the edges of where you might rank.)

Then, it’s time to check the rankings.

After the tool does its thing, you end up with a visual interface that shows your rankings for each geographical position:

Local Falcon search results

As you can see, you get a nice interactive map that shows where you rank in lots of different spots throughout the city.

As you can see, rankings are best on the outskirts of the city… and get progressively worse as you go downtown.

Local Falcon search results highlighted grid

This isn’t necessarily a problem. It could be that a competitor has a location that’s more centrally located than your hotel. So for someone doing a mobile search from that location, Google considers the competitor a better fit.

That said, you should use the tool to find spots where you “should” rank well… but don’t.

For example, you can see that this local paving business ranks #1 in the far north of the city… except for one spot.

Local Falcon search results – Highlighted top row

So in that case, you’d want to click on the result to see who is outranking you:

Local Falcon rankings for certain spot

In this case, a competitor is ranking #1.

But if you’re not satisfied with the #2 spot, check out the competitor’s address in their listing. That way, you can cross-check where they are physically located on this map.

Competitor location on Google Maps

And when you put the competitor’s location on the rankings map, you can see why you’re having trouble cracking the #1 spot.

Competitor location on Local Falcon search results

The simple explanation is that this search location is MUCH closer to the competitor. So it makes perfect sense that Google would want to make this competitor the #1 result.

Local Organic Rankings

If you’re a local business, The Map Pack is the place to be.

You don’t want to completely ignore the traditional local results.

Yes, the local organic results usually show up BELOW the local pack.

Google SERP – Pizza Boston

But don’t let that fool you into thinking that it’s “Map Pack or nothing”. Because most local searches have an insanely strong commercial intent, it’s totally worth ranking in the local SERPs too.

And, unlike Map Pack results, the local results are basically the same for any Google SERP.

So to optimize your site for local organic rankings, you want to use your keyword in your title tag, in your URL… and all the traditional on-page SEO stuff .

Basically, everything covered in this video:

Plus: backlinks. 🙂

Actually, the only unique thing about local organic rankings is how you track them. Remember: “store + city” only make up a fraction of all local searches.

So in addition to “Boston barber”, you also want to track your rankings for keywords like “Barber” and “Barber near me”.

For example, if you wanted to track rankings for “barber near me” for people searching in Boston, you just need to specify the location in your rank tracking tool of choice:

Ahrefs adding keyword with specific city location

And if you want to get a better idea of where you rank around town, you can track your rankings for that same keyword across lots of different spots.

Ahrefs adding keyword with multiple locations

Chapter 3: Local SEO Keyword Research

Local SEO Keyword Research

In this chapter, I’m going to show you how to find keywords for local SEO.

Fortunately, local SEO keyword research is basically a “one and done” process.

Unlike a blog, you usually don’t need to keep finding new keywords all the time.

That’s not to say keywords aren’t important for local searches. They definitely are. But in most cases, all you need to get started is a short list of keywords that people use to find your local biz. This highlights the need to undertake a keyword analysis to find relevant and search-worthy words for your target audience.

Yelp Suggest

This works the same as Google Suggest.

Type in a keyword that someone in your area might use to find your business…

Yelp search for HVAC near Boston

…and check out the suggested results.

Yelp results for HVAC near Boston

What’s cool about Yelp is that they sometimes show you keywords that don’t contain the term you typed in .

For example, if you search for “Japanese”, they also suggest “Asian Fusion Food”.

Yelp results with Asian fusion suggestion

Google Suggest

Google Suggest can also work well for local searches.

The only thing to keep in mind here is that the local search has to be something that potential local customers are gonna search for.

For example, if you type in “HVAC”, you get this list of suggestions:

Google suggestions for "HVAC" search

Outside of “near me”, these keywords aren’t a great fit for local SEO.

But when you add a local term, like “HVAC B”, you start to see keywords that you can use.

Google suggestions for local "HVAC B" search

Local Voice Searches

According to Google, 20% of all Google searches done on mobile are now voice searches .

20% of all Google searches done on mobile are now voice searches

The main difference between voice and keywords searches is that voice searches tend to be longer and use natural language.

For example, take a local keyword like “gluten free pizza brooklyn”.

Gluten free pizza Brooklyn

Well, that same search done via someone’s voice will probably be more like: “gluten free pizza in brooklyn that’s open right now”.

Gluten free pizza in Brooklyn that's open right now

As far as I know, there aren’t any tools to help you find voice search keywords. But it’s something to keep in mind as you go through this process.

GKP “Start With a Website”

The Google Keyword Planner gives you search volume data for specific geographic areas.

Keyword Planner – Local results for "boston web design"

So if you already have a bunch of keywords and want to pick the best of the bunch, this feature is helpful.

But if you’re on the hunt for NEW keywords, I recommend using their “Start With a Website” feature.

Just pop in the homepage URL of one of your competitors:

Keyword Planner – Start with a website search

And Google will suggest a bunch of keywords based on the terms that show up on that page.

Keyword Planner results for "boston barber exchange" website

Chapter 4: Local SEO Ranking Factors

Local SEO Ranking Factors

Now it’s time to dive into how local SEO in Google actually works.

Specifically, I’m going to briefly cover the most important Google local search ranking factors…

…and a few tips on how you can optimize for them.

Google Business Profile > Your Website

Few years ago Moz ran its annual “Local Search Ranking Factors Study” .

And they found that the #1 ranking factor for ranking in the map pack was your Google Business Profile.

Local pack finder ranking factors – Google My Business

Your local business website is still important. The content on your page and the links pointing to your site play a role in your Map Pack rankings.

But for your business to rank #1 in The Map Pack, your Google Business Profile needs to be on point.

(Which is why I dedicated an entire chapter of this guide, Chapter 5, to optimizing your GBP.)

NAPs are HUGE

NAP (Name, Address and Phone number) citations are another key local SEO ranking signal.

NAP citations are places where your name, address and phone number are all listed out.

Brian's bagel shop – NAP citation

Why is this important?

Well, Google uses NAPs to confirm that all of your business info is correct. And the more often they see NAP citations for your business, the more confident they are that your address is where you say it is and that your phone number is correct.

NAP citations influence Google rankings

This is why you want to get consistent NAP citations on as many reputable websites as you can.

Online Reviews

Moz’s local ranking factors study also found that “Review Signals” played an important role.

Local pack finder ranking factors review signals

Specifically, they state that negative reviews on your Google Business Profile can hurt you. And that Google probably also uses reviews on 3rd party sites (like Yelp) too.

So yeah, getting positive reviews can help you ( assuming that you don’t incentivize folks to leave reviews or ask in bulk ). And negative reviews can hurt you.

According to one panelist that participated in the study: “ Reviews (along with an owner’s response) show that consumers trust a business, and trust is a foundational factor in ranking.”.

This means that replying to reviews, even negative ones, can help your local SEO efforts.

“Normal” SEO Still Applies

With all that said:

Google’s traditional ranking factors still 100% apply to local.

In fact, Google confirmed that your rankings in the organic SERPs impact your local rankings:

how to do keyword research for local seo

"Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization."

This means: the higher you rank in the organic results, the higher you’ll rank in The Map Pack.

This is why creating content, optimizing your pages and building backlinks is still SUPER important for local SEO rankings. Especially for competitive industries (legal, dentistry, etc).

Chapter 5: Google Business Profile

Google My Business

Now it’s time to optimize your Google Business Profile.

Like I mentioned in the last chapter, claiming your business listing in Google is super important for ranking in the local results.

So if you want to get the most out of your GBP, this chapter is for you.

Keep Everything 1000% Consistent

When it comes to GBP, consistency is HUGE.

Not only should everything you enter into the GBP match your website, but it should also match your NAP citations around the web.

GMB and your website should match NAP citations from around the web

When Google sees that your business info is consistent in your GBP, on your website and 3rd party sites like Yelp, they say: “OK, this business is legit. And their local info all matches up.”

Google says the business is legit

But when your local business has one address listed in their GBP and another on the website, that’s a huge red flag to Google:

Addresses that do not match will be flagged by Google

So if your business changes its name, physical location or phone number, it’s important that the new data gets updated ASAP. And that includes citations on local business directories.I also recommend double-checking that your business’s address is written out the exact same way on your Google Business Profile and everywhere else it shows up.

Make sure your address is written out the exact same way

Google doesn’t like it when one address says “Avenue” and another version uses “Ave.”.

This kind of thing won’t stop the mailman from delivering your Amazon package. But it’s a confusing signal for Google.

Fill In Every Data Point You Can

Google gives you a score for how complete your profile is.

Google My Business – Completion score

But in my experience, this score is REALLY generous. You can get a really high score just for covering the basics.

So I’d use their score as a baseline. But if you want to rank for competitive keywords, you probably need to go above and beyond.

The main thing I see people miss out on is category selection .

Google will force you to choose a top-level category that describes your business.

Google My Business – Primary category

And the category you go with has to match a category they already have (you can’t make up your own category).

Google My Business – Primary category selection

That said: lots of people forget to add in secondary categories . These secondary categories directly impact the keywords and searches your business can rank for.

Google My Business – Additional categories

While you’re in there, I also recommend filling in the “Services” and “Products” tabs:

Google My Business – Add services and products

This info tells Google what it is that your business is actually selling. So it’s super important to fill this stuff in.

Keep Crucial Business Data Updated

Double-check that your opening hours, holidays and other basic business info are all accurate and up-to-date.

This kind of thing may not directly impact rankings.

But when someone drives to your restaurant, only to see a “Closed” sign, you can expect a bad review from a hangry person.

So you want it to be second nature that when opening hours change, that change is also made inside Google Business Profile.

Get More Reviews (and Reply to Any That Come In)

As I mentioned back in Chapter 4, reviews are one of Google’s top local ranking signals.

Needless to say, you want as many positive reviews as you can get.

Whether a review is positive, negative, or in-between, I HIGHLY recommend replying to every single review.

This shows potential customers (and Google) that you care.

Just look at the difference that this reply makes:

Owner reply on Google customer review

If you’re considering visiting India House, the reply takes a lot of the bite out of that negative review.

And you can reply to your reviews inside the Google Business Profile dashboard.

Google My Business – Reply to review

When it comes to getting reviews, there are two things to keep in mind:

  • You need to ask customers to leave reviews (most happy customers won’t without a little prodding)
  • You need to make it SUPER easy for them

And one of the best ways to do both?

Send customers an email with a review link.

There are two ways to generate a review link:

Way #1: Head over to this page and enter your business name.

Place ID Finder

This will give you the “Place ID” for your business.

Then, add your place ID to this URL: https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=

So using the example above, the URL would be: https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid= ChIJ-x3_Q8d544kRkvCvAv2dNqY

And when you click on the link, it prompts the user to leave a review.

how to do keyword research for local seo

Way #2: Login to your GBP account and head over to the “Get more reviews” card.

GMB – Get more reviews

Finally, generate a short URL that you can send to customers.

Chapter 6: On-Site SEO For Local Businesses

On-site SEO for Local Businesses

In this short chapter, I’ll cover a few ways that local businesses can get the most out of their on-site SEO efforts.

So once you’ve optimized your title tags and body copy with the traditional on-page SEO approaches, it’s time to tap into these strategies specifically designed for local small business websites.

Write Unique Content for Every Location

You probably already know that you want to write 100% unique content for every page on your site.

So if your business serves Boston and Brookline, you want the content for each page to be completely different.

Write unique content for every location

But what you may not know is that, as long as you avoid duplicate content, you can create these sorts of landing pages for cities that you’re not physically based in .

This obviously won’t help you rank in the Map Pack.

(You need a Google Business Profile for that location for that.)

But you can totally rank in the local organic results for lots of different local keywords. And as long as you serve folks in that area, the traffic will convert well too.

For example, this roofing service has pages optimized around “Brockton” and “Natick”.

Roofing service locally optimized pages

The best part? They’re not located in Natick OR Brockton.

Roofing service – Location

Yet they rank in the local SERPs for both of their target keywords.

Business ranking for two locations

How to Use Schema For Local SEO

When it comes to local SEO, Schema markup is more of a “nice to have”.

That said, there’s an entire category of Schema markup for local businesses.

Schema – Local business markup

For example, you can use this Schema to markup your address and phone number.

I don’t think Google relies on Schema that much for Map Pack rankings (after all, they have all of this data already in your GBP). But if you’re confident that you can implement it correctly, there’s nothing wrong with using “LocalBusiness” markup on your site.

One type of Schema that can definitely help is review markup.

Like any SERPs, review stars can turn your boring result into an eye-catching Rich Snippet .

Eye catching rich snippets

( Note: Google stopped supporting review snippets for “LocalBusiness” and “Organization” schema types. But you can still use review schema for content, tools, recipes or other content on your local business website.)

Use Title Tag Cliffhangers

I picked up this technique from Facebook Ad guru Nicholas Kusmich .

And I’ve found that it works GREAT for local business sites.

The idea here is that you start your title tag off with a strong, benefit-driven statement.

Use strong, benefit-driven statements for title tags

Then, make sure the statement goes beyond Google’s title tag limit (currently 500-600 pixels or 50 characters).

Make sure your statement goes beyond Google's title tag limit

This cutoff creates an open loop that can lead to more clicks.

Backlinko reader Andrew Holland used this technique on his local agency site a while ago.

Andrew Holland title tag cliffhanger in Google

And he told me that this tactic led to a significant increase in his organic CTR and rankings.

Chapter 7: NAP Citations

NAP Citations

Now it’s time to transition into one of the most challenging parts of local SEO: NAP citations.

NAP citations are like backlinks: they’re super hard to build. But super important too.

And in this chapter, I’ll show you how to build local citations the right way.

Run a NAP Audit

You want your NAP data to be 100% consistent everywhere.

On your website.

On your Google Business Profile.

On business directories.

On local listings sites.

Basically: any place that mentions your business online.

There are a million citation tools and services out there. I personally recommend WhiteSpark and Loganix . But like I said, there are quite a few options to choose from.

No matter what tool or service you use, the most important things you’ll need to have before you start are:

  • The current, up-to-date NAP for the business.
  • Any historic NAP info (that way, you can find and update outdated citations).

With this information, the tool you use will scour the internet for NAPs. And you’ll get a report like this:

Whitespark – NAP report for Loews Boston

Fix and Correct Incorrect NAP

Now that you have a list of citations, you want to find NAP citations that aren’t correct or consistent.

Whitespark – Incorrect and missing NAP for Loews Boston

(For older businesses that haven’t done an audit before, you can expect A LOT of citations that need a fix or update.)

So once you have a list of NAP citations that need updating, the next step is to correct as many as you can.

In my experience, incorrect NAPs fall into two different categories:

  • Citations you can change (for example, your NAP on Yelp).
  • Citations someone else has to change (for example, a mention on a local resource page).

For the first category, updating these one-by-one is a giant pain. Which is why services like Yext and Bright Local exist.

Yext and Brightlocal

For citations that need a manual change from someone else, you’ll need to reach out one by one with targeted, friendly outreach emails.

Here’s an example:

NAP citation fix outreach email

Find Citation (and Link) Opportunities With Link Intersect

After you’ve built citations at Yelp, FourSquare, Angie’s List, and the other usual suspects, what’s next?

In my experience, your best citation opportunities come from local sites . Local citations are super relevant citations that can give your Map Pack rankings a real boost.

And because you’re reaching out to folks in your local area, your outreach conversion rate is usually going to be insanely high.

Question is:

How do you find these local citations?

I recommend checking out the Backlink Gap feature in Semrush .

Semrush – Backlink gap

As the name suggests, this feature is designed for link building. But, as you’ll see in a minute, it definitely works for citations too.

In fact, you can sometimes “double-dip” and get a link and citation from the same place.

With that, here’s the step-by-step process:

First, take a batch of 2-3 competitors and pop them into the tool along with your website on top:

Backlink gap – Input websites

Pro Tip: You don’t always need to use direct competitors here. Any business in your area can work. After all, they’re also building citations from local business directories.

Then, you’ll get a report that lists all the sites that have linked to the competitors you used in step #1.

Backlink gap – Prospects list

Finally, sift through the results to find citation opportunities.

Citation opportunity for McMahon Plumbing on Nextdoor

Link opportunities:

Link opportunity for McMahon Plumbing on neponset

I don’t recommend worrying too much about nofollow links here. Remember: the main goal here is to get your NAP on the page. If you get a link (even a nofollow one) that’s a bonus.

Reverse Engineer Competitor NAPs

The same tools you use for NAP audits can also be turned against your competitors.

All you need are their NAP details, you’ll get a comprehensive list of all the places they’ve been mentioned online.

Whitespark – NAP report for McMahon Plumbing and Heating

In my experience, this approach works better than Link Intersect. With a citation tool, the results don’t necessarily have to have a link to your competitor’s site to show up.

These tools will show you straight up NAP listings, like this:

McMahon plumbing and heating NAP on MyZipPlumbers

Chapter 8: Local Link Building

Local Link Building

When it comes to local link building pretty much every link building strategy that works for non-local websites will also work for local dentists, pizza shops and locksmiths.

It gets better:

Because local businesses also have a strong tie to a specific city or state, they also have LOTS of unique backlink opportunities that non-local sites can’t tap into.

And in this chapter, Chapter 8, I’ll cover a handful of powerful local link-building strategies.

Other Local Businesses

Most local businesses have relationships with other businesses in their local area.

Even though you’ll probably need to tap into cold email outreach at some point, I recommend starting off by building links from people that you already know.

So I recommend listing out every:

  • Distributors
  • Neighboring business

That you have any sort of relationship with.

Then, look for a specific page on their site where a link to you would make sense .

(This is the step a lot of people overlook.)

For example, this paving contractor has a page that links to some of their favorite distributors.

Claypave distributors page

Your Local Chamber of Commerce

Your local Chamber of Commerce is one of the easiest links you’re ever going to get.

Here’s an example of a Chamber of Commerce backlink:

Chamber of commerce backlink

How you get listed depends on the Chamber. Some require an annual fee. Others make you keep up your membership every year.

Either way, because these links are super relevant, they’re usually worth whatever hoops you need to jump through.

Plus, you almost always get a NAP with your link.

Chamber of commerce NAP

Pro Tip: If you want to get a Chamber of Commerce link that’s actually contextual, consider giving a talk to the local Chamber. If you’ve read this far, you already know more about local SEO than 90% of local businesses out there. So you could give a talk on local SEO… or anything that businesses in your area would want to learn more about.

Chamber of commerce contextual backlink

Sponsor Local Events

It’s a fact:

Most local events need sponsors.

And if you can sponsor a local event, you’ll usually find yourself with a nice link on the event’s website.

For example, this local non-profit circus has a page that links to their supporters:

Circus Starr sponsors page

And your support doesn’t have to be straight cash. Run a pizza place? Consider donating a stack of large pepperoni pizzas. Are you a printing company? You can offer to print up flyers. You get the idea 🙂

Local newspapers and local news sites are STARVING for stories.

And if you do anything remotely interesting (like an anniversary event or “grand re-opening”), you’ll probably find yourself with a beat reporter covering it.

Local newspaper mention

The only catch is that you need to give the news sites a heads up at least a few days before your event so they can prepare. Plus, you can help them write up the story with background deets before the event even happens.

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of an event, you can also be a source for local stories.

The best way to find these opportunities?

The two search strings that have worked best for me are:

  • “Looking to speak to” + “city”
  • #journorequest + “area”

For example, when you search for “Looking to speak to” + “Boston”, you can see that there are TONS of great PR opportunities.

Twitter results for "looking to speak to" Boston

And now it’s time for the last chapter…

Chapter 9: Advanced Local SEO Tips and Strategies

Advanced Local Tips & Strategies

Let’s finish off this guide with a bunch of advanced local SEO tips, strategies and tactics.

None of these tactics will replace good ol’ fashioned NAP building or GBP optimization.

But they can give you a nice little rankings bump.

Thumbtack Suggest

This is yet another way to find local keywords to optimize around.

For example, when you type in “Cleaners”, it gives you a handful of suggestions:

Thumbtack search suggestion for cleaners

Including a bunch of super-specific terms PERFECT to create landing pages around:

Thumbtack search – Hot tub cleaners suggestion

Embed a Google Map on Your About Page

This is a great way to really emphasize to Google that you’re located in a specific place.

All you need to do is find your business in Google Maps.

Giordanos pizza on Google Maps

Then, hit the little dropdown menu in the top left corner of the screen. And click “Share or embed map”.

Giordanos pizza "Share map" feature

This will give you an embed code.

Finally, embed that map on your site’s contact or directions page.

Giordanos pizza embedded map on page

Use Your Location-Focused Keyword Above The Fold

In my experience, this single tip can HELP a lot with local organic rankings.

All you need to do is make sure your local-focused keyword shows up at the very top of your page in a headline.

Something like this:

Local keyword in headline

And I recommend wrapping that title in an H1 tag.

This is more for UX signals than straight-up on-page SEO.

When a local searcher lands on your page, they need to know that you serve their area within 2 seconds .

And when they see a headline like this, they’re probably going to go back to the search results to find a business that’s 100% focused on their city.

Generic headline example

On the other hand, a headline like this makes someone say: “Great. They serve Boston. I’m definitely in the right place.”

Boston landscaping company local headline example

The Title Tag Double Dip

This is an old-school SEO approach that still works really well for local businesses.

All you need to do is optimize your homepage title tag around 2-3 keywords.

For example, this local business’s homepage is optimized around “kitchen remodeling san diego” and “bathroom remodeling san diego”.

Miramar kitchen and bath remodeling

And they rank in the top 3 for both:

Ranking for bath and kitchen keywords

This works in the local world because most local businesses get VERY few links to internal pages.

From analyzing link profiles of the local sites I’ve worked with, I notice that 90%+ of a local site’s backlinks tend to point to their homepage.

This means: you need to squeeze the most value out of your homepage. And optimizing it around several different related keywords is one of the best ways to do that.

Optimize Meta Descriptions for Local Searchers

It’s no secret that your description is a GREAT way to improve your organic CTR .

Unfortunately, I see a lot of local businesses with keyword-stuffed descriptions like this:

Keyword stuffed meta description

Instead, I recommend going with this formula:

Meta description formula

Pro Tip: Use Google Ads to find compelling description copy. After all, this copy is proven to get clicks (otherwise, they wouldn’t use that copy in their ads). So you can’t go wrong by using some of their copy in your description.

For example, when I search for “hotel new york”, I notice that Google ads use the terms like “save”, “free upgrade” and “price guarantee”.

Using Google SERP ads copy

These terms would be PERFECT to use in your page’s description.

Now It’s Your Turn

Conclusion

I want to give a shout out to Backlinko readers Joshua Ballard and Andrew Holland for helping me put this guide together.

Now I’d like to turn it over to you:

Which technique from this guide do you want to try first?

Are you going to find keywords with Thumbtack suggest?

Or maybe you want to optimize your local description.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

Great post, Brian! Can’t wait to try your tips.

Thanks Vivian! Glad to hear that you enjoyed the guide. It was a fun one to put together 👍👍👍

How many hours of work went into this Guide? Once again an impressive, highly useful chunk of information. I’m amazed and almost wish I still had a physical location (rather than simply a Web presence) so I could take advantage of your wisdom Brian.

Thanks Bryan. I don’t keep close track. And we have a team of people work on every guide (I do the writing. My team does pretty much everything else). But between outlining, writing, design, coding, visuals, screenshots… it’s probably around 40-50 hours.

This article is so both helpful and timely. I live in the rural Midwest and am helping small businesses in small and medium sized towns with online promotion. There is no one else here to help these businesses with SEO and my sister-in-law and I have a waiting list of clients wanting our help. I’m going to share this article with potential new clients so they can be informed about things they can do (like GMB) while waiting for us to work on their websites and social media.

Thanks for sharing. I am excited to try this for my sister’s local business.

Brian I am a seasoned successful entrepreneur who now wants to apply his ‘wisdom’ to other peoples’ businesses. I am developing a ‘business consulting’ website to address my prospects of ‘people who need advice’ . Is there application for me to target Local Search even without a store front (meetings would be at their premises or other venues). Any other comments/suggestions to perfect my site for conversions?

Hi Larry, what do you mean by “application”?

Hi Brian, Thanks for sharing this amazing piece of content.

You’re welcome, Harold. 👍👍👍

Wow, this is great!!!! So happy to be on your email list, Brian. This is so helpful and is right up to the minute with the changes going on.

Thanks Michelle. Yup, in the SEO it’s super important to stay up to date with what’s going on. This is a new post so it was easy to include new material. But I also try to keep older stuff updated.

How long will it take for this post to rank #1 for “Best Local SEO Tips”? It deserves to be #1, as all your posts, Brian!

Thanks Romain. That wouldn’t be a bad #1 ranking. I’m gunning for “local SEO” with this guide. It will probably take a while.

As someone who has read all the page 1 articles for the term “local SEO”, I see this getting to the top 3 fairly quickly.

As with all of your articles, this one did not disappoint. I haven’t heard of Local Falcon before and I’m really liking their pricing model. Definitely plan to add that one to the toolbelt.

Thanks for educating us with a great, easy read. Cheers!

You’re welcome, Eric. I also hope this cracks the top 3!

Another great article Brian! Google’s BERT update, voice search generating some buzz and attracting more attention, 2020 going to be a busy year!

Thanks David. You’re right: the rate of change in the SEO world has been speeding up. 2020 should be super interesting.

Review snippets were removed in October from LocalBusiness & Organisation schema that Google deemed as self-serving.

How would a business manage their GMB listings if they had two brands at the same location?

Thanks Oliver. I didn’t necessarily mean to use review snippets for LocalBusiness & Organisation schema (I meant in general). But it’s kind of confusing how its written. I ned to change that.

Good question. It’s OK for multiple businesses to share the same address. But there’s usually a suite # or room # that’s unique for each business that’s at that location (like a mall).

Awesome read Brian. Really nice to see confirmation of some of the SEO stuff I’ve been implementing on recent campaigns, and nice to know I’m on the right path with pushing hard for GMB optimization.

Thanks Connor. Absolutely: NAPs and off-site stuff is important. But an optimized GMB profile is the foundation.

As usual a super post Brian 😁 GMB seems to get updated quite often with platform updates. What was once working or was an option you could use seems to disappear pretty quickly. Consistency is key between GMB and NAPs often the most common stumbling block for businesses when taking GMB steps. We updated our local guide only a few months ago. Covering things a bit differently than you do (but its the same stuff essentially) I have to say I am drooling over yours, its much clearer and easier to understand! back to the drawing board for ours?! 🤫 not sure if I should add the link into this comment or not so you can decide? ( https://www.valendigital.co.uk/blog/guide-to-local-seo/ ) I guess you can always take it out.

Thanks Alexzander. I actually think your guide is solid. Lots of actionable stuff and it’s clear that you guys have a lot of experience with local SEO.

In regards to going over the title tag limit of 50 characters for cliffhangers, is there any chance your rankings would be penalized because of it?

Hi Ryan, I haven’t seen Google say anything that long titles tags could be considered being black hat. There’s nothing shady about it. Especially considering how often title tag lengths in the SERPs change, it would be tough for Google to go after sites for having title tags that are “too long”.

First, thanks for a great post Brian.

Ryan, I sometimes create a longer title with the expectation that Google will format it according to the search. No issues recorded to date.

Thanks for thèse great advices on local SEO. Optimizing the headlines is a vert smart way to add the town/ neighborhood and get quality traffic nearby. I also agree that local PR can help a lot in getting your business in the jungle. Again! Thanks for your great article. It is really helpful. Thanks Brian!

Hi Sarah, you’re welcome. Absolutely: local PR is a super underrated local SEO strategy. Unless you live in a huge city like NYC, local newspapers and blogs are desperate for stuff to write about. So as long as you do something remotely interesting, you’re good.

I can not wait to read through the entire post & learn new tactics! 🙂 Thanks again for all your help.

You’re welcome, Darshana. I hope you enjoy the post.

Awesome stuff Brian! However, you made no mention of GMB posts, which have been shown to help with local SEO ranking.

Thanks Davis. I know GMB posts can help your listing stand out. But I haven’t seen any study that shows that it helps with map pack rankings. Can you send me the source for that?

Sure, here is a collection of case studies on it: https://blog.oneupapp.io/google-my-business-posts-help-seo/

Ehh this is iffy. Posts make the listing look better which can increase CTR. I believe LocalU has proven it no longer (if ever) has a direct impact on rankings.

That said, if you use GMB websites when you do a post it will auto add it to the GMB website which may help.

Thanks Brian. I’m about to set up a website that requires heavy local SEO. This will definitely come in handy.

Hey Evan, nice. Yup, this should definitely help!

Great guide Brian! Very well researched and simply put, making it an easy read. Overall it’s a great local SEO guide I have ever read.

Thank you Tangeer.

All what you say make a lot of sense… everytime you add a city in the search you might appear in local search actually… pretty powerful for local business.

Yup! It’s amazing how many keywords have local long tail versions. It’s an untapped opportunity.

And these keywords are super targetted… If I search seo agency in “city” you can be sure that it is super qualifed…

Wow! Just Wow! Brian, this is so informational. I want to try GMB first, and I will try all other local SEO tips. The guide is easy to understand. Ps bookmarking this page for reference.

Thanks Charity! I appreciate that. The entire Backlinko team put a ton of effort into this guide. So it’s nice to hear that you’re getting so much value from it.

I had never heard of NAP citations before – definitely something to start!

Hi Nathan, if you want to rank a local business website, NAPs are humongous. Worth learning about for sure.

Brian, This a fresh local guide SEO 2019… with tons tips and ideas… But Ranking GMB coming more difficult because only 3 places available in Google Pack… Anyway good job thanks Brian.

Hi Claude, thanks! And you’re 100% right: it’s all about ranking in the top 3… because there is only a top 3.

Just what i was looking for! Thank you for sharing. It’s perfect with the chapters, when I need to revisit, or look up a specific subject

You’re welcome, Marco. Hope it helps you out.

Wow very extensive. Would love to see a case study where you breakdown a client From zero to hero showing them climb from nowhere to the pack.

Thanks Brian. That would be a cool case study. I’ll look into that.

Wow, Brian! Thanks for sharing such an in-depth article on Local SEO. I have been looking for local seo guide from you for long time.

Thanks Manoj. Local SEO was actually the #1 most-requested topic that the Backlinko community wanted me to cover. It’s about time I got around to it 😂😂😂

Great post Brian!

I actually started at an agency that specializes in dental marketing. They have dominated the niche and been doing Local SEO & Marketing for over 25 years.

I thought you really covered the topic of Local SEO well!

Since I started running my consultancy Ratynski Digital (we specialize in Local SEO) I’ve picked up a few tricks and tips along the way.

Here are a few things to add:

1. Don’t go too crazy with categories. Google puts the most weight on your primary category and adding too many categories (especially if they aren’t relevant can actually hurt you)

2. Take advantage of the questions and answers section in GMB.

3. Front load your location specific KW in your title tag if possible.

4. When your doing link building with your neighboring businesses, also see if you can’t do some sort of shared promotion for each other! Even something as simple as a flyer in each other’s stores can make a drastic impact!

Let me know if you’d like anymore, but I hope those help your readers!

Hi Alex, thanks man! Good stuff here. I wish WordPress had a “pin comment” feature like YouTube so I could pin this to the top of the comments section.

Well, someone has been reading Brian’s tips on relationship-building and outreach. 😀

Thank you Brain! Local SEO is a challenge for us because of our global service. But love your content and I personally learn so much! I always forward your content to my team!

Hi Johnny, you’re welcome. For lots of businesses, you don’t need to worry that much about local SEO. It’s only important if you have a physical location in a city and serve people that live in that city (plumbers, dentists, web design agencies, etc.)

This is a super awesome guide. In my experience, one thing that will also help in boosting the rankings in local maps is when someone will create backlinks with their anchor and in place of URL they can use their Google My Business Profile link with the exact location. This would also help in pushing the results in Google Maps Ranking. I have experienced it many times.

Thanks Navneet. And good tip there!

Hey Brian, I love your stuff and your article.. yes.. i do invest the time to read the entire thing, I wanted to provide feedback about this one. I feel it’s just scratching the surface and altho it’s long and there is lots of info, it walks around the subject and not really providing actual tactics and actions to win 3 pack ranking.

I would love to see an article that actually has a strong actionable strategy for 3 pack ranking,

Hey Eldar, thanks for your feedback. Yeah, it’s tough to cover everything there is about local SEO (including tactics) in a single post. It’s kind of like trying to cover “normal” SEO in one post. You can cover a lot but there will always be missing bits and pieces.

I agree… there is no doubt that this post is valuable and have ton of great info. I wish you will create a guide on ranking as well.. BTW .. I almost bought your last course I didn’t as I feel its not much in my niche as I deal with local home services business mainly. ( i would buy a course on 3 pack ranking form you for sure! hopefully you will release one soon )

So overwhelming what you’ve created here. Many dear THANK YOU. I would like to download it as a PDF and print it out. Is there a possibility to get the text as a PDF file ?

You’re welcome, Stefan. We don’t have a PDF ready right now but may add it to the post soon.

That would be SOOOO Helpful – probably a Check-List would be nice

Brian, I came here expecting something great, unfortunately, I left disappointed.

I was suspect when you said citations are huge. Huge would be an overstatement. At one time they were, yes. Perhaps back in 2014. They are becoming less and less important, and definately aren’t huge.

I had to stop reading when you (or your team) said:

I mean honestly, do you seriously believe that with how smart Google is, they don’t know that ‘Ave’ is the same as ‘Avenue’?

Some of your stuff is amazing.

This one lacks research, and knowledge into local SEO.

No dates on any comments or the post, so I assume this is a post from 2014 when citations were a big deal.

Brian, here’s a tip: focus first on the user, second on Google. (ADD DATES to comments/the blog post, people want to know if they are reading comments or an article from a year ago or a week ago)

Thanks for your feedback, Shasta. For the record, this post is 100% brand new.

Woah! mind == blown.

Great Guide Brian. This is so informative. Although the content is too broad but I believe you will be creating guestographic for this too to share.

This can be a huge lead magnet if available as a ebook too. Gonna try out every single tip.

Thanks Manu.

Great definitive guide as always Brian. Since you are talking about local SEO, and yelp plays a good role in that, what do you think about this article I just wrote https://www.amberddesign.com/yelp-ranking-factors/

I just wanna hear your thoughts and advice.

Thanks Emin. I’ll check it out.

Thanks Brian, would love to hear your thoughts after.

Thanks Brian for this awesome local seo guide. I already put that in the “Must Read list” for my clients!

Hi Nico, you’re welcome. Nice! Yup, this a great thing to send to clients. It shows how much work and expertise goes into local SEO.

Golden as always, Brian. I wrote a post on Local SEO about a year ago. Maybe I’ll give it a bit of a revamp.

Thanks. Sounds good. Local SEO does change pretty often so it’s not a bad idea to tweak things.

Can’t wait for a local SEO course from you!

Not a bad idea 🙂

Fantastic Content! Thanks for the tip on LocalFalcon.

Thanks Bob! It’s a SUPER helpful tool.

First thanks for taking the time to write this massive guide. Looks like we are following all the local SEO related tips you are mentioned.

You’re welcome, Jacob.

Hi Brian, This is amazing article and very insightful information in this local SEO guide. Please keep posting this fabulous articles.

Thanks Usman.

Great share, tons of actionable insights as usual.

Thanks Joshua. One of the cool things about local SEO is that there are lots of little tactics that can make a massive difference. So it was fun to write this one up.

Great article. Place ID finder is new for me and I just tried. Amazing. I used to say my clients to search my site and give reviews. Most of them go to Facebook and give review there. Google reviews does not come first in their mind. Thanks again 🙂

You’re welcome. Yup, Google reviews is definitely something Google focuses on for local SEO.

Again such an incredible post by Brian Dean. This post has opened my mind to bring my GMB optimization to the next level. Already my site is ranking on the top three of GMB but it will help in the sustainability of my site ranking in GMB. Thanks, Dean! Waiting for an in-depth post of BERT like Rank Brain.

Hi Uxama, thank you. BERT is super new so it might be a while until I start to get to the bottom of it.

I hope you may get to its bottom soon. Thanks, Dean!

Definitely the most thorough and actionable local search guide out there. I’ve done most of these things earlier in the year for two brands through a month of piecing together different strategies from various blogs. Don’t do that. Follow this.

Hey Jeff, thank you! That’s exactly why I put this guide together. There’s honestly nothing groundbreaking here. It’s more to have everything you need in one place.

This is another great post Brian! I’m going to email this to all of our clients, they NEED to read this first to understand what I’m trying to sell them. Great ice breaker!

Nice! This post should help most clients better understand the work it takes to rank local businesses in the 3-pack. It’s no joke!

Wow, this is so helpful. I was curious about the voice search. Thanks

Thank you, Mariken. If you’re interested in voice search, I also recommend reading this post I wrote last year: https://backlinko.com/optimize-for-voice-search

Outstanding article.

By far the most comprehensive article I have ever read on local SEO.

Hey Mike, thanks man!

Thanks a lot for sending an email with a heads up about this article, Brian! It came at exactly the right time, as I’m currently trying to improve my site’s SEO after gradually slipping from the #1 spot to somewhere around #4 or #5 in the last couple months.

I have a question about the ‘title cliffhanger’ idea if you don’t mind.

It seems that title and meta description are displayed differently on a mobile phone than on a desktop computer. For instance when checking on my PC, the title of my site creates a cliffhanger (does not show completely and you see the …. dots), whereas the meta description is displayed fully. On my phone however, the situation is reversed. Title shows fully, but meta description creates a ‘….’ cliff hanger.

What would you suggest is the best way to handle this? Prioritize how it looks on mobile searches or desktop searches? Is it best if only the title creates a cliffhanger while the meta description is displayed fully? Or is it ok or even better to have it in both? Your input would be immensely appreciated.

Hi Aldo, to answer your question: you’re 100% right. The display pixels that Google uses is different on desktop and mobile. So you can either create a title that’s long enough for both, or optimize for the device that your target customer uses most (mobile in most cases).

Excellent article! I never cease to learn great tips and come out with tactics I want to try after reading your articles. Thanks, Brian!

Hi Lauren, thank you! I appreciate that.

Thank you so much Brian Dean for sharing your knowledge related to Local SEO.

But one question I want ask to you….

There are many Youtubers who says “You must include keywords in your business name.”

For example:-

If I want to rank (GMB) for keyword ‘scuba diving in goa’ and my business name is ABCD (suppose) then my business name should like ‘Scuba Diving In Goa – ABCD’

So what you think?? Please reply as soon as possible.

Thanks Rishu. You definitely don’t need to do that. It might help a little but but it’s not required. I see plenty of businesses rank in the 3-pack without having a keyword in their business name.

Can I add here that it’s much better to use your business name consistently than to add keywords in GMB. I used to correct spammy listings but it actually improved their rankings! Just use one name and get it on as many websites as possible.

Great Local SEO guide. We use Local Press Release a lot and find they help. Some local news sites allow you to include your NAP, so you get an unstructured citation.

Hey Simon, thank you! And I’m glad to hear that this stuff is also working for you.

Thanks for this Brian – great stuff as always! And good to see the Andrew and Joshua from STW community pitching in.

Just to point out in the “Run a NAP Audit” you reference “GMG Profile” – I’m guessing this should be “GMB”..?

Cheers Nigel

Hey Nigel, good catch there. And yes, it’s always cool to feature successful people from the Backlinko community.

Of course, this already ranks on page #2 for “local SEO”, despite being published mere hours prior to this comment. I will say, domain authority does kick butt when it comes to rankings!

Good job Brian – a lot went into this, I can tell. Quite a lot missing when it comes to advanced tactics around map embeds, though.

Thanks Ivan. You’re right: a lot of work went into this guide. It’s not 100% comprehensive, but I’m happy with how it turned out.

So glad I found this. I have looked high and low for a Local SEO Guide as as solid as this one. Brian Dean does it again!

Hi Scott, no worries. Lots of people have asked me for local SEO content over the years. So I decided to put everything I knew into this guide.

Great stuff. Just added the “services” to our GMB page.

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Marketing

How to Find Keywords for Local SEO (A Complete Guide)

How to Find Keywords for Local SEO (A Complete Guide)

So you are running a local business.

This means you are optimizing your content to be found by locals. By people who are likely to become your clients.

To do that, you must learn to do keyword research based on locations.

Because people in one location don’t necessarily search Google using the same search terms as in another location.

In this post I’ll get into:

  • What local SEO keyword research is
  • How to find keywords for local SEO

What Is Local Keyword Research?

Local SEO keyword research involves finding popular search terms and phrases made by people in a particular location to optimize content for local search engine results.

So, for instance, if someone were to Google ‘dentist near me’ they are clearly looking to book an appointment to see a dentist.

Dentist near me search results

As you can see in the screenshot above, Google understands when someone searches for a local business. And, in response, Google presents SERP results designed to help users find the local businesses that they are looking for.

SERP results include both text results and SERP features .

And since Google ‘gets’ when a user is looking for a local business, this means to be successful at local SEO, you must learn to spot a keyword with local intent.

Getting this right will help your business attract a steady stream of local customers from Google search results.

Getting this wrong could mean your business will end up under a couch in Google’s index (next to all of those dust bunnies and an old carrot left there by one of my kids.)

Now you might be wondering how Google figures this out.

What Are Keywords with Local Intent?

How is Google able to figure out if a user is searching for something local?

For instance, if you were to Google your favorite restaurant, you might see a local pack even if the restaurant has branches all over the world.

And, yes, sometimes the searcher will include a location in the query or include a modifier like ‘near me’. But, how does Google do it when there are no obvious local modifiers in the query?

For instance, this is what I see when I Google Pizza Hut. I didn’t add any modifiers such as ‘near me’ or location.

Pizza Hut search results

As you can see in the screenshot above, Google presents a Local Pack. More on this later in this post.

A lot happens when someone types a search query into Google. Google uses its natural language processing algorithms to understand the semantic meaning behind the query.

Within this process, Google also has a number of ways to identify if the query has local intent, including tracking user behavior.

Using these methods, Google is able to identify if a query has local intent.

What’s more…

Google has a database of popular user queries that all have local intent. This helps Google quickly identify if a user query is for a local business.

This means in order to get local SEO traffic, you need to identify and target queries in this database.

And, now you know that local searches are different from international search queries.

Now, let’s look at how you can find the right keywords to target for your business.

How to Find Keywords for Local SEO

There are two sides to the local SEO keyword research process.

  • Finding local intent queries
  • Creating content that specifically answers local queries

We’ve discussed how Google identifies and analyzes queries.

Google gets as much information as possible on user queries in order to help users find the best content that instantly satisfies their search intent .

It then helps users find the most relevant content for their search queries by presenting content in the results pages.

That means as an SEO, you must find queries that an audience looking for your services is asking.

Once you have a solid list of user queries that your specific business is designed to answer, you can go about optimizing your content so that Google chooses your content to answer the searcher’s queries.

This means having the most relevant content for the query.

Because SEO is all about matching highly relevant content with the right search queries.

Keyword research is how you do that.

To do this, start by brainstorming your services.

What Are Your Services?

Break your business down into specific services. Yes, this might seem kind of obvious. 😊

And, as I mentioned above, a keyword really represents a question that a user types into Google expecting an answer.

Your services should be the natural answer to those questions.

But think about it this way, what might seem obvious to you might not be obvious to your audience. How do they search for your services?

What phrases do they use?

At this brainstorming stage, you are making a best-guess estimate.

Don’t worry if you don’t get this right immediately. We’ll back your brainstorming up with data in the next step.

Just having a list of business services doesn’t mean you have a list of profitable keywords.

So let’s say you are an injury lawyer. Services you might offer are:

  • Car accidents
  • Construction accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Slip and fall

Now take a look at competitor sites. What are their services?

Use Competitor Sites to Expand Your List of Services

Google your services and take a look at the top-performing competitor websites .

Focus on their service pages. This is useful for two reasons.

Firstly, you might find services that you didn’t think of. Secondly, there really is no need to reinvent the wheel.

So, for instance, I looked up the top organic results for ‘injury lawyer new york’. I clicked on the top text result.

New York injury lawyer home page

I then went to their services page.

Lawyer practice areas page

As you can see from the screenshot above, they list all of their services. Each one of their services links to a page specific to that service.

So, for instance, if you Google ‘car accident lawyer new york’ you’ll see that they occupy the top text result.

Search results for car accident lawyer New York

You can see how your services will eventually become target keywords.

And target keywords will turn into traffic.

Now that you have a list of services, it’s time to look at your keyword research tool to see how actual users search.

Because a little bit of data goes a long way.

Keyword Research

It’s time to jump into your keyword research tool. By doing this you will see actual queries users are typing into Google.

I’d suggest searching for all of your services individually to see what you can see. You might find that your audience uses different terminology than what you would expect.

You also might find a few services that you never thought of.

For instance, I searched for ‘dental x-rays’ in the Similarweb Keyword Generator .

keyword generator by similarweb

Now you’ll notice from the screenshot above that there are a number of keywords for pediatric X-rays.

This might be a service you didn’t think of that you can add to your list of services.

Local intent

Make sure that your target keywords have local intent. This means they are showing local SERP features like Map Packs and Local Packs as well as local text results.

You can easily see this by Googling your target keyword.

Once you’ve done that, make sure that you are searching in the location of your business.

You can easily do this by adding &gl=[country code] to the URL in the search bar.

URL showing a Google search in the US

In the example above, the last two characters are ‘us’. This tells Google you are searching in the US. If you change that to &gl=ca, you will be telling Google to search in Canada.

Now just doing this is not enough.

You should be looking for search queries that are entirely focused on local results.

Beware of pages that have multiple user search intents.

Multiple User Intents Dilute Your Traffic Potential

Some pages have multiple search intents. This is especially true for broad terms but might show up more than you realize.

So for instance, if you were to Google ‘sushi’, you get mixed results. You find a Map Pack at the top of the results which has a clear local intent.

But you also see informational results such as a Wikipedia article at the top of the text result and a Knowledge Panel.

This means there are both local and informational search intents on this SERP.

Google search results for the query 'sushi'

Seeing multiple search intents on a single SERP is not uncommon.

But it means targeting this keyword will dilute your traffic potential.

Think of each intent as serving a different user segment.

Now if there are multiple user segments, even if your keyword research tool shows you a high search volume, a percentage of that search volume isn’t looking for your business.

This means to get to the top spot for this search you might end up competing with sites like Wikipedia. (Good luck with that.)

What’s more, even if you do get the top spot a large percentage of the traffic isn’t looking for your business.

This will either result in a low click-through rate or worse, will result in traffic that has more chance of stopping a freight train with a strand of spaghetti than converting to paying customers.

Google search results for the query 'sushi bar'

Because the more focused your keywords are, the more likely your business is showing up in front of an audience that is looking for your services.

Keyword Research Tools for Local Search Queries

Now, if you are looking for a shortcut, and who isn’t, try using keyword research tools that allow you to filter local keyword intent.

For instance, the Similarweb Keyword Generator tool does just that.

Allow me to demonstrate.

Log into Similarweb and go to the Keyword Generator.

For this example, I’ll start with a keyword and use filters to find the best keywords.

As you can see I’m searching for the keyword ‘sushi bar’.

Similarweb Keyword Generator

The tool generates 319 keywords.

Now, click the keyword intent filter, select Local Intent, and hit Apply.

Similarweb Keyword Generator local filter

Now the tool only shows your 39 keywords all with local intent.

To find the most profitable keywords, you can now filter by:

  • Search volumes
  • Keyword Difficulty

The better you filter the keywords, the more precise you are.

Map Out Your Content and Create Keyword Clusters for Your Pages

At this stage you should have a solid list of keywords. You should notice that several of the keywords overlap.

For instance:

  • Kitchen plumbing
  • Kitchen sink plumbing
  • Kitchen plumbing cost

The question you need to ask at this point is should you create a separate page for each keyword or should you try to include many keywords on one page?

The rule of thumb is to think about this from an audience perspective. Would someone expect to see pricing information on a Kitchen Plumbing page?

If so, you should target both keywords on the same page.

This isn’t always clear.

For instance, if you had an orthodontics page, should you include Invisalign information on the same page?

If you are not sure if these queries are serving different audiences, you can either do a Google search, or you can look at competitor sites.

Once that’s clear, create content that details your service.

Create Your Content

Once you’ve created target keyword clusters for each landing page, you can create content that answers each keyword query. The key here is to think about what a user needs to see on a page.

Keywords may help you figure this out.

What’s more, if you are not entirely sure what to add you can easily look at competitor sites or People Also Ask boxes.

Competitor Sites

Your competitors are likely to have landing pages similar to the ones you are creating.

This means to create a successful landing page you can easily look at the top ranking pages in Google for your keywords.

Look at their headings such as H2s and H3s.

Questions on a lawyer's personal injury page

Also, look in the PAA box for things that your audience are interested to know.

People Also Ask Boxes

Google’s People Also Ask boxes present the searcher with common topically related search queries. This means if you look through the PAA boxes on relevant search terms, you might find obvious questions that your potential customers are asking.

People Also Ask results for the query 'plumber'

  • What do most plumbers charge per hour?
  • How do I hire a professional plumber?

The first query relates to pricing and the second relates to how to hire a plumber.

To answer these questions on your service page, simply Google each one and see what ranks at the top of Google.

Featured Snippet for 'How to hire a plumber'

We can infer from this that as a plumber you should include trust signals on your service pages. This means including your license information and as many customer reviews as possible.

Once you’ve mapped out your site and created your pages it’s important to track your keywords .

Finding Keywords for Local SEO: The Bottom Line

As you can see, doing local keyword research is vastly different from doing international keyword research. As far as Google is concerned, local keywords exist in a completely different keyword database than international keywords.

And, since keywords really represent actual users that are searching the search engine for answers to their queries…

This means the key to success in local keyword research is to find local keywords and create content that directly answers those keywords.

The more accurately you can do that, the more likely your business will see success.

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how to do keyword research for local seo

  • Apr 27, 2023

Keyword research essentials for local SEO

Author: Celeste Gonzalez

an image of author Celeste Gonzalez, accompanied by search-related iconography, including review stars, a map, and a magnifying glass

Understanding your potential customers has never been more valuable than it is today. “Speaking their language” isn’t just a marketing cliché—it can be very lucrative to know the precise language people are using to search for local products and services like the ones you sell.

Doing keyword research is how you can learn to “speak their language.” It can be as simple as describing your products/services and can involve identifying new ways to explain your offerings for different types of customers. It can even introduce your business to new audiences.

This process is essential for any local business that wants people to check them out online. To find out where to start, you have to do keyword research—so, let’s get started.

Table of contents:

What is local keyword research?

The difference between traditional and local keyword research, how to find local search keywords.

General local keywords

Modified local keywords

Identifying local keywords by search demand (using tools)

Factoring in search intent, what you need to know about keyword research for local business blogs.

Local keyword research (or keyword research for local SEO ) refers to the process of identifying keywords that potential customers might search for to find local goods and services. Regularly performing this type of research and executing a strategy based on it can help local businesses appear in the searches best suited to bring customers their way.

Local keyword research is best suited for when a potential customer searches online for a product or service available locally, otherwise known as “local search intent.” This makes it a valuable technique for local business owners (or the marketers and SEOs that work for them).

Traditional keyword research , on the other hand, is not limited to local search intent (more on this in the section specifically about search intent).

This means that the businesses that engage in local keyword research are looking to appeal to customers in their service area, whereas traditional keyword research would be more appropriate for businesses that serve customers regardless of their geography.

So, a larger company that operates in many markets, like Optimum Nutrition, might perform traditional keyword research to identify opportunities to get in front of searchers—such as those that want to learn whether plant-based or whey protein is better , for example.

A local business would essentially do the same thing, except to cater to their audience that is looking for products/services locally. So, for example, a falafel restaurant chain might perform local keyword research to identify an opportunity to get in front of people looking for falafel catering in the Boston area and create a page specifically for that purpose .

A screenshot of falafelkingboston.com/cater-tray/ showing a menu of catering options.

In practice, many parts of the keyword research process are similar whether you’re a local or global business, but there are important nuances, which I’ll explain next.

In general, the content you create—whether it’s a local landing page or informational blog post or anything in between—should be informed by two perspectives:

What you offer

What your target audience wants

Let’s look at keyword research for local SEO from both perspectives, starting with your offerings. For this portion of the process, it’s helpful to break down your keywords into two categories: general and modified.

General local keywords based on your offerings

When you think of general (or broad) keywords, think of all the products/services your local business offers. These are the main keywords you want to target (i.e., create content based on).

Screenshot of a completed search on Google for “detailing burbank”

Targeting these general keywords can help improve your business’s visibility in the organic search results. That way, when someone searches for detailing burbank , for example, your page about your Burbank-based auto shop’s detailing services might appear in the search results, which brings you closer to winning over a new customer.

It helps to come up with a list of products/services you offer and organize them based on priority or how essential they are to your business.

For example, a medical spa might list the following services (which could also function as general keywords to create content about):

CoolSculpting

Laser hair removal

Depending on the nature of the product/service (and the questions customers have about it), you could create one page that lists them all or create a dedicated page for each one.

Modified local keywords based on your offerings

You can modify the keywords you identified (in your list of general keywords from the exercise above) by finding long tail variations —variations of the keyword that have low search volume , but higher intent behind them.

This approach helps you appeal to potential customers that have a very specific need; for example, the way a local bakery’s page about their gluten-free, vegan breads appeals to a niche audience.

Going back to the medical spa example, this can be as simple as specifying the types of Juvederm offered.

Juvederm XC

Juvederm Ultra XC

Juvederm Ultra Plus XC

Juvederm Volbella

Juvederm Vollure

This also applies for home services businesses. If your home service business offers 24-hour or emergency services, you should add that to your main service keywords as well.

Lastly, another way to refine your list of keywords is by adding a relevant location to the front or end of the keyword. You can use “offering + location” (e.g., tacos near me ) or “location + offering” (e.g., los angeles tax services) for your keyword research.

Other than listing out your offerings, how else can you find keywords for your local business?

Keyword tools like Google Search Console , Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, Semrush , etc. can give you a sense of the keywords people are searching to find businesses like yours. You could even use Google’s autocomplete suggestions to help with keyword ideas.

Google Search Console is always a great place to start. You’ll be able to find out what queries your business is already gaining impressions and clicks from. You could easily use this data to create part of your SEO strategy .

For example, you can see the queries that a particular page has shown in the search results for. To do so, visit Google Search Console , then:

A screenshot of the main Google Search Console dashboard, with an arrow highlighting the location of the “Page” link to illustrate the instructions.

Select Search results in the left-hand navigation menu

Click + New in the filters section

Select Page

In the Page pop-up, select Exact URL from the drop-down menu

Enter the page URL you’d like to check out

The table beneath the chart shows you the queries that page has shown up in search results for. (Note: Google Search Console is not 100% accurate and does not reflect all data .)

Screenshot of Google Search Console’s Search Results tab where it is displaying top queries for a page from celestelili.com for the last 3 months. Queries include “starbucks cold brew orders,” “how to order cold brew at starbucks,” “best starbucks cold brew order,” “starbucks cold brew order,” and “cold brew orders.”

From here, you could enter these queries into Google Keyword Planner or Semrush to get local search volumes . You can then narrow down which keywords you’d like to target based on this list.

And, remember, targeting a term doesn’t always mean creating a dedicated page for it—it could also mean adding a section about it onto an existing page, for example.

Once you have a narrowed-down list of keywords you’d like to target for your business, it’s time to address their search intent . It’s important to look at the search results for the keywords you are researching. This will let you know the type of content that Google serves to people searching for these terms, which will influence your success when pursuing the given keyword.

Take a look at what’s on the search engine results page (SERP) for a keyword you’re interested in. Are there videos? Are there mainly directories (Yelp, Angi’s, etc)? What you see in the search results can hint at the type of page and even the type of content you should include on the page for the keyword you want to target.

Let’s say I’m doing keyword research for my medical spa and I noticed that I’m getting a few impressions for what is botox . So, I might want to target this keyword on my service page. Let’s check out how what is botox looks in the SERP.

Screenshot of search results for “what is botox.” Mayo Clinic’s Botox Injections page ranks first, a People Also Ask section is shown underneath the Mayo Clinic. A knowledge panel for Botulinum toxin with photos is shown on the right.

If I scroll down, I see that Google is mainly showing medical resources.

Screenshot of search results for “what is botox.” Showing MedlinePlus, MedicalNewsToday, Cleveland Clinic, WebMD, and Botox Cosmetic in the results.

This tells me that this keyword ( what is botox ) is not a good match for my botox service page . The intent of the search is informational , meaning that someone searching this term isn’t likely looking to pay for botox just yet. The results also primarily display medical sources, meaning that it may be difficult to create a blog post and try to rank for this term as a local business.

A screenshot of the Google results for “botox lisbon” showing a local business pack of results and a regular organic listing for a clinic.

If you look up another term like botox (insert city) , you’ll see local businesses or directories appear (as shown above). These are signs that the intent is to make a purchase or pay for a service. It’s a good signal that a service or location page could rank for this type of keyword.

There are some important benefits to keeping a blog on your local business site. It can help you:

Build up your site’s topical relevance

Increase traffic and eventually funnel qualified readers to your goods/services

Gain relevant backlinks

Going back to the what is botox example from earlier, you remember that there weren’t any local businesses showing up in the search results—it was all informational pages or blog posts. However, they were from very well-known sites, like WebMD, not from local medical spa businesses.

This can happen with all types of blog post keywords. Depending on the niche, Google may operate with stricter standards for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness , so the odds of a local business ranking for these keywords are lower. But, as long as you are producing quality content that is helpful to your audience, the blog posts will always be valuable.

Sometimes, customers simply expect you to have a blog post detailing why your product/service is unique, for example—just because ranking for the ideal keyword for it might not be realistic shouldn’t deter you from creating that content.

Ultimately, this is a marketing decision—you need to evaluate whether building credibility on a larger scale matters to your local audience. If it does, you can follow basic keyword research best practices , along with some of the tactics mentioned above, to get started with content your audience may be looking for.

Get found in more ways than one

What I’ve discussed above falls under the category of on-site optimization —just one aspect of controlling your business’s online presence. But, what goes on on your site is only half the equation for local businesses. Prospective customers may search for your Google Business Profile in Search or Maps, or look you up in a directory with reviews, like TripAdvisor or Yelp .

In addition to the local keyword research you’re doing for your site, make sure to build out your presence in all locations that potential customers might look for you:

Select the most accurate GBP category for greater relevance

Earn local reviews for better rankings and more leads

Use Posts to market and communicate with potential customers on Google for free

Altogether, making sure that your website and profiles provide information that’s helpful to people looking for your offerings will be key to getting discovered by new customers.

celeste gonzalez

Celeste Gonzalez - SEO Strategist at RicketyRoo

Celeste Gonzalez is an SEO strategist at RicketyRoo. She began her journey with SEO by doing what she loves best: learning. She continues to learn in public and share her experiences—good and bad—with the community through Twitter and the SEOBreakdown. Twitter | Linkedin

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Local SEO Keyword Research: How To Target Local Keyword Searches

In today’s digital landscape, local businesses increasingly realize the importance of having a robust online presence to attract customers in their specific geographic areas. This is where Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) comes into play. Local SEO optimizes a website and online presence to rank higher in local search results.

With the rise of mobile devices and voice search, more and more people are using search engines to find local businesses, services, and products. Whether searching for the nearest coffee shop, a local plumber, or a nearby restaurant, consumers rely heavily on search engines to provide relevant and convenient results. Local SEO helps businesses appear in these localized search results, making it easier for potential customers to find them.

Keyword research forms the foundation of any successful SEO strategy and the same holds for Local SEO. Keyword research identifies people’s words and phrases when searching for products or services online. By understanding your target audience’s language and search queries, you can optimize your website content and other online assets to align with those keywords.

Understanding Local SEO Keyword Research

Local SEO keyword research involves the systematic process of identifying and selecting keywords that are relevant to a specific location or geographic area. It aims to uncover local consumers’ search terms and phrases when looking for products, services, or information online. In addition, this research aims to optimize a website’s content and online presence to align with these localized keywords, increasing visibility in local search results.

Local SEO keyword research serves several vital purposes. Firstly, it helps businesses understand their target audience better by gaining insights into their search behavior and preferences. By knowing the specific keywords people use when searching locally, companies can create relevant and targeted content that resonates with their potential customers.

Secondly, local keyword research allows businesses to optimize their website and other online assets to align with search engine algorithms. Search engines, such as Google, consider the relevance of keywords in determining search result rankings. Therefore, by incorporating the right keywords into website content, meta tags, and other elements, businesses can signal to search engines that their website is a valuable resource for local search queries.

Lastly, local SEO keyword research enables businesses to gain a competitive edge in their local market. Companies can identify opportunities to target less competitive but highly relevant keywords by understanding the keyword landscape and analyzing competitors’ strategies. This can help them attract organic traffic and stand out from competitors in local search results.

B. Key differences between general keyword research and local keyword research

While national keyword research and local keyword research share similarities, key differences make local keyword research unique. Understanding these differences is crucial for effective local SEO implementation.

In general keyword research, the focus is on identifying keywords with high search volume and relevance on a broader scale. As a result, these keywords are often more competitive and target a larger audience. On the other hand, local keyword research narrows the focus to keywords that are specific to a particular location. To target local searchers, these keywords incorporate geographic modifiers, such as city names, neighborhood names, or even ZIP codes.

Another distinction lies in the intent behind the search queries. Local keyword research recognizes that users searching with local intent are likely looking for nearby businesses or services. Therefore, local SEO keyword research emphasizes identifying keywords that align with this intent, ensuring companies can connect with potential customers in their immediate vicinity.

Furthermore, local keyword research considers the local market’s unique characteristics, such as regional dialects, slang terms, or specific landmarks. By incorporating these local nuances into keyword research, businesses can tailor their content to resonate with their target audience on a more personal and regional level.

In summary, local SEO keyword research differs from general keyword research in its focus on location-specific keywords, intent, and the incorporation of local nuances. By recognizing these distinctions and conducting targeted local keyword research, businesses can optimize their online presence to reach their local audience effectively.

Identifying Local Keywords

Utilizing local keyword research tools and resources.

Leveraging the right tools and resources is essential to effectively identify local keywords. Here are some valuable resources to aid in your local keyword research:

  • Google Keyword Planner: Google’s Keyword Planner is a powerful tool that provides insights into keyword search volumes, competition levels, and suggested keywords. It allows you to filter results based on location, making it ideal for local keyword research.
  • Google Trends: Google Trends helps you understand the popularity of specific keywords over time. You can narrow the results to particular regions or cities to gain insights into local search trends and identify emerging keywords.
  • Local keyword research tools: Several third-party tools are designed specifically for local keyword research. Examples include Moz Local Market Analytics, SEMrush’s Local Keyword Research Tool, and BrightLocal’s Local Search Grid. These tools offer advanced features like competitor analysis, local search volume data, and keyword suggestions tailored to specific locations.

Understanding the target audience and their search behavior

To uncover relevant local keywords, it’s crucial to understand your target audience and their search behavior. Consider the following strategies:

  • Customer surveys and feedback: Engage with your existing customers and collect feedback on their language when searching for products or services. Surveys or feedback forms can provide valuable insights into the keywords they associate with your business and the location-specific terms they use.
  • Local forums and communities: Participate in regional online forums, social media groups, and community platforms. Consider members’ conversations and language when discussing local businesses or seeking recommendations. This can give you valuable insights into the keywords and phrases commonly used by locals.
  • Analyzing website analytics: Review your website analytics to identify the organic search terms driving traffic to your site. Look for location-specific keywords performing well and consider expanding on those themes.

Analyzing local competitors and their keyword strategies

Exploring your local competitors can provide valuable insights into their keyword strategies and help you discover untapped keyword opportunities. Here’s how to conduct competitor analysis for local keyword research:

  • Identify top competitors: Identify businesses in your local market that are similar to yours or target the same audience. Analyze their websites, content, and online presence to understand their keyword targeting strategies.
  • Analyze website content and meta tags: Examine your competitors’ website content, meta titles, meta descriptions, and header tags to identify the keywords they target. Look for location-specific keywords they use to optimize their content for local search.
  • Review local directories and citations: Explore local directories, review sites, and citation listings where your competitors have a presence. Pay attention to the keywords they use in business descriptions and their chosen categories. This can provide insights into popular local keywords in your industry.
  • Use SEO competitor analysis tools: Utilize SEO competitor analysis tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Moz to gain a comprehensive view of your competitors’ keyword strategies. These tools can reveal the keywords they rank for, their organic search traffic, and potential keyword gaps you can exploit.

You can identify relevant local keywords that align with your target audience’s search behavior by leveraging these strategies, tools, and resources. This knowledge will be a foundation for optimizing your website and online presence to improve visibility in local search results.

Conducting Keyword Research

Brainstorming and generating initial keyword ideas.

The first step in conducting keyword research is to create a list of initial keyword ideas. Start by brainstorming relevant terms and phrases associated with your business, products, or services. Consider the following approaches:

  • Core offerings: Identify your business’s primary products or services and list the keywords directly related to them. For example, if you’re a local bakery, keywords like “freshly baked bread,” “artisan pastries,” or “custom cakes” would be relevant.
  • Location-specific terms: Incorporate geographic modifiers into your keyword ideas to target local searches. Include city names, neighborhood names, or other location-specific terms. For example, “bakery in [city name]” or “best pastries in [neighborhood name].”
  • Long-tail keywords: Long-tail keywords are more specific and often have lower search volumes but higher intent. These keywords can help you target niche audiences. For example, “gluten-free bakery in [city name]” or “wedding cake baker near [venue name].”

Expanding keyword lists using relevant modifiers and variations

Once you have your initial keyword list, expand it by incorporating relevant modifiers and variations. This helps capture additional search queries and long-tail variations. Consider the following strategies:

  • Local modifiers: Add localized terms such as “near me,” “in [city name],” or “close to [landmark name]” to your keywords. This ensures you target users searching for local businesses within a specific area.
  • Product or service modifiers: Include descriptive terms that specify variations or features of your offerings. For example, if you’re a fitness center, include keywords like “24-hour gym,” “group fitness classes,” or “personal training.”
  • User intent modifiers: Consider the intent behind users’ searches and add relevant modifiers. For example, include terms like “best,” “affordable,” “reviews,” or “tips” to capture users who are looking for specific recommendations, pricing information, or advice.

Assessing keyword search volume and competition levels

Once you have a comprehensive keyword list, evaluating the search volume and competition levels for each keyword is essential. This helps prioritize your efforts and identify the most valuable keywords. Consider the following methods:

  • Use keyword research tools: Utilize tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, or Moz Keyword Explorer to obtain data on search volumes and competition levels for your keywords. These tools provide insights into the number of monthly searches and the level of competition for each keyword.
  • Analyze keyword difficulty: Keyword difficulty refers to how challenging it is to rank for a particular keyword. Tools like SEMrush and Moz offer a keyword difficulty score that helps you understand the level of competition for each keyword. Focus on keywords with a balance of relevance and attainable difficulty.
  • Consider long-tail keywords: Long-tail keywords often have lower search volumes but are less competitive. Prioritize long-tail keywords that align with your target audience and are more likely to convert into customers.

Prioritizing keywords based on relevancy and potential impact

Once you have evaluated the search volume and competition levels, it’s time to prioritize your keywords based on relevancy and potential impact. Consider the following factors:

  • Relevance: Ensure your chosen keywords align with your business, products, or services. Focus on keywords that accurately represent what your target audience is searching for.
  • Local intent: Prioritize keywords with solid local intent specific to your target geographic area. These keywords help you connect with local customers actively seeking businesses like yours.
  • Conversion potential: Consider the likelihood of keywords leading to conversions or desired actions. Keywords that indicate

Optimizing Local Content with Keywords

Incorporating keywords naturally into website content and meta tags.

Optimizing your local content with relevant keywords is essential to improve your visibility in local search results. Here’s how you can incorporate keywords naturally into your website content and meta tags:

  • Homepage and core pages: Review your homepage and core pages, such as About Us, Services, or Products, and ensure they include your primary local keywords. Integrate the keywords seamlessly into headings, subheadings, and body content, maintaining a natural flow of language.
  • Location-specific landing pages: Create dedicated landing pages for each target location or geographic area you want to target. Optimize these pages with location-specific keywords, including the city or neighborhood name, to increase visibility in local searches.
  • Meta titles and descriptions: Craft unique and compelling meta titles and descriptions for each page, incorporating relevant local keywords. Meta titles should be concise and descriptive, while meta descriptions should provide a compelling summary of the page’s content.
  • Image alt tags: Optimize your image alt tags by including relevant keywords. This helps search engines understand the context and relevance of your images. Additionally, consider using location-specific keywords in alt tags for images related to local events, landmarks, or places.

Creating location-specific landing pages and optimizing them for local searches

Location-specific landing pages are a powerful tool to target local searches effectively. Here’s how you can optimize them for maximum impact:

  • Unique and valuable content: Each location-specific landing page should have unique and valuable content relevant to that area. Provide information about the products, services, or offerings available at that location and any localized details or promotions.
  • Include location-specific keywords: Incorporate location-specific keywords naturally throughout the landing page’s content. This includes mentioning the city name, neighborhood name, or other relevant geographic terms in a way that feels organic and useful to the reader.
  • NAP (Name, Address, Phone number): Ensure your NAP information is consistent and prominently displayed on each location-specific landing page. This helps search engines understand your business’s physical presence in that area and reinforces its relevance to local searches.
  • Embed a Google Map: Embedding a Google Map on each location-specific landing page provides visitors with a visual representation of your business’s location. This helps users find you quickly and reinforces your local relevance to search engines.

Maximizing the impact of keywords in titles, headings, and alt text

Maximize the impact of keywords in titles, headings, and alt text to optimize your local content further. Here’s how:

  • Title tags: Place your primary local keyword near the beginning of the title tag for each page. This helps search engines understand the page’s relevance to local search queries. Keep the title tag concise, compelling, and under 60 characters.
  • Heading tags: Use heading tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) to structure your content and include relevant local keywords in headings. This provides a clear hierarchy and signals the importance of keywords to search engines.
  • Alt text for images: When optimizing images on your website, include descriptive alt text with relevant local keywords. Alt text provides context for search engines and improves accessibility for users who rely on screen readers.

Integrating keywords in URL structures and internal linking

Optimizing URL structures and internal linking can further enhance the impact of local keywords on your website. Consider the following strategies:

  • URL structures: Include relevant local keywords in your URL structures when creating location-specific landing pages or optimizing existing URLs. For example, use “yourwebsite.com/city-name/product-name” for a specific product page.
  • Internal linking: Link to relevant location-specific landing pages from other pages on your website. This internal linking strategy helps search engines understand the connection between different pages and reinforces the relevance of local keywords throughout your website.

By optimizing your local content with relevant keywords, you can increase your chances of ranking higher in local search results and attracting targeted local traffic to your website. Remember to maintain a natural and user-friendly approach, ensuring your content is valuable, informative, and engaging for your local audience.

Tracking and Analyzing Local Keyword Performance

Setting up local seo tracking tools and analytics.

To effectively track and analyze the performance of your local keywords, it’s crucial to set up appropriate tracking tools and analytics. Consider the following steps:

  • Google Search Console: Set up Google Search Console for your website. It provides valuable insights into how your website appears in search results, the keywords that drive traffic to your site, and the overall performance of your website in search.
  • Google Analytics: Install Google Analytics to track the organic search traffic on your website. It provides detailed data on user behavior, keyword performance, conversion rates, and more.
  • Local SEO tracking tools: Utilize local SEO tracking tools like BrightLocal, Moz Local, or SEMrush to monitor keyword rankings, local search visibility, and online mentions of your business. These tools offer specific features for tracking and analyzing local keyword performance.

Monitoring keyword rankings and organic search traffic

Once your tracking tools are set up, monitor keyword rankings and organic search traffic to assess the performance of your local keywords. Here’s how:

  • Keyword ranking reports: Review keyword ranking reports from your local SEO tracking tools. These reports show how your keywords perform in search results, allowing you to identify fluctuations or changes in rankings.
  • Organic search traffic: Use Google Analytics to monitor organic search traffic to your website. Analyze the volume of organic traffic, the landing pages that receive the most traffic, and the keywords that drive the highest amount of organic visits.
  • Local search visibility: Local SEO tracking tools often provide visibility scores or metrics that indicate how visible your business is in local search results. Monitor these scores to understand your overall local search presence and identify areas for improvement.

Analyzing the effectiveness of keywords and making data-driven adjustments

Analyzing the effectiveness of your local keywords is crucial for ongoing optimization. Follow these steps to make data-driven adjustments:

  • Keyword performance analysis: Analyze keyword ranking reports and organic search traffic data to identify keywords performing well and driving significant traffic to your website. Focus on keywords that are driving relevant traffic and converting into customers.
  • Conversion tracking: Set up conversion tracking in Google Analytics to measure the effectiveness of your keywords in driving desired actions, such as form submissions, phone calls, or online purchases. Identify keywords that have a higher conversion rate and prioritize their optimization.
  • Assessing user engagement metrics: Review user engagement metrics such as bounce rate, time on page, and pages per session for pages targeting specific local keywords. High bounce rates or low engagement metrics may indicate a need for content improvements or better keyword targeting.
  • Keyword refinements: Based on your analysis, refine your keyword strategy. Consider optimizing underperforming keywords by improving content, adjusting on-page optimization, or exploring new opportunities. Continuously monitor and adjust your keyword targeting to improve performance.

Identifying new keyword opportunities based on user behavior

Keyword research and analysis should be an ongoing process. Stay proactive by identifying new keyword opportunities based on user behavior. Consider the following tactics:

  • Search term analysis: Analyze users’ search terms to find your website. Look for patterns, long-tail variations, or emerging keywords that can be incorporated into your local SEO strategy.
  • User-generated content: Monitor user-generated content, such as reviews, comments, or social media discussions related to your business. Pay attention to the language and keywords used by your customers and prospects, and consider incorporating them into your keyword strategy.
  • Stay updated with local trends: Stay informed about local trends, events, or changes in consumer preferences. Adapt your keyword targeting to align with these trends, ensuring your content remains relevant to local searchers.

By tracking and analyzing local keyword performance, you can identify opportunities for improvement, refine your keyword strategy, and ensure that your local SEO efforts effectively drive relevant traffic and conversions. Continuously monitor and adjust your keyword targeting based on data-driven insights to stay ahead in the local search landscape.

Localizing SEO for Multiple Locations

Strategies for businesses with multiple locations or franchises.

Managing SEO for businesses with multiple locations or franchises requires a strategic approach to ensure each location receives optimal visibility in local search results. Consider the following strategies:

  • Create dedicated location pages: Develop individual landing pages for each location, providing unique and localized content. Include location-specific information such as addresses, phone numbers, business hours, and testimonials or reviews for each site. This helps search engines understand the relevance of each location to local search queries.
  • Optimize local business listings: Claim and optimize local business listings on platforms like Google Business Profile, Bing Places for Business, and industry-specific directories. Ensure accurate and consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) information across all listings. Customize each listing with location-specific details, photos, and relevant keywords.
  • Implement local schema markup: Use schema markup, specifically LocalBusiness schema, to provide search engines with structured data about your multiple locations. The schema markup should include location-specific details such as addresses, phone numbers, opening hours, and reviews.
  • Develop localized content: Create localized content for each location to target the unique needs and preferences of the local audience. This can include blog posts, articles, or event announcements specific to each location. Optimize this content with location-specific keywords to enhance local relevance.

Implementing location-specific keyword targeting

When targeting multiple locations, it’s essential to customize your keyword strategy for each location. Consider the following approaches:

  • Location-specific keywords: Incorporate location-specific keywords into your content, meta tags, headings, and URLs for each location. Use the city, neighborhood, or other geographic modifiers to signal local relevance. For example, “Italian restaurant in [City]” or “Best hair salon in [Neighborhood].”
  • Long-tail variations: Focus on long-tail keywords that combine location and service-specific terms. These keywords capture highly targeted local search queries. For example, “family dentist in [City]” or “organic grocery store near [Landmark].”
  • Geo-modified terms: Include geo-modified terms like “near me,” “close to [Landmark],” or “in [City]” to capture location-specific intent. This helps target users who are actively seeking nearby businesses.

Managing local SEO campaigns at scale

Managing local SEO campaigns at scale requires efficient processes and tools to streamline your efforts. Consider the following strategies:

  • Centralized management: Establish a centralized system or platform to manage and monitor local SEO activities across multiple locations. This ensures consistency in branding, NAP information, and overall SEO strategies.
  • Standardized optimization guidelines: Develop guidelines and best practices for local SEO optimization. This includes on-page optimization techniques, content creation, citation management, and review management. Provide training and resources to ensure consistency and adherence to these guidelines across all locations.
  • Regular audits and performance tracking: Conduct regular audits to assess the performance of each location’s SEO efforts. Monitor keyword rankings, organic search traffic, conversion rates, and other relevant metrics. Identify areas for improvement and provide guidance or support to locations needing assistance.
  • Local SEO Reporting: Generate regular reports that provide an overview of the performance of each location’s SEO efforts. Share key metrics, insights, and recommendations with location managers or franchisees to keep them informed and engaged in optimization.

By implementing these strategies, businesses with multiple locations can effectively localize their SEO efforts, enhance visibility in local search results, and attract customers to each location.

Staying Up-to-Date with Local SEO Trends

Keeping abreast of algorithm updates and industry changes.

Staying up-to-date with local SEO trends requires a keen awareness of algorithm updates and industry changes. Here’s how to stay informed:

  • Follow reputable SEO publications and blogs: Regularly read industry-leading and authoritative blogs covering SEO topics. Subscribe to newsletters for updates on algorithm changes, search engine announcements, and best practices.
  • Engage with SEO communities and forums: Participate in online communities and forums dedicated to SEO discussions. Engaging with fellow professionals and experts allows you to exchange knowledge, stay updated on emerging trends, and gain insights from real-world experiences.
  • Follow search engine official channels: Follow the official channels of significant search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. They often share essential updates, algorithm changes, and guidelines for optimizing your website for local search.
  • Attend SEO conferences and webinars: Attend industry conferences, webinars, or virtual events focused on SEO and digital marketing. These events provide opportunities to hear from industry experts, learn about new trends, and network with professionals in the field.

Engaging with local search communities and forums

Engaging with local search communities and forums is an effective way to stay in touch with the latest local SEO trends. Consider the following approaches:

  • Local business associations: Join local business associations or chambers of commerce focusing on digital marketing and SEO. These organizations often host events, workshops, or seminars where you can learn about local search trends and connect with other business owners.
  • Local SEO meetups: Attend local SEO meetups or networking events in your area. These gatherings bring together SEO professionals, experts, and enthusiasts. It’s an opportunity to learn from local industry leaders, exchange ideas, and gain valuable insights.
  • Online communities and social media groups: Join online communities and social media groups dedicated to local SEO and digital marketing. Participate in discussions, ask questions, and share knowledge. These communities are often a great source of the latest trends, tips, and strategies.

Continuously adapting keyword research strategies to evolving trends

As local SEO trends evolve, it’s important to adjust your keyword research strategies continuously. Consider the following tactics:

  • Monitor local search behavior: Regularly review search query reports and keyword data to understand how local search behavior changes. Look for emerging keywords, search trends, or shifts in user intent. Adjust your keyword research accordingly to align with evolving local search behavior.
  • Leverage predictive analytics tools: Utilize predictive analytics tools that analyze historical data and predict future search trends. These tools can help identify emerging keywords or topics likely to gain popularity in local searches. Incorporate these insights into your keyword strategy to stay ahead of the curve.
  • Embrace voice search optimization: Voice search is growing rapidly, especially for local searches. Incorporate conversational and long-tail keywords that reflect how people speak and ask questions verbally. Optimize your content to answer commonly asked voice search queries.
  • Keep up with mobile-first indexing: As mobile usage rises, search engines prioritize mobile-friendly websites. Ensure your website is mobile-responsive, loads quickly, and provides a seamless user experience on mobile devices. Optimize keywords specifically for mobile searchers, considering their on-the-go and local intent.

By staying up-to-date with local SEO trends, engaging with relevant communities, and adapting your keyword research strategies, you can stay ahead of the competition and maximize your visibility in local search results. Regularly evaluate and refine your local SEO efforts to ensure you effectively reach and engage with your local audience.

In conclusion, local SEO keyword research is a continuous process that requires a combination of strategic thinking, data analysis, and adaptation. Investing time and effort into understanding your target audience, optimizing your content with relevant keywords, and staying current with industry trends can significantly enhance your online visibility, attract local customers, and drive business growth in your target locations.

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Thu Nov 02 2023

What is Local Keyword Research in SEO and How to Do it

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Local keyword research is an impactful technique that helps a brand in researching keywords that can be targeted while working on the expansion of local optimization of the brand. In this blog, we will be discussing various topics that can help you as a brand to establish the brand in local markets.

 The points are the definition of local keyword search, SEO for local business, conducting steps of the research, strategies of research, tools of the keyword research, and benefits of the local keyword and research. Hence without much delay let’s dive in deep for more knowledge about local keywords and their research.

Local keyword research is a very effective technique of local SEO. They are not only each other’s companions but also are quickly becoming an essential part of online marketing. Through targeted viewpoints and online data, these two tools can improve your visibility and create an effective campaign that drives more customers to the local business and brand. 

As a local business, a brand can maintain a strong online presence while staying ahead of the competition by combining these two powerful tools, local SEO as well keyword research for local optimization. Keywords are like the soul of optimization, hence it becomes very important to pay special attention to these keywords while optimizing the brand for local business.

Today in this blog, we will be discussing various topics that will make a clear vision about the local keywords and local SEO as well. The points we will be including in today’s blog are:

1. Definition and examples of local keyword search

2. SEO for local business

3. How to conduct the research

4. Strategies of research

5. Tools of the keyword research

6. Benefits of the local keyword and research

So much to explore! Therefore, let’s not waste another second and dive in deep for more.

What is Local Keyword Research?

The process of uncovering and analyzing the targeted keywords and phrases that are likely to attract local clients to a business’s website. This procedure is known as the research of local keywords. It helps brands and marketers identify local search terms that have the highest potential and highest possibilities to attract the attention of local customers and drive conversions. Therefore, local keyword research is a great tool for local SEO success.

Some local research examples can be understood by the written instances. These can be topics that can be researched by a brand under their keyword research for local SEO and attract the attention of the users:

1. Collecting local geological or archaeological data.

2. Conduct interviews with local people to understand their cultural beliefs and preferences.

3. Studying local economic or social dynamics.

4. Local services are used most by the residents of the area.

5. Investigating how changes in the environment affect local populations.

6. What brands are preferred by local consumers?

7. Examining how regional politics & policies have an impact on a particular locality.

8. Examining the history of a certain place to understand how it has changed over time.

What is SEO for Local Businesses?

Search Engine Optimization is a process for local businesses and brands in which they optimize their website to rank higher in local search results. It includes keywords and research that are related to the brand or related services that can be found in a particular area.

This type of SEO makes sure that the website or the brand is more visible in the eyes of the potential customers in the surrounding area. It is also important to improve the local rankings as well, a brand that wants to get success in local areas as well generally goes through an optimization process. It helps the business to show up more frequently in the search results near that location.

How to Conduct Local SEO Keyword Research?

The research of local keywords can be tricky and yet can be very influential as well. Hence, a proper way to conduct the research is necessary. Here are the points to conduct the research, make sure to keep them to avoid any issue further.

1. Begin With A Focused List Of Words Influencing The Business

To start the research, focus on the comprehensive list of the terms and phrases that are related to the product, offered by the business. These terms will be connected as the base of the keyword research efforts for the commodity or service. It is known as the seed list of words and phrases.

2. Expand The Initial List Using Related Search Terms

In local keyword research usage of the seed list is a great step. The list is compiled first and then while taking the terms as focus other terms are researched as well that might be relevant as well. While searching for other terms make sure to consider both long-tail keywords for SEO and related phrases as options.

3. Analyze The Competition

Analyze the competitors by utilizing the search terms related to their business. Make a report tracking the search terms that are most commonly used by the competition of the brand and business. It helps in gaining insight into how they are targeting their customers.

4. Check Relevant Data Sources

In local keyword research using other data sources is a fabulous practice while utilizing the keywords. It helps in identifying the keyword phrases that will be beneficial for the usage in further SEO strategies by the brand.

5. Prioritize The Keywords

Prioritizing the keyword phrases is the last step a brand should focus on. In this step, the brand identifies the best keyword based on the search volume, competition, relevancy, and estimated conversion rate for each term. This will affiliate the brand with an effective strategy to implement local SEO with the most effective keyword phrases.

What Are The Strategies For Local Keyword Search Volume?

Keyword search volume is known as the number of searches that are done for a particular keyword or phrase over a given period. It is used to measure the performance of the website and competition for a specific keyword on the internet. The search volume provides insight into which keywords will be beneficial while targeting the local clients for the brand.

There are various tools that help in measuring the local search volume for the keywords. These tools are designed especially to work with brands that are trying to optimize their brand for local expansion as well as global. These tools are named Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs Keywords Explorer, SEMrush Keyword Research Tool , MOZ local keyword research tool, Keywordtool.io, and more.

Listed are the strategies that are helpful in search volume for local keywords.

1. Study The Search Volume Of The Local Keywords

Analyze and choose the keyword that has a high search volume. Choosing keywords that have significant search volume helps the brand to get higher rankings in search engines. Brands can use keyword research tools like Google Trends to compare the search volume of different phrases used in the targeted area.

2. Track The Performance Of The Local Keywords

Monitor and track the performance of the search volume of the local keywords periodically. It helps ensure that these keywords are still generating traffic or not. Over time, the relevance of some particular keywords needs to change or require adjustment accordingly.

3. Analyze The Competitors’ Local Keywords

Analyze your competitors’ keywords to identify the keywords they are using to target their clients according to local keyword research. Take note of what keywords can benefit the brand as well that are used by your competitors and add them to the keyword list of the brand.

4. Target Multiple Keywords At A Time

Never stay in one boat when it comes to the selection of keywords. Rather focus on selecting several keywords, as this diversifies the keywords that can be targeted by the brand. It also helps in reaching more local clients and increasing the traffic to the site.

What Are The Advantages Of Local Keyword Research?

Various benefits can help us understand why it is necessary to research the keyword for local SEO. These advantages also help in understanding what a brand can get after using the technique of local SEO.

Advantages Of Local Keyword Research-14.webp

1. Increased Targeted Traffic

Keyword research for local SEO allows the brand to target a specific space of potential customers within a specific area. It permits the brand to tailor and refine the content and other marketing efforts according to the local market, increasing the probability of success.

2. Improved Engagement And Rankings

Keyword research can also help you improve engagement levels and is an effective way to improve the brand’s local search rankings. Users interact and engage with content that not only attracts them but also presents relevance to their local area, which can help the brand to build better relationships with the target audience.

3. Cost-Saving Technique

Local keyword research can also help in saving time, money, and other resources for the brand. It can be costly to promote the brand through traditional methods, whereas digital it helps focus the targeted audience and space. Brands can also avoid wasting resources on reaching the people who are not interested in the service and brand as well.

4. Boosted Brand Awareness

Finally, keyword research is considered an efficient way to boost the presence of the brand’s visibility and awareness in the local area. By focusing on the local market, the brand can help build its local presence and expand the boundaries of the brand.

Local keyword research is a very significant and effective tool that can help a brand to localize the business in the digital world. It helps the company to target local clients and create content that is relevant and relatable to its audience.

 It has various benefits like increased CTR rates, cost efficiency, and more that can be achieved by strategies for keyword research. These keywords are helpful in establishing the brand in local markets as well.

So, if you want to enhance your boundaries but are wondering “Where to do keyword research?” or “How to expand your services at local markets?” Taking consultations and guidance from an SEO service can help in gaining success. Companies like Gigde Globals are known for their services and results in local keyword searches. Hence, without a delay and for assured results, make an appointment now!

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Local keywords: how to do local keyword research.

how to do keyword research for local seo

Leverage local keywords for targeted SEO. Incorporate city or region-specific terms, optimize local business information, and use relevant keywords to enhance visibility in local search results.

Table of Contents

Understanding the importance of local keyword research, the basics of local seo, step-by-step guide to local keyword research, local keyword research tips and strategies, incorporating local keywords into your website, how to track and measure the effectiveness of your local keywords, conclusion: boosting local visibility with strategic keyword research.

how to do keyword research for local seo

Raghav Tayal

Head Of Operations - Digital Web Solutions

Embarking on a digital journey tailored to your local audience begins with mastering the art of local keyword research. Whether you are a small local business looking to enhance local visibility or a regional enterprise seeking to strengthen ties with your audience, local keywords become pivotal.

But as you narrow down your target market and aim to rank higher in your vicinity, there are several different aspects you need to consider. There’s business listing, local link building, competitor analysis, and much more you need to do in the right manner. And in the end, all of these are related to local keywords. Let’s explore the importance of local keyword research, the steps to take to do it, how to track its success, and more.

Local keyword research becomes critical because it improves your visibility in your local area and increases the footfall of your store. But if you look closely, several other factors make local keyword research essential. Here’s a breakdown of the importance of local keyword research:

  • Targeted Audience Reach: Local keywords enable businesses to tailor their online content to the preferences and search habits of a specific local audience. This targeted approach ensures that your content resonates with potential customers in your immediate vicinity.
  • Increased Relevance: Search engines prioritize relevance in their algorithms. By incorporating local keywords, businesses signal to search engines that their content is specifically crafted for a particular location, increasing the likelihood of appearing in local search results.
  • Competitive Edge: Local keyword optimization allows businesses to outshine competitors in local search rankings. When users search for products or services in a specific area, businesses with well-optimized local keywords are more likely to be prominently featured, attracting potential customers.
  • Enhanced Local SEO: Local SEO hinges on the strategic use of local keywords. By integrating location-specific terms in your content, meta tags, and business listings, you boost your chances of ranking higher in local search results, ultimately driving more traffic to your website.
  • Improved Conversion Rates: Users conducting local searches have a higher intent to make a purchase or engage with a business. Optimizing for local keywords ensures that your content aligns with the immediate needs of local consumers, leading to increased conversion rates.

Businesses looking to win the competition in their vicinity need to master the local SEO. And this journey begins with understanding the basics first. Here’s a concise breakdown of the key elements of local SEO:

  • Google My Business: Ever searched for an office on Google Maps? Remember how you get all the details about it, like working hours, reviews, location, etc.? That happens due to Google My Business. Claim and optimize your Google My Business listing. Complete all information, including your business name, address, phone number, and business hours. Regularly update it with photos and respond to customer reviews. This looks trivial, but having an optimized GMB profile leads to better local keyword rankings. Eventually, this results in more visibility in your locality.
  • Local Keywords: Identify and incorporate relevant local keywords in your website content, meta tags, and online profiles. This helps search engines understand your geographic relevance and enhance your visibility in local searches.
  • On-Page SEO: Optimize your website’s on-page elements with local keywords, title tags, meta descriptions, and header tags. Ensure your NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) information is consistent across your site.
  • Local Citations: List your business on reputable local directories, ensuring consistency in NAP information. This provides valuable backlinks and reinforces your business’s local presence.
  • Online Reviews: Encourage and manage customer reviews on platforms like Google, Yelp, and other industry-specific review sites. Positive reviews enhance your reputation and contribute to local SEO rankings.
  • Mobile Optimization: With the increasing use of mobile devices, ensure your website is mobile-friendly. Google prioritizes mobile-responsive sites in search rankings, especially for local searches made on mobile devices.
  • Local Link Building: Build relationships with local businesses and websites to secure backlinks. Quality local backlinks boost your authority in local searches and are also a key factor in rankings. So, along with the authority, building quality links will also help you climb the search rankings ladder.
  • Local Content: Create content that addresses local interests, events, and news. Generating content your local audience resonates with increases engagement on your site, makes you a credible source of information, and uplifts your local SEO rankings.

Here’s a breakdown of the steps local businesses can take to conduct local keyword research thoroughly:

Identifying Your Target Market

Before diving into keyword research tools, it’s imperative to understand your target market. Clearly define the geographic area your local business serves. It could be a city, region, or specific neighborhood. Consider the preferences, needs, and search habits of your local audience. Understanding your target market lays the foundation for picking effective local keywords.

You can start by identifying and deeply understanding your business’s core products or services. For example, if you run a bakery in downtown Seattle, your primary offerings can include artisan bread, custom cakes, or pastries. Tailor your keywords to reflect the unique aspects of your business and the local demand.

Utilizing Keyword Research Tools

No keyword research can be done efficiently without a keyword research tool. Tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, or Ahrefs can provide insights into the popularity and competition of specific keywords.

  • Google Keyword Planner: Enter your business category and location into Google Keyword Planner to generate a list of relevant keywords. Focus on search volume and keyword difficulty to identify the keywords you can rank on and generate high impact.
  • SEMrush: This tool allows you to analyze organic search results and identify keywords that competitors are ranking for. Input your business and location to discover valuable insights into your local competitors’ keyword strategies.
  • Ahrefs: You can use Ahrefs to explore the backlink profiles of local competitors. Analyzing their link-building strategies can unlock valuable insights about the keyphrases they prioritize.

Analyzing Competitor Keywords

Understanding what keywords your local competitors are targeting provides a strategic advantage. Analyze the websites of businesses similar to yours within the same geographic area.

  • Identify Competitors: Use search engines to find local businesses similar to yours. For instance, if you’re a local coffee shop, search for other coffee shops in your locality.
  • Analyze Their Websites: Examine the content on your competitors’ websites. Take note of the keywords they emphasize in their product/service descriptions, blog posts, and meta tags.
  • Explore Meta Tags And Titles: Look at the meta tags and titles of competitor websites. These elements often reveal the primary keywords they are targeting.

Analyzing the keywords your competitors are using unlocks insights into the language and terminology the audience likes. With this information, you can craft content that talks to your audience in their own language, making it more relatable.

Long-Tail Local Keywords

Long-tail keywords are specific phrases that typically have lower search volume but higher intent. Adding long-tail local keywords ensures that your content aligns with the specific needs of your target audience. For example, if you operate a fitness studio in Austin, instead of targeting a broad term like “gym,” you can focus on “yoga classes in downtown Austin” or “high-intensity interval training near 6th street.”

  • Brainstorm Long-Tail Variations: Consider variations of your primary keywords, including specific locations, product features, or unique selling points.
  • Use Conversational Language: Long-tail keywords often mimic natural language queries. Think about how potential customers might verbally express their needs when searching online.
  • Incorporate Local Modifiers: Include location-based terms in your long-tail keywords, such as city names, neighborhoods, or landmarks relevant to your local business.

Local SEO keyword research is a dynamic process that involves understanding the unique nuances of your target audience’s search behavior. Here are some tips and strategies to refine your approach:

  • Define Your Geographic Scope: Clearly outline the specific locations your business serves. Whether it is a city, region, or neighborhood, narrowing down your geographic scope helps in tailoring keywords to your immediate market.
  • Leverage Google My Business (GMB): As said above, your GMB profile is the key to more exposure in your vicinity. Hence, you need to optimize your Google My Business listing with accurate business information, including your name, address, phone number, and other important details. Google often pulls local search results from GMB, making it a key player in local keyword visibility. You can also add relevant keywords in your listing description to improve rankings.
  • Use Location-Specific Keywords: Integrate location-specific terms in your keywords. For instance, if you’re a real estate agent in Chicago, include terms like “Chicago real estate,” “homes for sale in Chicago,” or even specific neighborhood names to capture localized search queries.
  • Long-Tail Keywords For Niche Markets: Identify and target long-tail keywords that cater to niche markets within your locality. If you provide specialized services or products, incorporating specific terms can help you reach a more targeted audience with higher conversion potential.
  • Customer Reviews As Keyword Inspiration: Customer reviews are goldmines for local keywords. You can analyze customer reviews for your local business and competitors. Customers often use specific language when describing their experiences, providing valuable insights into the keywords and phrases that resonate within your local audience. Moreover, try to collect as many reviews as possible since it builds credibility and portrays you as an authority in your industry.
  • Monitor And Adapt: Stay vigilant about changes in local search trends and adapt your keyword strategy accordingly. Regularly check analytics and keyword performance to ensure ongoing relevance. Trends in local language and search behavior can evolve, and your strategy should evolve with them.

Effectively incorporating local keywords into your website is essential if you aim to capture your target customer’s attention. This involves a two-way approach focusing on both on and off-page SEO strategies.

On-page SEO for Local Keywords

On-page SEO is a method where you perform all types of optimization on the pages, like adding relevant keywords, links, etc. When it comes to local on-page optimization, it involves tactics like:

  • Optimize Meta Tags And Titles: Customize meta tags and titles with local keywords relevant to your business. Ensure that each page has a unique and compelling title incorporating location-specific terms. This helps in boosting search engine visibility while driving more click-throughs.
  • Include Location In URL Structures: If feasible, integrate location-specific terms into your URL structures. This provides search engines with additional context about the page’s content and enhances the local relevance of your website.
  • Create Location-Specific Content: Develop content that speaks directly to your local audience. This could include blog posts about community events, local news, or features on how your products or services cater to the specific needs of your area. Try to use language and terms that resonate with the locals.
  • Optimize Images With Alt Text: When using images on your website, ensure the alt text includes relevant local keywords. This enhances accessibility and contributes to the overall and local SEO value of your page.
  • Utilize Local Schema Markup: Implement local schema markup on your website to provide search engines with structured information about your local business, such as address, contact information, operating hours, customer reviews, and ratings. This can enhance your visibility in local search results and rich snippets.

Remember, there’s a thin line between perfect optimization and over-optimization. So whether you’re adding alt text to your images or optimizing meta titles, make sure you’re not stuffing keywords, as it will hurt the customer experience and your rankings as well.

Off-page SEO for Local Keywords

Off-page SEO is not performed on the pages but indirectly helps your pages rank higher. It involves practices like:

  • Claim And Optimize GMB: Maximize your presence on Google My Business by claiming and optimizing your business listing. Provide accurate NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) information, select relevant categories, and encourage customer reviews. You know this will uplift your brand visibility in your locality.
  • Local Citations And Directories: Ensure your business is listed consistently across local directories and citation websites. Accurate NAP information on platforms like Yelp, Yellow Pages, and industry-specific directories reinforces your local relevance in search algorithms.
  • Build Local Backlinks: Acquire backlinks from reputable local websites or community partners. These local backlinks signal to search engines that your website is a valuable resource within the community and contributes to improved local search rankings.
  • Engage In Local Social Media: Actively participate in local social media platforms. Share content related to your business and engage with the community. Social signals from local platforms can positively impact your website’s visibility in local searches.
  • Encourage Local Reviews On Other Platforms: Besides Google My Business, encourage customers to leave reviews on other local review platforms such as Yelp or TripAdvisor. Diversifying your review presence helps build credibility and reinforces your local authority in various search algorithms.

Tracking and measuring the effectiveness of your local keywords is crucial for evaluating the success of your local SEO efforts and making informed decisions. Here are a few ways you can effectively monitor the impact of your local keyword strategy:

  • Google Analytics: Use Google Analytics to gain insights into your website’s performance. Focus on metrics like organic traffic, user engagement, and conversion rates for pages optimized with local keywords. Track the source/medium of your traffic to identify the effectiveness of local search in driving visitors to your site.
  • Keyword Ranking Tools: Employ keyword ranking tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Moz to monitor the rankings of your local keywords over time. Regularly check your positions in search engine result pages (SERPs) to identify trends, track improvements, and assess the competitiveness of your chosen keywords.
  • Google My Business Insights: Leverage the insights provided by Google My Business to understand how users interact with your business listing. Monitor metrics such as clicks, calls, and direction requests. These insights offer a direct view of user engagement resulting from local searches and can help refine your keyword strategy.
  • Conversion Tracking: Implement conversion tracking on your website to measure specific actions taken by visitors, such as form submissions, phone calls, or online purchases. Attribute these conversions to the corresponding local keywords to gauge which terms are driving the most valuable interactions with your business.
  • Customer Feedback And Reviews: Actively seek and monitor customer feedback and reviews on platforms like Google, Yelp, and other industry-specific review sites. Analyzing customer sentiments can provide qualitative insights into the impact of your local keywords on the audience. Positive reviews mentioning specific local terms indicate successful alignment with customer expectations.

And there you have it. You’ve unlocked the secrets of local SEO keyword research. But the journey doesn’t end here. Regularly revisit your keyword strategy, analyzing trends and adapting to your audience’s evolving language. Embrace location-specific keywords, optimize online listings, and actively engage with your local audience.

By employing your newfound keyword knowledge, you can transform your online presence into a flare that attracts customers who are searching for exactly what you offer right around the corner. Remember, in the local SEO game, it’s not about shouting to the world; it’s about whispering the perfect words to the people who matter most – your neighbors. So, get out there, use local keywords, and outrank your local rivals!

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How to Do Keyword Research for SEO: A Beginner's Guide

Rachel Leist

Updated: August 24, 2022

Published: January 07, 2022

While Google keeps us on our toes with all the algorithm updates they keep rollin' out, one thing has stayed pretty consistent for inbound marketers looking to optimize their websites for search: keyword research.

how to do keyword research for SEO

In this post, we’ll define what keyword research is , why it’s important , how to conduct your research for your SEO strategy, and choose the right keywords for your website.

Download Now: Keyword Research Template [Free Resource]

What is keyword research?

Keyword research is the process of finding and analyzing search terms that people enter into search engines with the goal of using that data for a specific purpose, often for search engine optimization (SEO) or general marketing. Keyword research can uncover queries to target, the popularity of these queries, their ranking difficulty, and more.

Why is keyword research important?

Keyword research helps you find which keywords are best to target and provides valuable insight into the queries that your target audience is actually searching on Google.

The insight that you can get into these actual search terms can help inform content strategy as well as your larger marketing strategy.

People use keywords to find solutions when conducting research online. So if your content is successful in getting in front of our audience as they conduct searches, you stand to gain more traffic. Therefore, you should be targeting those searches.

In addition, in the inbound methodology , we don't create content around what we want to tell people; we should be creating content around what people want to discover. In other words, our audience is coming to us.

This all starts with keyword research.

Conducting keyword research has many benefits, the most popular reasons being:

Marketing Trend Insight

Conducting effective keyword research can provide you with insights into current marketing trends, and help you center your content on relevant topics and keywords your audience is in search of.

Traffic Growth

When you identify the best fitting keywords for the content you publish, the higher you'll rank in search engine results — the more traffic you’ll attract to your website.

Customer Acquisition

If your business has content that other business professionals are looking for, you can meet their needs and provide them with a call to action that will lead them into the buyer journey from the awareness stage to the point of purchase.

By researching keywords for their popularity, search volume, and general intent, you can tackle the questions that most people in your audience want answers to.

Keywords vs. Topics

More and more, we hear how much SEO has evolved over just the last 10 years, and how unimportant keywords themselves have become to our ability to rank well for the searches people make every day.

And to some extent, this is true, but in the eyes of an SEO professional it’s a different approach. Rather, it's the intent behind that keyword, and whether or not a piece of content solves for that intent (we'll talk more about intent in just a minute).

But that doesn't mean keyword research is an outdated process. Let me explain:

Keyword research tells you what topics people care about and, assuming you use the right SEO tool, how popular those topics actually are among your audience. The operative term here is topics — by researching keywords that are getting a high volume of searches per month, you can identify and sort your content into topics that you want to create content on. Then, you can use these topics to dictate which keywords you look for and target.

how to do keyword research for local seo

Keyword Research Template

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  • Search Volume
  • Keyword Difficulty

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Elements of Keyword Research

There are three main elements to pay attention to when conducting keyword research.

1. Relevance

Google ranks content for relevance. This is where the concept of search intent comes in. Your content will only rank for a keyword if it meets the searchers' needs. In addition, your content must be the best resource out there for the query. After all, why would Google rank your content higher if it provides less value than other content that exists on the web?

2. Authority

Google will provide more weight to sources it deems authoritative. That means you must do all you can to become an authoritative source by enriching your site with helpful, information content and promoting that content to earn social signals and backlinks. If you're not seen as authoritative in the space, or if a keyword's SERPs are loaded with heavy sources you can't compete with (like Forbes or The Mayo Clinic), you have a lower chance of ranking unless your content is exceptional.

You may end up ranking on the first page for a specific keyword, but if no one ever searches for it, it will not result in traffic to your site. Kind of like setting up shop in a ghost town.

Volume is measured by MSV (monthly search volume), which means the number of times the keyword is searched per month across all audiences.

How to Research Keywords for Your SEO Strategy

I'm going to lay out a keyword research process you can follow to help you come up with a list of terms you should be targeting. That way, you'll be able to establish and execute a strong keyword strategy that helps you get found for the search terms you actually care about.

Step 1: Make a list of important, relevant topics based on what you know about your business.

To kick off this process, think about the topics you want to rank for in terms of generic buckets. You'll come up with about 5-10 topic buckets you think are important to your business, and then you'll use those topic buckets to help come up with some specific keywords later in the process.

If you're a regular blogger, these are probably the topics you blog about most frequently. Or perhaps they're the topics that come up the most in sales conversations. Put yourself in the shoes of your buyer personas — what types of topics would your target audience search that you'd want your business to get found for? If you were a company like HubSpot, for example — selling marketing software (which happens to have some awesome SEO tools ... but I digress), you might have general topic buckets like:

  • "inbound marketing" (21K)
  • "blogging" (19K)
  • "email marketing" (30K)
  • "lead generation" (17K)
  • "SEO" (214K)
  • "social media marketing" (71K)
  • "marketing analytics" (6.2K)
  • "marketing automation" (8.5K)

See those numbers in parentheses to the right of each keyword? That's their monthly search volume . This data allows you to gauge how important these topics are to your audience, and how many different sub-topics you might need to create content on to be successful with that keyword. To learn more about these sub-topics, we move on to step 2 ...

Step 2: Fill in those topic buckets with keywords.

Now that you have a few topic buckets you want to focus on, it's time to identify some keywords that fall into those buckets. These are keyword phrases you think are important to rank for in the SERPs (search engine results pages) because your target customer is probably conducting searches for those specific terms.

For instance, if I took that last topic bucket for an inbound marketing software company — "marketing automation" — I'd brainstorm some keyword phrases that I think people would type in related to that topic. Those might include:

  • marketing automation tools
  • how to use marketing automation software
  • what is marketing automation?
  • how to tell if I need marketing automation software
  • lead nurturing
  • email marketing automation
  • top automation tools

And so on and so on. The point of this step isn't to come up with your final list of keyword phrases. You just want to end up with a brain dump of phrases you think potential customers might use to search for content related to that particular topic bucket. We'll narrow the lists down later in the process so you don't have something too unwieldy.

Although more and more keywords are getting encrypted by Google every day, another smart way to come up with keyword ideas is to figure out which keywords your website is already getting found for. To do this, you'll need website analytics software like Google Analytics or HubSpot's Sources report, available in the Traffic Analytics tool . Drill down into your website's traffic sources, and sift through your organic search traffic bucket to identify the keywords people are using to arrive at your site.

Repeat this exercise for as many topic buckets as you have. And remember, if you're having trouble coming up with relevant search terms, you can always head on over to your customer-facing colleagues — those who are in Sales or Service and ask them what types of terms their prospects and customers use, or common questions they have. Those are often great starting points for keyword research.

Here at HubSpot , we use the Search Insights Report in this part of the process. This template is designed to help you do the same and bucket your keywords into topic clusters, analyze MSV, and inform your editorial calendar and strategy.

Featured Resource: Search Insights Report Template

Download the Template

Step 3: Understand How Intent Affects Keyword Research and Analyze Accordingly.

Like I said in the previous section, user intent is now one of the most pivotal factors in your ability to rank well on search engines like Google. Today, it's more important that your web page addresses the problem a searcher intended to solve than simply carries the keyword the searcher used. So, how does this affect the keyword research you do?

It's easy to take keywords for face value, and unfortunately, keywords can have many different meanings beneath the surface. Because the intent behind a search is so important to your ranking potential, you need to be extra-careful about how you interpret the keywords you target.

Let's say, for example, you're researching the keyword "how to start a blog" for an article you want to create. "Blog" can mean a blog post or the blog website itself, and what a searcher's intent is behind that keyword will influence the direction of your article. Does the searcher want to learn how to start an individual blog post? Or do they want to know how to actually launch a website domain for the purposes of blogging? If your content strategy is only targeting people interested in the latter, you'll need to make sure of the keyword's intent before committing to it.

To verify what a user's intent is in a keyword, it's a good idea to simply enter this keyword into a search engine yourself, and see what types of results come up. Make sure the type of content Google is closely related to what you'd intend to create for the keyword.

Step 4: Research related search terms.

This is a creative step you may have already thought of when doing keyword research. If not, it's a great way to fill out those lists.

If you're struggling to think of more keywords people might be searching about a specific topic, take a look at the related search terms that appear when you plug in a keyword into Google. When you type in your phrase and scroll to the bottom of Google's results, you'll notice some suggestions for searches related to your original input. These keywords can spark ideas for other keywords you may want to take into consideration.

Related searches at the bottom of Google SERP that reads "searches related to cute puppies" along with keyword suggestions

Want a bonus? Type in some of those related search terms and look at their related search terms.

Step 5: Use keyword research tools to your advantage.

Keyword research and SEO tools can help you come up with more keyword ideas based on exact match keywords and phrase match keywords based on the ideas you've generated up to this point. Some of the most popular ones include:

  • Ubersuggest
  • Free Keyword Research Tool
  • Google Keyword Planner
  • Keywords Everywhere
  • KeywordTool.io

Complete SEO Starter Pack

Featured resource, how to find and choose keywords for your website.

Once you have an idea of the keywords that you want to rank for, now it's time to refine your list based on the best ones for your strategy. Here's how:

Step 1. Use Google Keyword Planner to cut down your keyword list.

In Google’s Keyword Planner , you can get search volume and traffic estimates for keywords you're considering. Then, take the information you learn from Keyword Planner and use Google Trends to fill in some blanks.

Use the Keyword Planner to flag any terms on your list that have way too little (or way too much) search volume, and don't help you maintain a healthy mix like we talked about above. But before you delete anything, check out their trend history and projections in Google Trends. You can see whether, say, some low-volume terms might actually be something you should invest in now — and reap the benefits for later.

Or perhaps you're just looking at a list of terms that is way too unwieldy, and you have to narrow it down somehow ... Google Trends can help you determine which terms are trending upward, and are therefore worth more of your focus.

Step 2: Prioritize low-hanging fruit.

What we mean by prioritizing low-hanging fruit is to prioritize keywords that you have a chance of ranking for based on your website’s authority.

Large companies typically go after high search volume keywords, and since these brands are well established already, Google typically rewards them with authority over many topics.

You can also consider keywords that have little competition. Keywords that don’t already have multiple articles battling for the highest rank can afford you the spot by default — if there’s no one else trying to claim it.

Step 3: Check the monthly search volume (MSV) for keywords you’ve chosen.

You want to write content around what people want to discover, and checking MSV can help you do just that.

Monthly search volume is the number of times a search query or keyword is entered into search engines each monthly. Tools like searchvolume.io or Google Trends can help you find out the most searched keywords over related keyword clusters for free.

Step 4: Factor in SERP features as you choose keywords.

There’s several SERP feature snippets that Google will highlight if used correctly. An easy way to find out about them is to look up the keywords of your choosing and see what the first result looks like. But for a quick overview of the types of SERP featured snippets, we’ll summarize what they are here.

Image Packs

Image packs are search results displayed as a horizontal row of images that appear in an organic position. If there’s an image pack, you should write an image-heavy post to win placement in it.

SERP features for keyword research: image packs

Paragraph Snippets

Featured snippets, or paragraph snippets, are short snippets of text that appear at the top of Google search results for quick answers to common search queries. Understanding the searcher’s intent and providing succinct, concise answers can help in winning the placement.

SERP features for keyword research: paragraph snippets

List Snippets

List snippets, or listicles, are snippets made for posts outlining steps to do something from start to finish — often for “How To” searches. Making posts with direct, clear instructions and formatting can assist in winning this placement.

SERP features for keyword research: list snippets

Video Snippets

Video snippets are short videos that Google will display at the top of a search query page in place of text featured snippets. Posting a video on both YouTube and your website can help you win this placement if tagged in the targeted keywords people are searching for.

SERP features for keyword research: video snippets

Step 5: Check for a mix of head terms and long-tail keywords in each bucket.

Head terms are keyword phrases that are generally shorter and more generic — they're typically just one to three words in length, depending on who you talk to. Long-tail keywords , on the other hand, are longer keyword phrases usually containing three or more words.

It's important to check that you have a mix of head terms and long-tail terms because it'll give you a keyword strategy that's well balanced with long-term goals and short-term wins. That's because head terms are generally searched more frequently, making them often (not always, but often) much more competitive and harder to rank for than long-tail terms. Think about it: Without even looking up search volume or difficulty, which of the following terms do you think would be harder to rank for?

  • how to write a great blog post

If you answered #2, you're absolutely right. But don't get discouraged. While head terms generally boast the most search volume (meaning greater potential to send you traffic), frankly, the traffic you'll get from the term "how to write a great blog post" is usually more desirable.

Because someone who is looking for something that specific is probably a much more qualified searcher for your product or service (presuming you're in the blogging space) than someone looking for something really generic. And because long-tail keywords tend to be more specific, it's usually easier to tell what people who search for those keywords are really looking for. Someone searching for the head term "blogging," on the other hand, could be searching it for a whole host of reasons unrelated to your business.

So check your keyword lists to make sure you have a healthy mix of head terms and long-tail keywords. You definitely want some quick wins that long-tail keywords will afford you, but you should also try to chip away at more difficult head terms over the long haul.

Step 6: See how competitors are ranking for these keywords.

Just because your competitor is doing something doesn’t mean you need to. The same goes for keywords. Just because a keyword is important to your competitor, doesn’t mean it's important to you. However, understanding what keywords your competitors are trying to rank for is a great way to help you give your list of keywords another evaluation.

If your competitor is ranking for certain keywords that are on your list, too, it definitely makes sense to work on improving your ranking for those. However, don’t ignore the ones your competitors don’t seem to care about. This could be a great opportunity for you to own market share on important terms, too.

Understanding the balance of terms that might be a little more difficult due to competition, versus those terms that are a little more realistic, will help you maintain a similar balance that the mix of long-tail and head terms allows. Remember, the goal is to end up with a list of keywords that provide some quick wins but also helps you make progress toward bigger, more challenging SEO goals.

How do you figure out what keywords your competitors are ranking for, you ask? Aside from manually searching for keywords in an incognito browser and seeing what positions your competitors are in, Arel="noopener" target="_blank" hrefs allows you to run a number of free reports that show you the top keywords for the domain you enter. This is a quick way to get a sense of the types of terms your competitors are ranking for.

Best Keywords for SEO

Understand that there's no "best" keywords, just those that are highly searched by your audience. With this in mind, it's up to you to craft a strategy that will help you rank pages and drive traffic.

The best keywords for your SEO strategy will take into account relevance, authority, and volume. You want to find highly searched keywords that you can reasonably compete for based on:

  • The level of competition you're up against.
  • Your ability to produce content that exceeds in quality what's currently ranking.

And You’ve Got the Right Keywords for Your Website SEO

You now have a list of keywords that'll help you focus on the right topics for your business, and get you some short-term and long-term gains.

Be sure to re-evaluate these keywords every few months — once a quarter is a good benchmark, but some businesses like to do it even more often than that. As you gain even more authority in the SERPs, you'll find that you can add more and more keywords to your lists to tackle as you work on maintaining your current presence, and then growing in new areas on top of that.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in May 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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How to do the best local keyword research for your business?

how to do keyword research for local seo

Update: 4.08.2023

From this article, you will learn how to conduct a local keyword research for your Google Business Profile. It will improve your business' visibility in Google search results.

It's easier than you think - below you'll find the proper methods and tools to help you improve the whole process and make local keyword research easier. But time passes, and the competition never sleeps, so let's get to the point! We'll start with some basic information.

What are local keywords?

Local keyword is the word which is most likely to be typed into Google by users looking for certain things in a particular area. You need to consider them when creating your action plan, analytics and marketing content if you want to increase the visibility of your local business.

See the wider definition of keyword in our marketing dictionary.

- What are local keywords?

- What is local SEO?

- How to do keyword research for local business listings?

- What is the search keyword volume?

- Best keyword research tools that will help you with analysis

- Why performing local keyword research is neccesary?

- How can I track local keyword rankings?

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How visible is your business profile on Google

What is local seo.

What we call local SEO, or local search engine optimization, is a set of methods to improve the position and visibility of a business profile and its website in Google search and Google Maps for local keywords.

Google local search results for the keyword dentist new york

As the name suggests, local SEO focuses on local searches – the ones which take place in a specific area or territory. It could be a street, a neighborhood, a city or an area within, for example, a 2,000-meter radius of your business.

Let's say you have a local business – a dental practice in New York City. Your goal will be to be visible in your city or specific neighborhood, not the entire state or country. Your potential customers are people who live nearby, and they are the ones who are supposed to notice your business.

Optimizing for local SEO is a process aimed precisely at increasing your visibility in your chosen area. One optimization method is to create content with specific keywords containing a particular phrase that will help your website rank high in search results.

See the definition of local SEO in our marketing dictionary.

How to do keyword research for local business listings?

Wherever you want to show up with your business(whether on Google or elsewhere), you need to consider local keywords that will boost your search engine position in a specific area. It's an easy process - below you'll find a set of simple steps to create a list of the best local keywords for your business' SEO.

Start with answering the following questions:

These are common questions asked by professional agencies before creating marketing strategy. They will help you to determine who are you communicating to and how to do it effectively.

  • Who are your customers?
  • What services or products do you offer?
  • Where does your business operate?
  • What can potential customers type into a Google search engine to find the products or services you offer in your area?

Prepare initial suggestions for local keywords.

After answering these questions, create a set of local keywords based on them that could be used by potential customers in your area.

For example, being a dentist in New York City, you could use keywords such as dentist New York, Dental Office New York, teeth whitening New York, Implants New York, etc.

Check how often they are typed and searched on Google

Once your keywords are in place, it's a good idea to use a dedicated tool to check their popularity and monthly number of searches. Check how often potential customers of your business search for these words.

You can use the two free tools we recommend below for this purpose. They will help you search for the keywords that users type in to find specific products and services:

Google Keyword Planner

Google's business tool for keyword analysis. In addition, Google offers other useful free tools such as Google Trends and Google Search Console.

google keyword planner showing search volume

Keyword Surfer

It's a free plugin for Google Chrome from SurferSEO that allows you to check the popularity of your keywords right in the browser.

keyword surfer – free keyword research tool

Choose the words that best describe your business activities and are most searched by customers.

Once you have your list prepared, it's time for the final selection.

We suggest narrowing your list to five items that meet the following criteria:

  • they describe your product or service well
  • are product phrases frequently searched on Google
  • Your customers would naturally use them to find the products or services you offer

What words not to use when selecting keywords that affect search results in a specific area?

The right choice of keywords during local keyword research is of great importance regarding our position in local search results. When considering words to use, it is worth remembering that the so-called nationwide/general keywords do not have much impact on the results displayed in a specific area.

For example, nationwide keywords include skirt online store, men's pants online, English course online, Localo, etc.

What is the search keyword volume?

The monthly number of searches is one metric that shows how often (in a 30-day period) people type a keyword into Google. The number of searches is crucial to an SEO strategy, as it reflects the popularity of a word, and by extension, a service or product. One of the better strategies is to look for keywords that generate many searches but have low competition, e.g. long tail keywords.

See the wider definition of long tail keyword in our marketing dictionary.

🏆 Well done! Now you can start positioning your business for the local keywords you've chosen.

With the list of local keywords we just created (🤝) for your business' local SEO, you can start positioning your profile on Google and your website. Despite appearances, it's not a difficult task, especially if you use tools created specifically to make the process easier.

Best keyword research tools that will help you with analysis

The following tools have built-in features for competitor analysis of keywords, which will help you select keywords that will improve your website and profile position on Google compared to your competitors.

With our application, you can check, monitor and improve the position of your business in local search results. It will also help you perform keyword analysis and develop guidelines for optimizing your business profile on Google. With Localo, you can add content with target keywords and check your competitors' keywords, allowing you to outrank them in Google search results. It will also show you keyword difficulty for every single proposition.

how to do keyword research for local seo

Surfer is a tool that will allow you to easily optimize content on your website, create new content, and include relevant keywords. With a convenient content editor and additional tools, you will see how valuable the text, post or blog article you create will be for your site's SEO. It will tell you how to choose keywords in the right proportions and then include them in the text. It will also help you arrange and divide the text well, so that Google's algorithm will better rank it.

surfer seo – tool for content marketing that provides keyword ideas

Why performing local keyword research is neccesary?

Dealing with your business' local positioning is not a one-time activity. As the market or customers' needs and competitors' actions change, you must keep your hand on the pulse and monitor whether your business is still visible to your potential customers. That's why checking your business' local keyword ranking and visibility on Google is a crucial aspect of local marketing.

Consider whether local SEO for words:

  • Which are not searched by users would make sense?
  • Which are not topical and don't match your business, would it make sense?

If you answered NO, you have also responded to why you need to conduct local keyword research.

How can I track local keyword rankings?

Keeping track of your local keyword rankings and how visible your business is on Google is crucial for your business to continue growing and developing strategies to increase its visibility on Google and stay ahead of your competitors.

The ideal tool for monitoring local keywords and visibility of your business profile on Google is  Local Rank Tracker  from Localo.

Just add your Google business profile, enter your keywords, and you're good. Local rank tracking is enabled and will refresh automatically.

local rank tracker – free tool that shows position of a business in local search results

Content marketing, especially if built on the right keywords, is not easy. We created Localo to help local businesses grow locally and stay ahead of even corporate competitors. We hope that with the above guide, local keyword research will become less complicated for you.

Good luck in growing your business!

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How to do Local SEO Keyword Research

how to do keyword research for local seo

Keyword research is an essential part of SEO, as it allows you to make sure that you’re focusing your time and energy on search terms that people are actually using.

SEO can be very time consuming, so you don’t want to spend months of hard work getting to position #1 on Google for a keyword that nobody is searching for.

For companies that rely on local business, Local SEO keyword research is even more essential to get the most from local and mobile searches.

So, what is local keyword research?

Keyword research is the process of finding the search terms that people enter into search engines (let’s be honest, it’s usually Google) while looking for an answer to a query.

When we optimize websites for search engines, one of the main focuses is figuring out which particular keywords or phrases people are searching for. Then, by implementing these keywords in your website, you will hopefully appear high up on the search engine results pages (SERPs) when people search for them.

So far, so good.

When determining which keywords to focus on, we often look at the search volume (how often people perform a Google search for this term), the content of the website and its specific pages, and what competitors are using on their websites.

Local keyword research is an even more specific version of this, as your content needs to resonate with particular locations in order to be seen as being particularly relevant to the search terms.

For example, this may include a generic business keyword plus a city location, such as “plumber Seattle”, or a service-based keyword and a specific region or area, such as “boiler repair Bellevue”.

Why is it important?

There are two main reasons why keyword research is an essential part of a local SEO plan .

The first reason is that many users who perform local searches are searching with intent. That is to say that they are looking to take action or make a purchase in the moment.

29% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device call or visit that business within 24 hours.

Companies that thrive on local customers should be looking to leverage this intent by focusing on local SEO, and determining which are the most effective keywords is a huge part of this.

The second reason is that users are served personalised results when they perform a Google search, and one of the main factors that determines the results is their physical location.

If you search for “coffee shop” on Google, you won’t be shown the world’s top results for the keyword “coffee shop”.

how to do keyword research for local seo

Instead, you’ll be shown the highest ranking pages within your vicinity. This is because Google wants to show you the most relevant search results.

If you’re in Washington, listings for coffee shops in New York aren’t going to be very useful for you.

Takeaway: know what keywords to target + what locations

Without knowing which keywords are worth targeting and what physical areas you’re likely to see the best results from, you’re missing out on the opportunity to benefit from local searchers who are looking to act now.

And as mobile internet usage has overtaken desktop , it’s important to consider those local mobile users who are looking to act now.

The aim of keyword research for local SEO is to find the most commonly searched, relevant terms for your industry.

Google pays particular attention to relevancy when it comes to the SERPs, and 72% of marketers claim that relevancy is the main leading factor for improving SEO . If your content isn’t relevant to what people are actually searching for, you won’t be appear in their results.

Getting started with finding keywords

Sometimes common sense prevails, but many business owners are unaware of exactly what sort of thing their customers are typing in when they’re looking for a particular product or service.

Researching which keywords have the highest search volume and search intent, allows you to make sure that you’re focusing on the right terms.

It may be tempting to go for high-volume keywords that aren’t particularly relevant to your website in an attempt to get more traffic. This is unwise, as the relevancy of a page’s content to the search term is one Google’s key ranking factors for all searches.

If your website isn’t relevant to the search terms you’re trying to target, not only will you struggle to rank for them but, if you do, visitors will likely bounce, clicking away from your website without interacting.

A high bounce rate is a signal to Google that a webpage is not useful for this particular keyword, and it will be placed lower down in the SERPs.

How to find local keywords for Local SEO

There are many ways to find keywords for your website, but here are some of the most effective.

Find industry related keywords

First of all, identify keywords that are specific to your industry.

This means thinking about what common words and phrases your customers would use to search for your business.

A simple exercise is to ask yourself:

If you were a member of the public looking for your service, what would you type in to Google?

This could be anything from product names to industry-specific terms, which are particularly pertinent in B2B marketing. You can also look at what your competitors are doing for inspiration.

Use keyword modifiers

Next, take advantage of keyword modifiers that could be relevant to searches. These are words that describe the service, quality, type of product or the occasion when they would be used.

Some examples of keyword modifiers include:

Words like “cheap”, “fast”, “best”, “free” and “buy” are popular modifiers that people use when searching. Adding these words changes the intent behind the keyword and can improve your clickthrough rate, as they are more enticing.

You can also add modifiers relevant to your industry. For a florist, “wedding”, “birthday” and “delivery” are all relevant keyword modifiers, even though they don’t mention your industry specifically.

Include local-based keywords

The final step in finding keywords for your local SEO campaign is the local element.

People tend to search for business close to them, so it’s important to leverage the geographic location of your business, the areas that it covers, or the areas your target market lives and works in.

Include countries, cities and districts in your meta tags and on-page content, and create location-specific landing pages to provide relevant content for local searchers.

You should also use these locational keywords in blog posts and on social media to further cement your association with the areas you wish to target.

Local keyword research tips:

  • Think about the main business keywords. For most local businesses, the primary keywords to target will be fairly obvious. It will be your main service/product + location…
  • Include the service in locations. Make sure to add KEYWORD + LOCATION to your metadata. For examples: plumber in New York, auto repair Vancouver, coffee shop London etc.
  • Use Google Autocomplete. Just enter your main keyword in Google and take note of the suggestion it generates.
  • Spy on your competitors. It’s always worth looking at what your competition are doing, and then trying to do it better.

How to choose which keywords to use

Whatever local search terms you choose to optimize your website for, aim for keywords that offer the highest search volume, but are still relevant to your business.

This will enable you to attract more traffic, which will also help you to maintain a good ranking by showing Google that your website is a relevant result.

It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that this will mean that you are facing more competition for fewer spots on the SERPs. This is why it’s important to boost your local SEO by focusing on on-page SEO, social signals and link building as well, giving your website a solid foundation.

Don’t forget: Proximity to Searcher

Because Google now takes a searcher’s physical location into account, this means that local businesses can benefit from targeting broader and more competitive search terms.

For example, terms like “hotel” are highly competitive but quite vague in their nature. When combined with local SEO and personalised search results, local businesses stand a great chance of showing up in the top results for these high-competition, high-traffic keywords.

Remember that, whatever keywords you pick, it’s essential to maintain good SEO health for your website as a whole through link building, social media and creating quality content. If your overall SEO is poor, you won’t rank well regardless of your chosen search terms and their search volumes and keyword difficulty.

Oh, and you’ll need help from some tools to actually see volumes and difficulties:

Keyword research tools (& how to use them)

While Google’s Keyword Planner is the most commonly cited tool for keyword research, there are many other tools that you can use to find local keywords.

Here are just a few:

  • Ahrefs Keywords Explorer
  • AnswerThePublic
  • Keywords Everywhere
  • Moz Keyword Explorer
  • Suggestion Keyword Finder
  • Ubersuggest

Everyone has their own preference when it comes to keyword research tools. Have a play around, see what works for you.

Here’s how you can grab useful keyword data from some of these tools:

How to find Search Volume for your local keywords

Finding the search volume is pretty easy and there are a couple of tools that can do the heavy lifting for you:

Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

Go to the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer , enter your keyword (or list of terms) and Ahrefs will find the search volume for each term as well as other useful metrics like keyword difficulty, CPC and how many average monthly clicks the keyword gets in the search results.

how to do keyword research for local seo

KWFinder is a great tool for doing quick keyword research. Drop in your keyword and you’ll get useful data like search trends, volume, difficulty scores as well as a useful overview of the SERPs for that keyword.

how to do keyword research for local seo

Keywords Everywhere Add-on

You can even check search volumes without leaving the SERPs with the super handy Keyword Everywhere Chrome add-on. Obviously not as practical when it comes to big keyword lists, but it is useful for grabbing data on the fly. Oh, and it’s completely free.

how to do keyword research for local seo

SE Ranking keyword suggestion tool is a perfect choice in terms of local SEO. The tool has the biggest keywords database for the US market and gives you the data for a complete overview of any topic you may need. Just enter a keyword, and along with other metrics, the tool will give you its search volume, difficulty, and organic SERP results. Choose between lists of similar, related, and long-tail keyword suggestions to find the ones that will work best for you.

how to do keyword research for local seo

How hard will they be to rank for (aka; Keyword Difficulty)

Keyword difficulty is another factor to consider. Some terms are easier to rank for, so it’s worth weighing up whether you should put in the effort to optimize pages for difficult keywords or opt for slightly lower-hanging fruit.

how to do keyword research for local seo

If a keyword is extremely relevant to your business, however, don’t discount it just because it has a high keyword difficulty.

Different keyword research tools use different methods to work out difficulty scores for keywords:

  • Ahrefs: Keyword Difficulty is an estimate of how hard it would be to rank in top 10 organic search results for a given keyword. It is measured on a non-linear scale from 0 to 100 (low difficulty to high difficulty).
  • KWFinder: The calculation is based on the selected metrics by Moz, Majestic and our know-how, namely: Domain Authority, Page Authority, Citation Flow and Trust Flow.

Expanding your keyword list

Putting your main keyword into a tool like Ubersuggest is a great (and quick) way to generate keyword variations and expand your list.

how to do keyword research for local seo

Finding question-keywords people ask

QuestionDB makes it easy to get a list of question based keywords. Just drop in a seed keyword or topic and it will quickly generate you a big list of keywords (that you can also export to a spreadsheet):

how to do keyword research for local seo

AnswerThePublic is another quick way to generate massive list of questions people ask about a keyword:

how to do keyword research for local seo

Don’t worry, there is the option to toggle it into a more easy to read view, as well as export it as a spreadsheet.

Final Thoughts

Local SEO is an ongoing process that requires continual nurturing and attention for various different platforms and ranking factors. Local keyword research is therefore an integral step to make sure that your efforts don’t go to waste.

The most important things to remember when it comes to keyword research for local SEO are:

  • Find and focus on keywords with high search volume.
  • Leverage broad, high-competition keywords for local search.
  • Make sure your content is relevant to your targeted keywords.
  • Don’t neglect your overall SEO campaign.

Now it’s your turn.

Now I’d like to turn it over to you to spark a debate or lead a new discussion.

What in this post were you excited about? What was useful? What would you like to read more about?

Or maybe you just have a question about something you read.

Either way, let us know in the comments below.

how to do keyword research for local seo

how to do keyword research for local seo

How to Master Local Keyword Research

how to do keyword research for local seo

Why take this free local SEO course?

Learn the essential elements of local keyword research, discover the types of keywords you can, and should, target , build your local keyword list using free tools, understand how to prioritize your keywords, who is this free local seo course for, join our facebook group, training course contents.

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Keyword Research for SEO: An In-Depth Beginner’s Guide

author image

Keyword research can seem intimidating, especially since many how-tos are filled with jargon.

However, getting started with keyword research is easy when it’s explained in plain English.

Beginners can do keyword research by following simple steps.

In this article, we’ll walk you through how to do keyword research and explain why it has a significant impact on SEO.

Along the way, we’ll translate those fancy terms you’ve probably seen, like “keyword difficulty” and “search volume.”

Let’s get started.

In This Article

What is Keyword Research?

Why is keyword research important for seo, experience keyword research in 5 minutes, step 1: pick a tool, step 2: add a keyword, step 3: find keywords that are easy to rank for, step 4: discover intent, step 5: check search volume, step 6: keyword gap analysis (optional), best free keyword research tools, copy our keyword research strategy, tips for creating high-quality content, how to optimize your content for seo, boosting seo performance further, future trends in keyword research.

AIOSEO is the best WordPress SEO plugin. Get it for free!

Keyword research is a way to explore search queries in order to create content that satisfies users and ranks well.

Over time, Google has evolved to understand what searchers want, no matter how they phrase their requests.

The world’s leading search engine works to match each request with relevant content that’s helpful.

Because of this, Google search results are the premier source of keyword research. And keyword research tools rely on Google data, repackaging it in helpful ways.

In fact, you can do basic keyword research for free by using Google. We’ll show you how to do this. Then we’ll show you how to use a tool to find profitable keywords that are easy to rank for and generate revenue.

Keep in mind each web page ranks in relation to a keyword. In other words, a searcher needs to enter a request into a search engine to get results.

But first, why do keyword research?

Search engines are like librarians that organize and categorize content. Cataloging content makes it easier for people to find what they want.

If you want your online content to be found, choose a main topic (i.e., keyword) for your page. This way, Google the Librarian can serve your page to people looking for information on that topic.

To make sure Google understands the main topic of your page, it’s a good idea to use your keyword several times on that page. We’ll show you exactly how to do this. It’s straightforward.

Keyword research also helps you choose topics on which to create content.

For instance, you can:

  • Find keywords that are easy to rank for .
  • Discover which keywords signal the searcher has buying intent .
  • Understand what type of content to create to rank well.

As promised, here’s how to do keyword research for free.

One of our favorite tools for keyword research is Chrome Incognito. What you can learn from a simple search is fascinating.

To use Chrome Incognito, make sure you’ve downloaded the Chrome browser .

  • On a Mac, Press ⌘ + Shift + n to open Chrome in Incognito (privacy) mode.
  • On Windows, Linux, or Chrome OS, Press Ctrl + Shift + n .

Let’s see how it works.

Imagine we have a website selling learn-to-knit kits . We want to create content to attract our target audience. So, we’re thinking of creating an article called “Learn to knit.”

Let’s research that keyword by entering it into Chrome Incognito.

example of a google search

A keyword can be a single word or detailed phrase.

Content Types

At the top of search results we see “Sponsored” ads.

example of google sponsored ads

Videos are featured prominently on page 1.

example of videos in search results

The people who created these videos took advantage of YouTube’s option to display “key moments.” That helps searchers see, before clicking, that the video will walk them through clear steps.

example of youtube key moments in search results

The show-and-tell format of video is a good fit for this keyword. But what about websites ?

Scroll down and we see the top-ranking website pages are mainly step-by-step tutorials .

Since Google rewards pages that best match user intent, we can conclude that what searchers expect is a step-by-step tutorial.

To hedge your bets, you could create a YouTube video tutorial and embed it in your web page too.

People Also Ask

Did you notice the People Also Ask section? These are common questions people have on the topic.

example of google people also ask questions

Pick a few questions to answer in your content. This can make your article or video more helpful to searchers; the more helpful it is, the higher it will rank.

Related Searches

Scroll down to the bottom of page 1 of search results and look for Related searches. You may find more ideas of what to cover in your content here. You might get ideas for additional articles, too.

example of related searches displayed in google

You’ve just seen how entering a keyword into Google search can help you plan an article (and video) that satisfies search intent . So, why do people buy keyword research tools?

Let’s explore that question by taking a tool for a spin.

How to Do Keyword Research (With a Tool)

Keyword research tools open a new world of possibilities. You can find keywords that are easy to rank for, saving time and aggravation. You can even find easy keywords that indicate buying intent on the part of the searcher.

Let’s find out how.

The first step is to pick a keyword research tool.

Semrush and Ahrefs are popular research tools used by pros and novices.

These tools have many similarities, so your choice might come down to the interface you prefer.

Ubersuggest is another popular choice, and it costs less.

We’ll use Semrush for our tutorial.

To follow along, create a free account. You can cancel at any time.

While you’re still logged into Semrush, click on Keyword Overview in the left-hand column. Enter a keyword into the blank field.

For starters, we’ll enter “learn how to knit.”

semrush keyword overview

This keyword has a “Keyword Difficulty” score of 64%. And it’s labeled “Difficult” to rank for.

These keyword difficulty scores are displayed as percentages and calculated on a logarithmic scale. Because logarithmic measures may seem counterintuitive, refer to the label below the score.

Semrush labels keywords this way.

If your website is new, or you’re not ranking for much yet, pick keywords rated “ Easy ” or “ Very easy ” to rank for.

When you enter a keyword into Semrush that is hard to rank for, simply click on the Keyword Magic Tool in the left-hand column. This will display related keywords; you can filter the results to show easy-to-rank keywords.

To filter, click the KD dropdown and select “Easy” or “Very easy.”

semrush keyword difficulty filter for keyword research

In our case, we got 3 results. And we discovered that “ learn how to knit kit ” is easy to rank for.

semrush display from keyword magic tool

Next, let’s look at what keywords can tell us about the searchers’ “intent.”

For this example, we’ll enter “learn to knit kit” into Semrush.

semrush example of commercial keyword easy to rank for

We see that this keyword is “Very easy” to rank for. And its intent is “ Commercial .”

Intent refers to the goal of searchers who use a given keyword.

Semrush labels keywords with 4 intent types.

Here is a definition table for Semrush’s 4 keyword intents:

In summary:

  • Informational queries demonstrate an interest in gaining knowledge
  • Navigational queries aim to access a specific website
  • Commercial queries show a user comparing options with buying intent
  • Transactional queries indicate a user is ready to make a purchase

Why Intent Matters

If you have a business, you can filter keywords by commercial and transactional intent and create content that attracts people ready to buy .

Often, these keywords are easier to rank for than informational queries. And by ranking for buyer intent keywords , you can earn revenue while your website grows.

Likewise, if you’re creating informational content, you’ll know the searcher’s not ready to buy. So, you can offer them an incentive to sign up for a newsletter, course, or some other lead magnet .

Additionally, you can earn revenue from this content by promoting it to your email newsletter audience .

So now you know how to find keywords that are easy to rank for, related to your niche, and signal buying intent.

Next, let’s cover search volume. It’s a straightforward concept.

Keyword research tools display an estimated monthly search volume for any keyword entered.

That number reflects how many searches are done for that keyword monthly. This gives you an idea of the traffic you could attract if you rank well.

Put it in action : if you’re trying to choose between 2 keywords rated “Easy” to rank for, and one has a much higher search volume, prioritize that topic.

One of the great things about using Semrush or Ahrefs is you’ll get highly accurate data on competitors.

You can use that data to outrank them, even siphoning off some of their prospects to your site.

Semrush’s Keyword Gap Analysis tool allows you to:

  • Find keywords your competitors are ranking for but you aren’t.
  • Find keywords they’re ranking higher than you for.

Here’s how you can use this information. First, for the top keywords you’re not ranking for, choose a few that would deliver serious gains for your business.

Then, create a high-quality article designed to be better than theirs.

Similarly, when you see a competitor ranking higher for keywords you already targeted, go back to those pages and improve them.

Improving can include:

  • Adding detail to create a more comprehensive article.
  • Editing to make the content easier to understand .
  • Formatting the page to make it scannable .
  • Improving the introduction.

Using the Keyword Gap Analysis tool is simple. You just enter your domain name and the names of 1 or more competitors. Then click a button.

semrush keyword gap analysis tool for keyword research

Best of all, you can filter the results to see only keywords that are easy to rank for and have Commercial or Transactional intent.

See how to do it in our guide on Keyword Gap Analysis .

Wondering what keyword research tools are available for free?

There are quite a lot. These vary from always free to limited free versions, requiring upgrading to paid to unlock all features.

  • Google Keyword Planner : To use this tool, you’ll need to create a Google Ads account. It’s designed to help people find keyword ideas for ad campaigns. But you can use it for content, too. Follow these instructions to use it.
  • Google Trends : Get ideas from trending topics. Interest is displayed on a relative scale.
  • Ahrefs’ Free SEO Tools: Ahrefs offers several free tools, like the Ahrefs Keyword Generator and the Ahrefs SERP Checker . These are like mini-trials that provide limited data. You’ll need to bump up to a paid plan to get the full features.

Browse our list of free keyword research tools .

While many small businesses keep their tactics secret, we love sharing how we grow our small business consistently.

Would you like to copy our keyword strategy? Here it is.

We focus primarily on commercial or transactional keywords. While these types of keywords often have lower search volume, searchers that use these keywords have buying intent . And that makes all the difference.

We need to do 3 things well for this strategy to succeed:

  • Show commercial searchers how to use our product to solve a problem they have.
  • Help commercial searchers compare features and prices of similar products (e.g., “SEO plugins”).
  • Convince transactional searchers that our solution is best.

To learn about our process, read:

  • 7 Secrets Used by SEO Pros to Grow Revenue
  • 3 Competitive SEO Strategies That Can Help Your Small Business Rank

Standard Terms Used in Keyword Research

As you learn more about keyword research you’ll run into these common terms.

  • Short-tail keywords are short and broad. Examples are “insurance” or “english literature.” Because of the lack of detail, it’s hard to discern what the searcher wants.
  • Long-tail keywords are detailed phrases; they’re not broad. Examples are “how to submit a sitemap to bing” and “best budget leaf blowers.” The intent behind these keywords is clear.
  • Branded keywords include a brand or product name in it. Examples: “home depot credit card login” or “nike air max.”
  • Local keywords may contain a geographical reference (like “memphis wedding planners”). Or they may be for local services, like “pizza delivery,” “dry cleaner” or “24-hr electrician.” Small businesses can use keyword research to discover the most-often used keywords relevant to their niche.

Now that you understand the basics of keyword research, and chosen a keyword to create content on, quality becomes your #1 focus.

You don’t need a degree to create quality content. It comes down to common sense.

Here are some practices that work for us. Feel free to try these out for yourself.

Start With an Outline

Drafting an outline can help keep your content focused on the main topic. Clarity is part of quality, and quality is the #1 ranking factor.

Write in Plain English

Use simple words and short sentences.

Adopt Orwell’s 6 Rules for Writing . And skip the $10 words .

Format for Easy Reading

You’ve probably heard that people read online content differently than they read print.

In short, they often don’t read; they scan for features that stand out, like subheadings, images, or bulleted lists.

Learn how to format for easy screen reading .

Once you’ve created your content, there’s one vital step left before publishing: optimizing your page for search engines.

Optimizing your content for search engines ensures that Google understands your page and can rank it for relevant queries .

Download and Install All in One SEO

For WordPress users, the easiest way to optimize is to use an SEO plugin. We recommend All in One SEO (AIOSEO) . It’s beginner-friendly yet powerful enough to be the choice of top agencies and large businesses.

This is an established plugin with thousands of 5-star reviews on WordPress.org. Currently, over 3 million site owners are using this plugin.

All in One SEO analyzes your website pages and shows you exactly how to improve them.

aioseo homepage

Once you’ve installed the plugin and are still logged into WordPress, navigate to a page you want to optimize.

AIOSEO’s instructions appear in a right-hand sidebar.

Here, you’ll find recommendations categorized by:

  • Focus keyphrase use (target keyword)
  • Readability

To see how it works, let’s look at a few features.

Focus Keyphrase Use

This Focus Keyphrase check will look to see if you’ve used your target keyword in:

  • Meta description
  • First paragraph
  • Some subheadings
  • Alt text (optional)

If the keyword’s missing from any of those areas, you’ll be prompted to add it.

aioseo focus keyphrase

This technique helps ensure Google is clear on the main topic of your page.

With Author SEO , adding an author byline and even a reviewer or fact-checker byline is easy.

author seo

You can also create a short author bio, which will appear at the bottom of each article written by them. This bio will display your areas of expertise.

aioseo author seo

The bylines are automatically hyperlinked to a page listing all articles the person writes. And there, you have the option to include a more extended bio.

In addition, AIOSEO automatically adds schema markup to your author information. This code helps Google understand the page better and rank it for relevant queries.

Author SEO is a simple way to signal EEAT (experience, expertise, authority, trustworthiness). Many of Google’s algorithm updates have focused on better identifying EEAT in order to elevate pages.

To be clear, using the Author SEO feature alone won’t confer ranking privileges if your site or authors don’t have personal experience or expertise in what they’re writing about. And technically, EEAT itself is not a ranking factor. That’s because it’s a qualitative rather than quantitative measure.

Instead, EEAT’s a signal Google uses to assess overall quality. And quality is the #1 ranking factor.

With the recent Helpful Content Update, EEAT is becoming more critical. So it’s crucial to take action.

All in One SEO has numerous other tools included to improve your rankings. In addition, each month, new features are released.

While on-page SEO should become a routine before publishing, consider these additional steps to elevate your site.

Internal Linking: Overlooked and Powerful

Adding internal links to your pages is one of the most overlooked SEO techniques.

Adding more internal links to your most important pages can boost their rankings. And the effect can be quick.

Your most essential pages might be:

  • A leading product or service you offer.
  • Pillar pages (from topic clusters ).

Use AIOSEO’s Link Assistant to speed up the internal linking process.

Identify your most important pages. These might be your top service page or some topic clusters .

Then use AIOSEO’s Link Assistant to speed up the internal linking process.

aioseo link assistant

For details on how to use it, see:

  • 6 Ways Link Assistant Can Save You Time On Internal Link Building
  • How to Use Link Assistant to Optimize Your Internal Linking Strategy

Acquiring Backlinks: Worth the Effort?

Backlinks are links from other sites to yours. When these links are from trustworthy sites (as opposed to spammy sites), they can elevate your ranking.

how to do keyword research for local seo

And that leads to more conversions and revenue.

The standard way of viewing this has been that Google regards these links as votes of confidence in your page quality. But what happens when Google has better ways of discerning quality? Are backlinks a major ranking factor? Well, there’s some nuance to the situation.

Quality Should Trump Backlinks

Google wants to prioritize the highest-quality content . But that content may be on a page with few backlinks. So, it makes sense that in its algorithm updates, Google works to identify those pages so they can rank along with others that have many backlinks.

After all, why would a searcher care whether a page had lots of backlinks?

It’s unsurprising that last year, Google’s Gary Illyes (@methode) said backlinks would no longer be a top 3 ranking factor.

One big takeaway from my AMA with @methode is that links are no longer in the top 3 for ranking factors. #pubcon — Jennifer Slegg (@jenstar) September 21, 2023

Should you prioritize backlink campaigns like outreach and guest posting? For time-strapped micro-business owners and solopreneurs, the best way to acquire links may be by producing high-quality content, which naturally attracts sharing.

Recognize that most advice on getting backlinks is generic and may not apply to your business.

At the same time, some tactics, such as guest posting, are considered passe in the SEO industry. Yet we know of businesses that have achieved remarkable success with it. Some invested massive time in testing, experimenting, and creating proprietary methods.

The moral of the story?

  • Be willing to experiment.
  • Question the orthodoxy.
  • Realize some tactics may require more resources than you’d expect to move the needle.

Explore this nuanced topic in:

  • The Ultimate Guide to Shotgun Skyscraper Link Building Tactic
  • Referring Domains vs Backlinks: What’s the Difference (Plus: SEO Impact)
  • What are Paid Links in SEO and Do They Work?

Page Loading Speed

Like backlinks, page loading speed is trumped by quality content. Meaning: if the web pages ranking at the top of Google for a given keyword load in comparable time, then you shouldn’t expect the slowest page of the bunch to be demoted.

How fast your site loads can impact rankings and traffic though. Consumers using mobile phones on 5G for example, expect instant loading. Google has long shown that an additional load time of even a few seconds can ding conversion rates by double digits.

Improving site performance can be extraordinarily complicated though, from ensuring images at the top load first (called “lazy loading”) to refactoring code.

The best way for a WordPress user to ensure a fast load time is to choose a theme coded for speed.

Some options are SeedProd , Blocksy , and GeneratePress

seedprod interface

As you move forward with keyword research you may wonder what the future holds. Here are some likely developments.

Accelerated Changes in Algorithms

New developments in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will speed the evolution of Google Search. As its algorithms become more sophisticated in detecting quality, poorly conceived shortcuts for fast rankings will lead to site demotions.

Takeaway: Be cautious about following trendy SEO advice

Here's a real-life example of how studying Google's documentation can prevent you from doing something that "everyone else is doing" to drive SEO performance, maybe with early success: Everyone: *creating and using WP plugins to automatically switch all content's publication… — Lily Ray 😏 (@lilyraynyc) March 17, 2024

Evolution in Use of Generative AI

Brands that learn how to use generative AI to boost productivity while still aligning with search intent, will likely make substantial gains. This requires a deft melding of high technology and human guidance.

Upstarts Gain on Legacy Tools

As more businesses adopt a cookie-cutter approach to mass content creation and herd into content AI tools, established software players may become challenged by Google algorithm updates.

That opens the field for novel approaches to content optimization and new tools.

Q&A on Keyword Research

Is there a free keyword research tool.

There are many free keyword research tools available. Ahrefs, Semrush, and Ubersuggest, offer free trials and free, limited tools. You’ll need to bump up to a paid plan to access full features. Find more free tools here. See our list of free keyword research tools .

How do I find the right keywords for research?

To find the right keywords for research, focus on those closely related to your niche and are easy to rank for. If your site sells products and services choose keywords that reflect commercial or transactional intent.

Is keyword research the same as SEO?

Keyword research is part of SEO, but SEO includes dozens of other disciplines. For example, improving SEO may include boosting site loading speeds by optimizing images, bundling CSS and Javascript files, and loading fonts locally. It may also include analyzing website content to identify areas for improvement.

Like all fields, SEO has elements that can be easily learned by beginners but also advanced technical requirements that require pro-level knowledge and experience.

How do I become a keyword researcher?

Keyword research is an essential skill for all marketers, especially SEO professionals. If your goal is to go pro, start by creating your own site and improving the rankings of articles. Branch out and help friends. As you progress you’ll be building a portfolio of work, so be sure to track wins by taking screenshots of Semrush or Ahrefs rankings charts.

After Keyword Research . . .

Now that you’re equipped to do keyword research, discover how cornerstone content can attract traffic and boost your website’s SEO. Also consider exploring SEO secrets the pros use to grow revenue .

To learn more about search engine optimization, subscribe to our YouTube Channel .

Also, follow us on X (Twitter) , LinkedIn , or Facebook to stay in the loop.

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YouTube SEO: 7 Tips To Rank Higher in 2024

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YouTube  has become an indispensable platform for businesses, creators, and marketers to reach their target audiences. With  over two billion  monthly logged-in users, YouTube offers immense potential to drive traffic, boost brand awareness, and increase sales.

However, simply uploading videos isn’t enough. With millions of hours of content uploaded every day, standing out on YouTube requires optimizing your videos for discovery. That’s where YouTube search engine optimization (SEO) comes in.

By improving your YouTube SEO strategy, you can unlock greater visibility, higher rankings, and more views. This article provides seven actionable tips to optimize your YouTube presence and rank better in 2024 and beyond.

1. Understand the True Power of YouTube SEO

Many content creators and businesses underestimate the influence of YouTube SEO because they don’t fully grasp how the platform works. When you optimize your videos properly, you make it easier for search engines to understand what they’re about. This results in higher rankings in YouTube’s internal search results and Google searches.

Specifically, effective SEO for YouTube helps you rank for two types of searches:

  • Searches made directly on YouTube:  When people search for relevant keywords on YouTube itself, optimized videos have a higher chance of appearing in those results. Ranking here is key for views.
  • Google video search results:  YouTube videos also appear in Google searches. When you rank highly in YouTube’s algorithm, you’re more likely to grab that coveted real estate on the first page of Google.

The best part is that you can implement small YouTube SEO optimizations to see big results. While high-quality content is still essential, properly optimizing your video titles, descriptions, subtitles, tags, and custom thumbnails hugely impacts discoverability and viewership.

2. Conduct Keyword Research for Targeted Video Content

The foundation of ranking well on YouTube lies in creating strategic, optimized content. The most critical starting point? Keyword research. 

By carefully choosing target keywords that people are actively searching for, you can increase your video’s views. You can find keyword opportunities by looking at the following:

  • Trending search terms on YouTube and Google
  • Related searches and autocomplete suggestions
  • Competitor videos ranking well for terms you want to target

The sweet spot lies in identifying high-traffic, low-competition keywords that have enough search volume for rankings but aren’t completely saturated. There are also popular SEO tools for YouTube, such as TubeBuddy, VidIQ, and Ahrefs, which can facilitate keyword research.

3. Optimize Video Titles and Descriptions

Your video title is the very first touchpoint for engaging viewers, while the video description expands on it with additional context. Ensure both are:

  • Keyword-rich:  Include your primary and secondary target keywords organically in the title and description.
  • Attention-grabbing:  Use emotional triggers like humor, surprise, or inspiration to entice clicks.
  • Benefit-focused:  Communicate the value your audience gets straight away. For example, “Learn Pro Baking Tips in 10 Minutes.”
  • Scannable:  Break up dense text with spacing and line breaks for easy reading.

The right mix of SEO and engaging titles and descriptions can magnify impressions.

4. Enhance Viewer Engagement and Watch Time

Higher audience retention directly correlates with better YouTube algorithm rankings. So, make engaging videos that viewers want to watch through. A few useful tactics include:

  • Front-loading value:  Hook viewers within the first 30 seconds and get straight to the interesting information.
  • Segmenting your content:  Break longer videos into sections so viewers can skip to parts that interest them. Chapters also promote continued watching.
  • Adding interactive elements:  Encourage engagement with on-video call-to-action (CTAs), quizzes, and giveaways.

However, maximizing watch time shouldn’t undermine video quality and user experience. Find natural ways to retain viewers without dragging things out unnecessarily.

And don’t forget to  add subtitles . Quickly adding captions to every piece of content allows global audiences to follow along in their language. You can even use LOVO’s powerful auto subtitle generator to easily create subtitles in minutes. Then, sync them seamlessly onto your videos with LOVO’s online video editor.

5. Leverage YouTube Tags Effectively

YouTube tags help classify your content into topics and categories. Though not as directly influential on rankings anymore, they still matter for discoverability. When adding video tags, keep the following in mind:

  • Include exact-match keywords:  Use your most important target phrases.
  • Go long-tail:  Specify niche search terms people are unlikely to search directly but still capture intrinsic interest and traffic potential.
  • Use related terms:  Cover synonyms and alternate wordings to cast a wide net.

Again, don’t keyword stuff unnaturally. Fill the 500-character tag space effectively with keywords supplementing your title and description. Get tag ideas from high-ranking competitor videos as well.

6. Build Quality Backlinks and Social Signals

Backlinks and social signals illustrate popularity signals, indirectly influencing rankings. Here are a few key ways to earn them:

  • Guest post on relevant sites:  Publish guest posts with embedded, contextual video links on niche blogs and publications. It’s useful for both traffic and backlinks.
  • Promote your content:  Share your video across  social media channels , groups, and forums, encouraging organic engagement opportunities.
  • Pursue strategic partnerships:  Collaborate with influencers and businesses to access each other’s audiences for mutual benefit.

However, always focus on quality over quantity. Partner only with reputable websites in your industry to build authoritative backlinks. Also, promote your videos in suitable online communities where the target viewership already exists.

7. Monitor and Adapt Your SEO Strategy

Like any marketing initiative, actively monitoring the performance of your YouTube SEO efforts is key to sustaining momentum. Consistently analyze how your SEO efforts are performing by tracking:

  • Search rankings:  Check both YouTube and Google search rankings for target keywords.
  • Traffic sources:  Evaluate traffic channels driving the most video views within YouTube Analytics.
  • Audience metrics:  Assess viewer watch time, retention, and clicks.

Use these insights to double down on what’s working and switch up ineffective strategies. SEO is dynamic, so you want your strategy to be as well.

Enhance Your Engagement With Video Subtitles

Implementing YouTube SEO best practices is crucial for ranking higher and driving more viewership. But simply accumulating vanity metrics shouldn’t be the end goal. Ultimately, you want to captivate your audience and inspire genuine engagement through the viewing experience. That’s where subtitles play a valuable role. 

LOVO makes the process incredibly simple with its AI subtitle generator . LOVO isn’t just a powerful text-to-speech engine. It’s an all-in-one platform for creating professional videos fueled by AI. With LOVO’s  video caption editor , you can effortlessly create subtitles and stunning animated captions in minutes. Then, edit your videos using LOVO’s  YouTube video editor , which lets you seamlessly layer subtitles,  AI voiceovers , graphics, and more to craft compelling videos.

The ability to add accurate, multilingual subtitles easily gives your content universal appeal and memorability. So whether you’re a creator, marketer, or business trying to drive more YouTube visibility, let LOVO help you optimize videos to be discovered, understood, and loved globally.

Experience the power of AI video creation today. Sign up now to access auto subtitles, voiceovers, powerful editing, and more, all in one platform.

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    This shows that the keyword has local intent. Go to " Advanced filters ". Open the " SERP Features " drop-down. Select the " Local pack " check box. Click " Apply ". Again, add relevant keywords to the Keyword Manager. Repeat this step with as many seed keywords as possible.

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    Here's the process: Go to Google Keyword Planner. Choose the option to "Get search volume and forecasts". Paste in your implicit keywords/services. Change the location to your service area. Now you see average monthly search volume ranges for implicit local keywords in your area.

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    Alternatively, a simple way to find local-based keywords is using Google search results. Type in your main keyword and scroll down to the bottom of the page. There, you'll see a section called 'related searches.'. For example, a small business located in Miami could target the keyword 'Miami dentist.'. Then:

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    To assess these metrics, start by using local SEO keyword research tools. Many of these tools provide a difficulty score and search volume data for each keyword. For local SEO, you must look at these metrics from a local perspective. A keyword may have high competition globally but could be less competitive in your specific area.

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    The Complete SEO Checklist Covers technical SEO, On-page SEO, and keyword research; Keyword Research for SEO Exactly how to do keyword research in 2023. How to Conduct an SEO Competitor Analysis Reverse engineer their ranking strategies. Internal Linking for SEO Key for any site that wants higher rankings in Google.

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    3. Check for local intent. Local intent means that searchers want to shop nearby. If that isn't the case for your services, it's not a local SEO opportunity. To check a query for local intent, Google it and check the results. If there's a map pack and/or some local "blue link" results, it has local intent.

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    Local SEO keyword research involves finding popular search terms and phrases made by people in a particular location to optimize content for local search engine results. So, for instance, if someone were to Google 'dentist near me' they are clearly looking to book an appointment to see a dentist.

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    1. Brainstorm "seed" keywords. Seed keywords are the starting point of your keyword research process. They define your niche and help you identify your competitors. Every keyword research tool asks for a seed keyword, which it then uses to generate a huge list of keyword ideas (more on that shortly).

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    For example, you can see the queries that a particular page has shown in the search results for. To do so, visit Google Search Console, then: Select Search results in the left-hand navigation menu. Click + New in the filters section. Select Page. In the Page pop-up, select Exact URL from the drop-down menu.

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    Step 2: "Extend" your core terms with keyword modifiers. This modifier makes your core term more specific. It also makes the keyword less competitive. For example: "Best hairdressers near me". "Find a personal injury lawyer" (keyword modifiers are in italics). Keyword modifiers make your overall keyword strategy more diverse.

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