There’s more to keyword research than search volumes and bid prices.
While it’s always helpful to rank for broad keyword phrases and terms that allow you to attract a wide selection of customers, it’s also useful to get a little more specific with your SEO strategies.
For instance, if you have a product that ships to a specific area, you run a brick-and-mortar store, or you just focus on some regions more than other, you should be investing in local SEO. Just like regular SEO, local SEO requires local keyword research.
According to a recent study by Search Engine Watch, digital customers are interacting more than ever with brands through local search. At the same time, we also know that more than 30% of all the searches conducted on Google are done with “local intent.”
In a mobile world where customers are constantly connecting with brands through their smartphones, local search is growing increasingly valuable. Having high local keyword rankings in the area that you want to sell in can be vital to building a presence that attracts more sales and enquiries.
So, how do you start your local SEO keyword research?
Well, you can begin right here.
We’re going to talk you through the basics of how to do local keyword research, step by step.
What is local keyword research?
First, let’s identify local keyword research and how it differs from regular PPC and SEO keyword searches.
Local SEO is a process that involves optimizing your site to ensure that it’s visible in the search results for local search queries. If you’ve ever asked Google to find you something “near me,” then you’ve probably seen this before.
That’s the SEO local Snack Pack. It’s a local listing that appears above the organic results in the search engine result pages. If you appear in this small listing space, then you have a higher chance of improved visibility with your potential customers.
Thriving in the local SEO world starts with finding a local SEO keyword research method that improves your chances of appearing in the local pack. You can also opt for phrases that will help you to rank higher when customers search for the product or solution you offer, along with a modifier like a city or town name. For instance: “Dentists open till late, New York”.
Local SEO includes a number of important strategies, including local link building, adding local business schema markups to your website, and even building local citations. However, aside from a very specific geographical focus, there’s no real difference between local and regular SEO.
Just like standard search engine optimization, the key to success is figuring out who your audience is, what they’re searching for, and how you can appear as part of their consumer journey.
Why is local SEO keyword research important?
So, why should you be worried about local keyword research?
If you’re ranking for broader terms, then surely it doesn’t matter if you’re targeting a more specific niche section of the industry too?
A lot of companies assume that local keywords aren’t as important as their broader terms. However, the truth is that you can actually achieve better results in your digital campaigns just by taking a local approach. While local terms seem like low-volume dead ends at first glance, they’re also very easy to compete for. What’s more, when you rank for local keywords, you improve your chances of attracting customers that are ready to convert.
Because there’s a big difference in search intent when someone looks for “Pizza” on Google, to when they look for “Pizza places near me”. The first search could be for anything from recipes to pictures, while the second search is all about consumerism.
Local keywords are also long-tail keywords, which make up the majority of the searches conducted online. When your customers actually want to find or do something, they don’t just enter a word or two into Google. They look for exactly what they need, i.e.: “Shoe store Brooklyn”. While it’s true that local keywords don’t have as much search volume as their broader counterparts, they could give you more opportunities for targeted sales – and that’s what really matters.
76% of people who look for a business on their phone will visit that company within a day’s time. Another 28% of those consumers will also make a purchase.
With local SEO keyword research, you benefit from things like:
- Higher numbers of warm, ready-to-convert leads.
- Optimized traffic with lower bounce rates.
- Improved reputation in a specific area or location.
- Better brand visibility for your customers.
- Google maps visibility.
How to do keyword research for local business listings
So, how do you start with your local SEO keyword research method?
As we mentioned above, the process is very similar to researching for regular SEO. It’s all about figuring out what kind of customers you’re trying to reach, and what they’re looking for.
To begin with, you’ll need to decide where you want to be found. When you’re ranking for local SEO, you’ll need to know which search engines people use to find your kind of business, and where you’d like to appear in those search engine results. For instance, do you want to appear in Google’s Snack Pack display zone, or in the organic results?
The Snack Pack results generally get noticed straight away due to their high visibility above the organic results. On the other hand, the organic results can be useful too, particularly if your customers are looking for an online service or information, rather than a local store.
To appear in the Snack Pack results, you’ll need more focused, long-tail keywords like “your product near me”, or “What are the best pizza places in New York?”
To appear in the organic results, you can have less structured keywords, like “Digital Marketing, London”.
Either way, to begin your local keyword research:
1. Brainstorm your “Service in Location” phrases
Local SEO might be frequently overlooked by many businesses, but it’s also not rocket science. For most companies, it’ll be easy enough to figure out the kind of primary keywords and phrases that you want to rank for. For instance, if you’re a branding company in London (like Fabrik), then people will probably search for your services by searching for things like:
- Branding services in London.
- London branding services.
- Marketing and branding in London.
Ultimately, every search starts with a combination of the service you offer, and the location that you’re in. If you want to know how to do keyword research for local businesses, start by listing all of your service areas, and all of the physical locations (cities, towns and countries) that you serve. All you need to do after that is merge the two lists together to create your terms.
2. Find inspiration wherever you can
Once you have finished brainstorming, your work isn’t done yet. It pays to look at other sources of inspiration too – just in case you discover anything that you might have missed. For instance, consider going to Quora or Reddit, and looking into the questions that your customers are asking about your service or industry.
A common question like “How to design a Logo”, can easily become “How to design a Logo in London”. You can also look for ideas on the services section for Craigslist. Searching for a “Marketer” in London would bring up tons of “Modifier” terms like “Best” marketer in in London, or “Affordable” London marketer that you can use as inspiration.
Don’t underestimate the value of Google autocomplete for your local SEO keyword research either. All you need to do to use this method is enter the primary keywords you want to rank for into Google, like “branding company London”.
You’ll get some ideas straight away from autocomplete, and you can scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the associated searches too.
3. Spy on the competition
One last thing that you need to do when you’re building your local SEO keyword research method, is learn how to spy on your competition. A quick competitor analysis will show you all the local words and phrases that companies just like you are already ranking for.
There’s a good chance that you’ll find at least a handful of terms that you forgot to try and earn yourself. What’s more, there are plenty of competitor analysis tools in the SEO world that can help you to do your research too. For instance, the Ahrefs content gap tool allows you to compare your content with the list of keywords your competitors are ranking for.
You can check your keywords against multiple competitors at the same time and find potentially hundreds of new phrases to target. Simple.
Tips to improve your local SEO keyword research method
Okay, so you know the basics of local SEO keyword research. Now it’s time to refine your methods.
Remember, when you’re picking local search terms, you need to choose the options that have the highest possible search volume but are still relevant to your company and what you want to accomplish. This should help you to attract more traffic and maintain your reputation with Google.
One point to keep in mind is the Google “Proximity to Sender” concept. Google now takes the physical location of the searcher into account when deciding where organic terms need to rank. Focusing on towns and cities rather than entire countries might be a good way for you to track down a larger number of specific customers.
Once you’ve got a list of terms from your local keyword research:
- Update your contact details: Make sure that your website has a “Contact” page with relevant details about your local business. This page should include your phone number, address, and any other information. Including your contact details in the footer of your website so that it appears throughout your entire site can also improve your local presence.
- Use your local keyword research on your website: Make sure that your website includes all the local search keywords that you want to rank for in relevant places. You might turn some of the search terms that you want to rank for into blog posts, while other terms could be ideal for service pages, squeeze pages, or even your “About Us” page.
- Create locally themed blog content: Make sure that you’re constantly reminding your visitors of your local nature with locally-themed content. For instance, you might write about “Logo design tips in London”, and focus on “London themes for website design”.
- Work on your local citations: Local citations are any reference to your business from other locations online. To make a citation local, it also needs to mention where you work, alongside your business name. For instance, someone might refer to Fabrik as a “Local branding agency in London”. Using the right local SEO keyword research tools, you can track your citations across the web, and make sure that you’re managing those terms properly. You can also remove citations that aren’t relevant to your business.
- Get backlinks: Backlinks are valuable to any SEO strategy. Cultivate backlinks from local websites in the same area as you by asking to appear on their blog as a guest poster. You can also create content that might be valuable to other companies and ask them to link back to it on relevant pages throughout their website.
Perhaps most importantly of all, when you’ve successfully completed your local keyword research, make sure that you use it to design and enhance your Google My Business Page. The Google My Business Page is an essential component of well-optimized local SEO. When you ensure that you’re using your local keywords on this page, you’ll improve your search engine rankings, appear on local finder, Google Maps, and more.
Keep in mind that the users who view your listing on Google My Business can also suggest edits or changes to your content with the “Suggest an Edit” button. This is why it’s so important to ensure that you keep an eye on your listing and remove any misleading or incorrect information.
Best local keyword research tools to help your strategy
Now you know how to do local keyword research, and how to use the terms that you find for your campaign. However, there’s still a way that you can make the whole process a little more straightforward and streamlined.
As you may already know, the world of search engine optimization, marketing, and ranking online is constantly changing. Keeping track of your campaigns and making sure that they’re up-to-scratch isn’t easy. That’s why software developers have created a number of exciting tools to help enhance your search campaigns. These tools can assist with your local keyword research campaigns, as well as giving you help with things like marketing and differentiation too.
Here are some of the best local keyword research tools that you might want to try.
1. Google Keyword Planner
The Google Keyword Planner is one of the most popular SEO tools on the market – and for good reason. Not only is it free and easy to use, but it also gives you plenty of information to get started with when you’re not sure what you should be trying to rank for. The Google Keyword Planner was designed for use with paid PPC ads, but you can just as easily use it to research your organic keywords too. All you need to do is enter your product or service, as well as your competitor’s landing page and product category.
With Google Keyword Planner, you can:
- Search for specific ideas related to existing keywords.
- Find the search volume and potential of your keywords.
- Estimate the potential traffic of keywords.
You should pay close attention to ad group ideas and keyword ideas when you’re building your local SEO keyword research method. Both of these things can help you out a lot with SEO. Ad groups contain ideas based on a set of related keywords that won’t show up in general searches.
2. Keyword Tool.io
Keyword Tool is an ideal starting point for your local keyword research, as it uses things like Google Autocomplete – the thing that we recommended to get you started above. Anyone using the Google Keyword Planner for keyword research will also benefit from using the Keyword Tool. Remember, Keyword Planner is designed for ads, while Keyword Tool is more likely to consider things like organic search and long-form keywords.
The good thing about Keyword Tool is that it’s free for your first 750+ keyword suggestions. You can also sign up for the premium version if you want a deeper analysis of your keywords, and more access to data like search volume, CPC, and competition levels.
KWFinder is another incredibly popular tool for local keyword research. This solution has a fantastic interface, and it shows you the search volume, trends, CPC, and difficulty levels in your results. As you probably already guessed, the main aim of this tool is to help you find keywords. However, you can also assess the terms that you track down too. Clicking on an individual keyword will bring up information about its current difficulty level.
Although KWFinder isn’t the most comprehensive tool for local keyword analytics out there, it’s a good start for businesses that want to analyse keywords and find out what domains are targeting specific locations. You can also target your keyword finder results by state, city or country.
Another of the most popular local SEO keyword research tool options on the market, SEMRush offers a one-stop-shop for search engine optimization. The SEMRush website features a whole host of information and features, including tools for your PPC and SEO research. You can look for local keywords that will perform well on both Bing and Google, and gather in-depth information about volumes, trends, and search result ad copy.
SEMRush also offers insights into related keywords and phrases that might be suitable for your strategy too. These related terms come with suggested variations and synonyms that might be suitable for building your local presence even further.
5. Moz Keyword Explorer
Keyword Explorer is one of the more recent tools offered by Moz that delivers extra dimensions to your local keyword research. As well as being able to check things like difficulty and volume, the Keyword Explorer also offers insights into things like “Opportunity” based on the click-through rate of the organic results on the search pages.
You can also find out how “Important” Moz thinks that the keyword will be to your campaign, and check “Potential” too. The Moz Keyword Explorer tool draws on a number of sources for information, including Google Suggest, Keyword Planner, and related searches. You can also use Keyword Planner to learn a little more about why certain pages rank based on their social and link data too.
Making the most of local keywords
While local keyword research is rarely the first thing that many businesses think about when they’re trying to rank higher online – it could be crucial to your success. By focusing on low-volume but high-intent local phrases for your keywords, you can improve your chances of bringing more customers to your website who are already ready to convert.
Combine your local SEO keyword research method with citations from local brands, backlinks, and a comprehensive branding strategy, and you’ll have everything you need to build a powerful and lucrative presence for your company online.
Need extra help? No problem, just get in touch with Fabrik for expert insight on how to transform your presence and put your local business on the map!