Local keyword research is one of the most important aspects of any local SEO strategy. Finding and using the right local keywords can help you attract more local search traffic, improve your local search rankings, and boost your overall local visibility. This comprehensive guide will teach you how to perform effective local keyword research and use it to optimize your website and local SEO efforts.
Why Local Keyword Research is Crucial for Local SEO Success
Keyword research is the process of identifying high-value keywords and search terms that your target audience is using to find businesses like yours in local search. Local keyword research allows you to discover the specific phrases and keywords people are searching for when looking for local products, services and businesses in your area.
Optimizing for these relevant local keywords is key for attracting more local search traffic, improving your local SEO rankings, and being found by more nearby customers searching on Google, Bing and other search engines. In other words, local keyword research helps you identify local customer intent and the unique keywords people use to find local businesses. Targeting these terms can significantly improve your local search visibility.
How to Conduct Local Keyword Research
Conducting comprehensive local keyword research is a crucial foundation of any local SEO strategy. Follow this step-by-step process to identify valuable local keywords to target.
Step 1: Brainstorm Primary Local Keywords
Start by brainstorming a list of your primary local keywords. These should be broad keywords that describe your main products, services, and industry, along with your target geographic location.
For example, a local pizza restaurant might start with keywords like:
- pizza San Francisco
- San Francisco pizza
- SF pizza
Step 2: Use Keyword Research Tools
Next, use keyword research tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Moz’s Keyword Explorer, or Ahrefs to expand your seed keyword list. Search for your primary keywords, then mine the tools for additional local keyword ideas and search volume data.
Look for both explicit and implicit local keywords:
- Explicit local keywords overtly contain the location, like “pizza San Francisco”
- Implicit local terms don’t mention the location but have local intent, like “pizza delivery”
Step 3: Identify Keyword Difficulty
Assess the difficulty and competitiveness of each keyword. Focus on winnable keywords for your business – not ultra-competitive terms with thousands of monthly searches. Use keyword research tools to gauge difficulty.
Step 4: Organize Keywords into Lists
Organize your thoroughly researched local keywords into lists, like:
- Primary exact match keywords
- Semantically related keywords
- Long tail local keywords with high relevance
- Branded and competitor keywords
Step 5: Prioritize Top Keywords
Pick out the most valuable keywords for your business based on search volume, competitiveness, relevance, and commercial intent. These are the keywords you’ll actively target and optimize for.
Key Local Keyword Research Tips and Strategies
Follow these proven tips and strategies to take your local keyword research to the next level:
Include Important Geo-Modifiers
Be sure to research important location-based keywords using geo-modifiers like:
- Neighborhood names
- City name
- County name
- Metro area
- Popular landmarks
- Street names
- Other descriptors like “downtown”
This allows you to go after hyperlocal search demand.
Mine the Keyword Planner
Leverage Google’s free Keyword Planner tool to discover new local keyword variants and traffic estimates. Search for keywords containing your location to reveal additional local opportunities.
Analyze the Local Pack
Search for your top keywords in Google and analyze the websites ranking in the Local 3-Pack. These are your direct local competitors – research how they’re optimizing title tags, GMB profiles and landing pages for the keyword.
Study Local Searches
Look at search trends using Google Trends to identify seasonal spikes and localization opportunities. People often search differently at key times of year.
Leverage Data from Other Sources
Your existing customer data, social mentions, reviews and other sources can reveal buyer keywords and intent. Factor these into your research.
Track and Iterate
Keyword research is an ongoing process. Continuously track your rankings for target keywords, then look for new opportunities in related keywords and long tail variants.
12 Key Questions to Ask When Doing Local Keyword Research
These questions will help guide your local keyword research process:
1. What keywords accurately describe my local products and services?
Start with the basics – what keywords and phrases directly relate to what you sell?
2. What local keywords do I want to rank for?
Consider both head and long tail terms that are a strategic fit for your business.
3. How are my competitors optimizing for these keywords?
Research what local keywords competitors target, then make yours better.
4. How can I make my keywords more locally-focused?
Ways to optimize keywords for local intent include adding locations, geo-modifiers, and locally-appealing terms.
5. How much local search volume do these keywords get?
Prioritize keywords with sufficient local search volume for your area.
6. How difficult are my target keywords to rank for?
Focus on reasonably competitive keywords you can rank for with effort.
7. What long tail keyword opportunities exist?
Longer, more specific phrases can be easier to rank for.
8. How do seasons impact local search behavior?
Certain keywords may spike at different times of year.
9. How do my existing customers search?
Look at search queries in analytics to find buyer keywords.
10. What keywords represent high commercial intent?
Prioritize keywords showing people ready to buy your offering.
11. What keywords do I want to track over time?
Choose keywords to monitor for ranking changes month-over-month.
12. How can I expand into related keywords?
Populate keyword lists with additional relevant variations.
Why Keyword Research is So Important for Local SEO
Thorough local keyword research pays huge dividends because it helps you:
- Find the terms locals are using to search for businesses like yours
- Identify new keyword opportunities you may be missing
- Align your SEO with what people are actually searching for
- Focus your efforts on reachable keywords that deliver traffic
- Beat local competitors ranking for valuable keywords
- Adapt your optimization as search behavior evolves
- Uncover keywords representing commercial buyer intent
- Expand your presence into related keywords and long tail variants
In short, keyword research is incredibly useful for discovering untapped local SEO potential.
Local Keyword Research Best Practices
Follow these best practices when conducting local SEO keyword research:
- Use multiple keyword research tools to cross-reference data
- Focus on both search volume and competitiveness
- Include all relevant geo-modifiers and location keywords
- Search for long tail opportunities around your core keywords
- Keep an eye on trends and seasonality
- Leverage filters when searching tools to isolate local volume
- Analyze the local pack and map pack for insights
- Check keyword difficulty using metrics like MOZ DA and page authority
- Look for keywords your competitors may be missing
- Factor in keywords from your GMB profile, social and reviews
- Create lists of keywords to target, track and expand upon
- Repeat keyword research regularly to identify new opportunities
Using these best practices will help you carry out thorough, high-quality local keyword research.
How Can Local SEO Benefit My Business?
Local SEO can greatly benefit your business by improving your online visibility and attracting targeted customers in your area. By implementing local SEO strategies, your website can rank higher on search engine results pages, allowing potential customers to easily find you. With increased visibility, you can enjoy more foot traffic and conversions, ultimately leading to the growth and success of your business. Don’t underestimate the benefits of local seo for your business’s online presence.
Main Takeaways for Local Keyword Research
Here are some key local keyword research takeaways:
- Keyword research identifies valuable local search terms people use to find your business
- Use keyword tools like Keyword Planner to discover new local keywords
- Include your target location and geo modifiers in all keyword variations
- Study how competitors rank for your target keywords, then out-optimize them
- Focus on reachable local keywords with decent search volume and competitiveness
- Always be researching new keyword opportunities and tracking your rankings
- Local keyword research is vital for aligning your SEO with local search behavior
- Use keyword research to drive more local traffic, boost SEO rankings, and increase local visibility
Invest time in researching the best local keywords, and you’ll reap major benefits for your local SEO performance.