Simple Local Keyword Research?
Local keyword research needn’t be complicated. In essence, all you are doing is finding the words and phrases people use when searching for your type of business in your area then using those words within your web content.
Sounds simple enough…
Ahh, but this is local search, so nothing is as simple as it first appears! However, there is no need to over-complicate local keyword research. As My Local Business Online enters it’s fourth year (how time flies!), I find myself coming back to the same basic research tools time and time again. The same keyword tools available to everyone.
Understanding Local Search Keywords
There are essentially two types of local searches:
- Searches with explicit local intent, keyword + geo-modifier e.g. dog training Liverpool
- Searches with implicit local intent. The search engine interprets your search as looking for something nearby even without a geo-modifier. E.g. dog trainer
Then you have user intent – why are people searching? As a general rule of thumb searchers use singular keyword phrases (dog trainer) when they are at the brink of purchase. These are your buyers, they’re looking for a product or service now.
Plural keyword phrases (dog trainers) tend to be more browser based. People are searching for information what is available in an area.
To muddy the waters further, change the order of words in the search phrase and you’ll get different results. Dog training, Liverpool dog training and dog training Liverpool searches produce different results – that’s before you even think about logged in searches with increased personalisation and mobile searches where location matters even more.
Local Keyword Research – Where To Start?
In this video I talk through my basic methodology for identifying local keywords. I use the same basic process of identifying themes with a main focus keyword term for local website homepages, local landing pages, local based blog posts or local videos.
While the video is just over 3 minutes long, actually doing the research can take anything from 30 minutes to a couple of hours. Until recently I used free research tools despite the plethora of keyword tools I seem to collect.
You will need:
- Google Adwords Keyword Planner
- A search suggestion tool – Ubersuggest, Keywordtool.io or Soovle
- A spreadsheet (Excel if you have it, or try Google Sheets or Open Office)
I now use Power Suggest Pro for longtail keyword discovery because it saves me so much time. You can read about this great keyword discovery tool in my previous blog post – Keyword Discovery With Power Suggest Pro.
How To Find and Use Local Keywords
My Local Keyword Research Methodology
1. Start with a product or service in Google’s Keyword Planner
Set the targetting filter to your city or area. This will give you an estimate of how many searches are performed on average for each keyword in your area. Type in your main product/service keyword.
Browse through the list, remove any irrelevant keywords and save as a csv to use in the spreadsheet later.
Many business owners I work with try to look “bigger” than they are or look like they’re offering something better than the competition by using technical jargon or fancy names for their business services. I leave the Keyword Options on “Show broadly related ideas” so I get a good idea of the terms people actually search then narrow it down later. I want to know what the business actually does and how people search for the product or service.
Staying with dog training, an example of this is using the term “canine behaviourist” as the main focus keyword on the homepage. Generally, people use the word dog not canine. Also remember that if our behaviourist also offers more day-to-day training services then “dog training” may well be a better keyword fit.
2. Over to the search suggestion tool of your choice
Google’s Keyword Planner often struggles with low volume search terms. Unfortunately, local search is often low volume! So it under-reports or doesn’t display at all some keywords and phrases that are very relevant to your business and area.
The suggestion tools will dig out local keywords and phrases that people actually type into search.
Do several searches:
- your main business keyword and location
- your service/product keywords with location
- any related phrases Google’s Keyword Planner surfaced that look interesting
Remove any irrelevant keywords. Save your keyword list(s) to use in a spreadsheet later.
3. Copy the search suggestion lists into Google’s Keyword Planner
Some of the suggested keywords may have enough search volume that Google’s Keyword Planner will give you estimates, even if it didn’t provide the phrases on the initial check.
Save and download any results returned to add to your spreadsheet.
4. Put all your lists in a spreadsheet
Sort your now (very) long list of keywords by search volume decending. The main focus term for a page will be one with significant search volume and buyer intent. For a homepage, do check if the term returns a local result in search, you may get a double ranking, one in the local map pack and again in the organic results.
Now it’s time to look for keyword themes. There’s no exact science here. You’ll notice that some phrases crop up often worded in a slightly different way. Use these phrases as part of your page copy, perhaps in subheadings, describe images with them.
5. Create Local Pages For Your Main Products/Services
Single Location Business
For each of your main services or products create a unique localised landing page using terms people search for with search volume. This can be as simple as ensuring your address is present in text and using location based keywords within your titles and copy.
Create a unique local landing page for each business location. Include information specific to that location and of course the business address and local contact number. Use words and phrases in your copy that people use in search.
Is Hyper-Local Worth It?
You’ll find as you dig into your local keyword research that some search suggestions are for hyper-local areas. For example, my dog training Liverpool research discovered terms such as dog training classes Garston Liverpool.
If I was a dog trainer offering services in Garston, I would definately consider creating a local landing page, local blog post or event page specific to the area because the suggestion tools show that people are searching for the service.
While these hyper-local keywords generally have little if any (depending on business type and area) reported search volume, people are searching using those phrases. These people are your potential customers, they’re looking for a specific product or service on their doorstep.
Local keyword research does mean putting your ego to one side and studying the words and phrases people actually use to search for your type of business in your area. Be aware of search intent when choosing a main keyword phrase for your pages and look for themed words so you can include them in your on-page copy and supporting content.
Your aim is to create pages on your local business website that are relevant to searchers, provide information they are looking for using the language they use – not to rely on your homepage to do the job.
Over to you…
Do you research local phrases to include in your content or leave it to chance? There are many ways to discover local keywords trends and usage. How do you research your local keywords? I’d love to know in the comments!
If you found this post useful, don’t forget to share the knowledge with your contacts using the buttons below 🙂Learn Local Keyword Research In 3 Minutes [Video] by Jan Kearney