Have you heard the line ‘ if you build it, they will come’? In case you don’t know, it’s from the late 80s Kevin Costner movie ‘Field of Dreams.’
It’s an inspiring quote, but when local business owners set up their websites, it doesn’t really hold true. They believe once they’re set up online, prospects start flocking to their doors wanting quotes, making orders, or signing up for their mailing lists. However, that isn’t the case for many people.
That’s not just conjecture on my part. Research shows that 77.23 percent of local business owners surveyed struggled to get online visibility.
According to the same survey, 42.85 percent believe that Google favors larger brands. Now, don’t get me wrong. High-profile businesses do tend to perform better online simply because more people are looking for them. However, that doesn’t mean your local company website can’t compete for local keywords.
All it takes is some careful local keyword research and a detailed local SEO strategy, and that’s exactly what I’m going to talk about today.
Why Is Local SEO Important?
Local SEO is valuable because it helps small companies reach potential customers who are looking for products or services in their area.
For example, if you own a home repair business, you would want to target people in your local area who may need your services. In other words, local keyword research targets potential customers who are already interested in what you have to offer.
When done correctly, local keyword research:
- Generates more leads and sales.
- Helps you rank higher in local search results, increasing website traffic.
- Makes it easier for searchers to find you when they’re searching for local businesses on their mobile devices.
- Builds trust and credibility with potential customers through reviews.
Research also supports the importance of local SEO. According to Statista, 35 percent of consumers go online multiple times weekly to find local businesses.
That’s not all, though. The research shows that 21 percent of consumers use the internet daily to find local businesses.
These stats demonstrate that as a local business, you need to be visible online, but perhaps you need some more evidence? Okay, here goes.
There are plenty of case studies showing how small businesses can benefit from local keyword research and SEO optimization. Just search for ‘local SEO case studies’, and you can see what I mean.
What Makes Local Keyword Research Unique
As I’ve already detailed, the main focus of local SEO and local keyword research is attracting more leads and gaining more customers.
However, aside from using local SEO to target a particular geographic area, there’s plenty more that makes local SEO different.
The most obvious is Google’s ranking factors. With local searches, the search engine giant considers several vital areas, such as:
- The searcher’s location
- The sentiment and keywords in online reviews
- Name, address, and phone number quotations
- A Google My Business profile and relevant keywords
- Your Google Maps star rating
- Social media interest
To improve your local SEO further, Google offers these tips:
- Verify your location, to help improve visibility in local search.
- Keep your opening hours up to date, especially around holiday times. This lets local consumers know you’re open, so they don’t have a wasted visit.
- Manage/respond to reviews, to show you appreciate and act on feedback. Review management is also essential as positive reviews inspire consumer confidence, and can enhance business visibility.
- Add photos and in-store listings. Images showcase your store and products, to give customers a deeper understanding of what you’re selling and whether the products are right for them.
Google also considers relevance, distance, and prominence (your overall web presence), including content, backlinks, and directory listings.
Another factor that makes local keyword research unique is the emphasis on modifiers. The search terms you integrate into writing must be super specific to your location. For example, if you’re a business in Austin, Texas, you would want to use keywords like ‘Austin restaurants’ rather than just ‘restaurants.’
Additionally, voice search is essential to local SEO. Research shows that 74 percent of people use voice search at least weekly to find local businesses, while 76 percent of voice search users choose smart speakers at least once a week, with most searching daily.
A further survey from SEMrush suggests optimizing voice search for each smart speaker (Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, etc.) and has some helpful tips to enable you to do this:
The above graphic also includes some useful tips you can introduce into your local keyword research strategy.
How To Find The Best Local Keywords
You know the importance of local keyword research, but how do you discover the best ones to use? Fortunately, it’s not as complicated as it may seem. Just follow these tips.
Find Industry-Related Local Keywords
To do this, first, consider what you offer and what services or products you want to promote; then brainstorm a list of keywords related to your business.
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.’
- Once you have a list of keywords, do online research to see how popular they are. You can use tools like Ubersuggest, Google Keyword Planner, or Google Trends to get this information. You could also use tools like Ubersuggest to analyze competitor keywords and see if it’s feasible to overtake them in the rankings.
- Another way is to type a keyword into the Google search bar and watch as the autocomplete suggestions appear, giving you some great ideas for related local keywords.
Use Keyword Modifiers
Using keyword modifiers lets you focus your efforts on specific areas or types of searches for targeted traffic and better results from your local SEO efforts.
These modifiers can include location-based terms like ‘near me,’ ‘in my area,’ or ‘local.’ Or you might use ‘car mechanic Cincinnati’ or ‘local mechanic Cincinnati.’
Again, use Autosuggest, related search, or competitive keyword research to see the terms others are using.
Consider Keyword Intent
What are your prospects looking for? Are they looking to buy a product or service, find out more information, or just browsing? Once you know the searcher’s intent, you can better target your keywords and content to meet their needs. Use the same techniques, like Autosuggest, to get an idea of the keywords users are typing in.
Google Places Search Bar
Another great tool for finding local keywords is the Google Places search bar.
When you do a geographical search by entering a location in the search bar, you get a ‘pick list,’ which includes places and likely search terms.
Once you have a list of keywords, it’s essential to analyze them and determine which ones are the best fit for your business.
Implicit Vs. Explicit Local Keywords
When doing local keyword research, there are two main ways to target your audience: implicit and explicit.
Implicit targeting is when a user searches for a term like ‘hardware store’ or ‘DIY.’ but doesn’t include specifics like location.
In simple terms, Google basically guesses what you’re looking for and offers your location-based results.
To find out what implicit local keywords might be important to your business, do some research online and talk to your customers. Ask them how they would search for a company like yours if they were looking for one in their area.
On the other hand, explicit local keyword targeting involves search terms that people use when looking for your product or service. For example, ‘Dentist in Santa Barbara’ or ‘Hairdresser in Venice Beach.’
How To Use Your Competition In Your Local Keyword Research
Can you really steal your competitors’ keywords? Absolutely! Just use a tool to conduct competitive research to find out what keywords they’re using.
There are a few ways to assess and use your competition in your local keyword research:
1. Look at the keywords they are targeting and see if there are any that you’re also targeting. Chances are, if your competitors are targeting a keyword, it’s because it’s profitable and has a lot of search volume.
2. See what their website looks like and how they rank for their target keywords. This can give you ideas on how to improve your website and rank higher for your target keywords. For less competition, you could take the opposite approach and target keywords your rivals aren’t using. Just make sure they’ve got a worthwhile search volume.
3. Review what content they are creating around their target keywords.
4. Look at the SERPs and pay attention to keywords. These terms are usually in bold.
Now let’s look at some tools to make your local keyword research easier.
The Best Local SEO Keyword Research Tools
I’ve already referenced my tool. Ubersuggest, but it’s worthy of another mention here. It’s an easy-to-use tool that delivers:
- Keyword and content ideas
- Keywords by traffic
- Similar websites
- And plenty more besides
For example, if I search for ‘digital marketing agencies California,’ I get:
You can also choose from ‘prepositions,’ ‘related,’ ‘comparisons,’ and ‘questions,’ to get a better idea of search intent.
Other tools to consider:
- Google Keyword Planner. With this tool, you can see competitive keywords and get ideas for other related keywords.
- Moz Local to get a free listing score and see where you stand.
- SERPStat to help you further analyze your competition and for SEO purposes.
Ultimately, the best way to find the right keywords for your business is to experiment with different tools and techniques and analyze what works for you.
Local keyword research aims to identify relevant keywords that people are likely to use when searching for businesses like yours online.
Using the right tools is essential. After all, if potential customers can’t find you in your area, you’re missing out on a lot of business. Ubersuggest, Google Keyword Planner, and Moz’s Keyword Planner all get you off to a great start. Then there’s competitive analysis, viewing the SERPs to see what’s ranking, and using autocomplete.
When it comes to doing local keyword research, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Consider what your customers might search for when they want to find your business and brainstorm. Then, conduct local keyword research with tools like Ubersuggest, Google’s Autosuggest, or People Also Ask. You can also view the SERPs and look for keywords.
Local keyword research should be an essential part of any small business marketing plan.
By understanding the keywords people in your area are searching for, you can create content and advertising that speaks to them directly, and by using the right tools like Ubersuggest, it’s easy to find out what those keywords are.
Search intent is also a vital part of online visibility, so don’t overlook that area if you want local customers to discover you online.
Do you use local keyword research? Share how you got your business on the map below.