How to Do Local Keyword Research for Your Small Business. 88% of people who do a local search on their smartphone will visit a related store within a week. Your local SEO game needs to be stronger. Then chances are you’re leaving a lot on the table.
Local keyword research is the first and arguably most crucial step of local SEO. And this is when you find keywords that people search for to find local products and services. And the reason why this step is so important is that if you get it right, then your local business will have the potential to rank for keywords that can drive targeted local traffic to your website and send more customers your way.
So let’s go through a step-by-step process to find keywords that your local business should be targeting so you can get more customers through your doors.
Write down a list of services you offer
The first step is simple: jot down a list of all your services. For example, a plumber might offer services like drain unblocking, boiler repairs, boiler installation, and radiator installations, to name a few things.
A dentist might offer comprehensive dental exams, cleanings, teeth whitenings, fillings, and crowns. Take your time going through this brainstorming stage because we want to ensure your website will be searchable for all your services.
Once you’ve completed your list, we’ll want to expand on these ideas for good measure. As a starting point, I recommend digging through your competitors’ websites. For example, hover over the plumbing services menu for this company. They also have service pages for toilet and sink installations and repairs, sump pump replacements, and frozen pipes, to name a few.
If you offer these services, then add them to your list. Another thing you can do is use a keyword research tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer. Just paste in your brainstormed list of services, set the country where your business operates, and run the search.
Next, go to the Matching terms report to find more keyword ideas. Because we aim to expand our list of services, we want to scan the list of keywords and look for other services we might have missed.
For example, you’ll see new ideas like servicing gas boilers, commercial boiler repairs, and combi boiler installations, to name a few.
Check for local intent.
If you offer these services, then they’re worth jotting down. Once you have a comprehensive list of services, move on to the next step: check for local intent.
Local intent refers to queries where Google assumes the user is looking for a local result. And an easy way to infer local meaning is by looking for map packs and local organic listings.
For example, if you search for Mexican restaurants, you’ll see clear local intent because a map pack lists local restaurants. The organic results are all directories and local businesses in the area.
To check for local intent, you can search for each service one by one on Google and check for a map pack and local organic results. Alternatively, you can bulk-check them in Keywords Explorer.
Just paste it into your list of services and run the search. Then set a SERP features filter only to show keywords where a local pack is in the SERP. Hit Apply, and you’ll see keywords with local intent.
Check for search volumes.
Alright, the next step is to check for search volumes. Because nearly every keyword research tool is country-specific, finding local search volumes is challenging. How to Do Local Keyword Research for Your Small Business. I know that Google Keyword Planner is the only source for this.
Unless you’re already advertising with them, you’ll see broad search volume ranges, which aren’t helpful. For that reason, checking the relative popularity of keywords at the national level will be more productive.
This is because what happens in one city is likely similar in the next, as we’re looking at data for the same country. How to Do Local Keyword Research for Your Small Business. Just paste in your list of services, run the search, and use the volumes to get a general idea of how you prioritize creating and ranking these pages.
Group keywords by page
Let’s move on to the next step: group keywords by page. This part of the keyword research process often needs to be addressed, but it’s super-important.
In short, we want to do two main things. First, we want to determine which services need a dedicated page. And second, we want to get a general idea of the content type and format we should use to give ourselves the best chance at ranking.
Take these services. Based on the keywords alone, it’s tough to know whether we need dedicated pages for each one or can rank for all these terms with one page about boiler installations. To find out, you’ll want to analyze the top-ranking results for each target keyword. How to Do Local Keyword Research for Your Small Business.
For example, if we look at the search results for the query “oil boiler installation,” you’ll see that this result is from a local company in the New York area that offers specifically an oil boiler installation – not just a general boiler installation.
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To top it off, all the top results are specifically about oil boilers. So, in my opinion, our site should have a dedicated page explicitly targeting “oil boiler installation,” – and the type of content we should create is a landing page that tells people details about our service – just like this page.
Now, if we do the same thing for “gas boiler installation,” you’ll see that many of the top 10 results are just about standard boiler installations despite the query including the word “gas.” We probably don’t need a dedicated page for gas boiler installations. We can rank for this and related terms with a broader page about boiler installations and replacements.
Now, look at the search results for “combi boiler installation.” You’ll see that there isn’t a local pack, and the top results are all mainly informational results with instructions showing how to install your combi boiler.
As there isn’t local intent, it probably wouldn’t be worth creating a services landing page – from an SEO perspective. But if this is a service you provide, you may still want to make it for business purposes.
Look for things to mention on your pages.
The next step is to look for things to mention on your services pages. Many local companies approach service page copy by just straight-up keyword stuffing.
For example, if we look at this page that ranks for “boiler repair” in Albany, New York, you’ll see they’ve intentionally tried to mention “boiler repair” and “Albany, NY” as many times as possible.
This is the wrong approach because it could be more helpful to visitors in understanding if you’re the right company to help them solve their problems. Now, while you shouldn’t stuff keywords, it’s still worth looking for relevant ‘things to mention’ for a few reasons.
#1. It can help improve ‘topical relevance.’
#2. It can help you rank for long-tail keywords.
#3. It enables you to better serve your visitors by addressing questions they might have when they land on your page.
For example, that might include details of your service, pricing, and other essential information. I’d look first at the top-ranking competitors’ pages to find things worth mentioning.
And what you’re looking for are potential talking points. For example, this page ranks for “teeth whitening” in Los Angeles, California. Their content uses words like “stained” and “discoloured teeth.” It talks about “bleaching” your teeth.
So it talks about over-the-counter vs. professional-grade teeth whitening. Tells you that it’s a one-hour procedure. That the results are long-lasting.
It addresses tooth sensitivity during whitening and the costs associated with the service. These are all essential things that
a) help Google better understand what the page is about and
b) provide a great user experience for those looking for teeth whitening services.
The second place you can look is in the People also ask box or, in this case, a Buyer’s guide box. As you can see, the search results for the query “teeth whitening” shows questions like “can sensitive teeth be whitened” how much does a teeth whitener cost, what is the best teeth whitener brand, and more.
If you want to eliminate some guesswork, try the third method: look at your competitors’ organic keyword rankings. We can paste our competitors’ URLs into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and then head to the organic keywords report to find these keywords.
Next, let’s set a filter only to show keywords that rank in the top 10 to keep our results relevant. How to Do Local Keyword Research for Your Small Business. And as you can see, the page ranks for things mentioning specific cities like Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and even a particular zip code.
It also ranks for things related to tooth bleaching. You’d want to consider discussing these things in the content of your service landing page.
Now all you have to do is rinse and repeat these steps, and you should know exactly which service pages you’ll need to create and what key points to discuss in them. Keyword research is in the books; now it’s time to create content for those pages. Please read our blog on content writing for SEO to learn how to optimize your pages to rank higher in Google. And I’ll see you in the next blog.