Step by Step Keyword Research for Local Businesses

There is a difference between the keywords that you will target if you own a business or website with a global market and if you have a business or website that targets local buyers. Local keyword research is a little bit different than the conventional keyword research but the principles are the same.

The good news is that it is relatively easy to rank for local keywords than those global ones. Additionally, Google favors local listings and websites that it even showcases 7 local businesses whenever Google thinks that you are looking for something locally.

Let’s give it a try.

Right now, I’m using a US IP out of NY and I’m going to search for “Car Repair”. As expected, here’s what I got.

Google 7-pack

The list above is called the 7-pack and it almost always shows on top of organic search results. This means that for a local business or website, getting listed on Google’s 7-pack is more important than getting on the first page of search results. And it all starts by targeting the right keywords.

Now, onto the keyword research for local businesses guide

Step 1 – Think of the products or services that your business offers. List down as many as you can think of.

Step 2 – Identify which of those keywords or key phrases your customers will use when looking to actually purchase your product or service then add a local identifier to it. When doing this, put yourself in the customer’s shoes. What would you search for if you were looking to buy your own product or service?

Let’s go back to our car repair example. Surely, we’ll have to target the keyword “car repair” and since we’re targeting a local area, we can make it “Car repair in New York”. Additionally, we can also list down other variations of it like “New York car repair”, “car repair NY”, etc… You can even make it more specific by putting in a town or city like “car repair in Wappinger Falls NY”

Step 3 – Once you have a list of keywords, it is now time to see whether people are actually using those search terms when looking for your product or service online. You can do this through Google’s keyword research tool or by using a keyword research software with keyword analysis function like Market Samurai.

Let’s have a look at “Car repair in New York” using Google’s keyword tool.

Local Keyword research

As you can see, there is no search data for the key phrase “car repair in New York” but the table also shows that “car repair new york”. “New York auto repair”, “auto repair new york”, and “new york auto repairs” each have 1,600 local searches per month. So those are good keywords to target. Furthermore, the table also gave us a suggestion; the keyword “auto glass repair new york” has 170 local searches per month.

You may think that the search volume is small. True, but these are highly targeted keywords and it is almost certain that anybody typing in those keywords or key phrases is a buyer.

Step 4 – Now that we know what our keywords and their specific search volume are, it is now time to check on the competition.

Do a Google search with your keyword or key phrase wrapped in quotes, like so… and you will see the number of competing pages.

competition research

In this case, there are 52,000 pages vying for the top stop. Pretty tough at first glance and many SEO specialists, local or not, will actually tell you that you should target keywords that have less than 30k competition. That would be convenient but sometimes; you don’t really have a choice.

To get an in-depth analysis of your competition, you’ll have to take note of the top 10 websites and look at their ranking factors like the site’s on-page optimization, head tags, backlinks, etc…

I will be talking about those at a different post but this is where a good keyword research software comes in. Market Samurai does competition analysis automatically so you might want to check it out if you want to save time.

Check the number of competing pages for all your keywords and list them down. Then you’ll have to decide which keywords or key phrases to target. Go for those that have decent search volume with less competition.

When you’re done with your local keyword research, check out these posts to aid you in your SEO efforts.

How to Get Your Business Listed on Google Places’ 7-pack
Effective SEO Techniques For Local Businesses

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Jp Mendez

Content Marketing Manager at JAM Marketing
Jp Mendez creates and implements content marketing strategies for local businesses in order to improve their search engine and social media presence increasing their customer base in the process and strengthening their online reputation.

3 thoughts on “Step by Step Keyword Research for Local Businesses

  1. Karen Pore

    Great info! I’m just venturing in to helping some family out with their own personal brick and motor businesses w/my knowledge of SEO online for my business. It’s been really hard figure out the best ways to do effective keyword research that is local. Great post… I’ve learned alot already :)

    Reply
  2. Pingback: SEO Site Audit – Crawl Analysis for the Faint of Heart

  3. Greg

    JP – Thanks for the intro on local search. I noticed you were searching using an IP in the area you were local. What if you are not in that area but want to assess the “local” results for a zip code or city?

    Reply

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