Local keyword research is the act of identifying keywords people use when searching for local products or services. These keywords will drive targeted traffic to your site and bring you more customers.
Why is local keyword analysis important?
Local keyword research can be important, as you will need to know what people are typing into search engines such as Google when they’re looking for the products and services of your business.
It may seem obvious, but it’s not the whole problem.
Many people guess at these keywords, assuming they know what people search for. Often, they target the wrong keywords and completely ignore keywords that can positively impact their bottom-line.
If you are a London-based plumber, you probably know that you need to rank well for terms like “London plumber.” But how about your other services? Have you created a page for drain unblocking services? Do you know the way people search for these services?
Step 1: List the services you offer
You must first understand the services provided by the company before you can even begin to look for keywords. This is true whether you are doing local keyword research on behalf of a client, or for your own business.
This is the process that I would recommend.
Ask or brainstorm
You probably have an idea about the services that you provide if you are doing this to promote your own business. Then, write them down on a text file and continue to the next step.
Ask your client to list their services if you are doing this on behalf of a customer.
This is a very important exercise because most people don’t think about the many services they provide.
A plumber, for example, might provide all of these services…
- Drain unblocking
- Boiler repair
- Boiler Installation
- Boiler service
- Radiator installation
- Burst pipe repair
In their minds, they may only think of the job title that they have: plumber.
Many people search for more specific services, but they are also searching for “plumbers”. It’s important to start by understanding all the services available.
Expand on ideas
Rarely will brainstorming uncover all of the services that people are looking for. It’s worthwhile to take a moment and check for any services that you may have missed.
This is the simplest way to do it:
- Enter your ideas in the Keywords Explorer
- Choose your country in the dropdown menu
- Click here to view the “Having same words” report
The results will be all queries in our database that include all of your keywords. You can then skim through the list to see if you missed any services.
If we look at plumbing services, for example, we will see that we have missed things like “combi-boiler installation,” “gas boiler installations,” and “radiator installations.”
You’re not looking for keywords, but rather services that you may have missed. You’re not searching for every possible search term that someone could use to find the same thing.
- The Plumber
- Plumbing Company
- Plumbing services
Check the site navigation, as most services are listed there.
- c) Refine your list
Send the ideas to your client and ask them if they provide those services. Add confirmed services to the list.
Local SEO is a method of ranking keywords that have a local intent. This means the searchers are looking for local businesses.
The next step would be to verify that the people who are searching for local services really do want to shop locally.
Google will personalize the results based on your location. Google uses your location to personalize results. You can tell whether there is local intent by looking at the SERP.
- The’map’ pack
- Local businesses are ranked in organic search results.
If we search “boiler install,” we will see a map and local businesses as the results, because this keyword is local.
There is no map pack when we search “worcester” (by the by, we are talking about Worcester, the brand and not Worcester, the location). Also, none of the local results come up. This keyword does not seem to have a local intent. Instead, it appears that the searchers are looking to purchase a Worcester boiler for their own installation.
Here’s how to verify local intent if you don’t work for a business in the same region as you live:
- Visit Google Ad Preview Tool
- Enter a keyword (e.g. “boiler installations”)
- Set a local address (e.g. Nottingham)
- Search for “Hit search”
There should be a local SERP that allows you to check local rankings of businesses and the availability of a map:
Step 3. Check search volumes
It’s hard to get accurate local search volume for local keywords because most major SEO tools only show country-wide or global volumes.
South Carolina SEO is a great way to boost your local search rankings, but people tend to focus too much on the volume of searches.
Even if your service is not popular, you should still create a landing page for your website visitors.
Take, for example, a service such as boiler installation.
It’s likely that few people in a small city are looking for this. If you provide a specific service, it is still worth creating a webpage about it. This will be useful to visitors who may have found you through a broad search term like “plumber.”
You might wonder: Why bother to check search volumes?
Answer: So you can prioritize your local SEO efforts.
How can you determine the local search volume?
Will Critchlow, Tom Anthony and Distilled explain this concept in the 2013 video.
Search volume for implicit Keywords
Local keywords implicit are those where the searcher wants a local search result, despite not specifying their location.
- Boiler replacement
- radiator installation
It is clear that this is the most popular way to find local businesses. Why bother typing in “plumber new york city”, when you can get the same results if you just type “plumber”?
There’s still a problem.
When you use Keywords Explorer or any other keyword research tool to check the search volume for implicit keywords, the results are for the whole country.
This is not very useful for local SEO, because we have to know the number of people searching for these keywords implicitly in the areas we serve.
What information can we find?
Google Keyword Planner may be the best tool to use for this.
Here’s how it works:
- Google Keyword Planner
- Select the “Get Search Volume and Forecasts” option.
- Enter your keywords/services implicitly
- You can change the location of your service area
You can now see the average monthly search volumes for local keywords implicit in your area.
Search volume for explicit Keywords
Keywords that explicitly refer to a locality are those keywords in which the searcher specifically mentions their location.
- Plumbers in Nottingham
- Boiler replacement Nottingham
- nottingham radiator installation
You can use a location-based modifier to make implicit searches explicit if you find that some of the searches you’re doing don’t have a local intent.
The implicit search for “worcester” did not have a local intent, but the explicit search (for “worcester in nottingham”) has:
You don’t have to use Google Keyword Planner when you’re using explicit keywords because the search query tells you where the user is located. You can use a tool such as Keywords Explorer for more accurate estimates of search volumes.
It’s not just about finding out what people search for. You also need to know how you will target these keywords.
Your homepage will not rank well for all of your services.
Most local businesses have pages for each service.
It can be confusing to know which services need their own pages.
Take these services as an example:
- Boiler Installation
- Installing a combi boiler
- Oil boiler installation
There’s no clear answer as to whether “combi boiler” and “oil” boiler pages are needed or if we can rank all of these terms with just a “boiler” page.
You can check by analyzing the top search results for your keywords.
If you look at the results for “oil-fired boiler installation”, the page that ranks in position 4 is about oil-fired boiler installation, not boiler installation as a whole.
In my opinion, I think that our website should have a page dedicated to this service.
This page is ranked number 10 for “gas boiler installation” if we search the same way.
We don’t really need a page dedicated to this service, as it isn’t about gas boiler installations. We can try to rank for this and related terms with a broader page about boiler installation/replacement.
It’s important to note that this is not an exact science and there are some subtleties. You can always ask yourself if a dedicated page for a particular service would be useful to site visitors. You may not need to create a dedicated service page if you feel that they can easily find all the information about the particular service in a larger page.
Say that you provide boiler repair as one of your services.
How can you create a local ranking for the term “boiler repairs” and other related terms?
Sadly, many people use keyword stuffing. They find the most common ways people search for services and use those exact phrases throughout their copy.