Knowing how to do keyword research for a local business is crucial, without the right keyword research strategy your website will not generate any traffic, leads or sales for your business.

With that being said, there is no shortage of information about how to do local keyword research.

With all the different strategies, tools and vague information on the internet, it can be overwhelming to attempt keyword research for a local business.

This article is going to cut through the plethora of keyword research information and show you exactly how to do Keyword research for a local business to generate leads and increase sales.

I am going to show you how to do local keyword research for “bottom of the funnel keywords” (keywords that are most likely to convert into a sale), I will not be discussing blog ideation.

Feel free to skip ahead:

  1. Seed Keywords
  2. Keyword Modifiers & Synonyms
  3. How to do Keyword Research for a Local Business
  4. Competitor Analysis
  5. Using Search Console to Find New Keywords
  6. The Most Important Aspect of Local Busines Keyword Research
  7. How It All Comes Together
  8. Conclusion

Let’s get started.

Meet Brian, our Hypothetical Local Business Owner

To guide you through the process of keyword research for your local business, I have created Brian, a home renovation contractor in Toronto. Brian provides the best home renovation services in town, however, he is sick and tired of seeing his inferior competitors rank higher than him for free on Google when he is paying thousands of dollars for AdWords.

He’s been investing in Google Adwords for over a year now, but due to the high cost per clicks (CPC’s) and astronomical management fees his digital marketing agency charges, Brian is not seeing the return on investment he was hoping for. If Brian’s business could only rank organically for the most profitable keywords, he wouldn’t need to pay thousands of dollars to his digital marketing agency.

Because Brian does not trust his digital marketing agency to rank his business organically, he decides to do a little investigating himself. Brian is a busy guy, so he narrows his focus to the most important keywords for his business that are going to increase sales.

We will come back to Brian later on…

The scope of your keyword research is entirely up to you, you can find hundreds of keywords or a handful of the most important keywords using the methods I am going to show you.

Local Business “Seed” Keywords

 A seed keyword is generally one or two words that describe a service, product or solution.

For example, here are keyword topics surrounding home renovation:

  • Renovation
  • Remodeling

You have insight into the phrases, terminology, and slang that is used in your industry, this information is extremely useful for coming up with keyword topics.

Start with what you already know & expand from there. Brainstorm a list of keyword topics that are related to your business’s services, products or solutions.

Start Building a List

 As you brainstorm keyword topics for your local business, keep a list in a google or excel spreadsheet. As we continue with our research we will be adding to this spreadsheet, so keep it handy.

Let’s see what Brian is doing…

Brian started off with a very basic mind map of topics for his local home renovation business. A majority of Brians services can be categorized into 4 topics:

building a list of keyword topics for a local business

Brian is a busy business owner, understandably he wants to focus on the keywords are going to get his business new customers. Brian wants to investigate more and flesh out the best keywords, let’s see what he does next.

Understanding “Keyword Modifiers” & Synonyms

 Keyword Modifiers

A keyword modifier is a word used in conjunction with a search query that changes the search intent.

This means that what the person is looking for can drastically change based off of one word.

As an example, let’s compare two search queries:

  1. Home Renovation Contractor
  2. Home Renovation Ideas

In this example, “contractor” and “ideas” are the modifiers.

Someone who is looking for renovation ideas is not as likely to purchase when compared to someone who is searching for a home renovation contractor.

Here’s another example:

  • luxury home renovation contractor
  • the cheapest home renovation contractor

You can start to see how keyword modifiers play a big role in which websites are displayed to search engine users.

Because I am showing you how to do keyword research for a local business with the goal of increasing leads & sales you want to brainstorm a list of keyword modifiers that a customer would use when searching for a something that your business provides, this is called commercial intent.


 Come up with a list of synonyms of your seed keywords that reflect your local business, for example:

  • renovation
  • remodeling
  • improvement


  • home
  • house
  • condo
  • bungalow
  • cottage

Brian listed all synonyms and keyword modifiers that were relevant for “home renovation”, here is what he came up with:

note: it is up to you if you want to include modifiers such as best, cheapest etc. I left these out for demonstration purposes.

How to do Keyword Research for a Local Business

Picking a keyword research tool can be a bit overwhelming, there are a lot of tools available that each has their own advantages & disadvantages.

I am going to walk you through how to do keyword research with SEMRush (I recommend using SEMRush or Ahrefs):


  1.  Login to SEMRush
  2. All Tools > Keyword Analytics > Keyword Magic Tool
  3. Enter in your seed keyword… for example “renovation”
  4. Select country
  5. Click search

Here’s where it gets a little bit technical…

include the city you are in or service

You will start to notice random or irrelevant keywords within the results of your search, especially keywords with lower search volumes.

This is because we started our keyword research with a seed keyword, we are going to get every single type of variation of this keyword that is in SEMRush’s database.

The menu on the left is a list of keyword modifiers that make up all of the keywords that were returned from your search.
The list on the right is all of the keywords with your “seed keyword” in it

The strategy here is to start off with a massive list of keywords and to start pruning away irrelevant keywords as fast as possible.

This will ensure that you will not miss any valuable keywords.

Using the menu on the left, exclude all the irrelevant modifiers by adding the keyword groups to SEMRush’s exclude filter.

This can be a grueling process, however, it is important that you do it this way so that no stone will be left unturned and you will be left with the highest quality keywords for your business.

After you have finished excluding all the random modifiers from the menu on the left, its time to export your keyword list:

Import your keyword list into your “Keywords List” spreadsheet.

Once your keyword list is imported into a spreadsheet quickly do a once-over and remove any random or irrelevant keywords.

Now that you have completed the keyword research for our first seed keyword, you need to repeat this process for every synonym of your seed keyword and add all the keywords to your list.

After each synonym has been researched you will then repeat the same process again for the rest of your seed keywords (if you have more then 1).

Once you’re done you should have a healthy list of keywords to continue with.

Let’s see how Brian is doing…

Brian used SEMRush to exhaust his list seed keywords, synonyms and modifiers.

Competitor Analysis

Keyword research can be a long tedious process, but it doesn’t have to be.

An easy way to find the best opportunities is to find out what the leaders in your industry are doing and simply reverse engineer it.

Competitor analysis will require a premium keyword research tool such as SEMRush or Ahrefs, either or will do the trick.

For this example, I will be using SEMRush’s organic research tool:

Step 1: SEO ToolBox > Organic Research > Positions

Step 2: Enter your competitor’s website

Now we want to exclude any keywords that are irrelevant for us to target.

Click on Advanced Filters and exclude keywords that contain your competitors brand name, as well as keywords that they are not ranking below position 20 for.

After excluding your competitors brand name and keywords with positions greater than 20, you are left with a list of keywords that your competitor is actively targeting.

Export the list of keywords, you will come back to them later.

Analyzing Your Local Business Keyword Research

 The most important part of keyword research is the analysis & prioritization of your keywords, which often times is the most overlooked.

The analysis of keywords can be broken down into 4 simple segments:

  1. Search Intent
  2. Search Volume
  3. Cost Per Click (CPC)
  4. Keyword Difficulty

Let’s go over each segment, one by one:

Search Intent

Search intent is pretty self-explanatory, it is the intention of finding something specific on a search engine.

Remember when I was talking about keyword modifiers and I gave the example about home renovations ideas vs home renovation contractor?

When you compare these two search queries you can clearly see a difference in search intent:

Ideas – Someone using ideas as a modifier in their search query is looking for renovation ideas, examples, inspirations etc. They are not quite ready to buy; they are just looking for information.

Contractor – Someone using contractor as a modifier in their search query most likely has a good idea of what they want and at this point, they are looking for a contractor to do the job.

You get the point…

Search Volume

 Search volume is the average number of searches per month for a search query.

Now I know what you’re thinking: I’ll just target the keywords with the highest search volumes.

Here’s the thing…

The higher the search volume of a keyword the more competition there is as well as it is unclear what the search intent is.

For example, take our seed keyword renovation:

As you can see there is a ton of search volume, but look on a scale of 0-100 it has a difficulty score of 77 (that’s really high).

When someone searches “renovation” what are they looking for?

It’s too broad of a search query to tell… if you did manage to rank for it a majority of people will come to your website and leave right away because you are not satisfying the searchers intent (then your website will inevitably lose the ranking you worked so hard for).

You need to find the right balance of keywords with sufficient search volume that also matches a potential customer’s search intent.

Cost Per Click (CPC)

 The cost per click (CPC) of a keyword is how much you would have to pay everytime someone clicks your ad when you are using Google Adwords.

Although I don’t condone the use of Google Adwords (I mean why would you when you get more clicks for free), you can still benefit from knowing what advertisers pay per click.

Generally speaking, the higher the CPC is on a given keyword, the more search volume & purchase intent it has.

Keyword Difficulty

 Keyword difficulty is a rating on a scale of 0-100 of how difficult it would be to rank organically for a given keyword.

Keyword difficulty will take into account the authority of the websites that are currently ranking for a keyword, you can read more about it here.

The name of the game is to do the least amount of work possible for the biggest return, keyword difficult will help analyze those exact opportunities.

You want to find keywords that have the highest search intent, search volume & CPC while having a low difficulty score.

How Local Keyword Research Comes Together

 In step #1 you learned about seed keywords.

In Step #2 you learned about keyword modifiers & synonyms and how they affect the search intent of a search query

After step #3 I showed you how to use a keyword research tool to build a complete list of the most important keywords for your local business.

In step #4 you learned the concepts of analyzing your keywords for finding the most lucrative opportunities with the least amount of competition.

Throughout my years as an SEO analyst & consultant, I have trained many other SEO analysts how to do exactly what I just showed you.

Over the years I found that people kept getting hung up on step #4, especially when it came to analyzing hundreds and even thousands of keywords.

  • they didn’t know which keywords to target with absolute confidence 
  • they didn’t how exactly what keywords to prioritize
  • they didn’t have the time or the patience to analyze thousands of keywords
  • they didn’t trust themselves

I get it, its hard to come up with a strategy and be confident enough to stick to it, especially when you don’t know SEO like the back of your hand.

There is a soluton.

Before I get into the solution, if the above bullet points were a page out of your book, consider hiring me as an SEO consultant for your business. Ok, that’s the end of my pitch.

I have built a simple tool that will take all the keywords you give it and calculate the absolute best opportunities for your local business, no guesswork involved.

Click the button below and I will send you the tool as well as a short video showing you exactly how to use it.


You no longer have to be overwhelmed with all the different keyword research strategies and tools available on the internet. Find your seed keywords, brainstorm keyword modifiers & synonyms, use a keyword research tool and analyze & prioritize your keywords. If you are a local business owner that wants is interested in search engine optimization for your business take this quick survey to see if it is right for you.

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