Without knowing how to do local SEO keyword research, 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 when attempting keyword research for a local business.
This article is going to cut through the plethora of keyword research information and show you exactly how I do local keyword research as part of my Toronto SEO services to generate leads and increase sales for my clients.
Feel free to skip ahead:
- Start with a Seed Keyword
- Create a List of Keyword Modifiers & Synonyms
- Use a Keyword Research Tool
- Analyze Your Competitors
- Use Google’s Search Console
- Assess Your List of Keywords
- How It All Comes Together
Let’s get started.
Start With A Seed Keyword
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:
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.
Create a List of Keyword Modifiers & Synonyms
Keyword modifiers will help us quickly narrow our list of potential keywords to contain only the best keywords for our specific purpose of increasing sales fast.
Keyword synonyms will help us identify all the different variations of keywords we can use in our local SEO keyword research.
What is a Keyword Modifier?
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:
- Home Renovation Contractor
- 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 as fast as 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 local SEO keyword research.
Brainstorm a list of keyword modifiers that a customer would use when searching for your services.
Come up with a list of synonyms of your seed keyword, for example:
Here’s an example:
note: it is up to you if you want to include modifiers such as best, cheapest etc. I left these out for demonstration purposes.
Use a Local Keyword Research Tool
Picking a keyword research tool can be a bit overwhelming, there are a lot of tools available that each has
I am going to walk you through how to do local keyword research with SEMRush (I recommend using SEMRush or Ahrefs):
- Login to SEMRush
- All Tools > Keyword Analytics > Keyword Magic Tool
- Enter in your seed keyword… for example “renovation”
- Select country
- 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 local 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.
Analyze Your Competitors Keywords
Local 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.
Use Google’s Search Console To Find Local Keywords
This next local keyword research strategy is one of my absolute favorite tricks for finding keywords.
If you don’t already have your website connected to Google’s Search Console then what are you waiting for?
Head on over to search console, sign in with your Google account and add your website.
- If you’re using the old version of Search Console, click “Search Traffic > Search Analytics”
If you are using the new version of Search Console, click “Performance”
- Select “Impressions, Clicks, and Position”
- Sort the search queries by position from lowest to highest
Find search queries that your website is getting higher than average impressions for and is in position #1-20.
Assess Your List of Keywords
The most important part of local 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:
- Search Intent
- Search Volume
- Cost Per Click (CPC)
- Keyword Difficulty
Let’s go over each segment, one by one:
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 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 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
Throughout my years as an SEO 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 the assessment of keywords, 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, it’s hard to do local keyword research and be confident enough to stick to it.
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.
You no longer have to be overwhelmed with all the different local keyword research strategies and tools available on the internet.
Find your seed keywords, brainstorm keyword modifiers & synonyms, use a keyword research tool and finally, analyze & prioritize your keywords
Mike Wiseman is a SEO Expert that helps services providers dominate their industry, consistently get new customers and outrank their competitors using search engine optimization. Mike specializes in technical SEO and link building.