Local Keyword Research: The Definitive Guide

local keyword researchWhen it comes to doing SEO for your local business, it’s important to conduct local keyword research so geo-targeted keywords are a part of your SEO strategy.

If local keyword research or geo-targeted keywords is unfamiliar territory for you, this guide is for you.

I’m going to show you my full-proof strategy for using local keyword research to find geo-targeted keywords that send highly-targeted, local traffic to your website.

Why Use Geo-Targeted Keywords?

If you’re trying to generate leads for your service-based business, there are no better keywords to optimize your content around than geo-targeted keywords. Geo-targeted keywords bring in what I like to call ‘buying traffic’.

When people search geo-targeted keywords with the following structure: [service] + [location word], they are usually looking to purchase a service.

Examples of these types of keywords include: “dentist houston texas”, “plumber baltimore md” or “house cleaning florida.”

In order to reap the benefits of these keywords, you need to conduct keyword research to find niche-related keywords of this type that a relatively large number of people search for.

Fortunately, there are a number of free and premium tools on the web that make this process effortless.

Using Google Trends

Google Trends is a great tool to use to find trending keywords that residents of a particular area search for.

You can go as broad as looking for the most searched terms in the United States, to as specific as looking for the most searched terms in Houston, Texas.

These search customization options make is very easy to find the most widely-searched geo-targeted keywords for a certain topic in a particular area.

Research Process

Say you’re looking for the best geo-targeted keyword related to dentists in Texas.

Google Trends Search Local Keyword Research

First, search the keyword for which you want to find a related geo-targeted keyword.

selecting location for local keyword research

Next, select the location for which to want to find a related geo-targeted keyword.

Google Trends Select Location Local Keyword Research

Then, scroll down to the “Related queries” box and switch the queries sorting method from Rising to Top.

You’ll start noticing related geo-targeted keywords appearing. ‘Dentist san antonio’ is listed in the top 5 queries. ‘Dentist in houston’ and ‘dentist el paso’ are listed in the top 15 queries. And ‘dentist austin tx’ is listed in the top 20 queries.

All four of these keywords are serviceable geo-targeted keywords that residents of Texas search for. All you have to do is select the one that is most relevant to your business.

Using Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is a fantastic tool that allows you to see all the different search variations that exist for a keyword, as well as its metrics.

Google Keyword Planner is a great resource to use when conducting local keyword research, because it helps you determine which variation of a particular geo-targeted keyword will give you the best return-on-investment (ROI).

In order to determine the best ROI, we will look at two metrics:

  • Search Impressions
  • Average Cost-per-Click (CPC)

Search impressions are the average monthly searches a keyword gets.

Average CPC is how much much advertisers will pay-per-click for an advertisement using that keyword. A high CPC means that the traffic associated with that keyword is valuable, buying traffic. Buying traffic, as it sounds, is the easiest traffic to convert into sales.

Research Process

Say you’re looking for the best geo-targeted keyword related to doctors in Baltimore, Maryland. First, come up with a keyword variation for doctors in Baltimore, Maryland.

Let’s go with: ‘doctor baltimore md’.

google keyword planner local keyword research

Input the keyword variation into Google Keyword Planner, and select Get Started so you can see Google’s suggestions for variations of that keyword.

keyword queries local keyword research

The keyword variation list will be structured in this manner, with most relevant keywords appearing at the top.

inputting location in google keyword planner for local keyword research

On the top left corner, select Locations and input the location for which you’re looking for a geo-targeted keyword. Click Save once you’ve selected the correct location.

selecting appropriate keywords in google keyword planner for local keyword research

Next, select all the keywords that are most relevant to the keyword variation you initially entered into Google Keyword Planner.

Then, select Add to Plan to move the keywords you selected to its own separate list.

select keywords tab in local keyword research

Select the ‘Keywords’ tab on the left side to see the full list of keywords you selected. Then, click ‘Avg. CPC’ on the right side of the page to sort the keywords from the highest CPC to the lowest CPC.

Simply go down the list, keeping the impressions each keyword gets in mind, and select the geo-targeted keyword that’s most relevant to your business.

Using Ahrefs (Paid Tool)

If you have access to the paid SEO tool, Ahrefs, conducting local keyword research is an absolute breeze. The process is similar to conducting local keyword research with Google Keyword Planner, but it’s quicker and far more efficient.

In order to guarantee a good ROI for keywords you find through Ahrefs, you’ll need to focus on the following three metrics:

  • Search Impressions
  • Average Cost-per-Click (CPC)
  • Keyword Difficulty

Keyword Difficulty is a metric that scores a keyword between 0 and 100, indicating how difficult it would be to rank for. It’s generally unwise to try and rank for a keyword with a keyword difficulty above 25, so we’ll keep that in mind during the keyword research.

Research Process

Say you’re looking for the best geo-targeted keyword related to plumbers in San Diego, California. First, come up with a keyword variation for plumbers in San Diego, California.

Let’s go with: ‘plumber san diego ca’.

ahrefs local keyword research

Input the term in Ahrefs’ keyword explorer and click the search button.

all keywords ahrefs local keyword research

Below the Keyword Difficulty score, you’ll see a box titled Keyword Ideas. Select the View All button to view all variations of the keyword you searched.

keyword list ahrefs local keyword research

Your list of keyword variations will look something like this.

sort ahrefs by volume local keyword research

Click Volume and set the ‘From’ field to 10, so that only keywords with a minimum volume of at least 10 will be shown, and leave the ‘To’ field blank. Then click Apply.

Click the CPC button next to KD to sort the remaining keywords from highest CPC to lowest CPC.

Simply go down the list, keeping in mind that you don’t want any keywords with a KD over 25, and select the geo-targeted keyword that’s most relevant to your business.

The reason why we don’t individually sort out KD like we sorted out the Volume is because the KD sort feature automatically sorts our keywords with a difficulty of N/A – which generally just means the keyword has a low KD.

Spying on Competitors with SEMrush (Paid Tool)

If you have access to the paid SEO tool, SEMrush, you can conduct local keyword research by spying on websites ranking for a geo-targeted keyword of interest to you.

Research Process

Say you’re looking for the best geo-targeted keyword related to house cleaning in Jacksonville, Florida. First, come up with a keyword variation for house cleaning in Jacksonville, Florida.

Let’s go with: ‘house cleaning jacksonville fl’.

search term in google local keyword research

Search that keyword variation in Google and find a website that ranks for that keyword and appears to be a local business.

It’s important that the website you find is a local business because then the website will rank for multiple geo-keywords that represent that local area.

SEMrush local keyword research

Then, input that website’s URL into SEMrush and click Search.

top organic keywords semrush local keyword research

Under ‘Top Organic Keywords’, select View full report.

keywords semrush local keyword research

The full report will give you every organic keyword the website ranks for. Therefore, if you go through the report and you’ll also find every geo-targeted keyword the website ranks for.

Many of the geo-targeted keywords will likely be variations of the original geo-targeted keyword you searched for in Google. Simply pick the variation that’s most relevant to your business.

Wrapping Up Local Keyword Research

That’s all there is to local keyword research.

Out of the four different way’s that I’ve outlined to conduct local keyword research, the methods using Google Keyword Planner and Ahrefs are best for the general research process.

Using Google Trends and spying on competitors with SEMRush is a good way to uncover hidden gems if you’re aren’t satisfied with what Google Keyword Planner or Ahrefs uncovers.

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