If you run a business, then local search is one of Google’s most beneficial features to date. You’ll notice that most of your searches that relate to products and services will display nearby businesses—sometimes even featuring them on the map pack SERP feature.
As with any other form of SEO, local search optimization depends heavily on how well you can identify and target keywords: search queries that your potential customers use when looking for their next purchase.
Since keyword research is already difficult on its own, we felt that an article on finding the best local keywords would be valuable to you. So, we prepared this article to give you a few advantages the next time you sit down for your next marketing sprint.
Read on to learn our top 5 expert tips for choosing local keywords.
1. Invest in a Keyword Research Tool
Keyword selection is a zero-sum game. Allocating resources to one keyword means that you have less to spend on others, which can easily lead to lost opportunities if you bet on the wrong set of search terms.
When performing keyword research, your ultimate goal is to discover the set of keywords that receive high search volumes while also indicating a searcher’s intent to make a purchase. The latter is a matter of instinct and open to interpretation, but the former is a hard number that a marketer can and should use.
Keyword research tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs are essential to discovering keyword suggestions and assessing search volumes. These provide you with numerical estimates and oftentimes go as far as to offer projections for future months’ search activity.
When using these to craft a local search strategy, make sure to filter down to the smallest possible geography to capture your closest searches. Don’t be daunted if you see smaller numbers than the ones you’d get for a nationwide search—just remind yourself that 300 high-interest monthly searches in your area could amount to around 10 potential customers a day.
2. Think Hard about Your Target Location
As you know, optimizing for local search is a great way to draw the attention of nearby customers. What might not be clear right off the bat, however, is how best to qualify what it means to be “nearby”.
Depending on the nature of your business, the scope of your location (be it your street, your neighborhood, your city, or even your region) can matter greatly. People might not want to travel far to look for a convenience store, but you can bet they’d be willing to travel if it means finding the most effective repair service.
For marketers, this means that the type of business you run can determine how many localities you need to consider when planning your keywords. You may learn that your marketing fails to capture leads whole kilometers away. This can lead to changes in your site copy, new ad campaigns, and even new opportunities for your other content marketing streams.
Dig deep into your marketing and sales data to figure out where your customers are coming from, and how far they might travel to reach your solutions. We recommend using what you know, and also experimenting if you find you have the budget to do so. Don’t be too proud or too humble of what your business can offer—a realistic assessment of how far people are willing to go to reach you will make all the difference.
3. Study Your Nearby Competitors
The best way to compete in local search is to learn from your closest competitors and adapt your brand accordingly. And since competitive analysis should be a routine part of your marketing activity, it’s safe to say that you will find yourself learning a lot as you manage your brand.
Keep a close eye on how your competitors appear on Google Search, as well as on Google My Business and be sure to take notes. How do they use locations in their marketing? How do they structure their meta descriptions? Do their ads redirect you to specialized landing pages?
Look at their meta titles and meta descriptions to see what they’re doing differently, then change what you can to reflect their best practices. Intelligent adaptation keeps businesses alive and running in many ways—marketing being one of the top among them.
Remember that you can use Google Keyword Planner to study your competitors’ target keywords as well. Simply input the URL of their homepage (or contact page) and see where they’re placing their focus.
4. Don’t Forget to Play Wide
Google’s local-first policy for displaying SERP pages means that today’s businesses can rank for broad terms such as “asian cuisine” or “barbershop”. It pays to be aggressive and target general keywords to take advantage of the company’s trend for designing user experience.
At this level of scale, the usual SEO best practices will be important. You can and should supplement your attempts to rank for general terms with local tricks such as including your location in the keyword—as long as the inclusion reads naturally.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that local search terms are the only keywords worth your time. Ranking for top keywords in your field or industry are equally important, as they add to your page rank and authority.
5. Run Modified Keywords
If over the course of your research you find that “wedding cakes” receives a lot of attention each month, then you’d be smart to lend your focus to it. The ball doesn’t stop rolling there, however, as different search users may have specific wants and needs when it comes to their wedding cakes.
Some may be looking for “custom designed wedding cakes”, while others might be in the market for “vegan wedding cakes”. Regardless of the product or industry, you can count on people getting specific with their search terms—meaning more opportunities for you to satisfy their search intent.
It’s here that you can use local search keywords to play to your competitive advantages. Feel free to brag if your products are fast, made-to-order, custom-designed, or any other trait that makes them exceptional. As long as you can satisfy a niche within your market, it pays to let people know through your local SEO.
Local search is a deep topic with plenty of layers worth mastering. This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to being the first name people see when Googling for answers—the rest is a matter of careful study and tireless trial-and-error.
If you need expert assistance or simply want your brand to be more competitive in as short a time as possible, reach out to our professionals at Igloo. We offer world-class SEO services to businesses of varying sizes, and keep fully informed of the regular changes to Google’s algorithms that make SEO such a difficult feat to master.
Contact us today to learn how we can help you unlock the full potential of your marketing on local search.