Do you know the saying, “you should always focus on the big picture?”
Well, when it comes to SEO, that isn’t always true. Sometimes, you have to focus on the smaller picture if you want to see success.
What do we mean, you ask?
Well, say you’re a plumber. Does it really make sense to target every plumbing-related keyword there is? Doesn’t it make more sense to target keywords that are specific to your area or region where you can actually provide your services?
That’s what local SEO is, and the first step towards nailing it is mastering local keyword research. And that’s exactly what we’re going to cover in this article!
First, what is local search intent?
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of local keyword research, it’s important to understand what local search intent is.
Local search intent refers to the specific types of queries (aka search terms or keywords) that users enter in search engines (à la Google) when they’re looking for local businesses or services. These queries typically include the name of a city or town, as well as specific keywords related to a particular product or service.
For example, someone searching for a “pizza place near me” or “best coffee shops in London” is demonstrating local search intent. These types of queries indicate that the user is looking for a business or service in a specific location and wants to see relevant results that are nearby.
Understanding local search intent is crucial for businesses that want to rank well in local search results. By identifying the types of queries that potential customers are using to find businesses like yours, a process that’s known as local keyword research, you can optimise your website content to better match those search queries.
Why is local keyword research important?
Look, we know it seems like a no-brainer, but you really need to understand what people are typing into Google when they’re looking for your products or services. If you don’t, you might as well be throwing spaghetti at a wall and hoping it sticks. And trust us, that’s not a great marketing strategy.
And it doesn’t end there. You can’t just guess the keywords and queries people use. That’s what most marketers or small business owners do when it comes to keywords; they just wing it. They assume they know what people are searching for, and then they wonder why they’re not getting any traffic or conversions. Don’t be like that. Get your research on, peeps.
After all, if you’re not doing your research, you might be targeting the wrong keywords.
Not only that, but you might also be neglecting some awesome keywords that could bring in some serious cash. For example, let’s say you’re a plumber in London. Obviously, you want to rank for “plumber in London.” Duh. But what about the other services you offer? Are you creating content and pages for those too? Because if not, you’re missing out on some serious traffic and conversions.
Do you even know how people search for those other services? I’m guessing not. That’s where local keyword research comes in.
So, to sum it up, local keyword research is crucial for any business that wants to succeed online. Don’t leave it up to chance, don’t guess, and don’t neglect those juicy keywords. Get your research on and watch your business soar!
Local keyword research: tools you’re going to need
Now that you understand local search intent and its importance, it’s time to start conducting local keyword research. There are a number of different tools that can help you with this process, including:
- Google Keyword Planner (learn how to use it by checking this guide)
- SEMrush (which we covered in our guide “What is SEMrush”)
- Ahrefs (which we covered in our guide “What is Ahrefs”)
- And many more
Each of these tools has its own unique features that can be useful for local keyword research. For example, Google Keyword Planner can help you identify local search trends and estimate search volume for specific keywords, while SEMrush and Ahrefs can help you analyse your competitors’ keywords and backlinks.
When choosing a tool for local keyword research, it’s important to consider your specific needs and budget. That’s because some tools, such as Ahrefs and SEMrush, are more expensive than others and may offer more advanced features that aren’t necessary for all businesses.
In this guide, we’re going to explain how to do local keyword research using Ahrefs because that’s the tool we use at Rockstar Marketing.
How to nail local keyword research using Ahrefs
Okay, let’s cut to the chase. Here’s how to get local keyword research right using Ahrefs!
Step 1: Get to know your services
Start with some brainstorming
Before you start looking for keywords, you need to know what services your business offers. After all, if you’re a plumber, you don’t just do plumbing. You probably also offer drain unblocking, boiler repairs, radiator installation, and more. You need to know all of that to do your keyword research right.
Sounds simple, right?
Well, it is, but it’s also super important. So, take a moment, fire up the text editor on your computer, and list all the services that your business offers.
Next, expand your ideas
Alright, you’ve brainstormed all the services you can think of. Great job! But wait, there’s more. You need to check for services you might have missed.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Enter your brainstormed ideas into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer
2. Select your country from the dropdown
3. Go to the “Having same terms” report
This report shows all the queries from our database that contain all the words from your keywords (in any order). Basically, it shows you relevant services you might have missed.
For example, if you’re doing keyword research for plumbing-related services, you might find “combi boiler installation,” “gas boiler installation,” and “radiator installation.” Sweet!
IMPORTANT NOTE: You’re looking for services you missed, not keywords. Don’t waste your time finding every possible way someone might search for the same thing (for example, “plumber”, “plumbing company”, and “plumbing service” are basically the same thing). Stick to services.
Another way to find “missed” services is to plug a competitor’s site into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and look for URLs that map to services in the Top Pages report.
Step 2: Identify local intent
Now that you have a list of potential local keywords, you need to make sure that your keywords have local intent, which we’ve explained earlier.
To do so, just fire up your trusty Google search bar and type in your desired keyword. Look out for two things: a “local map pack” (the section with business listings and a map) and local businesses ranking in organic results.
For instance, if we search for “the best plumber in London,” you’ll see a map pack featuring all the best – hey, surprise! – plumbers in London and local businesses ranked in the organic search results. It’s pretty clear that this keyword has local intent, and you’re gonna want to optimise for it if you’re a plumber in London.
But wait, there’s more! Let’s say you’re searching for something that doesn’t have local intent, like “best Hawaiian shirts” (no offence to any Hawaiian shirt enthusiasts out there). You won’t see any local businesses in the search results or a map pack. That’s a clear indication that this keyword isn’t locally-focused, and you can put it on the back burner for now.
Step 3: Find the search volumes for your keywords
This is where we find out how many people are searching for keywords related to our business in our local area.
Sounds easy, right?
Well, not exactly.
See, most SEO tools only show country-wide and global volumes, making it hard to get accurate local search volumes. But don’t worry, because we’re going to figure this out together.
Before we do that, though, there’s something we want you to understand: when it comes to local SEO, search volume isn’t everything. Even if the search volume for your services or products is really low, you’ll still want to create a page about it for your visitors. Who knows when someone will need a boiler installation or a plumber? You don’t want to miss out on potential business just because you didn’t have a page about it.
Why check search volumes at all, then?
But wait, you might be thinking, “If search volumes aren’t everything, why bother checking them at all?”
Well, it’s simple: so you know which pages to prioritise in your local SEO efforts. You don’t want to waste time and resources optimising for a keyword that nobody’s searching for in your area. That’s just silly.
Finding local search volumes
Now, let’s get to the good stuff. How do we find local search volumes?
It depends on whether you’re looking for implicit or explicit keywords.
- Implicit keywords are the ones where the searcher is looking for a local result without mentioning their location
- Explicit keywords, on the other hand, include the location in the search query (for example, “plumber in Nottingham” or “boiler replacement is central London”)
For implicit keywords, you can use Google Keyword Planner to get average monthly search volume ranges for local keywords in your service area. Just choose the option to “Get search volume and forecasts,” paste in your keywords, and change the location to your service area. Easy peasy.
For explicit keywords, you don’t need to rely on Google Keyword Planner because the query itself tells you the searcher’s location. So, you can use a keyword research tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer to get more accurate search volume estimates for these keywords.
Step 4: Group your keywords
So, you want to rank for all the services you offer?
Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but most of the time, your homepage isn’t going to cut it. You can’t just list every service you offer there and hope for it to rank for every single keyword you’re trying to target.
That’s why local businesses create dedicated pages for each service. But hold up, don’t go creating a gazillion pages just yet. It’s not always clear which services need their own pages and which ones can be grouped together.
Let us explain with an example
Let’s take a look at some services that might have you scratching your head. Take boiler installation, combi boiler installation, and oil boiler installation. Do we need separate pages for each? Or can we just cram everything into one page?
The best way to figure this out is to analyse the current top-ranking results for the keywords. For instance, if we check out the search results for “oil boiler installation,” we’ll see that the top-ranking page is specifically about – you guessed it – oil boiler installation. So, in our opinion, it’s worth creating a dedicated page for this service.
But what about gas boiler installation? A quick Google search reveals that most of the results within the first page don’t specifically cover gas boiler installation but boiler installation in general. So, we can probably get away with grouping this service under a broader page about boiler installation/replacement.
As you can see, this process isn’t an exact science, and there’s some nuance to it. If you’re unsure about whether to create a dedicated page or not, think about whether site visitors would find it useful. If you can easily provide all the info they need on a broader page, it’s probably not worth creating a separate page.
Step 5: Create the necessary pages!
Well, that’s it! If you followed all of the aforementioned steps, you now have a comprehensive list of keywords that you can target. Congratulations, you’re now a master of local keyword research!
The next step is to create the service pages that target those keywords.
So, what are service pages, and what should you include on them?
Simply put, service pages are where potential customers learn about your services and how you can help them solve their problems. So, what should you include on a service page?
- Headline: Your headline should be attention-grabbing and clearly convey what service you offer. Your local keyword(s) should be included in the headline
- Introduction: Your introduction should be brief and engaging, highlighting the key benefits of your service. Use this space to throw in some of the local keywords you selected
- Service details: This section should provide detailed information about your service, including its features and benefits, how it works, and any other essential details
- Testimonials: Adding testimonials from satisfied customers is a great way to build trust and credibility with potential customers. When seeking testimonials from your customers, you can encourage them to use some of the local keywords you found earlier
- Call-to-action: Finally, include a strong call-to-action that encourages visitors to take the next step, whether that’s contacting you or making a purchase
Here are some guides that can help with that process:
- What Is An SEO Optimised Article?
- Word Count For SEO: Is There An Ideal Word Count?
- Internal Links vs External Links: What’s The Difference?
- How To Add Keywords To A Website For SEO
- Why On-Page SEO Is Important
Bonus tip: Use those keywords to optimise your Google Business Profile (or GBP)
If you want to reap all the benefits of local keyword research, you shouldn’t stop at optimising your website for local keywords. Nope, you gotta go above and beyond and optimise your Google Business Profile too!
Why, you ask?
Well, Google uses your GBP in the local pack AND other Google Maps results.
So, if you’re not putting in the effort to optimise it, you’re missing out on some major visibility. And who wants that?
So, how can you optimise your GBP?
For starters, adding some local keywords to your business description can do wonders. It helps Google match your GBP to relevant queries, meaning more eyes on your business.
Not only that, but having those local keywords can also reassure potential customers that you have what they’re looking for. And let’s face it, in the world of business, reassurance is key.
But wait, there’s more!
Local keyword research can also help you select the right business categories for your Google Business Profile, which is another factor that can affect your local rankings.
Now, before you go crazy and start adding every category under the sun, instead, you need to choose categories that are specific and representative of your business. Adding extras just for SEO purposes is a big no-no and goes against Google’s guidelines. So, don’t be that guy (or gal). Stick to the rules, and you’ll be just fine.
Let us take care of local keyword research for you
Yes, local keyword research may seem simple on paper, but the actual process can be quite overwhelming, especially if you’re new to local SEO. Worry not, though, as you needn’t do it alone. Just book a discovery call with us today, and we’ll explain how we can turn your business into a local rockstar!