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What Is a Local Keyword? Structure, Variations & Tips

Local keyword research is important for millions of businesses across the world. While the way people do business might have changed in the past year or so, physical companies still exist, and so do services. 

But how can you go about your local SEO keyword research? What is a local keyword, anyway? What about the best local keyword rank checker? We’re answering all of these questions and more in today’s post, so keep on reading. 

What is a local keyword?

A local keyword is a term that people use to search for results that are location-specific. These search terms are particularly important for businesses selling products or offering services in a specific area. 

But what is a local keyword composed of?

Well, the terms are more or less specific, meaning that people aren’t going to look for the ‘best hunting shoes’ or something generic like that. 

A local keyword is typically composed of a core term, a modifier, as well as a location. Being aware of this structure allows you to understand the process of keyword research, but also your goals. 

The best thing about local keywords is that folks that perform queries can use a variation of them and more often than not, you do not have to use a specific order. For example, if you want to rank for ‘hairdresser Glasgow’, if you rank for the keyword, you’ll probably rank for ‘Glasgow hairdresser’, too.

Getting back to what a local keyword is composed of, the modifier and the location can be different depending on the query. What we mean by this is that while some might look for something ‘near them’, others might look for a specific service in their specific area. 

The ‘near me’ part is a little more complicated and you have to make sure that you list your business in a number of local directories, and get a Google My Business listing, too, but more on that, in a section below. 

How to do local keyword research

Although the task of finding the right search terms might seem easy at first, you’ll realize that it’s not so much. 

First of all, there are already competing businesses that you have to do your best at getting ahead of, so you need to pick low competition keywords that will still bring people through the door. 

Secondly, you have to identify the best terms based on the structure of your ideal local keyword. That means discovering your core term (or terms, if there are more of them), extending it with modifiers, and adding your location. 

Finding the right core term

This should be easy enough since you already know what types of products you sell or what services you offer. Try to put yourself in an internet user’s shoes when performing a query. 

It goes without saying that you’ve used Google before to find a service, whether a plumber, a dentist, a hairdresser, or anything else. Just what did you look for and how did you do it?

If you already know what your competitors are, just look at what keywords they are ranking for — so that you can replicate their strategy to some extent, since it seems to be a winning one. 

In this part of your research, you should try to focus on industry-specific search terms as they will help you obtain more leads and also decrease your bounce rate — since your content and site information is going to be extremely relevant to the query. 

Modifiers

When it comes to local keyword research, what seems to work best are long-tail keywords. This means that the search terms you should aim at would have to contain more words. 

Extend your core terms with modifiers by using a tool such as Ahrefs, SEMRush, or any other local keyword digger, for that matter. 

When choosing a keyword you want to use and add to your headings, title and meta tags, URL, and the rest of your content, you should always look at the keyword difficulty. We have found that the easiest to use is the one in Ahrefs, but there are many other tools out there, some of which offer free trials. 

Search intent

It is a good idea to rank for a lot of local keywords containing your service, but at the same time, it definitely wouldn’t hurt if people in your area were to come across other pages on your site. 

What we mean by this is that while someone might have a commercial intent, meaning that they are ready to call or order something, another person might want to do a bit more research before deciding on a specific service. 

You should try to rank for both of these types of keywords. Also, you should obviously be able to rank for your brand name, in case someone wants to do a bit more research on you and what you can do for them. 

Location 

In some cases, the city you do your business in can be very large, so you have to get a bit creative and use either the neighborhood name, counties, or smaller towns located around it — provided that you can go to that location to fix someone’s plumbing, for example. 

When it comes to location-based search terms, it is a good idea to rank for as many of them as possible. However, your competitors have undoubtedly used the same strategy before, so try to use a tool to find the lowest difficulty keywords in those locations. 

It might sound counterintuitive, but sometimes it might make sense to ‘create’ a keyword even if there is no search volume. You’d create just one page or post on your website based on that keyword, so you wouldn’t waste a lot of your crawl budget. 

You can’t know when people start to look for services in that part of the city or town even if they haven’t before. You can have a look at Google Trends and see if Internet users have used that query in the past 12 months. 

Unfortunately, the data that most keyword research tools are going to show you is fairly recent (1 or 2 months back), so you could be missing out on some gems if you don’t consider past queries, too. 

For instance, if you come across a term that has a search volume of 0 or 10, just run it through Google Trends to see how many people have looked for it in the past. 

Keywords for your articles

Unfortunately, most of the search terms that you might be able to target with your blog posts are more or less generic. 

Try to find some that can allow you to explain what you’ve done on certain projects, add pictures or even videos of your work, and use the keyword in all the right places (your SEO will give you some guidance in this sense).

But the biggest disadvantage is that most of these keywords aren’t location-specific. However, that doesn’t mean that someone in your area might not be able to find you through one of them and then want to find out more about what you do. 

What if you have several different locations?

If you just have 2-3 locations, especially in the same country region, it makes more sense to list them all on your contact page rather than having to create individual pages for each. 

However, there’s also the option of you creating individual pages for each and every location and that works too, but you also have to consider that you have to have content on all of those pages, so it’s more work. 

But this can be a pretty good solution if you have too many locations and they just can’t all be listed on your homepage. 

By the way, to make sure that Google crawls your locations as fast and easily as possible, always include the links on your homepage, no matter where in your navigation menu. 

The homepage is the first thing that crawlers of any search engines see, so it is the place to start with everything, including your internal linking to your other most important posts and pages. 

What is the best local keyword research tool?

We’ve written an extensive post about the best local SEO software that you might want to have a look at if you’re fairly new to this. 

Here are several examples you should look into:

  • Ahrefs
  • SEMRush
  • Serpstat
  • Bright Local
  • Moz Local
  • SE Ranking
  • CognitiveSEO

All of these work fairly well for keyword research and local keyword tracking, which should be an important part of your marketing strategy — rankings change all the time and Google updates its algorithm regularly, so you need to be on top of everything.

Local keyword tracking

While the general advice on this seems to be that you should revisit your keywords once every six months, the fact is that things can change quite drastically from month to month. 

If you work with an SEO in-house or you’ve hired a freelancer, ask them to check your rankings and whether you are, in fact, still ranking for your most important terms once a month. 

There’s a pretty neat feature of SEMRush that you can use to your advantage and it goes by the name of Listing Management Tool. There you can put everything you want to check up on regularly from the keywords you should track to your rankings on Google Maps. 

Local keywords aren’t enough

We have tackled this topic previously, but the truth is that if you do not get your business listed on Google My Business and at least several directories when you begin your online journey, the chances of people finding you are quite slim.

Keywords do matter, of course, since without any search terms, people aren’t going to come across your company, and while it might be true that Google ranks sites or information based on relevance and distance, there is no way of going about things other than by practicing good, broad local SEO.

Your Google My Business listing should contain all of the relevant information pertaining to what services or products you offer, but also your brand name, your full address, the telephone number, and a link to your official website. 

Try to choose the category as best as possible and change it if your business is seasonal. Add pictures of your storefront so that people can find you easier; you can also add pictures of products you create or anything else that is completely relevant to what you do. 

Another aspect that can largely influence your local SEO efforts is whether you get reviews or not. If your competitors have been in business for several years now, chances are they have more reviews than you. 

You need to actually create a review building plan where you ask as many customers as possible to leave you reviews on your GMB listing and your social media pages (Facebook is a good example). 

Local citations, the right on-page SEO, and clean link building (acquiring links only from industry-relevant websites or local publications, for example) are several other things that you should add to your strategy. 

Conclusion

Local keyword research is probably the least difficult process you have to tackle. The rest of the techniques that we’ve mentioned might actually take more time and effort, from optimizing your Google My Business Profile to getting reviews, optimizing your website pages, and improving your site speed. 

Try to keep in mind the factors that we have highlighted in this short guide when performing your research and when deciding what pages you should create on your website. 

Also, do include anything that might be relevant to your business. For example, if you are a baker, you shouldn’t just focus on ‘baker + location’ or ‘cookie shop + location’, you should include search terms like croissants, baguettes, cakes, and pretty much everything you can offer your potential customers. 

The keyword research tools you are likely to use are probably not going to suggest these terms or perhaps they will, but it will take you some time to realize where they might be listed. In fact, Ahrefs does have a search suggestions feature, so you definitely take advantage of that. 

Need help with your SEO or digital marketing efforts? We have lots of plans and courses available. Get in touch to find out how we can be of assistance!

 

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Craig Campbell

I am a Glasgow based SEO expert who has been doing SEO for 18 years.

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