Geographic SEO: Keyword Research Tips for Local BusinessesOwning and operating a local business in today’s recovering economy is full of challenges. One of those challenges is continuing to improve your online presence with limited resources. A key component of a dominating presence in local search results is identifying the most relevant yet fruitful keyword terms; this can be challenging when it comes to conducting keyword research (especially if the geography you serve is limited), since localized terms can yield little to no monthly search data.
Here’s a handful of keyword research tips that local businesses can implement for their own geographic SEO efforts to uncover the right keyword terms with confidence.
STEP 1: Keyword Concepting
Before you even begin digging into keyword data, start by doing a brain dump of all the keyword phrases you conceptually see your target customer using when looking for your product or service. Challenge yourself to think like your customers and how they would phrase their search query. Better yet, have a conversation with one of your current customers to uncover what he or she would search – or DID search – before finding you.
Lastly, if you’re leveraging analytics on your website (hopefully you are!), do an inventory of any keyword phrases that are currently getting you found on a frequent basis and that make sense to continue targeting.
STEP 2: Keyword Discovery & Identification
You may have access to more advanced marketing software such as HubSpot, but for this article we’re going to refer to the Google Keyword Tool since it’s free for anyone to use and it’s a proven and reliable source.
Once you’ve dialed up the Google Keyword Tool, be sure to sign in using your current Google account, which you most likely have since Google owns pretty much everything! This will ensure you get the most accurate data and will provide a more exhaustive list of keyword options (up to 800 compared to only 100).
Now here’s where you need to pay attention since these various Advanced Options and Filters will aid you in pinpointing the best keyword selections during your discovery:
• Locations and Languages: Be sure select your specific country (should default based on your location but double check)
• Show Ideas and Statistics: Your best bet is to select “Desktop and laptop devices”
• Filter Ideas: Here you want to set a minimum local monthly searches number based on your specific geography, but for a city such as Green Bay, WI (population of 104,000+) we’ll use 100. For the maximum keep it to 1,500 monthly searches since keywords that yield more than that tend to get too competitive and harder to rank for
• Match Types: on left side of your screen change your Match Types from Broad to “Phrase”
From this point, you can enter the desired keyword phrases you want to begin researching and evaluating. For the purpose of this blog we’ll use the keyword phrases “computer repair green bay” and “computer repair in green bay”.
Geographic SEO: Keyword Research Tips for Local Businesses
Once you’ve entered your desired keyword phrases you’ll see actual search data appear along with other possible keyword ideas to explore. To guide you in your review process, select the “Keyword” or “Local Monthly Searches” column to sort your options and then select the options you feel that are both relevant and yield a healthy number of monthly searches.
STEP 3: Keyword Selection
Data to Ignore:
As you’re reviewing keyword options the data you can ignore is the Competition column (since this is specific to AdWords competition) and Global Monthly Searches.
Addressing Keywords Without Data:
If you find your keyword options continue to return a blank set of search data (identified as a “-”) you may want to lower your filter from “greater than 100 monthly searches” to a lower number. Also take the various keyword ideas that Google provides and try adding your specific city or geography to see what type of search data exists.
Identifying Buying vs. Information Gathering Keywords:
The biggest way to decipher a keyword phrase used by someone who’s ready to buy versus someone who’s gathering information is plural forms of a word. For example, the keyword phrase “computer repair company” is likely going to be used by someone who needs a repair done now and who’s ready to buy compared to someone who searches “computer repair companies.” That individual could be researching his or her options of various service providers. Depending on monthly search volume you may want to target the “information gathering keyword(s)” if it will result in more traffic. It’s then up to your Inbound Marketing content to engage the visitor and get them to convert!
Conducting Test Search Queries:
To get a better sense what the competitive landscape is for a particular phrase you’ve identified, select the term and click on the “Google Search” option that appears. From here you can get a better gauge on its relevancy to your business and how many competing listings you’re up against.
Evaluating Your Current SERP Rank:
A final step before you make the decision to officially target a keyword phrase on your website or blog is to discover what your current rank is in the search engine results page (SERP) for that keyword. There’s a handful of free tools out there that allow you to easily do this, but one with a very simple user interface is http://googlesearchpositionfinder.com. This will give you an unbiased rank that isn’t influenced by your Google search history.
Obviously, a higher SERP rank (anything past page 8 of the current search results) means you have more work cut out for yourself so take that into consideration when deciding on which words you want to target.
Keyword research doesn’t have to feel like splitting atoms. Use your judgment based on what data you see and what you know about your target customer. Leveraging these tips will also help keep you on target and minimize the time it takes to uncover the right keywords for you. For additional advice on how to further dominate online search be sure to download our free SEO Survival Guide.
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