Anyone running a local business knows how important it is to show up high in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant queries.
But if you don’t know which keywords and phrases people are actually searching for, it’s tough to optimize your website and content accordingly.
That’s where local keyword research comes in.
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll cover everything you need to know about researching and selecting the best keywords to target for local SEO agency success.
Whether you’re a DIYer or working with an agency, you’ll be able to find keywords that align with your business goals after reading this.
Here are the steps for researching and selecting keywords for local SEO:
Google’s free Keyword Planner is a great place to start. Input your target location and product/service categories to see local monthly search volume data.
Other helpful tools include Semrush, Moz, Ahrefs, and UberSuggest. Look for keyword difficulty scores too.
Longer and more specific multi-word phrases like “pizza restaurant Brooklyn” are easier to rank for than just “pizza.”
Aim for keywords with at least three words, mapping to your products, services, and location.
People often search Google in question format like “Where can I find the best coffee near me?”
Adding relevant FAQ questions to your list ensures you target these natural searches.
Research which keywords your competitors are already ranking for. This helps uncover additional opportunities while avoiding overly saturated terms.
Organize your keyword list into groups like branded keywords, product/service keywords, location-based keywords, and more.
This makes it easier to align keywords to pages during optimization.
Cut any keywords unrelated to your business, as well as ones with extremely low search volume. Optimizing for these distracts from more promising terms.
After putting together an expansive local keyword list, you need to hone it down. Here are some tips:
- Remove duplicates – Delete any repeated keywords or phrases.
- Add negative keywords – Include “not” variations like “restaurants not in Brooklyn” to avoid irrelevant searches.
- Prioritize keywords – Use search volume and difficulty scores to rank keywords from highest to lowest priority.
- Cut low relevance/value keywords – Remove any keywords not worth trying to rank for.
- Keep it manageable – Try to pare down to 50-100 well-researched core keywords or phrases.
With your refined local keyword list in hand, it’s time to optimize your website and content.
Focus on your target keywords in:
- Page titles and headers (H1, H2 tags)
- Image file names and alt text
- URL slugs
- Meta descriptions
- Content body – Aim for 1-3% keyword density
- Schema markup
Also include synonyms, related phrases and long-tail versions of keywords throughout your content. Just don’t go overboard – Google penalizes keyword stuffing!
Once you’ve optimized your site and content for local keywords, you need to monitor your SERP rankings and results. Some helpful tools include:
- Google Search Console – Shows how you rank for target keywords over time.
- MozBar – Browser plugin that displays keyword rankings.
- Google Analytics – Track website traffic and conversions by source.
- Local search audit – Manual periodic checks of rankings by keyword.
Don’t forget to continue optimizing pages based on the keywords they already rank for.
Pay attention to any changes in local search behavior and update your keywords accordingly. Local SEO is an ongoing process!
Here are the key tips to remember:
- Use keyword research tools to find terms people search for locally
- Target long-tail, geo-modified phrases
- Include related questions searchers are asking
- Research what the competition ranks for
- Organize keywords into categories
- Remove irrelevant, duplicate, and low-volume keywords
- Optimize pages strategically for specific keywords
- Track ongoing performance and rankings