Beginners Guide to Keyword Research for Local SEO

Let’s dive into the world of keyword research for local SEO. Learn all about it, why it is important, how to do it plus free tools and more!

What is Keyword Research?

Simply put, keyword research is finding out the words, phrases and terms that people are entering into search engines. By doing this, you can use them to optimise your website, your content and your general marketing efforts. Through keyword research you can also learn the popularity of each query, which one is best suited to your business, how difficult they are the rank for and much more.

We wrote more about Keywords for Small Businesses here:

Why is Keyword Research for Local SEO Important?

In terms of local SEO, keyword research is a way to target your local audiences and learn what they want. By doing this, you can tailor your offerings to their needs with the goal of improving your conversions (whether that’s a sale, a lead generation or whatever your objectives are). Local SEO is taking your current online presence and making consistent improvements to attract more business from local searches, relevant to you.

Local SEO is also important because of the way Google displays search results. Let’s take a look at these two images. The first one is Google’s Local Pack (also known as Google Snack Pack). This is the top 3 local business listings that are most relevant to my “hairdressers near me” search query.

How To Get On Google Local Pack for Beginners

The first steps to optimising your business to appear on Snack Pack is to setup a Google My Busines account or improve on the one you already have. This is where all your business information can be found by Google. And that’s why its extremely important. Once your information is on there and it’s CORRECT (huge emphasis on this!), you stand a better chance of appearing on Google Local Packs and also on the map searches.

Below the Local Pack comes the organic results. These are the regular results that are top ranking for the search term. And this is where keyword research comes in to play.

What are your Potential Customers Thinking?

Let’s talk about search intent now. SEO continues to evolve, and the focus shifts constantly. In the eyes of SEO professionals, exact match keywords are no longer the most important ranking factor. Rather, you want to be searching for the intent behind a keyword. Then you want to ask, “does my content answer the intent?”

Search intent can make a big difference to local SEO. Imagine someone types into Google the term ‘cake.’ They could either be looking for cake ideas, cake recipes, cake making videos… or they could be looking for cake shops/cake makers near them. Those are two very different search intents and if you tap into the local side of this, you can draw in customers.

Free Keyword Research Tools to Help You

Keyword research doesn’t have to cost you the earth. It is worth noting that keyword research can be quite time consuming though. There are plenty of free keyword research tools to help you put together lists based on your industry, your goals and your customer intentions.

Check these free tools out to help you in your keyword research:

  • Keyword research Chrome extensions:
  • Keyword research with SEMrush – limited on the free plan but worth checking out
  • Keyword research with Google Keyword Planner – you have to set up a Google Ad Account first. Read more on this on Backlinko
  • Keyword Tool – saves you time and finds Google Autocomplete suggestions for you
  • Ubersuggest – another great keyword research tool

Using Keyword Research in Your Blog

Expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T)

Google wants to make sure that the articles it is promoting in its result pages are the cream of the crop. It also needs to know the links between sites it approves (these are called Backlinks) are worthy. Basically, it is Google’s way of protecting searchers from getting low-quality content that does not add value. That is why their EAT acronym is super important when it comes to writing content. Before you begin writing a blog, you should make a content plan. This will help with EAT and with keywords generally. By outlining the plan, you can make sure what you’re writing is succinct, makes sense, educates and builds trust. This also helps build your keywords in to each section.

Product/service and informational keywords.

These are two types of keywords to keep in mind (these are just 2 of more types.) Product/service keywords are the specific keywords people search for when looking to buy. These are also called transactional keywords. Examples of these are:

  • Black handbag
  • Black over the shoulder handbag
  • Handbag sale

Another type of keyword to bear in the mind are informational keywords. These are what you might think – they are longer keywords (called long tail keywords) where people are searching for advice/information on a certain term. These often contain questions words such as “where,” “how,” “why” and so on.

Going back to what we said about search intent.

If you sell swimming pools and your customers come to you with queries, chances are non-customers have the same questions. For example, they might search for “why is a large swimming pool better than a small” or “what is the best type of pool for me.” These are the informational keywords you can be ranking for by answering the questions in your blog or site content. Use to generate lists of questions around a topic.

Local SEO Blog Checklist

For small businesses, blogging is a great way to draw customers in, show off your expertise and add value to their consumer lives. We wrote more here about Why Small Business Should Blog

When writing your blog, you want to make sure it is fully optimised to help your local SEO. You might be thinking ‘what does optimise mean?!’ This is the process of making sure you blog ticks all Google’s boxes. We’re going to show you how to do this in WordPress, given the fact over 75 million websites use the platform!

URL Structure

Make sure the URL of the blog matches the topic and keyword of the blog! They show up on Google when someone types in a query and they’re the anchor to your blog. Two steps to get your URL structure right:

  1. Make it short and snappy
  2. Include a keyword

Title Tags

To avoid confusion, the title tag is also called the page title or SEO title. So, if you have seen all three and wondered what the difference is… the answer is nothing!

Why is the title tag important? The SEO title is part of the snippet that shows up on Google search result pages. These are what people see first and is what will hook them in. Make sure your title tag is catchy and appealing but be honest! Try to make your title tag as accurate to the blog as possible. If people click on your article based on the SEO title then see it’s absolutely nothing to do with the topic, they will bounce straight off. This is called your Bounce Rate and the higher this is (the quicker and more often people bounce off) all the worse for your website.

Also make sure to include your keyword in the title tag. If you’re writing a blog on ‘how to draw dogs’ and your SEO title is ‘drawing dogs in pencil,’ then it won’t help your chances of ranking for the keyword ‘how to draw dogs.’ Pretty simple, really.

Meta Description

Finally, make sure your Meta Description is on point. This can be found again in the post editor in WordPress, like the Title Tag screenshot above. The meta description works with your title tag to entice people in and make them want to read your blog. So, logic goes that you want to make the meta description as accurate and interesting as possible! Again, include your keyword in there and it will show up in Google in bold, like it does here:

Can you outsource keyword research?

If the thought of keyword research for local SEO isn’t for you, or maybe you don’t have enough time, you can outsource it. We can do keyword research through the number of tools we use to generate lists of keywords for your business. You can then choose to implement those yourself or have us do it for you. Send us an email about outsourced keyword research for more information.


Hopefully you have found this Beginners Guide to Keyword Research for Local SEO helpful. There are many local SEO benefits that keyword research can bring. Using this advice and the tools we suggested, you can give it a go yourself. If you’d like to ask us any questions or get some help, get in touch!  

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