An effective local SEO strategy has multiple components, but keyword research is easily one of the most important elements.

New to the world of keyword research? We’ve got you covered. We put together this beginner’s guide about the importance of local keyword research, how to do it, and what tools are available to help. 

What Are Keywords?

Before you can understand local keyword research, you must understand the concept of keywords. These are crucial for any SEO strategy, whether or not the business is local.

Keywords are the topics and ideas that describe or define your content. Think of keywords as what someone types in the search bar when looking for information or a business.

Once you choose keywords, you optimize your website for them. This is the process of ensuring that you are one of the top results for a given phrase or word. For example, if you are a restaurant, one of your keywords could be “restaurant in [City].” Keywords are among the most important local search ranking factors. Other crucial factors include local citations and local link building efforts.

It’s also important to note that when it comes to keywords, local SEO keyword research isn’t the only thing to look into. You may also want to investigate PPC keywords. PPC keywords are when you pay to appear at the top of the search results by outbidding other businesses. You pay for every click (pay per click) on the ad. 

What Is Local Keyword Research?

So, what is the difference between keywords and local keywords? It’s simple. Local keywords are keywords that are specific to your local area. They frequently include geolocation tags such as city names.

Thus, local keyword research refers to the process of figuring out what keywords people type in when searching for products and services nearby.

When talking about local keyword research, it is also important to mention implicit vs. explicit keywords. Implicit keywords imply geolocation, while explicit ones outright say it. So, an implicit keyword could be “furnace repair.” Google will likely return search results for furnace repair companies near you. An explicit keyword would be “furnace repair in [City].” 

Why Is Local Keyword Research Important for Small Businesses?

Conducting local keyword research is important for any business, especially for smaller ones. This is because you don’t have the advertising budget to compete with major companies for paid ads. But choosing the right keywords lets you compete with—and rank among—them, regardless of your budget.

Here are a couple of ways a strong local keyword research strategy can help your business.

You get higher conversion rates.

By choosing keywords that are relevant and specific to your products and services, you will notice a boost in conversion rates. After all, people are more likely to find what they need on your website if you consider search intent when choosing keywords.

It lets you prioritize.

Conducting local SEO keyword research also helps you prioritize which keywords you want to focus your efforts on. This lets you make the most of your time and your limited advertising budget. 

Local Keyword Research Best Practices

So, now that you understand why local keyword research is important, here are some tips to help you get started.

You need relevant keywords.

One crucial goal of your research is to ensure that your chosen local keywords are relevant to your business. It doesn’t matter if you rank for the keyword “Italian food in Manhattan” if you’re a donut shop on the other side of the country.

If you waste your effort trying to rank for irrelevant keywords, you may get lots of people visiting your site only for those website visitors to leave your page as quickly as they found it. This will put your hard work to waste and hurt your bounce rate. That, in turn, lowers your ranking.

Conducting keyword research ensures that you can choose terms that will bring in people who want what your business offers.

You need specific keywords.

Local keyword research also helps you avoid situations where you accidentally optimize for a keyword that attracts unrelated searchers. For example, the term “new clubs” may attract people who want to party in a club at night, those who want to buy a set of golf clubs, or someone looking to get involved in their community.

Your research will help you determine the search intent behind each phrase to ensure you bring in relevant searches.

Helpful Keyword Research Tools

Before we get into how to do local keyword research, you will likely be happy to learn that there are many local keyword research tools. These tools make it significantly easier to research local keywords, as they gather the data on the various search terms for you.

Moz Keyword Explorer 

There are both free and paid versions of this keyword tool. It is an industry leader and known for accuracy and detail.

SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool

This is among the most popular paid options for keyword research. It is intuitive to use and known for being detailed and accurate.

Google Keyword Planner

This is easily among the most popular keyword research tools. It is free as part of AdWords.


There is both a free and a paid version of this tool, although the free version is limited to four free searches a day. Importantly, this tool comes from Neil Patel, a leader in content marketing.

Other options

There are also dozens of other keyword research tools to choose from—the options above are just some of the most well-known tools in the industry. We recommend taking a few minutes to look at reviews about tools you’re considering to make sure you choose the best option for your needs. 

How to Do Local Keyword Research

When you are ready to dive in and start performing local SEO keyword research, follow these steps.

Step 1: Make a list of your services or products.

The first thing to do when conducting local keyword research is to list all of the products and services you offer.

This is a time when brainstorming and teamwork help. Ask your employees to pitch in so you don’t overlook anything.

Step 2: Look for any services or products you missed.

Once you have your keyword list, it is time to double-check and make sure you didn’t miss anything important. Keyword tools are a great resource for this. Enter the list of products and you brainstormed and look at the recommended list(s) of related ones.

This is also the time to look at common questions about your list of products and services. You may want to use some of those common questions as long-tailed keywords.

Step 3: Consider local intent.

Because your goal is local SEO keyword research, you want to ensure that your chosen keywords have local intent. In other words, when someone searches for the service or product, they want to get it nearby. They don’t want to order a product online from the other side of the country or world.

A simple way to check if there is local intent is to type your keyword into Google. See if a map with nearby locations appears. See if local businesses appear high in the search results. If both of those are the case, the keyword has local intent.

Otherwise, you may want to skip the keyword.

Step 4: Evaluate the search volumes and other factors.

Next, you want to consider the search volume of each keyword. Remember that even if the volume seems low, you should probably still make a relevant service page. After all, you are more likely to rank if there are lower search volumes. Of course, making the service page will also help clients confirm which services you offer.

In addition to search volume, look at the keyword difficulty. This lets you know how hard it is to rank for the keyword. It lets you focus your efforts on more achievable search terms. 

Step 5: Organize your keywords.

Now, look at your list of potential keywords. You want to look for patterns or related terms. You will likely be able to optimize for related terms simultaneously on the same service page. For example, if you repair boilers, you could likely combine keywords for various brands on the same landing page.

Step 6: Use your keywords.

Once you have completed your local keyword research, it is time to put it to good use. Include keywords in your Google Business Profile services list or your Google Business Profile description.

Incorporate keywords into the content you create for your website. Use them in headers, titles, and text. You should also include them in meta descriptions and alt tags. You can encourage your local influencers to use them in the content they create for you.

Just remember to avoid keyword stuffing and use your local keywords naturally. Don’t choose a particular keyword if it is too hard to use naturally, or use it but modify it slightly. 

Small Businesses Need to Conduct Local Keyword Research If They Want to Compete Online

If you want to be competitive online, you need to conduct local keyword research. Take advantage of the various free and paid tools available. Then, start using your chosen keywords when creating new content and designing the layout of your website. Combine this with other local SEO efforts to ensure your business ranks on search engines, and you should be on your way to success. Don’t forget about other strategies, such as location citations and link building. And when you’re ready to take your digital efforts to the next level, Podium can help you encourage reviews to boost your search engine results further. 

Isaiah Rendorio
Isaiah Rendorio Product Marketing Manager, Campaigns

Isaiah Rendorio is the Product Marketing Manager for Podium Campaigns—helping local businesses tap into the power of SMS marketing to strengthen customer relationships, increase customer lifetime value, and drive more revenue.

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