Before you can get started implementing any kind of Local SEO strategies on your website, you need to understand how to do Local SEO keyword research.
Let’s just be clear what we are talking about…
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation.
Search Engine Optimisation is the process of creating a website which appears high in Google search results for the words & phrases your perfect client is Googling (n.b: other search engines are available 🙂 )
Local SEO is the process of making sure people local to you can find your business on Google.
Once you understand which keywords & phrases your perfect clients are searching for, you can use them to optimise your website and improve your search engine rankings.
(or you can ask me to do it for you – see my Local SEO services here)
So, how do you determine which keywords and key phrases you should be trying to rank for in search results?
Generally speaking, SEO is a tricky & ever-changing business! However, the good news is that Local SEO is often a bit easier because:
– when people search locally for service-based businesses, they are searching with intent – the intent to buy
– the competition on Google for, let’s say, “accountant in Nottingham” is less fierce than the competition for “cottage with sea view”. The first is limited to Nottingham, the second could be anywhere in the country.
Tip #1 | Ask friends family and current clients
First of all, just use your common sense! What would you search for if you wanted to find a business such as yours? Sometimes, business owners themselves find it hard to be objective about this, so do ask people around you.
Make a list of all the terms people suggest to you, even if you don’t think they sound likely!
Tip #2 | Checkout your competition
Looking into what your competition is doing can be done in a few different ways:
– simply visit the websites of your competitors, to assess how they speak about what they do & to try to identify keywords & phrases they use relatively often on their site. Keywords can be especially effective if used in headings and subheadings so have a look at the words they are using in these places.
– use a keyword planner such as the Google Keyword Planner; enter the web address of your competitors into the planner to see which keywords & phrases they are ranking for. (More on how to make use of a keyword planner in Tip #5)
Tip #3 | Use location specific words
Think about the geographical area you cover and how you can use those keywords on your website.
If you are a couples counsellor in Birmingham, your main pages on your website may talk about Birmingham but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some hidden location pages which focus on the suburbs of Birmingham.
If someone lives in Solihull or Kings Heath or Edgbaston, they may use those words when searching for a counsellor, rather than using the word Birmingham.
Tip #4 | Don’t just use location specific keywords!
Having said that, don’t feel that using location specific keywords is the only way to tap into a local audience.
Google is clever. Google knows where people are and it will produce search results which showcase services close to a searcher’s physical location.
So, if someone is sitting at home in Solihull Googling “couples counsellor”, Google will automatically show them results from counsellors close to Solihull. Therefore it is worth trying to rank for general terms such as “couples counsellor” as well as for location specific terms.
Tip #5 | Use a keyword planner
Using a tool such as the Google keyword planner, means that you can check whether people really are searching for “pet sitter in Nottingham” (for example), or if they are actually using a slightly different term, such as “doggy day care in Nottingham”. This is where those suggestions from friends & family come in useful; type them into the keyword planner & see what the search volume for each one is.
When you use a keyword planner, don’t forget that just because a keyword or phrase has a high search volume, it does not mean it is the right keyword for your website. As an example, someone searching for “semi-detached extension ideas” (high keyword volume) is less likely to want to engage building services than someone searching for “local builder in Nottingham” (lower keyword volume).
Understanding the value of different keywords & phrases is important for two reasons
– getting it right means that you will attract people to your website who have intent – for example, they are intending to find and pay a builder to do building work on their house!
– Google takes into account your bounce rate ( bounce rate is the number of people who visit your site but then leave it again without taking any further actions). If you optimise your site for the wrong keywords, you will have a higher bounce rate because people will be sent to your site but then realise it’s not for them and leave.
If you’ve reached the end of this post, well done! I know, SEO can seem daunting and – to be honest – it is a bit! So, if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂