How To Use Local SEO Keyword Research To Drive Business Growth

Alaina Bradenburger
Published: Oct 04, 2023
Last Updated:
Table of Contents
Sign up for our newsletter to get exclusive content marketing news and resources.

If you’ve ever looked for your ideal home, retail space, or a job, you know the importance location plays in your decision-making process. In the bygone days before the internet, business owners knew that having the right location would greatly increase their foot traffic. They used creative window displays, large signs, and other signals to lure customers in off the streets. How does this apply to local SEO keyword research?

Customers can’t patronize your business if they don’t know it exists. Only these days, instead of walking by your store and being reeled in by a 50% off sign, your potential customers are more likely to find you online, and more specifically on their smartphone. Nearly a third of customers searching for something nearby will end up purchasing from a business they found in the search results. Local keyword rankings help you pop up in these searches and sell your goods or services to people in your area. Here is how you can optimize this valuable tool to grow your business.

The Difference Between SEO and Local SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about improving your search engine ranking so potential customers can find you online. So what is local SEO? While it operates on the same principle, it is more focused on increasing your ranking specifically for searches in your area.

You may use similar words and phrases to optimize your local SEO ranking, but you also add location modifiers that allow Google and other search engines to find you. For example, if you operate a nail salon, you might use keywords such as “gel manicure” or “custom nail design” to find target customers online. With local SEO, you’re targeting potential customers who are online right now, meaning that you want to appear in organic search results when someone is looking for a “nail salon near me.”

Local SEO keyword research is important because it helps you become visible to people who are currently looking for your product or service. Anyone searching on their phone for a “nail salon near me,” will probably make a purchase the same day or within a few days. You still use relevant keywords to find your audience, but you also add location keywords that allow search engines to add you into these search results.

How Local SEO Can Help Brick-and-Mortar Businesses Grow

Local SEO is the modern-day version of a lavish window display. Instead of relying on appealing to passersby in your neighborhood, you can generate more foot traffic by helping people find you on their smartphones.

Local SEO links you with the most relevant people online. As a small, local business owner, potential customers who aren’t in your geographical area aren’t relevant to you. You want to attract people near you so they can come in and patronize your business. Improving your local search volume can also connect you to people in your area who value local businesses.

How To Implement an Effective Local SEO Strategy

An effective strategy will help you localize keywords within your website to establish yourself as an answer to local queries. You'll create relevant content that speaks to people in your area.  Follow these steps to improve your local SEO and drive more potential customers to your business.

Consider Google’s Ranking Factors for Local Search Results

Google remains the most popular search engine representing more than 90% of searches. As such, it’s important to know how to pop up in local searches using this search engine. Google’s algorithm uses relevance, distance, and prominence to determine which search results are the most relevant to a user’s inquiry. Consider these factors and use them in your local keyword research.

Target Customer’s Location

Distance is a key factor in determining relevance to a query. The closer you are to a customer, the more likely you are to be included in the search results. However, building a strong online reputation might help you end up in local searches in a wider radius.

For example, if someone is looking for “Thai restaurants in North Philadelphia,” Google will show them all Thai restaurants in their area based on local keywords and other key identifiers. However, if your Thai restaurant has a robust Google Business Profile and an abundance of positive reviews on Google and other local search platforms, you may appear in this search even if you’re not in North Philadelphia.

Online Reviews

This brings us to online reviews. Multiple online reviews are a way to prove to Google that you’re a relevant and credible answer to a local search. They improve your visibility online, and they can help you build a trusting relationship with your customers. Online reviews may contain keywords that boost your credibility. Nearly half of customers put as much stock in online reviews as they would recommendations from people they know.

You can get more reviews by making it easier for your customers to leave them. Include a request for reviews on your receipts or add a widget to your website so customers can review you with the click of a button.

NAP Consistency

In terms of local SEO, NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. Your customers can find this information in multiple places including Google, maps listings, Yelp, the online Yellow Pages, or other online business directories.

It’s important to make sure your name, address, and phone number are consistent across platforms. Otherwise, there is no way for Google — or a customer for that matter — to know which listing is correct for your business. If you haven’t checked your online profile recently, search various online directories to make sure your contact information is correct.

Most of these sites, including Yelp, let you manage your own data by creating an account. If you can’t create an account, contact the website directly and ask them to correct your listing.

Google Business Profile

Formerly known as Google My Business, a Google Business Profile is an online listing in which customers can access your contact information and learn more about your business. It’s also one of the ways Google Maps and other location-based search engines add your business to a map of search results.

Google Business Profile offers everything you need to make a great first impression on potential customers. Optimize your business description using localized keywords and near me keywords. Post your most appealing photos to make your customers curious. For example, if you operate a local bar, post photos of your customers enjoying themselves. Showcase theme nights or special events, and add your menu and descriptions to your profile.

A strong Google Business Profile gets more engagement, landing you in more local searches and exposing you to more potential customers.

Google Maps Star Rating

Google Maps is another method allowing people to find local businesses near them. When potential customers search locally, Google will add the top results into a map displaying an average star rating below businesses with online reviews.

Google Maps only considers reviews on your Google Business Profile, so if you’re asking people to rate you using Yelp or another platform, it won’t impact your star rating. If you haven’t claimed your Google Business Profile yet, consider starting to create a vibrant profile.

Once people start rating your business, monitor and respond to reviews. Be professional and polite in your responses, even the negative ones. Your ability to respond to and learn from customer feedback can show other potential customers that you’re dedicated to customer service.

Do Local SEO Keyword Research Following These Steps

Start figuring out which search terms and target keywords will raise your online visibility and bring customers in your area to your door. Follow these steps to determine which local SEO keywords are right for your business and use them to your advantage.

1. Brainstorm Industry Related Keywords

You may have built a list of industry keywords while you were developing your SEO strategy. Start with this list and add terms and phrases customers in your area may use to find you. If you haven’t made a list yet, think about what you offer and how people would find you online.

Let Google do the work for you by searching for these keywords and phrases and then clicking on “related searches.” Google will also show commonly asked questions related to specific searches. Read some of these to get inspiration for other keywords you can add to your list. Look for your competitors online and make notes of the keywords you used to find them.

You can also look at your website analytics to see which search terms people are already using to find your business online. If your website doesn’t have an analytics feature for keywords, go to Google Search Console and select Performance > Queries. You will see reports with various keywords and your ranking for each. You need to set up an account to use this tool. There are also a variety of free local keyword research tools available if you don’t have one.

Read your reviews on Google, Yelp, Yahoo, and other places to identify common themes. Your positive reviews can help you decide what to emphasize in your Google Business Profile.

Add any term that crosses your mind to your list. Even if a term seems obscure, you may still use it to generate other, more relevant ideas for local SEO keywords.

2. Add Local Keyword Modifiers

Local keyword modifiers are terms people might use to make a search local, such as “near me,” “nearby,” or “local.” People may also look for businesses in a certain city or in a specific area of a large city. You don’t need to add local modifiers to every keyword and phrase on your initial list. Instead, build a strategy around terms in which location keywords make sense.

For example, if you own a nail salon, your local search list may include terms such as “customized nail designs nearby” or “best gel manicure in Denver.” Use a variety of localized and non-localized keywords in your optimization strategy.

Keep long-tail keywords in mind as well. This term refers to specific keywords people may use to find you, often in the form of a question. Long-tail keywords have become more popular with the rise of voice searches. When someone is searching the web using a virtual assistant, such as Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, they are more likely to ask questions. For instance, they may ask, “Which restaurants near me are open past 10 p.m.?”

3. Check Out the Google Places Search Bar for Opportunities

Places is an online directory of Google Business Profiles. You can search for Google Places by opening up Google Maps. Do a search for the various keywords you’ve added to your list. If your business isn’t coming up, you may need to strengthen your Google Business Profile.

Investigate the highest-ranking results in these searches and see how these companies are incorporating keywords into their online profile. Scour their content for keyword ideas. Look through your own Google Business Profile and see how you can add these keywords organically to your existing content. You can also use these terms to enhance your on-page SEO, which is content that is directly on your webpage including your business history, product descriptions, and menus.

4. Research Your Competitors to Find Ranking Keywords

Use the Google Search Console or another of the best free SEO tools to perform keyword research on your competitors. When you know which geographic keywords, generic keywords, and phrases your competitors are using to find their target audience, you can position yourself to appear in the same results and increase your organic traffic.

What's more, you can analyze what makes you stand out from the top competitors and highlight your benefits relative to these businesses. Make a list of keywords related to each key benefit of your product or service.  

5. Make a List of Your Seed Keywords

After you’ve followed the steps above to list every keyword imaginable, you can start separating your seed keywords. Seed keywords are short-tail words and phrases with the highest search volumes driving potential customers to your website. Start with the terms you want most closely associated with your business.

Don’t add modifiers to your seed keywords. Instead, use them to build keyword lists of related search terms for each seed. You can find your seed keywords by searching your list with the top terms people are likely using in organic searches. Look through your Google Search Console or another SEO ranking tool to find the most popular search terms related to your business. Jot down the terms with the highest number of impressions.

You can use your seed keywords to create content pillars, or broad topics to cover in a series of related pieces of content.

6. Match Each Seed Keyword with Sales Funnel Stages

How a potential customer discovers you online can differ based on where they are in the sales funnel. Someone at the top of the funnel may be vaguely aware of their problem and is starting to search for potential solutions. At this stage, your target audience’s search intent might be to see what is available in their area.

For example, if someone in your neighborhood is throwing a graduation party, they may start their search by looking for vendors they need to hire. If you own a restaurant that offers catering, you might appear in a search result for “restaurants near me that cater to large parties.” In this case, your seed keyword would likely be catering.

People at the bottom of the funnel are closer to the buying decision. They are narrowing down their options. Someone at this stage has likely made a list of criteria for the specific type of food they want at the graduation party and is starting to nail down their options. They might find you online by searching “Mexican restaurants near me that cater parties for less than $500.”

In both cases, catering would be a seed keyword. However, Mexican restaurants would also be a seed keyword for people at the bottom of the funnel. Different terms appeal to your audience based on their search intent and you want to capture people at all stages of the funnel.

7. Expand Your Research for Each Seed Keyword

Use your list of seed keywords to start generating more ideas centered around these terms. Breaking your local SEO keyword research into seed keywords helps you think of more terms and phrases people may use to find you online.

As you make separate lists for each seed keyword, think about related terms that describe your products and services. Brainstorm relevant terms your audience may use to find you. Enter your seed keywords into Google and make note of the related searches.

You can also do keyword ranking to determine local SEO keywords related to each of your seed keywords. Consider the keyword difficulty for each term. This refers to how easy it would be to rank first in a Google search for a given term. In crowded fields, such as local restaurants, it’s harder to rank in the top 10 organic searches.

Just because a keyword is difficult doesn’t mean you should abandon it. If you own a restaurant, you should aim to be included in a search for “local restaurants.” Knowing which terms you can use to break into organic results can help you plan content more effectively.

8. Include High-Volume and Low-Competition Keywords

Your local SEO keyword research will give you a variety of results from high-volume search terms to low-competition keywords. It’s important to include both in your SEO efforts. Low-competition keywords are search terms with lower keyword difficulty, meaning you can get your website into the top ten results more easily.

Low-competition keywords are great tools for helping you build brand awareness and become more discoverable online. Use Google’s Keyword Planner to find relevant near me keywords that might fall into this category.

You will still want to focus on high-volume, high-competition words when they’re core to your industry, but you don’t need to plan your whole SEO strategy around these words.

How a Content Strategy Can Help You Achieve Business Goals

Local SEO keyword research should be a key component of your digital marketing. Understanding how people find you online when they are in your area will help you create a cohesive content marketing strategy for local SEO.

You can use your list to prioritize content that speaks to seed keywords. Focus on your high-volume, low-competition keywords and create content that lands you at the top of various SERPs. You can also use keywords in this category for search retargeting.  

Plan your content calendar around your keywords, mixing up your topics and developing different posts for people in each stage of the sales funnel.

Execute Your Content Strategy With’s Expert SEO Writers

Effectively planning your content around keyword research for local SEO gives you the tools you need to improve your organic search results and drive more traffic to your business. Fortunately, you don't have to do all the heavy lifting. partners with expert SEO writers who can turn your keywords into valuable, relatable content that is optimized for local searches.

Contact us today and find out how we can help you drive business growth.

Learn how to work with AI tools, not against them. 

Download our free guide to AI content creation and discover: 

✅ The benefits and limitations of generative AI
✅ When to use AI tools and when you still need human assistance
✅ Tips for writing effective ChatGPT prompts
✅ 6 ways to leverage ChatGPT for content creation
Download Now

Speak with us to learn more.

Let us make content marketing easier for you. Fill out the form below, and a content specialist will get in touch with you in 1 business day.
Close button icon