Local SEO Keyword Research

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The internet gives website owners the ability to reach people across the world. If you write good content and rank well in the search engines, then you can get visitors from Australia to Canada and anywhere in between.

However, getting clicks from across the world isn’t useful for every business. For many businesses, particularly bricks and mortar businesses, website visits from local people are much more important. For these businesses, local SEO and local SEO keyword research are more important than ranking nationally or internationally.

Ranking well and featuring in local SERP features can make a big impact on the number of leads local businesses generate and their conversion rates, so understanding how to focus on local SEO can be very important. While many of the same principles apply to local SEO as regular SEO, there are some subtle differences you need to make to maximize your local SEO potential.

What is Local SEO?

Google understands that often we want localized results to our queries. For example, if you search for “barbershop,” the chances are, you want a local barber you can go to. If Google shows you results for barbershops that are on the other side of the country, this isn’t going to be very helpful to you.

The search engines know this, and to make sure people are getting results that accurately answer their queries, search engines will often feature local businesses in prime positions in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Of course, sometimes the user will indicate they want local results to the search engines by searching “barbershops in Savannah,” or “local barbershops,” but even when people don’t use these modifiers, the search engines know when local results are more pertinent.

So, Google and its bots are actively looking for local results to display, the problem is, it can’t know your business is a Savannah barbershop unless you signal to them in a way they can understand. By following local SEO best practices, you signal to Google everything it needs to know and boost your chances of showing up in local SERP features.

What are Local Packs?

Featuring on page one of Google when someone types in “Savannah barbershop” is obviously a great thing for a Savannah barbershop. The better you do your local SEO, the higher you will rank and the more clicks you will get, but the benefits don’t end there.

In more recent times, Google has introduced SERP features to improve the quality of their results. You’ll commonly see items like the featured snippet, reviews, video packs, and image packs at the top of the result page depending on your search.

When you type what Google considers to be a local search, there’s a high probability you will see what’s known as a local pack which shows businesses local to the searcher. If you type our query, “Savannah barbershop,” you will notice a map of the local area, with three featured barbershops, and their important details.

The key thing with the local pack and similar SERP features is that it features at the top of the results page (if there are no ads). This is the highest position you can attain through SEO and the click rates for these spots are much higher.

Local packs represent a great opportunity for local businesses to attract more clients, but again, you’ve got to be able to effectively signal to Google that you are a Savannah barbershop.

google map pack example

How to Develop Your Local SEO Strategy

In order to reap the benefits of local packs and rank for localized results, you need to develop a local SEO strategy. Google is pretty good, but it’s not a mind reader, and so, you need to tell it the right information in the right format.

When considering which businesses feature in the local pack and organic results for a query, Google takes into account a number of different aspects. While they vary in importance, the more of them you can do well, the better your results are going to be for local searches.

Google My Business

One aspect that really helps when it comes to featuring in the local packs is filling out your Google My Business account. Here, you can input all the important information about your business such as address, telephone, and opening times.

Make sure you fill out your Google My Business account fully, and that the information is consistent throughout your listings. The information needs to match up with the details you have on your website.

Next, you will have to list your business in the correct category, which as you can imagine, is important to do right. You are allowed to use multiple categories, so make sure you describe all aspects of your service to give yourself maximum ranking potential.

Lastly, you will need to verify your account, either through the mail, by phone, or by email, this is easily done, but you can’t make further edits to your business details until you have completed this process.

Schema Markup

Entering your details into your Google My Business account is one way to tell Google what your business is all about, but it’s not the only one. It’s also beneficial to use the right schema mark-up to tell the search engines important details about your business.

Schema helps search engines to better understand and list websites, and there are lots of different types of schema depending on what your company does. Using schema and putting in the important details about your business will help the search engines to understand what your business does and retrieve data such as your address, giving you more chance of featuring in the local pack.

Using schema markup correctly can get tricky, so it is perhaps one area where you can look to a local SEO service for help.

Local Keyword Research

Like all SEO, good keyword research is going to make a big difference to your local SEO efforts.

In SEO, in general, people get carried away with chasing after big keywords that get lots of queries, when often, going after longtail keywords can be more effective. Longtail keywords are modified versions of more popular keywords that don’t get as much search volume but are easier to rank for. For example, “barber” is going to be a competitive keyword, so you could instead optimize your content for the longtail keyword “barber with wet shave.”

barber example of keyword research

Now, of course, far fewer people search for “barber with wet shave” than “barber,” but if you rank well for a number of those longtail keywords, the clicks start to add up.

Your local keyword research is going to be more focused on these longtail keywords because you’re going to be adding geo modifiers to them. As we previously mentioned, “Savannah barber” will be one of them, but there are also more specific ones with areas within Savannah, such as “Isle of Hope Savannah barber.” Again, there won’t be as many searches for these local longtail keywords, but they do add up.

If you want a little more inspiration for your local keyword research, then try out a local SEO keyword generator and work on putting these keywords into your content.

Implicit Intent Vs. Explicit Intent

Implicit intent is a keyword like “barber shop”. Google will automatically give you results for the geo location of where you are. Even though you are not specifically searching a location the results will show the location of the user.

Explicit intent is a keyword like “barber shop Malibu”. The user has specified a location that they are searching for which Google will show results for.

Users will usually use explicit intent when researching for a different location that they are not currently at. For example when looking for hotels in a different city. Most users will automatically use implicit intent when searching on Google.

How To Map Implicit Keywords

To get our implicit keywords we use SEMrush’s keyword magic tool. For this example we have used the category “barber shop”. This keyword has 1,374,805 keywords in total, with the highest volume term “barber shop near me” yielding 1,500,000 searches per month. Next, we narrow down the keywords by setting some filters. To do this we have added a minimum of 100 searches per month in the volume filter and have applied the “local pack” filter in the SERP Features filter; this gives me 3,535 keywords to work with.

semrush local keyword research example

From this you will go through the list of keywords that trigger the map pack and choose the various keywords that are related to what you do. Add these keywords to the Keyword Manager under your specified project. Once in the Keyword Manager, click “Send to other tools” and send them all to the “position tracking tool”.

Once in the Position Tracking tool you will need to know who your competitors are. Some quick keyword research will help you find your competitors that rank well for implicit local keywords. When you have your competitors added in on Overview tab, you will go to the Rankings Distribution tab to see how many keywords from your list that your local competitors are ranking for.

ranking overview semrush example

ranking distribution example

ranking overview tag example

If they are within the Top 20 there will be some implicit local intent keywords. Click on each of the highlighted links to see which of these keywords your competitors are ranking for. Once you are in the keyword list you can apply a tag to easily find the keywords again. To do this select the keywords, click the Actions button and select ‘add tag’. This will ensure those keywords are clearly categorized. Do this for each competitor that you have identified in your space for implicit local keywords.

Local Directory Listings

Google knows that if you’re a trusted local business then you’re going to feature in local and national directories, so it’s always good to get yourself on these listings. Again, make sure you keep your contact details consistent and make sure they match what’s on your website and your Google My Business account.

Make sure you’re choosing high-quality directories to get the most reward.

Localized Content

Producing high-quality content is a great way to get your website ranking well, whether you’re ranking globally or locally. If it’s local rankings you’re after, though, then it makes sense to produce some content that focuses on your locality.

Writing more original content gives you the opportunity to put more keywords into your website and rank for more keywords, so focus some of your content on local issues and take the opportunity to remind Google you’re a local business. The more you do so the more your reputation for being experts in the field will improve.


For many companies, local SEO is as important if not more important than more general SEO. If you’re a brick and mortar business, like a barber, then you need local people to come in and get their hair cut. It’s great to get thousands of clicks to your website, but if those clicks are spread out across the country, they’re not that useful to you.

If your business relies on getting local customers through your door, then local SEO and local SEO keyword research could make a big difference to your business. Focus on making a local SEO strategy and start taking steps towards owning the SERPs in your area.

SEO is as much about getting the right clicks as it is getting large amounts of clicks, so make sure you’re getting your local SEO right and featuring in local SERP features to give yourself the best chance of getting the right clicks.

Author: Self

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