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How to do Keyword Research for Local Business

In this post, I want to address something that many of you have asked me over the past few months; it’s all to do with keyword research.

Some of you might be familiar with the fact that I have a video on YouTube which is all about how to do keyword research – you can find it on my channel. It’s had nearly 20,000 views and, obviously, lots of people have benefited from it.

More importantly, they’ve asked me some more questions about keyword research, in the comments section on YouTube.

One thing that keeps coming up is with regard to local businesses – how to do keyword research for local businesses. One of the questions on that original video is, “Does this method work for local business too?”

Well, the answer is, that original video was aimed at people who have an international or online business – not a local business. So that’s what I’m going to address here… I’ll actually show you how to use the Google keyword tool, if you have a local business.

How to Do Keyword Research for Local Business

This will apply to you whether you’re using Google for paid search advertising or whether you’re using it for ranking in Google (just using the organic search engines).

You’ll notice – if you watch the video above – that I’ve already filled out an ‘occupation’ and an ‘area’ (I’ll talk about that in a second) but the very first thing you need to do is go over to the Google Keyword Tool.

Now, if you search Google to find the Keyword Tool, you’ll notice that the very top result is Google.com and underneath that is Google.co.uk. You would think that the Google.co.uk result is the one that you want to go for, but, once you sign in – at least in my experience – you actually get re-directed to Google.com anyway. So, it doesn’t really matter whether you choose Google.co.uk or Google.com.

You also need to make sure that you sign in to the Keyword Tool because if you don’t sign in, then you do get different results. They’re generally not quite as accurate and also there’s not as many search results. So, if you don’t sign in, you only get access to 100 search results, 100 different keywords that Google finds; whereas, if you do sign in, then you get 700 more – so a total of 800 keywords to make use of.

That’s not to say that you’ll always find 800 keywords for your particular business. In fact, if you’re doing it for local business, you may find that it is only a few 100 – but that’s okay. We’re not really looking for volume here. We’re looking for the stuff that works and, of course, that’s what I’m here to show you.

Selecting Your Starting Phrase and Filters

The first thing to do is, go and type in – where it says ‘word or phrase’ – the thing that you do, plus the area that you do it in. So, in this case, I’ve put ‘accountant London’ or ‘accountant in London.’

Now, obviously, I’m not an accountant, but I’ve just used this for demonstration purposes.

Then go down to where it says ‘Advanced Options and Filters.’

When you do that, you need to choose ‘Locations and Languages’ and select your country; you can put it to English as well if you want to, but it will, by default, go to English if you’re on the English version of Google.

Further down here choose ‘Desktop and Laptop’ devices and then from the Filter Ideas, you need to select ‘Local Monthly Searches’ of more than 500. Then ‘Add Another’ and then go to ‘Local Monthly Searches’ of less than 1500.

Now, that’s the top end of how much traffic you want that particular keyword to get. Obviously, I want to get you as much traffic as possible to your site, but we do have to cut it off at a certain point.

The reason I’m saying that is because, as a local business, you don’t need as much traffic to your site as an international business, because you can’t actually deal with massive amounts of volume; at least not initially. If you’re a more established business then perhaps you can.

If you go for anything more than about 1500, you’ll find the competition gets so difficult that you won’t rank for anything anyway. You’ll also find that it’s very high competition for paid search and that it’s usually very expensive as a result.

So, again, this is all about being as cost effective as possible for your local business. So I’d say 500 as a minimum and 1500 at the top end. Once you do that, you then need to go to where it says ‘Match Type’ and un-check where it says ‘Broad’ and instead click where it says ‘Phrase.’

Now it’s very, very important that you do this because if you don’t, then you are going to come unstuck a bit later on.

If you’ve already looked at my other keyword research video, you’ll know a bit about the difference between ‘Broad’, ‘Exact’ and ‘Phrase’ match already. But I’ll just quickly recap it in a moment.

Then you need to click on ‘Search’.

Now if you change the match types, it usually runs the search for you automatically. Go and click on where it says ‘keyword ideas’. This will give you a whole list of different keywords.

Now, you’ll notice here that I’ve got a total of the two keywords that I selected, initially, plus 139 other keywords that are related to that particular theme.

The Wrong Type of Keyword Could Kill Your Business

What you need to do is start to narrow down the different types of keywords. Broadly speaking, there are two different types of keywords that you need to pay very, very close attention to. Get this wrong and you will be targeting the wrong keywords and you won’t get targeted traffic to your site.

The two types of searches are:

  • Information Searches
  • Buying Searches

Buying is people who have an intent to actually purchase a service of some kind. Information searches are just as the name suggests; they’re people looking for information about a topic, but it’s a bit non-committal and it might not led to them actually purchasing anything.

So you need to be very aware of the difference between the two. In this case, I would just say that the thing to watch out for is plurals of the actual words that you’re looking for.

So, ‘accountant in London’ – so ‘accountant’ (singular) ‘in London’ gets 590 local monthly searches. Now I would say that’s pretty good targeted traffic because if I type in ‘accountant in London’ I’m clearly looking for an accountant in London.

If I type in ‘accountants in London’ then I’m going to be doing some sort of information search where I want to compare the different accountants. It’s possible that I might not be looking for an accountant at all. I could be somebody who happens to be typing that in because they’re doing some kind of research project.

So, instead, I want to make sure that I target people who have got more of a buying intention, rather than a search intention that just results in them looking for information.

One thing I suggest you do is to have a look at the CPC – which is the cost per click. Where it says ‘Cost per Click’, you can actually click on that particular title and it will sort that column by how much it actually costs to advertise on that keyword.

If you click it once, then it will do it from the most expensive to the cheapest. If you click it again, it will do it the other way around. So that’s something you might also want to pay attention to, particularly if you’re planning to run a paid advertising campaign.

Let’s just go back for a second and look in terms of local monthly searches.

Please be aware there are two columns here that you don’t really need to pay any attention to – unless you’re doing paid advertising.

1) The first one here is the competition column. You can actually ignore the competition column if you’re looking to use search engine optimisation to dominate your particular niche or market. If you’re not paying for advertising then you can completely ignore ‘competition’ because that only relates to how much competition there is for people paying for adverts down the right hand side of Google.

2) ‘Global Monthly Searches’. Again, these are fairly irrelevant because we’re not looking for a global market. We’re only looking for the local. So, instead, just have a look at ‘local monthly searches.’

How Trendy is Your Keyphrase?

You also need to pay attention to the local search trends. You need to be very aware of search terms that are declining and avoid them.

If people are always looking for that thing, then that’s a great sign. If more and more people are looking for that thing, that’s even better. Just make sure that you don’t want to go into a market that is diminishing because in a year’s time, you might find that there’s nobody there at all and that market has been fruitless for you.

The next stage is to sort your results by keyword. That immediately gives me all the things specifically related to accountancy.

So, I click on keyword and I have a little look through the results.

In the example in the video, I found ‘Accountant in London’ – that’s a good one at 590 searches.

Another interesting one I found was ‘certified public accountant’. That’s interesting. Obviously, if you’re in the accountancy niche then this is going to be really helpful to you.

You could actually take the word ‘accountant’ and just substitute it for literally any other job. If you’re a plumber or a florist or whatever it is that you do, just simply take out the word ‘accountant’ and put in ‘florist’ and you’ll have the same kind of results to work with.

Interestingly in this case, people are looking for a specific keyword which is ‘certified public accountant’ – that’s very interesting. ‘Company accountant’ – also quite interesting. These are things that you could actually rank for in the search engines and also something that you could advertise for as well.

‘Find an accountant.’ That’s another one. But, again, that could be someone who’s looking for a service.

Removing The Guesswork from Your Research

The way to find out and take the guesswork out of all of this is to look for one of the particular keywords in Google. Click on one of the phrases you’ve found, then click on where it says ‘Google Search’.

You need to make sure that you actually turn this into a ‘phrase’ match because this will tell you who is really seriously competing with you for this particular keyword. Simply add the speech marks in the Google search bar and search again.

In the case of the video example, I’ve got about 240,000 results of pages that are competing with that particular keyword, looking to rank for that key phrase.

So 240,000 – in my mind – is a bit high. I want to get more like 100,000 or even less. If I can get 80,000 or even as low as 40,000-50,000 then that’s really the holy grail. That’s the one that you really want to target because there’s very little competition.

So keep looking and keep trying to find ones that have got as little competition as you can possibly find, because those are the ones you can rank for more easily. Within your market you might have to drill down quite deep but you might find that people – let’s say, for example, you’re a florist – people might be specifically looking for a type of flower in London.

Well, if that’s the case, I’m pretty sure not many other people will be targeting that keyword quite as well or as specifically as that, so you might be able to get in there and be the person who does that.

Equally if you’re in the building supplies trade, then there could be builders out there who are a searching for a particular thing that only a certain number of people do. If you provide that service then you can go and advertise on that particular keyword.

Again, it will give you a huge amount of benefit for doing that because you will be one of the few people in your niche or market – especially in your location – who is actually doing that.

Finding The Gems

What I suggest you do is go through this list in the Keyword Tool and keep looking for keywords that appear to be someone looking for a specific thing. For example, ‘accountant in London’ – they’re looking for an accountant in London; they’re not looking for ‘accountants’ in London. It’s not an information search. Look for buying keywords as you go through this list. Make sure you go through the whole thing as the gems are sometimes hidden.

So go through this whole list and make sure that you have a look and see which ones you think would be useful to your business.

One keyword I found in my search was ‘labourer jobs in London’. Well, that’s totally irrelevant to what I’m looking for. I want to just look for stuff that is related to – in this case – accountancy. Again, you might find there are more or less keywords for your niche.

Conversational Keywords

You might also want to search for keywords that are a bit more conversational in the way they’re structured. Generally speaking, you and I are going to be much better at searching for something specific online because that’s what we do regularly as part of our businesses.

It may well be that the people who are searching for your services are not really business people, so they’re not particularly good at going to Google and just typing in ‘florist London’ to find a florist. They might be typing in things like ‘find someone who can provide flowers in London.’ That’s a really long keyword, but somebody could be typing that in.

For example, in my case, rather than targeting ‘how to do keyword research’ or rather than  targeting ‘keyword research’, I could target ‘how to do keyword research for a small business.’ That’s a long tail keyword that people are interested in actually searching for.

That’s something that I can target right now in my business for this particular post. It’s about finding those longer keywords too.

Going Mobile for Higher Profits (and Being ‘the Best’)

I want to show you one last thing…

Instead of searching for a particular keyword and then searching ‘Laptop and Desktop Devices’ in the Google Keyword Tool, you have the option to look for mobile devices instead.

I’ll give you a quick example. Let’s say, ‘Indian restaurant London’.

Actually, here’s another idea for you just while I think of it: It’s also worth searching for ‘best __________’ in your particular area. So, ‘best accountant in London’ or ‘best florist in London.’ It’s amazing how many people actually search for that thing because they want the best. Those people are highly qualified, because if they’re searching for ‘the best’ they’re usually more than likely to pay for ‘the best’.

Let’s say that you come number one in the search results for ‘best plumber in London’. Well, if you’re the best plumber in London, according to Google, it gives you a huge amount of kudos with your customers. As soon as they hit that front page of Google and they see that you are there as being the best one in London, it gives you instant credibility which can only be good for business.

In the video example, I looked for ‘best Indian restaurant London.’

Interestingly, ‘Indian restaurant London’ gets 1,900 searches a month and it’s got a rising local search trend. Now what’s very interesting about this is that because I’ve selected ‘Mobile Devices’, the cost per click is a lot lower.

The CPC for Indian restaurant London is 86 pence (£0.86); whereas, a click for the local mobile version is a lot less, at just 38 pence (£0.38).

So, what I’d suggest you do is have a little think and find out if you are one of those industries or one of those people who could provide something that people are going to be searching for on their phones.

Remember, if you’re searching on your phone, you’re probably out and about somewhere. You’re looking for an immediate answer to something. Obviously, the restaurant business is a great example, but it could also be things like, for example, the building trade.

To Conclude…

If you combine all of the tips I give you in this post, you’ll quickly be able to build a portfolio of keywords that you can target using either SEO or paid advertising.

Be sure to check:

  • The search trends
  • Plurals of your keyword (and eliminate them in most cases)
  • The mobile advertising cost
  • Whether or not people are searching for ‘the best’ version of your service

As always, if you have any questions or comments, leave them below in the comments section and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

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