How To Do Keyword Research If You Have a Hyperlocal Business

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This is a guest post by Michelle O’Riordan from Design Wizard.

When it comes to your online presence, so much matters from the images that you use to local SEO.

Local SEO is now essential for small businesses who want to survive in this digital era. It matters to you, and it even matters to Starbucks. It’s not enough that you use traditional methods of advertising anymore – you now have to establish an online presence because this is where your customers are.

Indeed, 4 out of 5 of us now use Google to find a local business that can cater to our needs. As such your SEO game needs to be better than what your competitors are doing, and keywords form a crucial part of that.

Why? Because keywords are how your customers are going to find you.

In this article, I run you through exactly how to do keyword research if you have a hyper-targeted locally focused business.

1. Identify the services you provide

Let’s say you’re in the restaurant trade. What services do you provide?

For a restaurateur, you would probably focus on the types of cuisine – or food – your restaurant offers. For example, let’s say that you run an Italian restaurant. As such, your list might include:

  • Italian food
  • Italian restaurant
  • Pizza restaurant
  • Pasta restaurant
  • Antipasta restaurant
  • Lasagne restaurant
  • Gnocchi restaurant

Then, consider what service areas your customers would usually search for you. This list might include:

  • Regions
  • Postcode
  • State
  • City
  • Suburb

Then, you need to add the two columns together. For example:

local keyword research

It’s important when putting together a list like this that you think about how you would perform a search.

If you were on the lookout for an Italian restaurant in your local area, what would you type into Google? Whatever it is, it’s highly likely that your customers are typing in something very similar.

2. Optimize for voice search SEO

Voice search is on the rise, and where local SEO is concerned, it’s a bit of a game changer.

Smartphones are used to carry out most local searches – studies have indeed demonstrated that mobile searches have 78% local intent.

Moreover, more and more of us are using voice search to find local businesses just like yours.

This is important because it will affect how you do your keyword research. Two people might be looking for the same thing – a local restaurant – but their medium (voice search or typed search) will affect how they search for it.

It all comes down to user intent. Studies have shown that many of us use voice search to find a local business. As such, we might use a phrase like this:

restaurant google search

Or like this:

restaurant voice search

Or like this:

restaurant near me search

There are a few things to note here:

1) Voice search almost always consists of long-tail keywords

2) The user intent is clear – we want a restaurant right away. There is a huge sense of urgency. People who use voice search are often ready to take action

3) “Near me” is a keyword that you need to pay attention to. A person speaking into their smartphone might be looking for an Italian restaurant in Manhattan, but the chances are that they’re going to use the phrase “near me.” To make sure your joint ranks for this phrase in SERPs, you need to add your business to Google My Business.

4) Voice search keywords are very conversational. They reflect natural human speech

3. Spy on your rivals

Keyword research is so much easier when you effectively “spy” on your competitors to see what keywords they’re using.

Competitive keyword analysis – a better way of putting it than “spying” – is nothing shady or underhand. It’s what all the savvy online marketers and lots of small businesses are already doing it. And it’s time that you got in on the act.

It’s really easy to do, too. All you need to do is download an SEO tool that comes with a spying feature. Then, check out what keywords your rivals are using for their page titles, content, urls and so on – and reverse engineer.

Here are some tools that let you perform competitive keyword analysis:

1) SpyFu – This is purely and simply a spy tool that arms you with a heap of data on what your best-performing local rivals are getting up to

2) SEMRush – This is a really solid keyword planner tool that comes with a bonus competitive intelligence suite

3) BuzzSumo – It’s not a spy tool as such, but it lets you find who your rivals are so that you can then analyse their campaigns

4. Shift your focus to themes and topics

The thing with SEO is that it’s changing all the time. Why? Because Google is constantly changing its algorithms.

In 2018, keywords do still matter but what matters just as much is context and intent. And these are the two things that will shape a lot of your keyword research.

I touched on this earlier in the voice search section and to reiterate, user intent is a big deal. Moz says we “need to stop looking at keywords and start looking at queries,” and this is just as true for local businesses as it is for anyone else.

For instance, let’s imagine that I run a local car leasing firm. To really get the best out of my keyword research, I need to understand who my target audience is. I can break them down into types like this:

  • Businesses
  • Second-hand car buyers
  • First-time buyers
  • Families
  • Green-minded buyers

Once I understand who my audience is, I can start plotting a stronger keyword research campaign. For example, my keywords might look like this:

near me Google searches

My keywords are now hyper-targeted.

One final thing before I wrap up: It’s important that, however you do your keyword research, you have tools to help you pick keywords and analyse them. Some of the best tools include:

  • Google’s Keyword Planner
  • Ahrefs
  • Moz
  • Nightwatch
  • SEMrush


Of course there are other factors that you must take into consideration, such as your website’s conversion rates and factors that affect this number, such as the images you use. Whichever images you choose, keep in mind they must always be free of copyright restrictions.

Other than that, you’ve got no time to waste. Find the right keywords, use them correctly, and outrank your competitors.

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