Keyword Research for Local Business – What are Your Prospects Searching for in Google

It can be argued that keyword research is less important today than it was in the past and whilst that may be true, the fact is that at the beginning you need to establish a set of keywords for each service that you offer on your website.

keyword research for local business

Now for many local businesses their keywords will simply be;

Service + location


location + service


as above but with a plural on the services


with an appropriate preposition between the service and location

So if you are a locksmith based in London

Your phrases will be;

  • Locksmith London
  • Locksmiths London
  • Locksmiths in London
  • London Locksmiths
  • London Locksmith

Now with both service and location you can go more specific

“locked out in Brixton” for example

The fact is that most professions will provide a variety of different services

For example solictors will provide

  • Employment law
  • Family law
  • Conveyancing
  • Criminal law
  • and so on

And each of these can be modified with a location as a pre-fix or suffix

So you can almost certainly come up with a relatively long list of potential keywords just based on this service + location concept.

Once you have a list you need to order them based on their desirability and this is where you need some kind of keyword research tool.

Google’s Keyword Planner is free to use and used to be widely available but as with everything Google has started to pull back access.

Ultimately you’ll need to use this resource to avoid a lot of messing about and you’ll fall into one of these three categories;

  1. You’ve had a Google account for a while and you’ve used the Keyword Planner before
  2. You’ve got a newer Google account and you’ve never used the Keyword Planner
  3. You’ve not got a Google account

If you are in category 1 congratulations – you can just go ahead and use the Keyword Planner.

But if you are in category 2 or 3 you’ll need a credit card – you won’t need to spend any money but you will need to go through the process of setting up an ad before you can use the Keyword Planner

This information is correct as of November 2015 – it may change at some point in the future so please be aware of that.

Other than the process for getting access to Google’s Keyword Planner the rest of the info in this podcast is ever-green.

There are some alternative to the Keyword Planner such as;


but these are more supplementary rather than direct replacements.

So one way or another you need to get access to Google’s Keyword Planner and to do so just Google it and read up on some of the latest guidance posts and you’ll be able get set up.

Now, once you are set up you’ll want to take that list of keyword phrases you drew up and put them into the Keyword Planner to get some data on search volume.

Be sure to select the correct country or your results will not be correct and you could end up optimising for the wrong phrase!

Google will tell you roughly how many searches have been made for a phrase – now this number is not exact and is a bit if guestimate. I have found that the volumes are wildly over-estimated but it is useful for comparison.

For example if the Keyword Planner tells you that;

London accountant gets 400 searches a month and that accountants in London gets 4000 searches a month the conclusion that you should draw is that the second phrase gets about 10 times as many searches as the first phrase.

So once you have established the search volumes of your list of keyword phrases you can begin sorting them into primary, secondary and related phrases.

It’s important to understand this general rule;

The higher the search volumes on a particular keyword then the more competitive it likely to be and so the harder to rank for.

This is a particularly pertinent point for non-local search – not so much for local search as there will be a limited number of keywords.

I’d say that for local search terms – that is a term with a geo-modifier – you’d want to pick the phrase with the highest search volume as your primary keyword.

For non-local, or indeed local search in major cities, you may want to pop the phrase into Google and see who is ranking on the first page – if you see lots of major brands on the first page and especially if they have the keyword phrase in the page title and/or URL (you can tell easily because Google bolds the phrases you search for in its listing display) then you may want to think about selecting another keyword.

The goal is not to find the phrase with the most searches but to find the phrase with the most searches that you can actually rank for!

Now what you will have is a number of keyword lists which you can use to optimise your pages;

  • One for the general service profession + location and all the variation
  • And one list for each specifc service that is delivered

Each list should have;

  • a primary phrase that will go in the URL and page title.
  • a secondary keyword(s) that goes in the H2 and H3 tags
  • related phrases that can go in the body copy and image tags

Once you have done this your pages will be optimised for the phrases that your prospects are searching for in Google.

You can also recycle these phrases and use them to optimise your GMB page, YouTube channel and other web properties.

Action Steps

Get access to the Google keyword tool – we’ll be using this again in the next episode so it’s worth the effort to access it as it really is a useful tool

Compile your list of keywords based on the instructions in this podcast and enter them into the keyword planner – you’ll want the box that says ‘Get search volume and data trends’ and then paste the list into the box.

The results will be displayed with the search volume and from here you will be able to order your keywords and select which phrases you will optimise your page with.

Now whilst it is important to optimise your pages with the right keywords I’d like to point out that just by doing this doesn’t mean you will start ranking right away – you will need some incoming links to rank for any mildly competitive, so you’ll need to get some directory listings set up some social media accounts and try to get some other links, but before you do any of that you must optimise your pages for the right phrases!