Mastering Local Keyword Research: A Complete Guide for Businesses

local keyword research

As a local business owner, I understand the importance of attracting customers from my local area. However, I’m unsure about how to effectively target local keywords to improve my business’s online visibility. I need a comprehensive guide that explains the fundamentals of local keyword research and provides practical strategies for implementing it to attract more local customers to my store.

Running a small business with a physical location can be incredibly rewarding, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. One of the biggest hurdles many local entrepreneurs face is standing out in their crowded markets and drawing in customers from the surrounding community. This is where the power of local keyword research comes into play. To improve your business’s visibility on Google search results, it is crucial to conduct local keyword research. This involves finding the right local keywords for SEO and selecting industry-related keywords that resonate with your target audience.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Targeting local keywords is essential for improving your online visibility and reaching your local audience.
  2. You seek a guide that covers the basics of local keyword research and practical strategies for attracting more local customers.
  3. Standing out in a crowded market and attracting local customers are common challenges for small businesses.
  4. Proper keyword research boosts your visibility in Google search results by identifying the right local keywords and industry-specific terms.
  5. By effectively targeting local keywords, you can increase your online visibility and draw more local customers to your store.

Introduction to Local Keyword Research

local keyword research

Local keyword research is the process of identifying the specific search terms and phrases used by potential customers in your local area. By understanding the language and intent behind these local keywords, small businesses can optimize their online presence to appear more prominently in relevant search results, ultimately attracting more foot traffic to their physical locations.

Explicit local keywords include spatial terms like ‘near me’ and are used to find local products, services, or locations with specific local intent.

Targeting local keywords is crucial for small businesses with a physical presence, as it allows them to connect with customers who are actively searching for products or services in their immediate geographic area. By appearing at the top of local search results, businesses can increase their visibility, credibility, and chances of converting interested leads into paying customers.

Further reading: The Ultimate B2B SEO Strategy Guide: Win Organic Traffic & Leads

Importance of Local Keyword Research

local keyword research

Local keyword research is crucial because it helps businesses understand what potential customers are searching for in their specific location. With the rise of mobile search and voice search, consumers are more likely to look for local solutions to their needs. According to a report by Google, 46% of all searches have local intent, and 78% of local-mobile searches result in offline purchases. These statistics underscore the importance of targeting the right local keywords to attract and convert local customers.

Here are some of the key benefits of targeting local keywords:

  1. Improved Online Visibility: By optimizing your website, local listings, and marketing content around relevant local keywords, you can significantly improve your ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) for your local area.
  2. Increased Foot Traffic: When potential customers in your local area search for products or services like yours, your business will be more likely to appear at the top of the results, driving more foot traffic to your physical location.
  3. Higher Conversion Rates: Local customers who find your business through targeted local keyword searches are more likely to be interested in your offerings and have a higher intent to purchase, leading to higher conversion rates.
  4. Enhanced Local SEO: Effective local keyword research lays the foundation for a robust local SEO strategy, helping your business stand out in the local search landscape and outperform your competitors.

The role of local SEO 

The role of local SEO cannot be overstated when it comes to the importance of local keyword research. By optimizing your online presence for local keywords, you can:

  • Claim and Optimize Your Google Business Profile Listing: This helps your business appear in Google’s local search results, Google Maps, and the Knowledge Graph.
  • Optimize Your Website for Local Search: Incorporating local keywords and location-specific information throughout your website can boost your ranking in local SERPs.
  • Manage and Optimize Your Local Citations: Ensuring your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) are consistent across online directories and listings can improve your local search visibility.

Techniques for Conducting Local Keyword Research

Conducting effective local keyword research requires a multi-faceted approach. To find local keywords, focus on conducting keyword research specifically tailored for local search. Here are some key techniques to consider:

Location-Based Searches

  • Start by brainstorming location-specific keywords that include your city, neighborhood, or region (e.g., “best pizza in [city]”, “auto repair shops near me”). Explicit local keywords include location modifiers or spatial terms like ‘near me’ and are important for local SEO.
  • Use Google Trends to identify popular search terms in your local area and discover seasonality patterns.
  • Leverage Google’s Autocomplete feature to uncover additional location-based keyword ideas.

Competitor Analysis

  • Research your local competitors and analyze the keywords they are targeting on their websites, social media, and local listings.
  • Use tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs to conduct a competitor keyword gap analysis and identify opportunities to outrank them.
  • Consider the keyword difficulty when analyzing competitors’ keywords and choosing keywords for local search optimization. Balancing search volume and keyword difficulty is crucial to effectively outrank competitors in Google search results.
  • Pay attention to the language and phrasing your competitors are using to attract local customers.

Further reading: Local Search Competitors: A Tactical Guide for Businesses

Customer Feedback

  • Engage with your existing local customers to understand the terms and phrases they use when searching for businesses like yours.
  • Monitor online reviews, social media conversations, and customer service inquiries to identify common pain points, questions, and search queries.
  • Conduct customer surveys or interviews to gather insights into how your target audience searches for and discovers local businesses.

Long-Tail and Intent-Based Keywords

  • Focus on long-tail keywords (i.e., more specific, longer search phrases) that reflect the user’s intent, such as “best Italian restaurant for family dinner in [city]”.
  • Analyze the search intent behind different local keywords, whether it’s informational (e.g., “hours of operation”), navigational (e.g., “[business name] near me”), or transactional (e.g., “buy [product] in [city]”).
  • Tailor your content and optimizations to address the specific needs and search intent of your local target audience.

Tools for Local Keyword Research

Conducting effective local keyword research can be greatly enhanced by leveraging the right keyword research tools. These tools are essential for conducting keyword research, analyzing local search volumes and relevance, and finding relevant local keywords. Here are some of the most popular and powerful options for small businesses:

A keyword research tool like Keywords Explorer can help find explicit and implicit local keywords for local SEO.

Google Keyword Planner

local search optimization
  • This free tool from Google provides insights into search volume, competition, and related keywords for a given location.
  • Use it to discover local keyword ideas, understand search trends, and estimate the potential reach of your target keywords.
  • Filter your keyword research by location to get hyper-targeted results for your local market.


local search optimization
  • SEMrush is a comprehensive SEO and marketing tool that offers a wide range of features for local keyword research.
  • Utilize its Keyword Magic Tool to find relevant local keywords, analyze search intent, and uncover long-tail variations.
  • Leverage the Organic Research feature to spy on your local competitors’ keyword strategies and identify opportunities to outrank them.

Moz Local

local search optimization
  • As a leading provider of local SEO solutions, Moz Local offers a suite of tools specifically designed for managing and optimizing your local business listings.
  • Use Moz Local to ensure your NAP (name, address, and phone number) information is consistent across online directories, which is crucial for improving local search visibility.
  • The tool also provides insights into your local search rankings, citations, and reviews, helping you identify areas for improvement.

Google Trends

a screenshot of a google trends website
  • This free tool from Google allows you to analyze search trends and popularity for specific keywords over time and across different locations.
  • Use Google Trends to identify seasonal fluctuations in local search demand, uncover emerging local search trends, and compare the popularity of different keyword ideas.

When using these tools, keep the following tips in mind for maximum effectiveness:

  • Focus on long-tail, location-specific keywords that reflect your target customers’ search intent.
  • Monitor keyword trends and adjust your strategy accordingly to stay ahead of the competition.
  • Collaborate with your local marketing team or agency to ensure your local keyword research is in sync with your overall marketing and SEO objectives.

Further reading: 29 Free SEO Analysis Tools in 2024

Measuring Local SEO Keyword Research Success

local keyword research

Measuring the success of your local keyword research efforts is crucial for understanding the impact and effectiveness of your SEO strategy. Tracking local SEO efforts involves monitoring local keyword rankings and ranking changes to prioritize pages based on local search volumes. Here are some key performance indicators (KPIs) to consider when tracking the success of your local keyword research:

  1. Local Organic Traffic: Monitor the amount of organic traffic coming to your location-specific web pages or listings from local search queries. You can use tools like Google Analytics to track this metric and identify any trends or changes over time.
  2. Local Keyword Rankings: Regularly track your rankings for your target local keywords across various search engines and location-specific searches. Tools like Google Search Console and SEMrush can provide insights into your local keyword performance.
  3. Local Visibility: Measure your visibility in local search engine results pages (SERPs) for your targeted keywords. This includes tracking your position in the local pack, map listings, and organic search results.
  4. Local Conversion Rate: Monitor the conversion rate of users who find your location-specific content or listings through local search. This could include actions like contact form submissions, phone calls, or in-store visits.
  5. Local Citation and Review Metrics: Assess the quality and quantity of your local business citations and reviews across various directories and platforms. This can impact your local search rankings and credibility.
  6. Google Business Profile Insights: Utilize the data available in your Google My Business account to track metrics such as search queries, actions taken on your listing, and driving directions requests.

Case Study: Successful Local Keyword Research Implementation

Let’s consider a case study of a small business, “Joe’s Coffee Shop,” located in Brooklyn, New York. Joe’s Coffee Shop wanted to increase its local online visibility and attract more foot traffic. Here’s how they successfully implemented local keyword research:

  1. Defined Target Area: Joe’s focused on Brooklyn neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Greenpoint.
  2. Brainstormed Seed Keywords: They started with keywords like “coffee shop,” “espresso,” and “latte.”
  3. Used Local Keyword Tools: Using Google Keyword Planner and Moz Local, they identified high-traffic keywords such as “best coffee shop Williamsburg” and “latte art Brooklyn.”
  4. Analyzed Competitors: They studied local competitors’ websites using Ahrefs to find additional keyword opportunities.
  5. Incorporated Long-Tail Keywords: They targeted long-tail keywords like “organic coffee in Greenpoint” and “Brooklyn café with free Wi-Fi.”
  6. Optimized GMB Profile: Their GMB listing included keywords in the business description and regular posts about special offers and events.
  7. Leveraged User-Generated Content: They encouraged satisfied customers to leave reviews mentioning specific products and local areas.

As a result, Joe’s Coffee Shop saw a 35% increase in website traffic and a 20% rise in foot traffic within six months. Their visibility in local search results improved significantly, driving more local customers to their business.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Local Keyword Research

When it comes to local keyword research, there are several common mistakes that businesses should be aware of and avoid to ensure the success of their multi-location SEO strategy. Let’s dive into some of the key pitfalls to watch out for:

  1. Keyword Stuffing and Over-Optimization: One of the most common mistakes is overloading local content with too many keywords in an attempt to rank higher. This practice, known as keyword stuffing, can negatively impact the user experience and be penalized by search engines. Instead, focus on creating natural, valuable content that seamlessly integrates your target local keywords.
  2. Neglecting User Experience and Relevance: Some businesses get so caught up in the pursuit of high local rankings that they forget about the importance of user experience and the relevance of their content. Ensure that your local keyword targeting aligns with the search intent and needs of your target audience, providing them with valuable and informative content.
  3. Failing to Update Local Keyword Strategies: Customer behavior and search trends are constantly evolving, so it’s crucial to regularly review and update your local keyword research. What worked well last year may not be as effective today. Stay on top of changes in your local market, monitor search trends, and adjust your keyword targeting accordingly.

Further reading: Black Hat vs White Hat SEO: What Is The Difference


Effective local keyword research is essential for local businesses looking to improve their online visibility and attract more customers from their local area. By understanding the importance of targeting local keywords, implementing effective research techniques, and using the right tools, businesses can enhance their local search presence and drive more foot traffic to their stores. Whether you’re a small local business or a larger enterprise, mastering local keyword research can help you reach your target audience and grow your business.

At Polar Mass, we offer comprehensive Local SEO Consulting Services to help businesses of all sizes optimize their local keyword research and multi-location SEO strategies. Our team of experts can work with you to identify the most relevant local keywords, create targeted content, and implement proven tactics to improve your local search visibility and drive more qualified leads to your doorstep. With our guidance, you can stay ahead of the curve and capitalize on the power of local search to achieve your business goals.

How do I identify relevant local keywords for my business?

To identify relevant local keywords, start by researching your target audience and their search behavior. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, or Ahrefs to research local search volumes, competition, and relevant keywords.

What role does local keyword research play in local SEO strategies?

Local keyword research is the foundation of effective local SEO. It helps you understand how your target audience is searching for your products/services in your local market.

Are there any free tools available for conducting local keyword research?

Yes, there are several free tools that can be helpful for local keyword research, such as Google Trends, Google My Business Insights, and the Google Search Console.

How often should I update my local keyword research strategy?

It’s important to regularly review and update your local keyword research, as customer behavior and search trends can change over time.

Can local keyword research help businesses attract customers from neighboring areas as well?

Absolutely. Effective local keyword research can help you identify opportunities to target customers in neighboring areas or regions that may be relevant to your business.