Local keyword research finds keywords people search for local products and services. Ranking for these keywords brings local customers to your website.
What is local keyword research?
This guide teaches:
- Why local keyword research is important
- How to do local keyword research
- How to deal with multiple locations
- What to do with blog posts
- How to track local keyword rankings
Why is local keyword research important?
Local keyword research is important because you need to know what people type into Google to find your products or services.
That seems obvious, but that’s the issue.
Most people guess these keywords and assume they know how customers find them. This causes them to target the wrong keywords or ignore keywords that could boost their bottom line.
If you’re a London plumber, you probably want to rank for “London plumber.” What about other services? Have a drain unclogging page? How do people find these services?
Local keyword research answers these questions.
How to do local keyword research
Follow these five simple steps.
- List the services you offer
- Check for local intent
- Check search volumes
- Group and map keywords
- Look for ‘things to mention’
Step 1. List the services you offer
Before looking for keywords, understand the company’s services. Whether for a client or your own business, do this.
Here’s my advice:
a) Ask or brainstorm
Before looking for keywords, understand the business’s services. Do this for local keyword research for a client or your own business.
I recommend this method:
b) Expand ideas
Brainstorming rarely reveals all desired services. So check for missed services
Keywords Explorer accepts brainstormed ideas.
Report “Same terms”
This shows all database queries containing your keywords (in any order). Then, skim for missed services.
If we do this for plumbing services, we see “combi boiler installation,” “gas boiler installation,” and “radiator installation.”
c) Refine your list
Send client ideas and ask if they offer those services. Start with confirmed services.
Step 2. Check for local intent
Local SEO involves ranking for keywords with local intent, meaning searchers want local services.
Next, verify that people searching for these services want to shop local.
If you live near the business you’re researching, search Google for your services. Google uses your location to personalise results, so check the SERP for two things:
Local organic businesses.
This keyword has local intent, so when we search for “boiler installation,” we see a map pack and local businesses.
If we search for “Worcester boiler,” there’s no map pack and no local results. It appears that searchers are looking to buy a Worcester boiler to install themselves.
Put aside keywords without local intent.
Here’s a workaround if you don’t live in the same area as your employer:
Google Ad Preview
Search (e.g., “boiler installation”)
Localize (e.g., Nottingham)
Local SERPs show local business rankings and map packs.
Step 3. Check search volumes
Every major SEO tool only shows country-wide and global search volumes for local keywords.
People worry too much about local SEO search volumes.
Even if your services aren’t very popular, you should still create a page for your visitors.
Consider boiler installation.
Small towns likely have few people looking for this. If it’s a service you offer, you should still create a page about it for visitors, including those who found you by Googling “plumber.”
Why check search volumes then?
To prioritise local SEO pages.
Local search volumes?
Depending on whether you want implicit or explicit keywords—
Finding search volumes for implicit keywords
Implicit local keywords are when a searcher wants a local result without mentioning their location.
Installer plumber boiler radiator
Most people find local businesses this way. Why type “plumber in NYC” when “plumber” will do?
Keywords Explorer (or any third-party keyword tool) estimates implicit keyword search volumes for the entire country.
We need to know how many people in our area search for implicit keywords for local SEO.
Where can we find that?
Google Keyword Planner is one option.
Keyword Planner on Google
“Search volume and forecasts”
Add your service area.
Finding search volumes for explicit keywords
Searchers use explicit local keywords to reference their location.
boiler replacement in nottingham radiator installation nottingham
If some of your services’ implicit searches didn’t have local intent, add a location modifier to make them explicit.
In contrast, the explicit search (“worcester boiler nottingham”) has local intent.
Explicit keywords don’t require Google Keyword Planner because the query reveals the searcher’s location. Use Keywords Explorer to get more accurate search volume estimates.
Step 4. Group and map keywords to URLs
Local keyword research isn’t just about what people search. It’s also about targeting keywords.
Your homepage rarely ranks for all your services.
Most local businesses have service-specific pages.
It’s not always clear which services need dedicated pages.
Install combi boiler oil boiler
It’s unclear if we need separate pages for “combi boiler installation” and “oil boiler installation” or if “boiler installation” can rank for all these terms and more.
Best to check top keyword rankings.
The page from the local business ranking #4 for “oil boiler installation” is about oil boiler installation, not boiler installation in general.
Since this isn’t about gas boiler installation, we don’t need a separate page. We can rank for this and related terms on a boiler installation/replacement page.
This process isn’t exact and has some nuance. If you’re unsure, consider whether site visitors would find a service-specific page useful. If you can easily tell them about that service on a broader page, it’s probably not worth creating a dedicated page.
Step 5. Look for ‘things to mention’
Let’s say you repair boilers.
How do you rank for “boiler repair” locally?
Many people stuff keywords here. Here, they find the most popular service searches and repeat them in their copy.
That’s wrong. Page becomes unreadable.
While you shouldn’t stuff keywords, it’s worth looking for relevant ‘things to mention’
It boosts topicality. If a page about boiler installation mentions the types of boilers you offer, pricing, and locations, Google may rank it higher.
Long-tail keywords rank better. Everyone searches differently. For every 100 Londoners looking for boiler repair, a few are looking in North London.
Visitors benefit. People looking for boiler installation services want to know what you offer and the cost.
Let’s examine some options.
Check keyword rankings for similar pages
Google one of your services and look for a local business’s top-ranking page.
Site Explorer, Organic Keywords report, top 10 rankings.
These keywords can reveal page ideas.
One of London’s top boiler repair pages ranks for:
london boiler repair
London boiler repair
We shouldn’t repeat these phrases on our page, but we should list the areas we serve. This helps us rank for long-tail keywords and shows potential customers we serve their area.
price-fixed Repair boiler
Emergency boiler repair london combi boiler repairs
So mention the types of boilers we repair (gas, combi), if we offer fixed pricing, and if we do emergency call-outs.
Repeat this process for relevant top-ranking pages to see what customers want.
Check top-ranking pages manually
Even though Keywords Explorer has over 11 billion keywords, some local keywords are too rarely searched to be found.
Look at top-ranking local business pages for ideas.
Top-ranking boiler repair page mentions:
Vaillant, worcester bosch, baxi are gas safe, city & guilds certified (i.e., popular boiler brands they can repair)
Even if only a few people search for gas-safe registered boiler repair services in London each month, mentioning these terms on our page will inform potential customers, build trust, and probably lead to more business—which is the point of local SEO.
If you’d rather not guess, use Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer’s Also mentions report. This shows which other keywords and phrases top-ranking pages for your target keyword mention.
Check for common questions
People looking for your services likely have questions. So answer these questions on your page.
Several methods exist.
First, look for a ‘People also ask’ box in search results. This shows Google related questions
How to deal with multiple locations
If you have multiple offices or stores, you don’t need to repeat the above steps. Your website should list the locations.
If you have few locations, list them on your contact page.
Local sandwich shop:
What about keywords for blog posts?
Local businesses only cover their local area, so you won’t get much business from Google blog posts.
Consider a plumber…
If you search for “plumber” in Keywords Explorer and check the Questions report, you’ll see things your customers may be searching for.
Cost to install a bathroom by a plumber
How to find a trustworthy plumber Cost of an emergency plumber
These searches are rarely local. Even if you rank for them, 99% of your visitors won’t be local and won’t become customers.
Does this mean you shouldn’t write keyword-focused blog content?
No. Keywords represent what people search for. If many people search for “how much does a plumber cost to fit a bathroom,” potential customers may be interested. You may want to write a blog post about that topic for other visitors.
How to track local keyword rankings
After local keyword research and page creation, you’ll need to track your rankings. Using Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker, do this:
Start typing your locale (city/state/zip)
Choose a locale
Now you see average monthly search volume ranges for implicit local keywords in your area.your pages, get reviews, and more.