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How to Use Local Keywords to Rank Higher on Google

How do you find and use keywords to help increase your local search rankings? Learn how to pick your keywords well here.

Did you know that 76% of people who search for a nearby business on their smartphones visit them within a day’s time?

Or that 28% of these searches end in a purchase?

That’s the power of local SEO – and local keyword research.

Choosing the right keywords for your business can help you rank better for competitive keywords related to your product and industry.

While local searches may yield lower search volumes, it’s more about intent and driving traffic ready to convert.

You need to make it easy for consumers to find your local business on Google and other search engines.

So how do you find and use keywords to help increase your local search rankings?

Read on to find out.

Local Keyword Research

You first need to know which search queries are helping people find your business.

Optimizing your website will be a much easier task once you know the keywords you’re ranking for. You can then focus your efforts on other relevant keywords.

For instance, if your bakery shop is already ranking well for [bakery shop Lexington], you can get to work on other search terms. You can divert your attention to ranking for searches like [Lexington bakery] or [best bakery in Lexington].

By improving your search results for other related phrases, you increase your reach to more potential customers.

What to Research

As you go about your local keyword research, you can use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, Semrush, etc., to source search volume data for your location.

Don’t restrict yourself to only your location.

Expand the search to include nearby, distinct locations.

For example, you can expand your search from [most exclusive vineyards napa] to include [food and wine pairing napa] and [best wine tours South America], too.

Organic search positions.

Such search volume data for specific areas may not seem like much. But cumulatively, such data can deliver a reasonable amount of traffic with high purchase intent.

Just don’t stray too far from your actual location.

Additionally, you should research what steps your competitors are taking to rank better for local searches. Input the URL of their contact page into Google’s Keyword Planner.

This way, you can source the keywords Google is most likely to associate with their business. Work on targeting these keywords to gain a competitive advantage.

Picking Local Keywords to Use

Google has been working toward producing more localized search results.

A few years ago, search engines would yield the same results for people running the same search in Arizona as they would in California.

Today, Google takes a more local-first approach when ranking search results. It favors businesses with a local listing in proximity to the person conducting the search.

That means local businesses should be able to rank for much more competitive and generic queries with local intent, such as [bakery] or [florist].

However, local businesses still face a high level of competition for less space.

It’s called the Local 3-pack.

And it looks like this on a search engine results page (SERP):

Local 3-pack on SERPs.

Getting your local SEO game on point is an absolute priority if you want to nab one of those top three spots.

How to Pick the Right Local Keywords

Now that we’ve covered the significance of keywords and the role of search localization, how do you pick the right keywords?

Here’s a three-step approach that can help you with your local keyword research.

1. Leverage Industry Keywords

Your objective is to identify commonly used phrases that people will use to search for your business.

The first step is identifying words or phrases people use when describing your products or services.

Put yourself in their shoes. Try to think about what they would type in search engines to find a business like yours.

Brainstorm and compile a list of local keywords and phrases that are relevant to your industry.

This list forms the basic foundation of your main keyword research.

For instance, as a bakery, your list may contain terms like:

  • Baguettes.
  • Wedding cakes.
  • Pastries.
  • Desserts.

2. Use Keyword Modifiers

The next step to finding the right local keywords is to develop modifiers that people will use in their searches.

Modifiers include words that can be used to describe an event, a quality, a type of product, or other associable words.

Examples include words like:

  • Weddings.
  • Best.
  • Lilies.
  • One-day delivery.

For a florist shop, that means phrases such as funeral wreaths, wedding bouquets, exotic flowers, best florists, etc.

Volume of keywords with modifiers.

3. Research Local Keywords

You want to identify keywords for your local SEO that pertain to your geographic location.

Consider the various locations and areas you service and where your customers are from.

If you have a delivery service, then include those area names, counties, cities, etc., in your blog posts and site content.

People tend to look for businesses near them first. Account for where your target audience lives or works when picking these local keywords.

For instance, the florist may target keywords like:

  • Best florist in Durham.
  • Exotic flower shops in the RDU area.
  • Florist near Hillsboro Road, Durham.

How to Get Ahead in the Local SEO Gamet

The world of local SEO is forever changing, but there are a few proven ways to stay ahead of the pack and secure a top rank.

Here are a few tips to get ahead.

1. Google My Business

It’s impossible to stress enough the importance of having a Google My Business listing. Google My Business can be leveraged by local businesses to enhance their location-based SEO strategy.

Also, Google uses Google My Business information for Google Knowledge Graph. The database of information stored in Google My Business improves local search.

2. Content with Local Focus

Long-form, city-based, and informative content are an absolute must.

Content could take the form of local promotions, news, and industry trends depending on your industry and niche.

The important thing is writing helpful content that locals are seeking.

3. Citations

A key component of any SEO strategy is links and brand mentions. Both links and mentions add legitimacy to your local business as people cite you in their content.

Local directories such as Yelp, Google Listings, or even the local chamber of commerce can help build a strong local link profile.

While brand mentions on review sites like Yelp, Google Maps, Facebook, and high-quality websites also provide strong SEO signals.

4. Reviews

Know that 88% of people are likely to trust online reviews just as much as they would trust personal recommendations from peers.

While you want more positive than negative reviews, the difficulty lies in sourcing reviews.

Encourage your customers to share their experiences with your business.

5. Result Monitoring

As with any marketing strategy, monitoring your results is a key part of the process.

Without monitoring your results, you won’t know if any of your efforts are paying off.

Track whether the keywords you’re targeting have improved your local rankings.

Many SEO tools will let you track “just” local keywords.

Keyword monitoring report.


Hopefully, this chapter will help improve your local keyword strategy.

Always keep your local keywords in mind when working on all of your SEO initiatives.

These local keywords will go a long way toward helping you appear in Google’s local pack – and helping consumers find you at the moment when they need you.

Image Credits

Featured image: Paulo Bobita
All screenshots taken by author

Category SEO Local Search
VIP CONTRIBUTOR Shane Barker Digital Marketing Consultant at Shane Barker Consulting

Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in influencer marketing, content marketing, and SEO. He is the Co-Founder ...

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