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How to use local keywords to rank higher on Google

How to use local keywords to rank higher on Google

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

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 result in lower search volumes, it’s more about intent and getting 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 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 site will be a much easier task once you know the keywords you rank for. You can then focus your efforts on other relevant keywords.


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For example, if your bakery is already well located for [bakery shop Lexington], you can get started with other search terms. You can divert your attention to ranking for searches such as [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 investigate

When you begin your local keyword research, you can use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, Semrush, etc. to search for search volume data for your placement.

Do not limit yourself to your location only.

Expand your search to include nearby, different 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], also.

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


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Don’t get too crazy about your actual location.

In addition, you should research what steps your competitors are taking to rank better for local searches. Enter the URL of their contact page in Google Keyword Planner.

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

Select local keywords to use

Google has been working to produce more localized search results.

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

Today, Google is taking a more local-first approach to ranking search results. It favors companies with a local directory near the person conducting the search.

This means that local businesses should be able to rank for much more competitive and generic queries with local intent, e.g. [bakery] or [florist].

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

It’s called the local 3-pack.

And this is what a search engine results page (SERP) looks like:

Getting your local SEO game in order is an absolute priority if you want to find one of the top three sites.

How to choose the right local keywords

Now that we’ve covered the importance of keywords and the role of search placement, how do you choose the right keywords?


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

Take advantage of industry keywords

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

The first step is to identify words or phrases that 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 company 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 most important keyword research.

For example, your list as a baker may include terms such as:

Baguettes. Wedding cakes. Pastries. Desserts.

Use keyword modifiers

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


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

Examples include words such as:

Weddings. Best. Lilies. Delivery one day.

For a florist, it means phrases like funeral wreaths, wedding bouquets, exotic flowers, best florists, etc.

Examine local keywords

You will identify keywords for your local SEO that relate to your geographic location.

Consider the different places and areas you service and where your customers are from.


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If you have a delivery service, include the names, counties, cities, etc. of these areas in your blog posts and site content.

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

The florist can e.g. Target keywords like:

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

Here’s how to put one together for use with your local SEO game

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

Here are a few tips to get you started.

Google My Business

It’s impossible to stress the importance of having a Google My Business listing. Google My Business can be used by local businesses to improve their placement-based SEO strategy.

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


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2. Content with a local focus

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

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

The important thing is to write useful content that the locals are looking for.


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

Local libraries like 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 as much as they would trust personal recommendations from peers.

Even if you want more positive than negative reviews, the difficulty lies in getting reviews.

Encourage your customers to share their experiences with your business.

5. Performance monitoring

As with any marketing strategy, monitoring your results is an important part of the process.


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Without monitoring your results, you do not know if any of your efforts will pay off.

Find out if the keywords you are targeting have improved your local placements.

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


Hopefully this chapter helps improve your local keyword strategy.

Always remember your local keywords when working on all your SEO initiatives.

These local keywords will go a long way toward helping you appear in Google’s local package – and helping consumers find you right now when they need you.


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Image credits

Featured image: Paulo Bobita
All screenshots taken by the author

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