Local SEO Keyword Research 101

It’s tough to get started.

Heck, I just spent like 15 minutes trying to get this article going.

Starting is the hardest part.

Especially if you don’t know how or where to start.

As you get ready to launch your local SEO campaign for your business it’s best to start at the bottom, build a strong foundation and then create a masterpiece atop that foundation.

This is the grunt work. The work that most others wont see in your local SEO game-plan. But keyword research will pay dividends later on down the road.

You need to research how people search for your product or service at the local level.

Now, keyword research is part science and part “I hope I’m doing this right, it feels like it but it doesn’t at the same time.”

I get it. I’ve been there and I still go there when it comes to keyword research.

I don’t think anyone can really say they completely understand and nail their keywords 100% of the time.

So, here’s just one way you can, at the least, make sure that you are targeting a term that returns a local result and has plenty of volume…

Maybe not plenty but the most.

Google What You Think (Then Use Suggested Search)

You have an idea of what you “think” people type when they look for your service online.

Use that term to start.

Let’s say you offer “Home Security Systems” that you sell and install in your city.

In this case lets use my town of Fresno. If we go to Google and type in “home security systems fresno” (without the quotes) then the result returned by Google looks like this:

fresno local seo

 This is a bad term to target as it does NOT return a local result so DO NOT use this term.

What then should you use?

Try a variation of your original search term.

Remember, this is part science and part guess work. This would be the guesswork portion.

Lets try “Security Systems Fresno” and see what happens:

local seo for security systems


Now we are getting somewhere!

You have a term that triggers a local result. Copy this to notepad on you computer or dump it in an email or something, anything. You are going to need this later.

Could there be more terms like this that trigger local results?

You bet your sweet biscuits there are!

Let’s find those.

But instead of thinking what people “might” search for let’s let Google do the thinking for us. (I know scary, right?)

Head to the bottom of your search result that triggered a local result.

You should see a group of suggestions that Google think are relevant terms.

They look like this:

security company local seo

Not all of these are terms you want to target.

But, the three in green are terms that are relevant to this example. So take those three terms and go back to Google and search each one. You want to see if they also trigger a local result.

After you input each of the terms in green check the bottom of the results to see if there are new related searches that Google has inserted.

Rinse and repeat.

Always. Always. Always. Add the terms you want to target to a notepad or email or whatever. Always.

Google Places, Of All Places

Ok, so now you have a nice little pile of local keywords building.

Steam is in the engine and you’re ready to implement!

Wait, wait, wait.

Let’s check another source to see if we missed anything.

Head over to Blumenthals Category Finder here and lets search using the first term that triggered the local results, which was “security systems fresno” but drop the geo tag on there.

Click search and we are returned with something like this:

local seo keyword research

Almost 100% of the time all of these categories and their synonyms are going to trigger a local result.

Unless of course the traffic is just to small for Google to recognize. If it does not trigger a local result do not add it to your list.

Also, I got a little red, but did you notice that “home security” is listed as a synonym in the picture above?

Yeah, remember when we started this project and I said lets modify the original term “home security systems fresno” to “security systems fresno” to see what happens?

It would have been better if we changed that term to “home security fresno.”

GULP! I’m a professional and I missed it!

And you’ll miss keywords when you start also. But luckily we used more than just one technique to find key terms we want to target.

The more creative you get in finding keywords and terms the better prepared you will be in the future.

Just remember not everything is going to be perfect right off the bat. There is no “set standard” for some things in Local SEO.

Find Your Most Valuble Traffic

You have your keyword list handy?

I told you you would need it!

Want to see what mine looks like?

alarm systems fresno
security systems fresno
video security fresno
fresno alarm company
alarm company fresno
fresno alarm systems
fresno security systems
fresno Security System Supplier
Security System Supplier fresno
burglar alarm store fresno
fresno burglar alarm store
burglar alarm fresno
fresno burglar alarm
home security fresno
fresno home security
alarm fresno
fresno alarm
cctv fresno
fresno cctv

Here is what you are going to do with your list.

Head over to Google AdWords.

Don’t worry we’re not going to spend any money. We just want to source how much traffic each of the terms we found is getting when advertisers are paying for them.

Remember this technique is giving us an idea of traffic NOT a rock solid number.

Head to the “Tools” section (in the top menu bar) and then select “Get Traffic Estimates…”

Enter your keyword list, select your city, and get estimates.

use adwords for local seo

Now you are directed to a screen with estimates. But it’s going to be blank.

You’ll need to enter a CPC bid at the top and I like to add a daily budget even though it’s optional. Just covering all bases is all, you never know when Google is going to give more data.

Make sure to enter a really high number to get the most amount of traffic for each word as you can. This will give you more rounded data.

Once you have that in organize the results in terms of impression. We can then see what local term is getting searched the most.

But wait!

There is more to this than meets the eye. Unless your some kinda robot chicken.

We can see that a keyword that has a high Cost-Per-Click (CPC) is usually a highly profitable term. Meaning there is a high profit margin in the product or service being sold.

And a keyword with a high Click-Through-Rate (CTR) get lots of verified traffic. Meaning these are users looking for specific information and are more likely to buy or download what you are have on the landing page.

Google AdWords  Keyword Planner traffic overview

 All of this means what?

It means we need to decided on a keyword to target.

You can pick all three, or four, or ten. You could create pages for terms you’d like to target. Establish contact pages that use these terms to target different areas of town.

But we want to pick one term.

A term that you can use on your homepage title tag.

A term that we can base a description off of that you’ll use in all your citation.

A term that carries the theme of your local SEO efforts.

One single term.


Daunting. I know.

The Power To Control The Ranking Is In Which Term?

Let us consult the bones!

We know that “fresno alarm” has the highest search impressions.

And we also know that “fresno alarm system” has a great click through rate.

It would be my personal opinion to target the long-tail search term “fresno alarm system” because it includes the more broad search term “fresno alarm.”

This is a “double whammy” term. I actually did this post on the fly but I can tell you right now; to get a bunch of qualified traffic AND a broad keyword that triggers the local pack is saaaah-weeeeet!

But what about the the term with a high CPC.

You can approach this in one of three ways. 1) Leave it be. There are going to be a ton of ads on the page and the chance that the local results are pushed below the fold is greater.

Or 2) you can tie in this term with you main term.

And lastly, 3) you could create a bunch of great, high quality content to target this term and see if you can get it to rank organically.

So what would my end keyterm look like?

Fresno California Alarm Systems – ABC Company


Fresno Alarm and Home Security Systems – ABC Company

Now What?

Ok. So you have an idea of what you need to do.

Let’s see if we can break this down into bite size chunks so you can start today and finish within a couple of hours.

Hours Needed 2-3 : Search terms you think people search for. Use Google suggestions at the bottom to search even more. Copy and paste all terms that return a local result. Make sure that you try the city in front and at the end. Sometimes these little tweaks make a difference.

Hours Needed 1-2 :  Check your category on Blumenthals and see what synonyms are returned. Copy and past those and then search Google with the town name both in front and behind the synonym. Paste terms that return local results into spreadsheet.

Hours Needed 1-2 : Head to Googel AdWords, set location, paste keyword list, analyze impressions, CTR and CPC. Make sure to check if the city name gets more traffic in fornt or behind the keyword. Pull out between 3 -12 top keywords.

Hours Needed 1-2 : Craft a title tag for your homepage. make sure it’s not too stuffy and hits your product or service square on the head.

Hours Needed 1 : Send your title tag to your webmaster or login to your website and update.


That ‘s it! Take your day-off to chip away at this. For some of you it might take 2-3 hours to do the whole thing, for others it might take a couple of days.

No matter, just get it done.

If you need help let me know in the comments below. I recently sent out an email to let people know they could tap my shoulder for some advice.

Many of you took me up on that.

Don’t be afraid to ask here also. I would love to help you get your local business ranking in Google Local results.

In This Podcast

We talk about the tactics above and I offer a few tools that can help you find more keywords than you would need.

Resources For This Episode

Here’s a video on perdictice/instant search from Google:


Google AdWords



    • Mikel Zaremba says

      Hey Andrew – thanks for stopping by! Yeah I like these quick little tips that business owners can use to help them find the best terms to target. Most small business owners feel that there is all this crazy science to finding “the right” keywords, but I think that is because there are just so many ways to do it.

      See ya around!

    • Mikel Zaremba says

      Hey Bart – Reviews on sites like Yelp, Merchant Circle, G+ Page. Also, doing some local recon and participating in local forums. I just read somewhere that the average local business has like 9 links, so if you can get 1-2 links a month then in a year you’re ahead of your competition.

  1. says

    Hey Mikel
    Loved your post, thank you! I wanted to know if there are other alternatives to Blumenthals? I’ve never heard of or seen it before and thought it to be quite useful. However, it doesn’t seem to return any results on my Mac, or maybe it’s a South African thing! :)
    Just checking… you never know! Thanks again.

  2. says

    Thanks Mikel,

    Sometimes its useful to just read up and fill in any gaps you might have in your own knowledge.

    This article was perfect for me. Thanks for being plain, simple, clear and precise.



  3. says

    love the local seo focus of your site buddy.

    We are currently writing up a local e-commerce guide for small business.
    Its a shame most mom and pop shop s are put off to put in the work when the rewards are there.
    And like you say, most sites only have a small amount of root domains (Which are mainly generic directories)
    And so are easy to beat!
    We showed this to a client recently and optimised a 45sec youtube vid to outrank their own website and 3rd in the serps for their keyword!

    Keep up the great work


  4. says

    A very interesting post and really nicely written. Good to see you mentioned LSI keywords. I use Ubersuggest tool to find out relevant LSIs for a keyword. Apart from Google Adwords tool, Webmaster tool’s search query section can give additional keyword ideas.
    Just one point, you stressed on not to select those keywords which do not return any local listings but I have seen many geo specific keywords in past which didn’t return any local results that time but showing now.
    Loved reading this article and will be looking forward to read more like this.

  5. says

    Pretty awesome article Mikel! You broke the WHOLE process down to an understandable level. While it may have been common sense for most people working in the local markets, one of the things I have overlooked (and probably wasted a lot of time on) was making sure the term triggered the Google local algorithm. When I started I assumed that having the geo-modifier would suffice.

    I appreciate the effort that went into the article! And this has been saved has one of my new favorite resources :) I actually have come to the site before, because one of the podcast I really like either interviewed you or did a piece on one of your other articles (eWebstyle – Unknown Secrets of Internet Marketing). So this is twice that I have been impressed!

    Thanks again,


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