how to do keyword research for a local business

Understanding what people are searching for in your area is a must if you want to grow your local business. Find out how to do that efficiently

Video transcript

How to do keyword research for a local business

I thought my hair was getting a little out of hands yesterday so I picked up my phone out and searched for hair salons near me (2900 searches a month in google), hairdressers near me (22200 searches a month in google) local hair stylist (10 searches a month in google), barber shops near me (720 searches a month in google) and barbers near me (8100 searches a month in google).  Eventually I found exactly what I was looking for and I am so pleased with the results…not

If you run a small business wouldn’t you like to know what people are searching for so you can optimise your site accordingly and rank at the top google?

I bet you would.

Well stay tuned and I will show you just how to do that.

Hi there, Luc Durand here, your favourite online marketing expert for small businesses.

Keyword research is by far the most fundamental part to any online strategy.

In today’s episode I’m going to show you how to do a local keyword research so you can target the right audience and drive more customers to your site.

But first things first, a little bit of basic knowledge for those of you who have absolutely no clue.

Have you ever wondered why a website would be number one over another when typing a certain word in google?

It’s all about sending the right signals to google. If you include the right local keywords on your site then you’re sending a very specific signal to google about what your site is about. This is of course a very small part of how google evaluates a site, but essential.

I’ve recently done some work for a client who runs a B&B in Devon and he couldn’t understand why his site wouldn’t come up in Google’s results when people typed the keywords “bed and breakfast in Devon”

The answer was very simple, nowhere on his site was mentioned the words “bed and breakfast in Devon”. How do you expect people to find your site for “bed and breakfast in Devon”let alone Google, if you don’t even talk about it.

Ok let’s get down to business and look at the best way to do a keyword research for your local business

Step 1) Start building your keyword list

Open an excel spreadsheet.

Let’s use the example of a fictitious plumbing firm called plumbing&co which offers the following services:

  • Plumbing
  • Heating
  • Boiler repair
  • Boiler servicing
  • Emergency plumbing

feel free to add anything else that seems very obvious to you. In this case I’ll add plumber, plumbers, emergency plumbers, emergency plumber as part of my list as they are very obvious ones to target.

These will be a good start and will form the base of our keyword list.

Since we are targeting local searches let’s throw some location keyword in there. Assuming our plumbing company is based in London we can go for the following

Plumbing London

Heating London

Boiler repair London you get the gist…

If you live in a big city like London you can even be more localised by adding a specific area such “Chelsea” or simply a post code like “SW3”.  Your list will have the following  added keywords

Plumbing Chelsea

Heating Chelsea

Plumbing SW3

Boiler repair SW3 etc…

And just like that we already have a list of 36, very targeted keywords, for our small plumbing business.

That was easy. Now, have you ever dreamed about being James bond? I have, and that’s exactly what we‘re going to do next, a little bit of spying.

Step 2) Spy on your competitors

Ok, I made it sound exciting but it isn’t really and it is very legal too. There are several ways to spy on your competitors to find out what local keywords they use to drive traffic to their site. Let’s start with the simplest one.

Simplest way of spying on your competitors

Open a new tab in your excel spreadsheet and call it competitors keywords

Go to google and type one your main keywords in the search box and click go. Let’s use “Boiler repair London”.  At number 1 we have, followed by in number 2, in 3 etc…

Make a note of these somewhere on a notepad document as we will be using them later.

Let’s visit the very first one,  Hover on the tab at the top of your browser. This will bring up the entire title of the page, you know the one that gets displayed in google in blue which is one of the main signals google will pick up on.

Ok, within the title you can see what keywords are targeting. So here we have “emergency boiler repair”, “boiler engineer specialist”

If you find some of these words are not on your lists simply add them to the competitor’s tab in your excel spreadsheet. You can repeat these technique with all others site to expand your list and for each keyword.

This is a fairly cumbersome task to do but very simple.

You can speed up the spying process using tools which make it a little simpler. There are two tools I use. 1 free one and 1 you have to pay for.

So Let’s look at your competitor’s keywords using a free tool

Head over to

This, is a free tool provided by google called “google keyword planner”. It is essentially used by online marketers to understand what people are searching for on the internet. You will need to create an account to use it which requires credit card details. But don’t worry you will not be charged at this stage. Having access to this tool will be very useful for your business so you must create an account.

When you log into your account you will be taken to the main page to the main page. From there choose the “search for new keywords using a phrase website or category” option.

Now let’s dig out that notepad file with the websites we have identified earlier on. Copy the first address and paste it into the “Your landing page” box. Use just the main domain name and click on get ideas. By default google will display a tab called “ad group ideas”. Choose the Keyword ideas tab. This will display all the keywords that google have identified for this site along with the average monthly searches made in google for that particular word, which is extremely useful.
You can download the entire list using the download button. If you use this method simply keep the Keyword column, as well as the av. Monthly searches. So let’s just do that. And here we go. You now have another big list of keywords at your disposal which you can add to your competitor’s tab.

The downside with this tool is that google will display all the keywords they have found for this site regardless of where the site ranks in google making it a little harder to prioritise which one you should consider.

There is a third spying option however which covers everything.

Spy on your competitors using a paying tool

Head over to

Although this is a paying tool it is a very powerful one. You can use the free version where only part of the data is visible but at least it gives you a good idea of what it can do.

Using our notepad list again simply copy and paste one of the main competitors we’ve identified in the search box (use the main domain) Select the country you want results for and click search. Let’s use Pimlico plumbers this time.

This will bring the overview of the domain with a lot of data about this site

On the left menu click the organic research tab. This shows the number of position is ranking for in Google’s top 100 organic search results. They rank for an astonishing 2600 keywords which brings them a ton of visitors as you can see on the graph on the right hand side.

The beauty of this tool is that it shows you the keywords that are driving traffic to this site along with their position in google as well as the volume of traffic. If you have the paying version of it you can export the entire list in your chosen format which you can add to our excel spreadsheet.

Repeat this process with the other competitors and add all the keywords to your excel spreadsheet in the competitors tab.

You may end up with a lot of keywords most of which are not relevant or are too far removed from your target. Pick out the ones that are location related, in this instance the ones that will include London to narrow down the list to the most useful ones.

Step 3) Expand your list further with local related keywords

Whichever technique you have decided to follow your list should have grown quite significantly by now but we can extend it even further, how? With related keywords.
Uncovering related keywords are crucial to this process as they will help us find some less obvious words people are searching for and gain even more traffic and business.

Once again there are 3 methods you can use to do this.

Let’s start with the simplest one

Go to Choose a keyword from our original list, let’s say “Emergency plumbing London” and do a simple search

Scroll all the way down the results page where you can see something called “Searches related to”. This section displays terms that google identified in relation to your initial query and based on what other people have searched for. Very useful to uncover new keywords
Looking at the list I can see that “emergency plumbers London” and “urgent plumber London” will be really relevant
In your excel spreadsheet open a new tab and call it “related keywords”
Simply add these new keywords to your list

Let’s have a look at the second method using a free tool this time.

Head over to

In the search box type one of your main keyword, let’s use the same term again “Emergency plumbing London” Choose the country you are targeting and click on the search button

I can see some very interesting results here particularly around location. It looks like some searches are post code specific such as “emergency plumber London w2” (west London), “emergency plumber London bridge”, “emergency plumber London Camden” etc…. This is awesome as it is very localised, exactly what we are after.

You can download the entire list by clicking on the copy all button and paste it in your excel spreadsheet in the related keyword tab.
You can see some of the data is blurred on this tool. This is because there is a payable version for it but at this stage we don’t need to pay.
Let’s move on to the third method

Uncovering local related keyword using a payable tool

Let’s go back to SEM and once again enter the keyword “Emergency plumbing London” in the main search box. Once you’re on the dashboard simply scroll down to the “related keywords” section where you can either see the full report or export the entire list into your excel spreadsheet.

By now you should have a pretty exhaustive list of local keywords you can play with stretching to a few hundreds if not more. The question is which one should you target? As a small business you will have to pick your words carefully.

This our 4th and final step, separating the wheat from the chaff.

Let’s have a look at our excel spreadsheet. Depending on which method you have used to discover your competitor’s keywords and your related keywords the results may vary a bit.

Make a copy of the spreadsheet and call it “master keyword data” or whatever you want so we can keep it for further consultation later on.

Call this one something different so we can do pretty much what we want with it.

Jump to the competitor’s keywords tab and simply select the keyword column. Go to the data tab and click on “remove duplicate”. This should remove all the duplicated keywords you may have imported from different sources.

The next step is to highlight all the keywords that are location related. Go back to the home tab of excel and select the keyword tab once more. Click on conditional formatting, choose highlight cell rules and choose text that contains the city your business is in, in this instance we’ll choose “London”

This will highlight all keywords that contain the word London.

Go back to the data tab and choose the option filter click on the arrow and choose filter by colour. Choose the right colour and there, you have your list.

Repeat the same process for the related keywords as well as the original list we put together in step 1.
Open a 4th tab on your excel spreadsheet. Copy and paste all the filtered results from each list onto the new tab.

At this stage you should still find some keywords that are not relevant for your business. Just go through the list and remove them manually.

Don’t get too excited as we are not quite finished yet…I know I know, almost there.

Last but not lease we need to understand how often these words are typed in google so we know exactly which one to focus on.

Head over to google keyword planner tool.

Click on “get search volume data and trend”. Copy our final list from our excel spreadsheet and paste it in there.

In the targeting area make sure you choose the right country and then click “get search volume”

And there you have it. Google will tell you how often these terms are search for. Obviously you will want to pick the most popular ones.

Bear in mind that these numbers are not necessarily accurate and in many cases way smaller than what google is willing to tell us. All you now need to do is download those results and you have your final local keyword list.

Congratulations! You should now be a master at building keyword lists so you can market your business successfully.

Doing an efficient local keyword research is the cornerstone of online success for any business big or small.

Without understanding what people are searching for you will go nowhere.

This list will help you with all your online activities moving forward and it will be extremely useful if you want to run an adword or facebook campaign for instance.

The next step you will need to take is to add these keywords to your site so you finally get discovered.

In the meantime I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial and to see you soon for another free lesson brought to you by

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