- By Nick Frost
Sigmund Freud once said it best: “Words have a magical power. They can bring either the greatest happiness or the deepest despair.”
Sure enough, roughly a century later, this sentiment rings true for businesses looking to drive local searchers with intent to purchasethrough their doors. Anywhere from 65–80% of shoppers research online before buying, so all it takes is a couple of keyword missteps and you’re not shooting to the top of any search ranking – you’re shooting your business in its metaphorical foot.
Not all keywords are built equally, so selecting the right ones requires a well-thought-out plan of attack. These seven steps will help you get organized, devise a competitive strategy and put you in the best position to be found by local customers.
1) Start by Compiling All Possible Relevant Keywords
Grab a whiteboard, block off the afternoon and write down all terms that hypothetical searchers might use when seeking out businesses like yours or services that you provide.
Don’t limit yourself to obvious descriptors, either — get as specific as possible. Think of all the questions your customers ask you, how do they describe your products/services? What non-industry terms do they use? Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and try to anticipate anything that might lead them to you: specific product names, price points, geomodifiers, etc. You might not end up using all of them in the end, but it’s always easier to have too many and pluck less relevant ones as you go.
SweetIQ Local Tip: It’s entirely possible that you just muttered “geomodifiers…?” to yourself a second ago. Fair enough, but this is one term you’ll want to know when aiming locally. “Geomodifier” refers to any location-based terms (city, province/state, postal/ZIP codes, general terms like “near me,” etc.) added to a keyword search — learn more on their benefits here.
2) Use Keyword Search Tools to Expand Your List
Brainstorming will get you a great base of search terms, but there’s always a chance for the human brain to miss an obvious keyword or two — and you’d hate for it to be an important one.
Once you’ve built your initial long list of keywords, fill in the inevitable gaps by using tools like the Google AdWords, Keyword Planner or Google Trends. These will also start tying search data to each of your keywords, giving you an idea of which term might be most effective for you.
3) Analyze Your Competitors
Take a moment to size up your competition by researching every aspect of their website: titles, descriptions, keyword tags, headlines, image and video alt tags, content, metadata, URLs, etc. Learn as many lessons as about how which keywords they’re using, how they’re using them, which ones are working and which ones aren’t. This can also act as an effective strategy for whittling down your long list into something more concise.
4) Divide YourWebsite into Pages That You Want to Rank For
Continue your list-making by going through your own sitemap, no matter how extensive it is (o isn’t), and sorting out which pages you want to receive the most search attention.
Once again, anticipating where searchers might end up is the best strategy to employ. Naturally, your homepage will rank high, as it’s a jumping off point to other pages on your website. The rest, however, will be determined based on what your website’s existing data tells you.
One good question to ask yourself is whether your intention is to push specific pages or just the website as a whole, thus redirecting the traffic to your homepage. If it’s the former, focus your research on those specific product or service pages; if it’s the latter, look to your overall brand for the right words.
5) Rank Your Keywords and Highlight the Ones Most Relevant to Your Business
Using Google AdWord’s Keyword Planner (or an equivalent tool of your choosing), rank your list of keywords from most searched to least.
Next, rather than simply pulling from the top of the list, use a full-funnel approach and select 5–10 words spanning most- and least-searched that have the highest relevance to your needs, marking that list as “primary.” Following the same logic, do the same thing again with the 5–10 next most relevant keywords and mark that list “secondary.”
Don’t be wary of the words with less traffic, more often than not these keywords, called Long Tail Keywords, will generate less traffic but high ROI because the specificity of the query has high intent to purchase.
You might also like: How to Rank For Local Search
6) Assign Functions to Your Primary and Secondary Lists
Now that you have two lists with the keywords most relevant to your business, you’ll need to figure out where to put them on your site. The simplest way to do this is to use some of your primary keywords for your website’s URLs and metadata (titles, descriptions and keyword tags), while using the rest, as well as secondary keywords, for headlines and image/video alt tags.
7) Use Your Final Keywords to Write Content
Finally, with your complete list of relevant keywords, you’ll have the foundation on which to start writing content for your website that will give it relevance in search results.
When writing, ensure that your content — which is the most important thing to consider when thinking about SEO — contains as many of your primary keywords as possible anywhere between the opening <body> and closing </body> tags.
How Can SweetIQ Help Me in My Local Keyword Research?
Once your content has launched and you’re ready to start following its progress in the local landscape, our local listings management tool will help you track where your business fits in the search landscape. You’ll be able to dive deeper into data ranging from keyword ranking at the brand level all the way down to a specific location.