Local SEO for Small Businesses: A Deep-Dive into Keyword Research

Candy jars in a popular candy store to reflect local SEO for small businesses

Keyword research is an essential component of local SEO for small businesses. It should be a part of any local SEO strategy. It will not only help you identify the most relevant keywords for your business but also the ones that are most likely to drive traffic and conversions.

But what exactly is keyword research? And how can it help boost SEO for small businesses?

Let’s take a closer look and explore how it can help you improve local SEO for your small business.

What Is Keyword Research?

Simply put, it’s the process of identifying the search terms or phrases that people use when looking for products or services like yours. By understanding what these keywords are, you can optimize your website and the content around them, making it easier for potential customers to find you online.

Say, for example, you own a local bakery. If you were to conduct keyword research for a local bakery, some of the top terms you might find are “best bakery near me,” “buy cakes online,” and “cheap baked goods.”

You could then use these keywords to optimize your website, content, and other marketing materials around them which will help boost traffic and conversions from potential customers in the area.

Screenshots of a Google search for best San Diego bakeries to show an example of local SEO for small businesses

Why Is Keyword Research Crucial for Local SEO?

One of the biggest advantages of local SEO is that it allows you to attract customers who are already looking for businesses like yours in your area.

And since it’s affordable, local SEO for small businesses can level the playing field and compete with larger enterprises in the online marketplace.

But the benefits go beyond just showing up in search results. It also helps you understand your target audience, their needs, and their pain points.

When done properly, keyword research can help you:

  • Understand your target audience
  • Increase online visibility
  • Increase conversion rates
  • Target specific locations
  • Gain a competitive advantage

Conducting Keyword Research for Local SEO

It’s important to remember that not all keywords are created equal. So when you are doing your research, you’ll want to identify keywords that are both relevant to your business and attainable in terms of ranking.

Some keywords may have high search volumes but be extremely competitive to rank for, while others may have lower search volumes but be more targeted to your specific business.

Several keywords forming the word trend, over a dark brown background. Keywords include many topics and locations for local keywords

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Define your business goals: Start by clearly defining your business goals and objectives for local SEO. Determine what you want to achieve, such as increasing website traffic, generating leads, or driving foot traffic to your physical location.
  2. Identify your target audience: Understand your target audience, their preferences, and their search behavior. Determine the demographics, interests, and location of your target customers to help you choose relevant keywords.
  3. Brainstorm initial keyword ideas: Start by brainstorming a list of keywords and phrases that your target audience might use to search for businesses like yours. For local SEO, it’s important to include location-specific keywords, such as your city or neighborhood, or any other relevant geographic terms.
  4. Use keyword research tools: Take advantage of keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Moz. Enter your initial keyword ideas into your tool of choice to explore related keywords, search volume, competition level, and other relevant metrics.
  5. Evaluate search volume and competition: Assess the search volume for each keyword to determine its popularity and potential traffic. Additionally, consider the competition level associated with each keyword to assess the difficulty of ranking for them. As a small business, you’ll want to aim for a balance of both, choosing keywords that are both relevant and attainable.
  6. Analyze competitor keywords: Research your competitors’ websites and identify the keywords they are targeting and ranking for. This can provide valuable insights into your industry and help you discover new keyword opportunities.
  7. Consider user intent: Understand the intent behind the keywords you’ve gathered. Align your keyword selection with the intent to create relevant content that satisfies user needs.
  8. Optimize for long-Tail keywords: Focus on long-tail keywords that are more specific and longer in length. For example, “organic coffee shop in downtown” or “best gluten-free bakery in San Diego.” They generally have lower search volume but also lower competition, making them easier to rank for. This could be especially beneficial for a small business who is just getting started, or still building brand recognition.
  9. Refine and prioritize your keyword list: Refine your keyword list by eliminating irrelevant or low-value keywords. Prioritize keywords that have high search volume, low competition, and align with your business goals and target audience.

How and Where to Use Your Keywords for Local SEO Success

Once you’ve done your research and identified the most relevant local keywords for your business, it’s time to implement them. Use them strategically to improve your local SEO.

The first and perhaps most obvious place to implement your local keywords is on your website’s homepage. But don’t stop there. Incorporate your local keywords into your page titles, meta descriptions, and header tags. This helps search engines understand the content of your website and can improve your search ranking for local queries.

Google My Business, Yelp, and other local listings are also great places to make your keywords shine. You can put them in your business name, description, and categories to improve your chances of appearing in local search results.

Don’t forget about reviews. Encourage your customers to leave reviews on your Google My Business and Yelp pages, and respond to both positive and negative reviews while incorporating your local keywords into your responses.

Lastly, you can also implement your local keywords in your social media channels. Include your location in your social media profiles and use your local keywords in your posts. This not only helps with local SEO but also communicates your business’s personality and authenticity to potential customers.

Laptop with a location pin, a target over a search bar a man holding a magnifier, a megaphone, and a shop, showcasing local SEO for small businesses.

Track and Refine Your Local SEO Efforts

As with any small business marketing efforts, it’s important to track and refine what you’re doing to ensure that you are maximizing your ROI.

Keep a close eye on the keywords you are trying to rank for and monitor how they are performing. This will let you know if you are targeting the right keywords, or need to make adjustments. Use tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to track your rankings and traffic data.

Based on your analysis of keyword rankings, organic traffic, user engagement, and conversion metrics, make data-driven adjustments to your local SEO strategy.


Conducting effective keyword research is an essential part of any successful local SEO strategy for small businesses.

Of course, keyword research is just one piece of the local SEO puzzle. To be truly successful, you’ll also need to focus on other factors like link building, online directories, and user experience.

But by starting with keyword research, you lay a strong foundation for successful local SEO. This will help gain a competitive advantage and achieve your small business marketing goals.

Stand Out From the Crowd

A goofy-looking llama wearing sunglasses and a hat. Llama is looking at the camera with a friendly look

Looking for a marketing partner who’s as unique as you are? Look no further!

Get Social!

We love to connect with our audience and share our expertise. Join us on social media to stay in the loop and join the conversation.

Stand Out From the Crowd

A goofy-looking llama wearing sunglasses and a hat. Llama is looking at the camera with a friendly look

Looking for a marketing partner who’s as unique as you are? Look no further!