The Importance of Keywords in Local SEO

NAP, Directories and Citations
April 19, 2017

The Importance of Keywords in Local SEO

What Do All Those Letters Mean Anyway??

In case you had any doubts about the importance of Google to the success of your SEM (Search Engine Marketing) plan and your efforts to be effective with local SEO (Search Engine Optimization), consider this: as of early 2017 Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day.

“Googling” has become an integral part of the consumer purchase process and as a result, has created intense competition for placement on that all-important first SERP (Search Engine Results Page).

There’s no doubt about it:

your battle for prospective customers will be won or lost in local search engine results.

Having a website is no longer sufficient to grow your business. In today’s competitive online world, you have to make sure your website is showing up when customers are searching.

As a business with a local address and one that relies on local customers, you must optimize for local search.

Local SEO is a procedure for optimizing your website so that it displays more prominently in the local SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) on Google. (For our purposes we will be talking about non-paid search results, not PPC {pay-per-click}.)

Google typically displays ten results for local businesses when someone searches.

What gets listed? You and your competitors.

What can you do to distinguish yourself?

We’re here to show you how.

Local SEO happens in two places:

  1. on your own website
  2. on the internet

The foundation that supports a successful local SEO program is keywords, the word or phrase people type into a search engine when they want to search for something. Keywords form the basis for all SEO strategies.

Google Keyword Planner

Google gives you a free Keyword Planner.

Follow the link, click “start” and you’ll go to the page shown.  Although this is set up as the starting point for an ad word campaign, Google lets you access the keywords generator for free.

Go to #2 and scroll down to “Keywords.” You do not need to enter any of the other information in this form to access the keywords.

Type in a word or phrase that you think people would use when they search for you and the Google tool will provide a list of associated keywords with information about the number of searches done for each keyword per month.

We entered “Kitchen cabinets” to initiate the keyword search.  550,000 searches per month for kitchen cabinets–wow.

Google Auto-Complete

You can also use the Auto-Complete feature of Google to find popular keywords.  Auto-complete shows the words and phrases other people have used when they typed into a search box. These can be a valuable source for keyword ideas.

The only thing we typed into the search box was the letter “K”. Google “thought” we wanted  “kitchen remodelers”, “kitchen and bath dealers” and “kitchen designers near me.”

Pro Tip: Be sure to add these to your list of keywords.

Long-Tail Keywords

“Long-tail” keywords are search phrases (3+ words rather than one word) that are highly relevant to your business that people type into Google when searching. The more specific a long-tail keyword is, the easier it is for your website to rank when people search for it.

You need to anticipate what prospects might type into Google when picking your keywords, then incorporate variations of this keyword into your website copy.

An example of a long-tail keyword appropriate for your business might be “custom kitchen and bath remodeler”.

Where should keywords get placed?

Include one or two keywords on each page of your website, including the PAGE TITLE.

Another place on your website to include keywords is in the META TAGS. Meta Tags are not visible on your website, but they show up in Google search results. It’s the words you see under the blue title text in Google search results.

If you are not in charge of your website, ask your Web Master about including your list of keywords in the Meta Tags. When you completed the information form for your programmer to use when building your site, you probably listed keywords, and they got put into the Mega Tags. If they did not, or if you have come up with new keywords, it’s time for an update.

IMAGE ALT TAGS and TITLE TAGS are like Meta Tags, except these are keywords attached to images behind the scenes on your website. Again, if you’re not programming your own website, this is a task best given to your Webmaster. He/She will know what to do and how to do it.

ANCHOR LINKS included in the pages of your website offer a good place to fit in keywords. When a link is used to direct visitors to another section of your website, use a keyword as the clickable anchor text.

Instead of using this cumbersome phrase as a clickable link “For more information on our cabinet lines, visit”, use one of your keywords as the link: “our custom cabinet lines”. For this to work, the phrase you activate with a hyperlink must be one of your keywords.

GEO-TARGETED KEYWORD PHRASES work well when beefing up local SEO. When you add your city and state to the keywords, they are geo-targeted or geo-tagged. The concept is a bit dated, but it can’t hurt and it will probably help.

Google can determine where a searcher is located, so they need not enter the city and state to get businesses near them to appear in the search results. Here’s a few examples to get you started.

  • Kitchen Designer City State
  • Kitchen Design City State
  • Kitchen and Bath Remodel City State

OUTBOUND GLOBAL AUTHORITY LINKS. Whenever you include a clickable link in your website to an industry site, such as NKBA or Houzz, use one of your keywords for the link. These are called Outbound Global Authority Links. Just make sure the source opens in a new page so your site visitor doesn’t navigate away from you.

Google offers some no-nos to go with using keywords.

Don’t just stick in keywords without having them make sense in the context. Google can detect keyword “stuffing”.

Automatically generated—or “auto-generated”—content that’s been generated by a computer is a huge mistake. This usually consists of paragraphs of random text that make no sense to the reader but contains search keywords. Google calls it “webspam” and you could have your site removed entirely from their search engine.

Another practice that can get you in trouble with Google is link schemes. These were popular a while ago – “link to me and I’ll link to you”. The thinking was that the more external links you have, the higher your site will appear in the search engine results. Google nixed this pretty fast. Any links intended to manipulate search engine results are a violation of Google’s policies. This includes anything that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.

Now that you know what all those letters mean (SEM=Search Engine Marketing, SEO=Search Engine Optimization, SERP=Search Engine Results Page, PPC=Pay-Per-Click) can you make them work for your local business?

Begin by making your list of 100+ keywords and long-tail keywords and get them incorporated into your website. This initial time investment will pay off over the long run with improved rankings on Google, which will lead to more website visitors, which will lead to increased customers.