Part 3 – How to Uncover Local Search Trends With Google

by on December 5, 2011 · 1 comment

Google Local Search

This is the third post of a seven part series covering how to become a local search entrepreneur. In the past two posts I have taken a closer look at the business model surrounding specialized directory style websites that can generate income by listing local businesses. In this post I’m going to discuss how to use Google’s Keyword Research Tool and Search Results to identify a niche that has the most potential for success.

For those of you joining now here is a link to all of the posts.

Identifying Top Search Phrases by Area

Finding local website ideas and identifying top searches within an area has become really easy with the help of Google’s suggested search feature. Open up Google and type in the name of the area where you are considering launching a site.

For instance, “ballston va,” or “cape coral.” After the area name hit spacebar then type in a letter, “a,” or maybe “r.” You’ll notice five suggested searches. Cycling through the entire alphabet will help shed some light on the top searches within the area. Jot down your ideas, and also check out for additional category ideas. The next step is to uncover the searches per month these keywords receive.

Identifying The Number of Keyword Searches

Google’s Keyword Research Tool makes it very handy to find out which of the phrases you identified for a site have the most searches. Open the tool ( and type in one of your keyword phrases.

Before searching under the columns tab on the right hand side select “Local.” This will tell us the average searches per month. Next select “Only show ideas closely related to my search terms.” This will eliminate unwanted results. The results will display the number of times that phrase is searched per month in the U.S.

Keep in mind, these estimates are the number of times a phrase was broadly related to each keyword term. To find out the exact number of times a keyword is searched select “exact” from the left hand side. To generate more ideas for keywords unselect “Only show ideas closely related to my search terms.”

Getting An Idea of Paid Search Costs

Once you have identified a keyword with traffic it’s important to take a look at the Adwords costs. I found that the keyword “Arlington VA Spa” has 2,400 searches per month. The domain is open and the Google results show organic rankings at the top, and there are advertisements on the results. Using Google’s traffic estimator I want to try and get an idea how much I would spend per year as a Spa owner advertising on Google. Open the traffic estimator and enter $2.00 for CPC, with a $20/day budget.

The tool tells us that I would spend about $1,800 per year targeting this keyword and the average position in the results would be 1.99, with each day about 3.61 clicks to my site. This is important to know because down the line it will be an excellent cost comparison tool when conducting sales. The main takeaway here is that it’s evident there is a wiliness in the space to spend on Adwords advertising. The other takeaway is that even in the absence of a paid local business advertiser the site may be able to generate ad revenue.

Selecting Domain Names Based on Keywords

Google and Bing place a lot of emphasis on exact match domain names when ranking sites for keyword phrases. For instance, I have a much better chance to rank #1 for “Arlington VA Spa” if that is my domain name. This is the leverage point for the entire business model. Owning an exact match domain name for a keyword and building out a SEO friendly site is essential.

Selecting a Niche Based on Google Results

The final factor to consider when selecting a domain name and niche is the structure of results for that particular phrase. The phrase “Southside Pittsburgh Restaurants” usually doesn’t return map style listings at the top of the results, they are organic. This gives my site the best chance to collect referrals from that keyword.

Many local phrases are now incorporating map listings. Take a look at the results for “Arlington VA Spa.” This keyword returns a blend of map results and organic results. Because local listing websites do not have a physical location you will not be able to show up in map results. Map listings inhibit the full potential for clicks to an organic listing. It’s helpful to choose a niche with organic listings at the top of the page.

Key Takeaways

  1. Use Google’s Suggested Phrases to Brainstorm Website Ideas by Geography
  2. Use Google’s Keyword Tool to Identify Search Trends & Advertising Opportunity
  3. Strive To Purchase Exact Match Domains
  4. Investigate Google Results Before Deciding On A Niche

In the next post I will provide a briefing on how to build a user friendly local listings website that is SEO friendly, easy to update and tracks visitors with Google Analytics.

Using the SmallBiz Theme for Local Websites

This series shares advice related to all aspects of building local listing websites including sales, choosing a niche and web design. I build my sites on WordPress and recently switched to the using the SmallBiz Theme for these types of sites because of the speed at which I’m able to launch a quality of site that is supported with help forums, and a platform that is search engine friendly.

Go here to to learn more and tour the SmallBiz Theme. Go here to visit my site example for Ballston Restaurants and Ballston Hotels

About Jeff

Jeff Howard has delivered SEO results for major consumer oriented websites all the way down to local businesses and writes a column for Search Engine Guide.

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Jeff has written 21 articles on Expand2Web

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jim February 17, 2012 at 11:26 am

“Because local listing websites do not have a physical location you will not be able to show up in map results.”

Are you sure about your local listing business not showing in Google Places? I have several home businesses that I am operating from home and they are ranking on first page of GP for certain keywords.


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