Tips for Using Google’s Keyword Research Tool in a Local Context

by on June 3, 2010 · 5 comments

This post is part 4 of a 10 post series on local website optimization and local search keyword selection by guest author Jeff Howard. A complete list of all posts and links can be found at the bottom of the page.

If you have been following along, up to this point we have generated a big list of keyword developed from brainstorming. Now the objective is to grade these keywords and any new words found along the way by traffic volume.

To do this, I recommend using Google’s Keyword Research Tool. This tool will provide a general idea for the search frequency of terms (how popular a keyword is). The numbers provided by the tool should not be used as an exact measurement, but as trending tool to divide lower traffic phrases from higher traffic phrases.

Using The Tool

Google’s Keyword Research tool is located here It will provide the average monthly searches for each term on the draft list created from the previous post. To get started, copy and paste your entire keyword list into the box labeled “Enter one keyword or phrase per line.” Select “Use Synonyms,” and then answer the captcha and hit “Get Keyword Ideas.”

Your list should be returned with the corresponding traffic estimates. You want to look at the estimates that are under the “Global” column. If no traffic estimates are available take a look at the section of suggested keywords, and see if any of those are accurate.

It is not uncommon for Google to return localized keywords with estimate labeled NA. Don’t be alarmed this post will help you troubleshoot keyword selection without traffic estimates.

The best way to master the tool is to spend a little time with it, and get creative with your keyword combinations. Here are some rules of thumb for using the tool.

Rules of Thumb for Keyword Research Tools

  • Understanding The Estimates: I tend to take these traffic estimates as a trend and not as an absolute number. My rule of thumb is that you can conservatively put these estimates at half their value. And while it’s likely that if you rank #1 for a phrase you’ll receive traffic, it doesn’t always happen. Sometimes the best way to understand a keyword’s traffic level is by test driving a number one position with a PPC campaign.
  • Adding Google Suggested Phrases To Your List: If you scroll all the way down the list of keywords, you’ll see there is another table with a list of very broad phrases. The list may help spark more recommendations for keywords. For example, when if I am running searches for gym related keywords, the suggested phrases may recommend “health clubs.” Checkout the suggested phrases for new terminology regarding products and services, or different ways to describe a location.
  • The Importance of Keyword Order: The order of words within a phrase will play a major role in making your final keyword selection. Take a look at the results for “Pittsburgh Gyms,” notice “Gym Pittsburgh” receives more traffic than “Pittsburgh Gyms” (at least I hope this is still the case). Plurals, and small variances like the use of the word “in” or state abbreviations makes an impact on traffic potential, especially locally.
  • When Traffic Estimates Are Not Available:Don’t be alarmed if Google is not returning traffic estimates. Local searches tend to be very specific. If no estimates are returned try using the tool to find out which of your product or service keywords are searched the most. Then do the same for the location keywords. For instance, if “Bethel Park Mulch Delivery” does not have a search estimate, start by finding out what keyword related to mulch is searched the most, then find out what locations around your area are searched the most. Combining the data can help determine the best keywords.

Conclusions & Last Step

This step is one part analytical thinking and one part creativity. To get better results mix and match your keyword combinations until you have exhausted your brainstorm list.

After you have done so review the newly formed list with traffic estimates and compile a short list of several phrases that have traffic volume and represent your business location (and products or services). This list will be used in the next post where we will evaluate the competition for a top ranking.

<< Previous Post
Part 3 – How to Draft a List of Local Keywords for a Small Business

Next Post >>
Part 5 – Measuring Local Search Results Competition

About the Author

This is a guest post by Jeff Howard. Jeff 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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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Belasco June 3, 2010 at 7:40 am

I might recommend that you use “phrase match” when doing this so as not to get over the top traffic estimates.


Don Campbell June 3, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Great point – thanks Mike!


Will Scott June 5, 2010 at 10:45 am

We usually pull both broad and exact match just for the sake of having a VERY conservative estimate.


scott June 29, 2010 at 2:36 pm

I have found the uk hard to fathom. In the us the areas are bigger so each term has more traffic. I have 10 websites and all have high map positions but in a small town does that mean much? Also what happened on jun 12th? Suddenly I have impressions in google places where before it was blank.


dochi November 20, 2011 at 11:01 pm

thanx for the information..kepp it up bro..


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