There is more to keyword research than just picking keywords with the highest volume and CPC. In this guide I will go through how to do local SEO keyword research, and rank in Google Maps, organic, and Craigslist.
The Advantages To Ranking Locally VS Nationally
The advantage of local SEO is that you are mainly only competing with other people targeting the same geo location. That means that right off the bat your money keywords and secondary keywords are often easier to rank. The simplicity of ranking that term will generally have to do with the highest keyword search volume and CPC in that particular geo location. For example “carpet cleaning London” is a lot harder to rank than “carpet cleaning San Bruno”. One of the reasons that the London keyword is more competitive is because there is more money to be made by ranking that term, so there are probably a good amount of affiliate SEOs trying to rank for it. Secondly, there are more businesses competing for the top spot and the marketing budgets for those businesses are forced to be a little higher.
Using Local Keyword Research Tools
Keyword research and content creation are the two most important factors for SEO success, so how do you do keyword analysis like an SEO expert? You can start by using our local keyword research tool found at this link to find the best geo modifiers to rank your niche in, and test them out on various online channels using the methods explained below.
Keep in mind that the map pack follows a little bit of a different algorithm than the organic search results, and it is also often a little less competitive because not every listing on Google will have a GMB listing connected to it. They are somewhat correlated as you can see in this Moz article, but I have had websites that were ranking on the third page for a particular keyword and first in the map pack.
Begin your local SEO keyword research by typing into Keywords Heaven the most profitable search term in your niche. It will then suggest to you some good geo modifiers to use. Once you have the list of cities, plug them into Google Search and look at the map pack in each city. I like to have the Keywords Everywhere plugin installed to give me keyword insights inline in my search.
You want to look for a result that has a high volume, a decent CPC, a relatively low keyword difficulty score in a tool like ours or SEMrush’s, as well as a low keyword competition map pack, like this one:
Even though the keyword difficulty seems to be somewhat on the high end, the map pack competition is low enough for me to assume it is relatively easy to rank higher on Google maps.
Map Pack Keyword Competition Factors
- What do the reviews look like? Reviews are a ranking factor for the map pack, and you should also think of them as click through rate competition when analyzing the difficulty of getting calls from a particular keyword. In this case there is no company with too many reviews, and none with 5 star reviews.
- Are there any exact or phrase match keywords in the business names? If not, this is a good opportunity to take advantage of that. Keywords in the business name are a pretty large ranking factor for ranking higher on Google Maps, probably because Google wants people to find business that they are searching for directly. In this case, we can see that none of these businesses have the search term “asbestos removal” or the city name in their business name.
- How far are the businesses from the city center? You can’t always control how close your Google Maps address is to the city center, but this is also a ranking factor to keep in mind. Looking at the photo below, we can see that Allstate Environmental LLC is 4.4 miles away from the city center, which should be easy to outdo.
4. Do all of the listings in the first 4 or 5 Google Maps results have websites attached? In this case we can clearly see that the third listing does not have a website and is ranking. If you create a listing with a strong expired domain, you should be able to overtake this ranking.
5. What are the categories of the businesses that are currently ranking? Are they relevant to the search term we put in? In this case, only one of the business has the category “Asbestos Testing Service” and that’s probably the main reason that that listing is ranking. In fact, the top ranking listing has a category that appears to be incorrect. They most likely meant to put “Environmental Consultant”. When optimizing your GMB listing, make sure to max out your categories with as many of them as possible that accurately describe your business.
6. What do the backlink profiles look like for the websites attached? In this case the top 2 have a decent backlink profile, but the last one doesn't even have a website, so by optimizing everything else we should be able to rank.
7. What is the on-page like for the websites that are ranking? The only website with a decent and relevant on-page to the search term is Titan Environmental Services. The middle one is irrelevant to the search term, and the third one doesn’t even have a website.
8. What is the citation volume and NAP consistency for the listings? Do a quick citation audit by putting your competitors into a tool like Moz Local.
After this analysis, rinse and repeat to find more terms from the related searches list at the bottom of the search results.
“asbestos testing kansas city” seems like a good one to try.
Although at first glance this may look like a somewhat competitive 3-pack, take a look at the city in the third listing. It is not in Kansas City, and the search term has “Kansas City” in it. Therefore, Google would probably like to show a business in Kansas City if they had a viable option. Additionally, the on-page is lacking quality content. This, in my opinion, can easily be out ranked.
How To Do Local Keyword Research for Google Organic Search
We go over this in more detail in our rank and rent and local seo lead gen article, but here is a brief explanation. When looking at local keyword research tools for ranking in organic search results, you should look for high ticket search terms that do not bring up the map pack, and/or those with a KD score of 2–20 in our difficulty tool. For example a good one in the water damage restoration niche is “water extraction + city”. Even though keyword search volume tools may tell you that these search terms have 0 search volume, you can still get traffic off of them, especially if you are ranking at the top for many different geo modifiers.
Google is currently not filtering duplicate content when used in a local SEO context, so take advantage of this by using mass page generators! Here is a good example:
You can see that two out of the top three results are likely mass page generated websites. These are websites that are created using software generate pages and target multiple cities by only changing the geo modifiers. To do this you can use the WordPress plugin Page Generator or something similar. You can also use YouTube videos to rank the same search terms, as shown in this video:
Craigslist Keyoword Research
In my opinion, advertising on Craigslist with pay-per-lead local service offers is the easiest way to make money online. It requires next to zero technical knowledge, and you can get started with it right away! So, How do we make money posting ads on craigslist without selling anything?
Picking A Craigslist Lead Generation Niche
In my experience (and yours might be different), I have found that good Craigslist local lead generation niches are often low/medium ticket, high volume, and high converting for the business owner like:
- Movers (competitive)
- Mobile dent repair
- Real Estate (competitive)
- Car Dealerships (competitive)
- Mobile mechanics
- Glass repair
- Cleaning services (carpet, upholstery, etc)
- Locksmith (competitive)
The main downside to Craigslist is that there are some tire kickers on there who price shop, but if you advertise services that cost under 1k or so, they will be more likely to convert. Let’s say I choose to go with fence services.
After doing a quick search in the Google Keyword Planner, some of the main keywords for fencing are: “fence repair”, “fence company”, “fence installation”, and “fence contractor”. Many people also search terms with the fencing materials in front like “wood fence repair”, “vinyl fence installation”, etc..
Now I would need to pick a city to do this in, and I would recommend using the geo locations with the highest volume and decent CPC (can be found on Keywords Heaven). There is no Craigslist local keyword research tool that I am aware of, but if these terms are being searched a lot in Google and bid on in AdWords, they are probably being searched in Craigslist as well.
Writing Ads for Getting Leads From Craigslist
So let’s draft a title: “Fence Repair & Fence Installation Company”. I would then proceed to put the keywords in the description as well as a couple times towards the top, if possible. You can get more in-depth information about writing your ads by reading this article, but you can test various formats by simply using different call tracking numbers in each one. What I have generally found to convert well are personable ads. You can do this by including a picture of your lead generation partner and including their name in the ad.
What Images Should I Use for My Craigslist Lead Generation Ads?
If you do not have a Craigslist local lead generation partner, I recommend using a few royalty free stock images. If you do have a partner, I’d recommend asking them for photos and a head shot.
Posting Craigslist Ads in Bulk
Craigslist is most effective if you can post very often (at least three times a day). After you have got all of the above together, it is time to try to post in bulk, which you can achieve in 2 main ways:
- Use a Craigslist lead generation ad posting tool
- Outsource the ad posting. There are many services that you can find that cost about a dollar per ad.
And that is it! You can scale to $200/day pretty easily with this as a beginner and establish some good client relationships.
Finding a Lead Generation Partner
Chase Reiner does a good job of showing how to find rank and rent or local lead generation clients in this video. Basically what you need to do is post on the Craigslist gigs section and often times you’ll get calls coming in fast for most industries!
Using these local SEO keyword research strategies and tools you should be able to rank in all of these local mediums. Enjoy!