Even with keyword research tools in hand, doing Hyperlocal Keyword Research is a challenging venture.

Simply put, there’s not enough data available in most keyword research tools to provide definitive results for small businesses in humble locations.

Before we dive into this article, let’s first explain what we mean by “keyword research”.

Keyword research is the process of discovering what search queries people are typing into Search Engines like Google to find the types of products, services, or information you promote on your website. By bringing the content and words used on your website in line with what people are actually searching for you are optimizing your website.

There are plenty of keyword research tools available to determine how many times a specific phrase is searched, how many other websites mention the keyword, and how competitive the keyword is. These tools are great, but even the best keyword research tools lack data when it comes to very specific local areas – what we refer to as hyperlocal keyword research.

In a recent Whiteboard Friday, Rand Fishkin presents 3 Tactics for Hyperlocal Keywords for Local SEO in data-deprived locations.

In this article, I’ve outlined Fishkin’s three suggestions and then added three of my own ideas for SEOs working in the often-frustrating digital space of small centres.

1) Use Numbers from Nearby Regional Data

Rand suggests using data for larger centres in close proximity to your focus area as a stepping stone for ideas. He argues that searches in more populated areas could provide results that would likely be just as applicable to the geographically similar but more modest location.

2) Rely on Google Autosuggest

Presuming that Google presents autosuggested results in order of usage popularity, they can certainly provide a foundation for close examination. And, as suggested, they aren’t unique to Google, which means the information you glean from other search engines may be just as useful when comprehensively investigating keywords.

3) Explore Lexical Vs. SERP Suggestions

Lexical searching involves using semantically-related search terms. Presumably one would crack their Thesaurus open for this method, and hunker down for a few hours exploring all the possible variations of the keywords being explored. Often, this can bring up volumes of very unique and surprising results and in this way do what is called long tail keyword research.

SERP suggestions can be a lucrative source of related keywords used to search for the same item. Sometimes, very slight changes in phrasing or presentation from the suggestions can win you SERP placements you might not otherwise have thought possible. All variations are worth exploring.

4) Consider Regionalisms Vs. Common Terms

This is one area of keyword research that I don’t believe receives enough attention. Examining language variations by region (East Coast) provides a whole new set of search terms from those commonly used on the other side of the country (West Coast).

I’ll give you some examples which show researching regionally specific word variations before you begin serious local keyword investigation can be more fruitful than one might imagine.

Let’s say you are an SEO client that sells small boats which sailors tow behind or often store on their vessels. These tiny boats are used for emergency purposes as well as for shuttling food, water, fuel, and other necessities between the shore and the sailing vessel. You want better global representation for the watercraft you produce.

What name would you use for the vessel? And how would you do keyword research for the vessel name? Examining your regionalisms is where you need to start.

Below are some regional and global specific names for the same vessel:

Cockleshell (UK)
Sampan (Asian)
Skiff (UK)
Tender (AUS)
Wherry (UK)

Have any idea what I’m talking about?

Here’s a hint. Where I live (Canada), it might be called a Dinghy. Did you have an aha moment? I sure did! I could suddenly picture the vessel in my mind. Your customers will only be able to do that if you use Regional terms with which they are familiar.

5) Expand Your Keyword Horizons

Local keyword research doesn’t just mean trying search terms you might use yourself if searching for a specific item or service in the area in which you live. It depends a great deal on the regional phrases used in the area being promoted. Products and services are called different names in different locales. People who live in those locations are going to use search terms with which they are familiar. Make sure your SEO firm is aware of any regionalisms used to describe your products or services. Otherwise, you may be circumventing the local market entirely.

Regionalisms are evident across the US for many things, particularly food. Although several years old, a good follow up article after you finish reading this one is Selecting Keyword Variations Based on Gender, Age, and Region. It will give you an excellent starting point to determine how products or services might be researched in varying location-specific searches across North America.

6) Drop the Industry Jargon

This suggestion isn’t specific to just hyperlocal markets but it is still very important to think about when doing your keyword research. Stop researching industry jargon phrases and terms that only people within your trade would use.

What you call one product or service may be much different than what your actual consumers think they are looking for.

As you do your keyword research, stop and think about all the phone calls and in person experiences you’ve had with customers. What words do they use to describe the product, service or solution they are looking for?

That’s where your keyword research should start.

Moving Hyperlocal Keyword Research Forward

Once you’ve determined the regional variations you can then begin dialing-in some specific Google searches and going through points 1 – 3 above. You’ll most definitely discover a wider range of search terms through which you can pursue hyperlocal SEO aspirations.

If you’d like more information on Local SEO keyword research strategies or to inquire about how our professional keyword research strategies could benefit your company, contact 1st on the List today at 1-888-262-6687!

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