Many businesses with a locally based market miss the chance to optimize effectively for local search engine rank. Often they put too much focus on main keyword terms and ignore the fact that not using long-tail keywords can mean losing out on potential traffic from local people and companies.

As we teach at the Search Engine Academy, long-tail terms (i.e. those that are multiple words and phrases, or keywords which may not be the highest traffic but have a consistent audience), are a search engine ranking factor that can bring more traffic to your site over time than the top ranking keywords.

So, for instance, instead of focusing all your efforts on ranking for “dog grooming Dallas,” you also need to optimize your website for the many associated terms that your potential customers will use when they search online.

It’s important to understand what those terms may be–specifically by thinking about what your ideal customer may be looking for. Then you need to build those terms into your website content in a natural manner. That way you have more unique content and more indexing opportunities for the search engines under key local terms.

Researching Those Long Tail Terms

First the first step in your keyword research–start looking in the the search engine results themselves.

In the example of “dog grooming Dallas,” the first page of results on Google have sites that mention the following terms: dog groomers, doggie massage, pamper your dog, pet boutique and grooming, pet salon boutique, professional dog grooming, pet bathhouse, groomer and spa, dog grooming experts, doggy day camp, and so on. Additionally, at the bottom of the results listing, Google provides related searches, which will give you even more ideas for your list of keywords and terms. 

You can repeat this search exercise for all the top keywords for your business to create a more extensive and comprehensive list to work with for your website optimization.

To achieve the best results in local search, you need to include local terms. Many businesses still neglect this important step, so you gave a great opportunity to rise to the top! Don’t forget to include geographic areas that you serve and location information of your place of business (if applicable)–this is helpful so the search engines show your content to the people in the correct locations.

Another resource for your long-tail keywords are your employees, customers and friends. Ask around and see what words and phrases other people associate with your business, products and services. Also, check out your competition–look at their websites, ads, marketing collateral, etc. to see what terms they are using.

Use Local Info For a High Search Engine Ranking Position

Pull up a map of your local area and write down all the counties, towns, and neighborhoods where your service can be provided or where your potential customers might live. Including these place names in your content will generate yet more traffic from the search engines.

Check your own website analytics. Although Google has now introduced “not provided,” which hides information about referrals and the keywords that have led a visitor to your site, you can still see which pages they visit on your site–and also see the geographic location of your site visitors.

At the end of this exercise, you should have a good list containing hundreds of keywords and phrases. Even a very small business with only a single product can find lots of ideas–the length of your own list may surprise you!