The Secret to Keyword Research for Local Businesses Adwords Campaigns

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“If content is king on the internet, keywords are queen.”

-Ken Giddens

Keywords are the foundation of your AdWords account. You have to be sure to have the right keywords in your account so your ads show up in front of your ideal prospects who are searching for you on Google.

While keyword research can be a highly complex, time-consuming process, we want to make things as easy as possible for you. So we are going to suggest that you do not go too crazy with your keyword research. In fact, for a local AdWords campaign, our advice is not to cast too wide a net when it comes to keywords, especially when you are starting out.

Particularly for those used to doing keyword research for SEO purposes, this may sound like bad advice. For SEO, it is necessary to do comprehensive keyword research and come up with a list of hundreds or thousands of keyword variations for a business.

That is not what we recommend for a local pay-per-click (PPC) campaign. In fact, when you are starting out, before you even open any of the keyword research tools that are available, we want you to do the following.

What Would Your Ideal Client Type into Google?

Think of your ideal prospect and ask yourself, “What would my ideal client type into Google to find a local business that does what you do?”

Go with the obvious keywords and write them down. And that is it! You have just done your initial round of keyword research. It may be a small list, but that’s good. You want to at least start your campaign off by focusing on your best, most targeted keywords.

Here are some examples from a few local business niches that will give you a clearer idea of what we mean by the “best, most targeted keywords.”

For a cosmetic dentist, there are a handful of keywords that describe what you do, including:

• cosmetic dentist
• cosmetic dentists
• cosmetic dentistry

In addition, there are variations of the specific products/procedures you offer like veneers, dental implants, crowns, etc.

For a chiropractor, the most targeted keywords are ones like:

• chiropractor
• chiropractors
• chiropractic

You will also want to combine these keywords with the name of the main city (cities) you serve. For example, “Chiropractor Lake Tahoe,” “Reno cosmetic dentist,” and “personal injury attorney in Seattle.”

Start with only your best and most targeted keywords and expand from there.

You may be thinking, “Hold on a minute. I’m a chiropractor and help people who have back pain, sciatica, neck pain, and more. Why shouldn’t I bid on keywords that include those words?”

Especially if you are on a limited budget, you do not want to start out bidding on a keyword like back pain because it is too broad. There are people with back pain who could be good prospects, but you don’t know what someone who types “back pain” into Google is looking for. Are they looking for a back brace, a back pain cream, or some other option to get pain relief?

Also, for broad keywords like this, you are going to be competing against national advertisers who sell back pain cream, back braces, etc.. That’s generally going to mean more competition and higher click prices. Not that a local business can’t out compete national competitors, but it is a harder battle to win, especially when you are starting out.

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That is why we recommend sticking to the specific targeted terms. If you are a chiropractor and someone types “chiropractor” in Google, you know they are searching locally for someone who does exactly what you do.

You can always add more keywords later. But, initially, you do not want to blow through your budget because you have too many keywords, and the less relevant keywords steal clicks and budget away from your best, highest-quality keywords.

So let your best keywords lead the way. Then, after a couple of days, if you are not getting enough clicks, you can always add more keywords to the mix. Only at that point (returning to the chiropractor example) should you consider adding keywords like back pain, neck pain, sciatica, and other broader keywords.

One of the big mistakes we see with advertisers and consultants is they start off way too broad with their keywords. So they end up blowing through the budget and do not get a good number of leads.

In general, the more specific and relevant the keyword, the higher quality it is going to be and the more likely it will to turn into a lead.

Here is another example of how going too broad can hurt you:

If you are a mortgage broker, it seems obvious to bid on the keyword “mortgage broker,” right?

However, the mortgage brokers we’ve seen have the most success are those who focus on a specific type of refinance. For example, one of our clients specializes in HARP refinancing. So we bid on keywords like “HARP refinance,” “HARP loan,” and “HARP mortgage,” then created ads that referenced HARP refinance. Those ads lead to a landing page that was all about HARP refinance, the benefits of a HARP refinance, and why you should call them now for a free quote.

Again, the more specific you can be in your targeting, the better. So, if you are a mortgage broker, ask yourself, “What are the two best types of refinances that I can help people with?” and focus on those to start.

Bottom line with keywords is we would rather you start your campaign with your top 20 or 30 keywords, instead of 200 or 300 keywords and build from there.

So What’s The Secret to Keyword Research for Local Businesses ?

Here is the secret to keyword research for local businesses: There really is no secret. The keywords you should use are pretty darn obvious. Do not over complicate matters.

When someone is looking for an immigration attorney, what are they going to type into Google?

Immigration attorney, immigration lawyer, or some close variation.

It is unlikely you are going to uncover a magical keyword that no one has ever thought of before (because if no one has ever thought of it, then probably no one is typing it into Google). So for local business search marketing, keeping things simple and targeted is the way to go.

The above tips are excerpted from Ultimate Guide to Local Business Marketing by Perry Marshall & Talor Zamir, you can get it here.

Photo by Steven Smith cc by-sa

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About the Author

Perry Marshall has launched two revolutions in sales and marketing. In Pay-Per-Click advertising, he pioneered best practices and wrote the world's best selling book on Google advertising. And he's driven the 80/20 Principle deeper than any other author, creating a new movement in business.

He is referenced across the Internet and by Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, INC and Forbes Magazine.

4 Comments on “The Secret to Keyword Research for Local Businesses Adwords Campaigns”

  1. Completely agree here. Keywords for local businesses are very straightforward & are the best place to start.

    However, it’s becoming a little more nuanced recently with the proliferation of voice search.

    Many more long tail search queries.

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