How do you determine which keywords are best to use on your site and blog if your business is “local” in nature? I’ve wanted to post on this for a while, and yesterday I got a call from a cleaning business in Frederick, MD about helping guide her with her site’s SEO. Fresh in my mind, this is a perfect example to illustrate how to determine the keywords you should be using for your business.

In speaking with the owner, she has a pretty good-sized house-cleaning business, but for most keywords is on pages 2 and 3 of Google when I did searches. Taking a look at her site, the biggest issue is that she is using keywords that are either not geographically modified or are too “micro” in their focus. Keywords she is using include the following:

  • house cleaners
  • maid services
  • home cleaners

These keywords are far too vague, not to mention competitive, for a “local” business. A┬ábusiness that serves customers in a local area, should ONLY use geographically-modified keywords, which is this site’s case she does use here and there. Such keywords include:

  • house cleaners walkersville MD
  • home cleaners middletown MD
  • maid services frederick MD

Overall, her geographically modified keywords are on the right track, but lack “focus” in her page titles – that is, she tried to squeeze too many in the page titles. I suggested that for her page titles she focus on just a couple of “core keywords” – narrowing down the scope of the geography to the one town that gets searches, “Frederick” or “Frederick MD”. The other markets she is trying to target with her keywords are very small and get almost no searches.

Looking at the keyword planner screenshot, you can see that the core keywords she should be focusing on are:

  • house cleaning services
  • maid service
  • home cleaning services

Now, these keywords need to be geographically modified, as her business is local in nature, focusing only on the city that gets any searches – which is Frederick, MD:

  • house cleaning services frederick MD
  • frederick house cleaning services
  • maid service frederick MD
  • frederick maid service
  • home cleaning service frederick MD
  • frederick home cleaning service

Since there are no other prominent cities named “frederick” in the USA, the “MD” (for Maryland) on the back end of the keywords can be included or omitted. I would generally include it when the city is on the back-end of the keyword, but omit it when the city is in the front-end of the keyword. In any case the above six keywords should be the focus of her page titles and on-site copy. Additionally, every blog post (which should be weekly) should focus on just ONE of the above-mentioned keywords. That is, a blog post should only utilize one of these – and it’s best if it’s in the blog post title (and therefore the URL) and in the copy a couple of times. Of course these keywords need to be linked internally on the site as well.

Here’s the steps you should take to determine what keywords you should be using on your site and blog:

  1. Determine “core” keywords
  2. Determine cities that get searches in your area
  3. Combine them with the city both in front of and at the end of the core keyword
  4. Use a free SEO analysis online reporting tool

That’s it – now you have your primary set of keywords you should be using on your site. Use these in your page titles, blog posts, and any other content you put out there.

If you need any help, consider reading on of the best seo books on the market.