Keyword research is undoubtedly one of the most important components of SEO. Forming the basis for your on-site optimization, keyword research will eventually determine who can find your website. Missing out on important keywords means you’ll be losing targeted traffic. The less traffic you have coming to your site, the lower your chances of conversion. Most keyword research tools are going to provide you with national search volume information. But let’s say you own a small business, like an insurance agency that only caters to a localized community. You don’t want to or need to rank on national level for your keywords. How do you go about localizing your keyword research? It’s actually a simple process.

First, you’ll conduct your keyword research on a national level. The Google Keyword Research Tool is a free tool that can help you determine what keywords have the highest search volume, and provide you with useful variations. Let’s say you start with “insurance agency,” as you are trying to optimize your landing page. You select the following four keywords based on their relevancy and search volume:

Insurance agency: 301,000
Insurance brokers: 60,500
Independent insurance agency: 22,200
Insurance company: 1,500,000

(Save keywords like “health insurance” and “car insurance” for their respective pages.)

Now, these numbers are the number of people searching for those keywords on a national level. But that doesn’t help you. You only handle insurance in the Washington, DC area. So you rank your site to rank well for “Washington DC insurance company.”

Localizing your keyword research is simply a matter of taking your national research and incorporating your regional keywords. So now your keyword list would look something like “Washington DC insurance agency, insurance agency Washington DC, Washington DC insurance brokers, insurance brokers Washington DC, Washington DC independent insurance agency, independent insurance agency Washington DC, Washington DC insurance company, insurance company Washington DC.”

You want to include the location both before and after the keyword, because people could be searching either way. If you’re hoping to rank in several regions (for example: Washington DC, Arlington VA, Bethesda MD), you’ll need to localize each keyword for each location. There is a great tool called Keyword Lizard to help you do just that. You just plug your keywords into column A, then your locations into column B. It will create every possible keyword variation using those two column.

Obviously you will not be able to incorporate every single one of those keywords into your content. That’s fine. Just include the most important ones as they best fit, and then list the rest in your Meta keywords. Remember, order is important! It denoted significance to the search engines. Put the keywords you think are most important first.