Using Google Insights for Local Keyword Research

With all of the major changes Google has conducted this year it’s surprising to me that they have not introduced a local specific keyword tool. If you have done keyword research recently you may have found yourself scratching your head wondering how you could determine whether or not searchers in your locale are typing in certain keywords (Without geo modifiers).  Before some major updates in 2012, Google did not auto-detect your geo location and show you location based searches.  Since they didn’t do that if you wanted a local result you would probably type in the geo modifier manually when conducting keyword research. For example if you were looking for a car accident lawyer in Los Angeles you might type it in as “Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer”.

Since Google now shows localized results based on your location, the geo modifier is no longer necessary but still used by many searchers as you can see in the example below (The chart below shows exact match searches).

monthly search volume for car accident lawyer and los angeles car accident lawyer

But what what if potential visitors are not typing in the geo modifier?

How can we be sure that a keyword without a geo modifier is getting traffic in a certain geographic area? Since many searcher’s are now searching without the geo modifier it’s important to learn how we can find data for these keywords.  Good thing we have a way to figure it out now.

Introducing Google Insights

If you have not used Google Insights before this post, it should really excite you!  To visit Google Insights for search simply visit: and you will be taken to the Google Insights page.  You will see place where you can insert a search term along with the geo location filters to the right of that.  In the search below I searched for the keyword “car accident lawyer” worldwide with the filters set to the default settings.

Google Insights for search

So what does this show?

This search displays the default data which includes the trends and search volumes for this keyword since 2004 across the globe.  If you look at the graph below you will see the trends for this search term over time (and probably also conclude that 2006 was a popular year for car accidents).  Now take a note at the numbers on the Y axis.  These are NOT search volumes! This is very important!  According to Google answers these numbers are “The numbers on the graph reflect how many searches have been done for a particular term, relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time.” (Google Answers).

This means while it will not show the exact search volume it will show you it’s trend based out of 100 points.  If a keyword you want to rank for in a geographic area does not have any search volume, it’s a safe bet you don’t want to focus on it.  Now lets examine a search within a specific geographic area.

interest over time in google insights

Now Let’s Look at a Geo based comparison

In the example below I am using the filter to further refine my searches for local intent.  I changed the county to “United States” which allowed to me also select a state and geogrphic region. I selected California and the Los Angeles region while keeping everything else the same.

Google Insights Geographic Search Filters

In addition to this I also select the + Add Search Term link underneath search terms and added a few variants to Car Accident Lawyer. Since I am now set in this geographic area I will be able to compare terms side by side within the Los Angeles area. This is very useful to determine what keywords you should and should not use. If a search does not have any noticeable search volume it’s a safe bet that you can stay away from it.

search term variants google insights

Now let’s examine the Google Insights data below:

That’s a lot of info. What does it show?

As you can see we took the search volumes for four keyword variants in the Los Angeles area.  This page assigned a color to each keyword so you easily track it on the graph.  Blue is Car Accident Lawyer, Red is Car Accident Attorney, Orange is Auto Accident Attorney, and Green is Car Crash Attorney.  You can see that all of the keywords except Car Crash Attorney seem to have some measurable local search volume within the Los Angeles Market.

So what can you do with this data?

This data shows that there is a search volume for most of the keywords I wanted to rank for in the Los Angeles Market, which means three of them were good keywords. This also showed us which one we do not want to put too much focus on because it has no search volume.

Based on this data I would adapt my SEO and link building strategy to focus on the following keywords in the following order:

1) Car Accident Lawyer (Highest volume in LA)
2) Car Accident Attorney
3) Auto Accident Attorney

I would not try to rank for car crash attorney or at least spend too much time there since the search volume is nothing. That being said I might build some anchor text to that keyword to help vary it.

Now get to it and start doing more location based keyword research for your clients that serve local areas!



About author: Casey

Casey Meraz is the CEO of Ethical SEO Consulting. He is currently writing a local SEO book. Casey is heavily involved in local SEO research and runs a local SEO Blog. In his spare time he enjoys traveling, boating, and trying new things. +Casey Meraz+

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