Local Keyword Competition Analysis

When assessing various target keywords for local search engine optimisation, how do you determine the true keyword competition for the local market.

One of the important steps in keyword research is to assess the competition of the phrases you are analysing. The accepted method for doing this is to look at the number of web pages that are generated when you do a search (located directly below the search bar in Google's search results). When we are talking about local search, there are a number of different ways of searching to get more geographically relevant results. For Adelaide, these might include:
  • Using Google.com.au instead of Google.com
  • Selecting 'pages from Australia' instead of the default 'the web'
  • Google can automatically detect your location as 'Adelaide SA' with an option to 'change location' if the auto detected location is not correct
  • You can choose to include a location keyword such as Adelaide, SA, South Australia etc. in your search to bring back more local results
  • Search in Google Places rather than the wider search results

The best search method to gauge the local competition for a keyword would depend on how wide your market is and how they tend to conduct a local search. My preferred method is to add a location keyword to ensure I'm getting local results. If your business is only relevant to the local market, such as a restaurant, then the true competition for that keyword would be only other restaurants in Adelaide. Lets look at some data for the keyword 'Indian Restaurant' from the perspective of an Adelaide business.

Local Search MethodNumber of Results
None. (Google.com)11 900 000
Google Australia (Google.com.au)4 530 000
Google Australia + Pages from Australia649 000
Searching for 'Indian Restaurant Adelaide'170 000
Google Places Search682
Note: Google places appeared in several of the normal results searches as well

The most relevant results seem to come from the Places search so we can probably assume the the searching trend will be towards that method of search, although adding 'Adelaide' to the search did result in a lot of relevant results also.

We can only conclude that the true local keyword competition for 'Indian Restaurant' is somewhere between 682 and 170,000, which isn't very precise. Further, the ease of ranking for this keyword would depend very much on the strength of the top results.

Another problem is that Google only gives keyword search volumes for Australia as a whole, not individual cities or states so its difficult to determine the value of the keywords as well, but that's a subject for another post.

UPDATE 21/4: Loc made a good point in the comments below regarding the different between broad, phrase and exact match in keywords research. I have used 'Broad match' searches for this article which gives a wide scope of competing websites. In keyword competition analysis, 'phrase' and 'exact' match searches are pretty much the same.
  • Broad match- a broad match to the keywords simply means that the web page contains all of the words searched for, in any order and with any number of other words in between.
  • Phrase/Exact match- the webpages returned from a phrase/exact match search, which is done by using "quotation marks around the keywords," are those that contain all of the words in that exact order.

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3 Responses to Local Keyword Competition Analysis

  1. Interesting post Nick. It just goes to show what a difference the search settings can make.

  2. Good one! It's also helpful to distinguish between Broad, Phrase and Exact match.

  3. Anna & Loc again with the comments! Thanks for your continued input.

    @loc, yeh perhaps I'll do another post soon covering that... although I think there's still a lot of question as to which is the correct way to analyse it.

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