We’ve all heard it before: “Yeah, I rank number one for [insert your favorite zero-volume keyword here].” I want to talk about what should be the first step in undertaking a good SEO strategy–KEYWORD RESEARCH.

The first mistake made by many local businesses with regards to SEO is that they think they already rank high for what customers, THEIR potential customers, are searching for.  After sitting with many local business owners and listening to what they need to be relevant for, it’s easy to go back and figure out where the foundation for their SEO should start.

When we talk about Local SEO we are always talking about the “what” plus the “where.” This is a logical step but one that is often missed.  If I am looking for a caterer and I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, do I care if there are some exceptional caterers in say Chicago, San Francisco or New York?  Not really.

After some quick reconnaissance and keyword research you can come up with a comprehensive list of keywords that are relevant AND have significant search volume.  Once this list is generated you can then use your favorite rank checker to determine where your client is actually ranking.  I always double check the rank checker results with some actual searches to verify SERP (search engine results page) results.

This is the foundation to where all your title tags, meta tags, content creation, etc. will be born.  This is a quick and easy step but one that not only do local businesses not know about, but that many SEO professionals will skirt, shorten or all together skip.