How To Create A Keyword List (Small Towns vs. Cities vs. Global Keywords)

Create a keyword list

A keyword list is the blueprint for SEO like a sitemap is for your website.

It outlines the keyword-targeted content that goes on your site, your URL structure, and it’s even used during link building. And if it’s not done right (you don’t choose right keywords) you will spend tons of time trying to “reoptimize” content or you just won’t get results. I will show you how to create an organized, well-researched keyword list so you can develop your content and URLs around those phrases – and have a better chance of ranking on page 1.

Now let’s create your keyword list…


Start With Your Targeted Location


Small town – small towns have less people so there will be lower search volume. This means your keywords will be broad and you will likely have only 1 primary keyword in your list, which should be targeted on the homepage. Larger markets = more specific keywords.

Large city – in addition to including broad phrases in your list, you should also include more specific phrases – since there are more people in a city so the search volume is higher.

National – since you will have a larger pool of keywords to choose from, you need to research each keyword’s competition so you know which ones you can actually rank for.


1. Small Town (Choose Broad Keywords)

Local seo keywords

Go to and use Google Autocomplete to learn what keywords people are searching. Type in your town name followed by any keywords describing what you offer. Try multiple variations (eg. lake bluff macbook…) to see if there are any others. However, chances are you will only have 1 primary keyword which will be targeted on the homepage.

If you want to target multiple towns, do the same thing in Google Autocomplete for each town to see it’s most popular phrases. Your keyword list should look something like this…

  • lake bluff apple repair (targeted on homepage)
  • lake forest apple repair (new location-targeted page)
  • highland park apple repair (new location-targeted page)


2. Large City (Choose Specific Keywords)

Use the same strategies described above only in addition to the broad phrases, also look for the more specific phrases that are more relevant to your specific products/services…

Keyword for large cities

Or use the “fill in the blank” method which gives you even more keyword ideas…

Google autocomplete fill in the blank

Play with Google Autocomplete to find keywords for your different products/services…

Long-tail keywords

Write down ALL products/services you offer and learn keywords for each one…

Keyword list

Do the same thing for other Apple products. Each mini-list should include your different types of repair services, just like I did for the Macbook Pro, Macbook Air, Ipad 2, etc.


3. National (Choose Specific Keywords + Competitive Research)

Since there are a larger pool of keywords to choose from, we have to narrow down the best ones by learning how competitive each keyword is relative to it’s search volume. This will leave you with only the keywords that have the best ranking opportunities. Otherwise you will spend time creating content that targets keywords you may never even rank for.

Step 1: Write down ALL your products/services

Step 2: Find very specific (long-tail) keywords for each product/service…

National keywords

A keyword like “macbook pro laptop repair” is going to be very competitive since it’s a broad (national) phrase – and common sense tells us there’s going to be tons of websites trying to rank for this. But a keyword like “macbook pro water damage repair” is going to be less competitive since it’s more specific. These are the type of keywords you want to target.

While broad keywords have more search volume, the specific keywords like “macbook pro water damage repair” usually yield a better opportunity. You’re better off on page 1 for a keyword with 100 searches than on page 13 for a keyword with 10,000 searches.

Step 3: Assign keywords to each product/service

Step 4: Filter out keywords that are too competitive. To do this, search each keyword in Google and look at the results. These indicators will tell you whether it’s too competitive…

Keyword competition

So instead of choosing “how to get out of debt” we would choose a more specific phrase….

Long-tail keywords

Just because a keyword is too competitive doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include it in your keyword list. If a general page outlining all your “apple repair services” improves user experience, don’t worry about the competition. Create the page for your visitors.


See Competitor Keywords With Semify Web Grader

You can run multiple websites through Semify Web Grader to view their keywords…

Competitor keyword list


Create Your Keyword List

Now that you know how to create a keyword list – go ahead and do it! Here’s some tips:

Similar Keywords – if two keywords mean the same thing (synonyms, plurals, phrases with different word ordering), only select the 1 most relevant keyword that best aligns with the product/service. This is because you should only target 1 primary keyword per page. Plus, Google’s Algorithm does a good job of analyzing user intent and “automatically” ranking websites for related phrases, so unless you know how to target secondary keywords which doesn’t even work that well, just select the 1 keyword that makes the most sense.

Homepage Keyword – should usually target the 1 main keyword you want to rank for.

Blog Post Keywords – use Google Autocomplete to find 1 keyword for each article you write. These should be non-promotional (eg. a “how to” article) and should also be long-tail. A good example would be “how to fix a macbook pro with a white screen.”


Organize Your URL Structure (Bonus Step)

The keywords you choose can affect your URL structure and the content that goes on your site. This is why it’s it’s a good idea to create keyword list before building your site…

Here’s what your URL structure might look like:

  • (homepage)
  • (outlines your Macbook Pro services)
  • (specific service)

And here is a URL structure for location-specific keywords:



Questions? Comments? Drop Me A Line!

Once you’ve created your keyword list, you can start organizing your permalinks, add the content to your site, then optimize the content by using your keyword in the page title, SEO title, meta description, content body, etc. You’ve just done the hardest part of on-page SEO!

If you have questions on how to create a keyword list, drop me a line in the comments. I’m glad to help with whatever questions you have. I hope you enjoyed the article!


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  1. So SO helpful. I can’t thank you enough for all the tips and advice on your site. This is exactly what I’ve needed to help me grow

  2. I was just in a quandary (as usual) trying to figure out the best keywords for my new art images. Your video was clear and concise. Now I am beginning to understand how to approach key words. I’ve read one article before this one (so far) and wanting more! Thank you Tom, you are a gifted teacher and get right to the point without a big intro or come on. Those who can write ideas down clearly and logically are few and far between. Consider yourself and your talents extremely valuable, thank you for helping me out. I will post on my art forum and mention your website as the go to for SEO info.

    • Thanks so much for your wonderful comment Suzanne! I’m so glad you found the video helpful and thanks ahead of time for mentioning me in the art forum (FYI here’s an article I wrote specifically for “artist SEO”). If there’s any specific topics you or anyone in your circles need help with as far as SEO goes, feel free to reach out. Always glad to help where I can…


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