Estimating Local Traffic and Dealing with Client Expectations

By April

YouTube video

During the Episode 52nd of the weekly SEO Q&A Hump Day Hangout, one of the participants asked about the right ways on how to estimate local traffic while dealing with the expectations from the client.

The question (as quoted) was:

I'm working on  a deal with a local biz. I'm having trouble figuring out how to set a realistic expectation for traffic. I don't want to over promise and under deliver, but don't want to aim too low and perhaps lose the deal either.

The business is in a large city but inside of a small suburb. I told him that the best thing is to set up multiple sites (on subdomains) for each of the smaller suburbs and then go after the big city term. I know that Keyword Planner is not an organic SEO tool but my fear is that the suburbs (using the geo modifier) get next to no searches while the big city (using the geo modifer) gets over 300 per month according to the KWP. 

When I was going over this with biz owner I told him that if we rank the sites for the smaller suburbs, if people in those suburbs are searching without the geo modifier that his site would show up because google shows what is nearest to the searcher if all they do is type in the service or if they're searching from their phone. That sounds good, but is that correct? I basically pulled that out of you know where. 

Should I go this route or should I just go after the big city term right out the gate? My fear is wasting time and resources ranking the smaller suburbs and not getting any traffic. This is only my second client so I'm still a bit nervous when it comes to setting expectations.