SEO vs. Local SEO: The Key Differences

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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a crucial part of any digital marketing strategy. With more than 90% of online experiences originating from a search engine, this is something you can’t afford to get wrong. Yet many businesses are missing out by not playing to their strengths and focusing on local SEO. You might think SEO and local SEO are one and the same, but they definitely are not. 

Confused? Let us break it down: 

The SEO You Already Know (And Love)

SEO, the practice of enhancing a website’s organic ranking on the SERPs, is big business. With few search engine users venturing beyond the first page, keeping those search engine bots happy is how you get seen. This is done by paying close attention to several on-site and off-site factors that boost your website’s visibility, improve its UX and enhance your brand’s perceived authority and trustworthiness.

‘Global’ or ‘organic’ SEO is all about helping you achieve this, and a few tried-and-true techniques can have you rising up through the ranks. However, with every other company focusing on similar areas, competition for those top spots is fierce. If your business is entirely online, you’ll simply have to keep fighting the good fight, but if you have physical locations, too, local SEO could really benefit your bottom line.  

What Sets Local SEO Apart?

Local SEO also focuses on boosting brand visibility, but in a slightly different way. As the name suggests, this branch of SEO focuses on connecting search engine users based in a specific geographical location. Now, if your consumer base is local, at least in part, and if your business does have a brick and mortar location, it makes a great deal of sense to target this demographic and to leverage local SEO, in general. Doing so could increase foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar location or locations, as well as click traffic to your website. 

A significant benefit of local SEO is that you compete only with other local businesses, so it’s far easier to rank higher. This is great for small-to-mid-sized companies that may otherwise struggle to keep up with more globalized brands in the same industry. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll get away without putting in the work to get those coveted top spots – your focus will just be somewhat different when you do so. 

How Local SEO Looks

Local search results are triggered when the platform user inputs certain targeted words like “near me,” “in [city],” and “open now.” They are also activated by more specific inquiries that could have a similar meaning, such as simply “coffee,” or “supermarket.” Depending on the search engine in question, they will usually be presented with a searchable map and a list of suitable businesses at the very top of the SERP. The number and layout differ between search engines, but aiming to be one of the top three is a safe bet. Often search engine users will then be given further preference options such as distance or rating. 

While this is great for user experience, what brands need to know is how to hit those top spots. As search engines make judgments about this based on different criteria from your standard SEO, it’s good to know exactly what they are looking at. Google, for instance, determines local ranking based on three key factors: 

  • Relevance: whether the business in question matches the search criteria.
  • Distance: how far the listing is from the user’s location term.
  • Prominence: how well-known the company is in the local area. 

So, while regular old SEO focuses on optimizing content, with local SEO, you should be optimizing for location. That being said, there is some crossover between the two. 

Is Local SEO Worth Looking Into? 

Alongside advantages in terms of getting seen, there is also a significant benefit from local SEO in regard to the  intent of the audience in question. 

While most typical search engine inquiries are focused on gathering information, checking reviews, and getting a feel for products or services, those seeking out details about a business in their local area are more actively attempting to make a purchase. 80% of local searches convert. These platform users often fully intend to pick a business and make a purchase – usually on the same day.

Adding Local SEO To Your Existing SEO Strategy

To hit the location-specific aspects of local SEO, you’re going to need to do the following as a bare minimum: 

  • Add name, address, and phone number information to your own website
  • Claim and optimize your business on local listing sites like Google Business Profile 
  • Encourage and manage reviews on local listing sites such as Yelp 

Businesses with multiple locations will need to do this for each one. 

You’ll also need to look at the following: 

  • Integrating relevant, local keywords into your web copy
  • Creating location-specific content for your website 
  • Earning mentions and backlinks from reputable, local websites

Doing this will not only help you to reach customers actively looking to make a purchase, but you can establish more of an identity in your local community. Building trust and perceived expertise in this way will benefit your overall SEO, which in turn will support the “prominence” factor of your local SEO. 

If your company fits the criteria of one that would benefit from local SEO, but you’re not sure where to get started with it, Firon Marketing can help. With our expertise in local, national, and international SEO, we can not only determine which SEO techniques will work best for your brand but optimize your web presence to accomplish significant growth and improve the quality of your website traffic. Get in touch today! 

Derick Michael
Derick lives and breathes SEO. Creating organic ROI comes easy to him.