Local SEO & Geotargeting

What Is The Difference Between SEO And Local SEO?

The primary difference between SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Local SEO lies in the focus of the optimization efforts. SEO aims to improve a website’s visibility on a national or global scale in search engine results, whereas Local SEO focuses on optimizing a business’s presence to attract more business from local customers. Both types use similar techniques and strategies, but Local SEO employs specific methods to help businesses be more visible in local search results.

Understanding SEO

SEO is a broad term encompassing a range of strategies and techniques used to improve the visibility of a website on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. The goal of SEO is to increase organic traffic to a website by making it more attractive to search engines. When we talk about SEO, we consider factors like keyword research, on-page optimization, content creation, link building, and technical website improvements.

Key Aspects of SEO

  • Keyword Research: Understanding the terms and phrases that users type into search engines when looking for products, services, or information.
  • On-Page Optimization: Enhancing elements on a website, such as title tags, meta descriptions, headers, and content, to include targeted keywords.
  • Content Creation: Developing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience.
  • Link Building: Acquiring reputable, high-quality backlinks from other websites to increase a site’s authority and search ranking potential.
  • Technical SEO: Ensuring a website is technically set up to be crawled and indexed effectively by search engines, which includes site speed, mobile-friendliness, and secure protocols.

Local SEO Explained

Local SEO is the process of optimizing a business’s online presence to appear in local search results. This is particularly important for brick-and-mortar businesses serving specific towns, cities, regions, or states. By focusing on local SEO, these businesses can reach potential customers who are searching for products or services in their locality.

Key Aspects of Local SEO

  • Google My Business (GMB) Optimization: Creating and maintaining a Google My Business profile that includes accurate and detailed business information, such as the address, phone number, business hours, and customer reviews.
  • Local Citations: Ensuring the business is listed on local directories and citation sites with consistent name, address, and phone number (NAP) information.
  • Local Keywords: Including location-specific keywords in the website’s content and metadata.
  • Local Link Building: Acquiring links from other local businesses and organizations to strengthen local online presence.
  • User Reviews and Ratings: Encouraging satisfied customers to leave positive reviews on platforms like Google My Business, Yelp, and other review sites, and managing online reputation.

Diving Deeper into the Differences

The distinctions between SEO and Local SEO become clearer when we examine the specific intent behind the search queries and the results that search engines provide. Traditional SEO has a broader scope, sometimes dealing with non-location-based search queries and focusing on ranking for general keywords. Meanwhile, Local SEO deals with more geo-specific searches and emphasizes local engagement and relevance.

Search Intent

With Local SEO, search engines understand that the intent behind the query has a local dimension to it. For instance, when someone searches for “best coffee shop near me” or “dentists in downtown Chicago,” the search engine knows to prioritize local business listings and local maps. This creates an opportunity for businesses that have optimized their local search presence to rank higher against generic organic listings.

The Role of Location

Local SEO depends heavily on the user’s location to display relevant results. Search engines use the searcher’s IP address or geo-location data from mobile devices to deliver localized results. SEO, on the other hand, does not prioritize location to the same extent and focuses on providing the most relevant results for the query regardless of the searcher’s locale unless the query itself specifies a location.

Different Ranking Factors

Local SEO and SEO weigh ranking factors differently. For example, while backlinks are crucial for SEO, local listings with consistent NAP data and a high volume of positive reviews can sometimes outperform sites with better traditional SEO metrics in local search results. A strong Google My Business profile can greatly enhance a business’s local search visibility, whereas such a factor wouldn’t have as much impact on broader SEO performance.

Building a Comprehensive Online Presence

In the digital age, it’s vital for businesses to have a strong online presence. For larger brands or businesses targeting a broader audience, a combination of SEO and Local SEO is typically the optimal approach. It’s not just about being found; it’s about being found by the right people at the right time. A multifaceted approach to online visibility is a cornerstone of modern digital marketing strategies.

Integrating SEO and Local SEO

Integrating SEO and Local SEO takes careful planning and a strategic approach. By aligning broader SEO practices with local optimization tactics, businesses can effectively tap into different segments of their target audience. Crafting content that speaks to both wider and local audiences, building links from national and local sources, and ensuring technical excellence are all part of a holistic SEO strategy.

Adapting to the Evolving Search Landscape

The search landscape is constantly evolving, and businesses need to adapt to the ever-changing algorithms and user behaviors. Ensuring a responsive and mobile-friendly website, leveraging local content, and staying up-to-date with Google’s latest updates are all crucial to maintaining robust SEO and Local SEO strategies.

Finishing Thoughts

SEO and Local SEO are distinct yet complementary disciplines within the broader spectrum of search marketing. While SEO caters to a wide audience and concentrates on general search visibility, Local SEO zeroes in on the local consumer base, optimizing for geo-specific searches and online user experiences. Both are critical for businesses seeking to maximize their online potential, and understanding the nuances between the two is the first step in optimizing a comprehensive online presence that resonates with both the global audience and the local community. By striking the right balance and leveraging unique strategies tailored to each, businesses can enhance their discoverability, connect with customers, and stay competitive in the digital marketplace.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of optimizing a website or online content to improve its visibility and ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). This involves using various techniques and strategies to enhance the quantity and quality of traffic to a website from search engines, primarily through organic search results.

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is a subset of SEO that focuses on optimizing a business’s online presence to attract more customers from relevant local searches. These searches take place on Google and other search engines and can be highly targeted towards specific geographic areas. Local SEO involves optimizing the business’s Google My Business listing, local citations, and location-specific keywords.

How Do SEO and Local SEO Differ?

While both SEO and Local SEO aim to increase a website’s search engine visibility, the main difference lies in the geographic focus. SEO is generally more broad and targets larger audiences regardless of location, whereas Local SEO has a narrow focus, targeting users searching for products or services in a particular local area. For instance, a business using Local SEO would optimize for terms like “best coffee shop in Boston,” as opposed to a broader SEO strategy that might target “best coffee brewing methods.”

Can a business benefit from both SEO and Local SEO?

Yes, businesses can benefit from implementing both SEO and Local SEO strategies, particularly if they serve a larger audience as well as a local one. For example, an e-commerce business can use SEO to reach a national or global audience, while also employing Local SEO tactics to attract local customers to their physical store locations.

What are some key components of Local SEO?

Key components of Local SEO include claiming and optimizing a Google My Business (GMB) listing, ensuring NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) consistency across online directories, gathering and managing online reviews, building local backlinks, and creating location-specific content.

Is keyword research different for SEO and Local SEO?

Yes, keyword research for Local SEO typically involves finding keywords that include the local area alongside the service or product (e.g., “flower delivery in San Diego”). For general SEO, the focus might be on broader terms without location specifications (e.g., “best flower delivery service”).

How does mobile optimization affect Local SEO?

Mobile optimization is especially important for Local SEO because local searches are often performed on mobile devices. A mobile-friendly website can significantly improve the user experience for potential local customers and influence the local search rankings positively. Ensuring a site is responsive and loads quickly on mobile devices is critical for Local SEO success.

What role do online reviews play in Local SEO?

Online reviews are crucial for Local SEO as they contribute to the credibility and reputation of a business. Positive reviews can also boost the search engine rankings for local businesses as they provide social proof to both search engines and potential customers that the business is trustworthy and provides quality services or products.

Can Local SEO help with competing against larger businesses?

Local SEO can be an effective way for smaller businesses to compete with larger companies by focusing on their local market. By optimizing for local search, small businesses can appear more prominently in SERPs for consumers in their geographic area, even if they have a smaller online presence compared to larger competitors.


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Joe Fares

Founder of UltraSEOSolutions and a Digital Marketing Consultant, a great advocate of educating beginners on the competency of SEO, and helping small businesses dominate their niche. Joe is known for public speaking on SEO and online entrepreneurship, and has been awarded by Payoneer in 2017/2018, for being the most successful entrepreneur in the MENA region.