Local SEO vs. Organic SEO – what’s the difference, and do you need both? This post will dive deep into both search engine optimization strategies to see each offers’ differences and benefits and determine which strategy your business should prioritize.
If you’ve been actively marketing your business online, you would have most likely come across organic SEO and local SEO. Though both sound like excellent search optimization strategies, you might find yourself wondering which is better for your business.
This post will walk you through the differences between organic SEO vs. local SEO and how they are related. First, let’s start with the definitions.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (otherwise known as SEO) is the process of improving your site visibility when people search for products or services related to your business.
Marketers adopt many optimization tactics and best practices adhering to search algorithms to rank high in search results. Some quick examples are keyword research, link building, improving page speed, and more.
Generally, when optimizing a website for SEO, you are looking to create content that will answer relevant queries your target audiences may be actively seeking for.
This could be a keyword like pizza recipe or a question spoken into voice search on your mobile device like how do you make a pizza from scratch?
Compared to local SEO, organic SEO is optimizing for searches that do not contain local intent. That is, users are looking for information rather than a specific location.
Benefits of SEO
SEO can benefit businesses of all sizes and industries, especially now, as 3.5 billion searches are done daily.
Almost everyone is conducting searches to find answers. And this makes SEO a fundamental part of digital marketing if you are looking to reach potential users and buyers looking for info online. With SEO, here are some significant benefits:
- Drive website traffic – Search can be a primary source of digital traffic for businesses. By ranking in the top results for relevant search terms, you can generate hyper-targeted and high-quality traffic to your website.
- Build brand trust and credibility – Ranking on the first page of Google boost business credibility. Users generally trust Google to deliver relevant and valuable content first, and as statistics show – 75% of users do not move onto page 2.
- Increased engagement and conversions – While SEO results may be time-consuming. When done correctly, businesses can expect an incredible ROI because search engine leads offer a close rate of 14.6%, nearly 12% greater than traditional marketing.
- Cheaper than other strategies – Though we can hardly say that SEO is cheap nor easy, it is one of the most cost-effective tactics compared to all other marketing strategies for delivering brand awareness and relevant traffic to your website.
What is Local SEO?
A subset of the traditional SEO, local SEO refers to optimization techniques that focus on local searches. This strategy is usually adopted by local businesses with physical stores to reach customers in their vicinity.
Let’s take pizza as an example again. If you search the term pizza on your mobile device, it will most likely bring you local results and recommendations of pizza places rather than recipes.
Here, you will see the Local 3-Pack results that Google thinks are the top three pizza places near you.
However, beyond proximity, another instance of local SEO is result-based ranking on Google Maps. Let’s say you own a hotel in Auckland. Instead of targeting locals, you are reaching out to international travelers planning a trip to New Zealand.
Without proximity as a factor, Google relies on other local ranking metrics like keywords, NAP citations, reviews, and more to decide on Google Maps rankings.
One thing is, local search rankings are always derived from GMB listings. So unless you have a Google My Business profile, your business will not appear for local searches.
Benefits of Local SEO
With that said, some businesses may gain an edge from a local approach to SEO.
Brick and mortar businesses like coffee shops or hardware stores are likely to benefit more when optimizing for local searches rather than the traditional SEO and here’s why:
- Gain more foot traffic from local online visibility – 46% of searches on Google are seeking local recommendations. By optimizing your company’s local SEO, these local customers are more likely to find you and visit your store.
- Increase traffic and sales – On average, 56% of actions on GMB listings are website visits. Manytoin relies on Google My Business listings to discover a local business nearby to visit and support.
- Reduce advertising costs – Creating a GMB profile is completely free. Building your rank will allow you to use Google Maps and search results as a free advertisement for your business and gain more valuable clicks than a paid ad.
Differences Between SEO and Local SEO
By now, you should understand that both traditional and local SEO focus on improving your rankings in online search results so more people can find and purchase from your business.
However, there are still some fundamental differences between them which you should know to decide which strategy is better implemented for your business.
The first significant difference in local vs. organic SEO is the target audience and their search intent.
Organic SEO results focus on answering people who are looking for information to a question.
They are looking for resources and are not necessarily making any transactions. They want to know facts and information that will solve their current issue.
If your goal is to improve your website’s visibility and brand recognition, targeting audiences using organic SEO would be a better solution.
This is because while they might not be ready buyers, they might be willing to sign up for your funnel and can become potential leads in the future.
On the other hand, local SEO allows you to capture people actively searching for a product or service from a business in their vicinity.
Local searches will specifically include the type of product, service, or business and either the name of their city or the term “near me”.
Statistics show that they fully intend to pick a business to make their purchase, usually on the same day.
So when you rank high in your local search territory, it will help searchers in your area connect with your business.
As you can see, organic search results happen when search engines determine that there’s no local intent in the search and that the user is looking for information rather than a location.
Naturally, if you are a business with a physical store, you will want to rank your business high in local searches. Whereas, if you want your business to show up for certain search terms but not for a specific location, you want to rank higher in organic search.
Unlike organic SEO, local SEO results go beyond the usual SERPs and can be found on maps and business directories like Google Maps apps, Local Packs, and even voice search.
Content is a crucial part of both local and organic SEO. Search engines love content, and it is what they use to tell them what your site is all about and if you regularly update.
However, content works in different ways for both optimization strategies.
Organic SEO is concerned with content focused on topics and keyword groups relevant to your target audiences. For example, if you run a plumbing business, you want content about slab leaks or how to inspect a leaking pipe.
In terms of local SEO, your content marketing efforts should produce content geared towards how your local target audience speaks and behaves by targeting the local keywords they use.
For instance, your target audience in Lakeland prefers to use “dentists in Lakeland,” while in New York, they use “dentists near me”.
By understanding what queries your local customers are using, you can create localized content that helps convert your local audience and establish your geographic focus to search engines.
4. Link Citations
Citations are considered a ranking factor for local SEO as to what backlinks are to organic SEO. Both are crucial elements for their respective optimization strategy.
Local citations happen when you directly mention your business’s name, address, and phone number. We call this NAP, and like backlinks, consistency and increase in quantities will benefit your SEO by determining online authority to your business.
However, for a citation to truly benefit your SEO strategy, it must match the NAP details you have on your Google My Business listing and your website.
Meanwhile, backlinks, which are direct links to your website from a page on another website, are highly dependent on a mix of quality and quantity.
You want your backlinks to come from other relevant and authoritative sites, as well as being linked using an anchor text that includes an important keyword. To earn high-quality backlinks, one SEO method is to create skyscraper content.
How Do SEO and Local SEO Affect Each other?
Local SEO is essentially a part of SEO. That’s why any efforts to boost your local visibility can also improve your overall search visibility worldwide.
Just follow this line of thought! When first building your visibility, you create a GMB listing to establish your expertise at the smaller local level. As more people find your business and talk about it through reviews or blog mentions, this grows your overall search value to the search engine and improves your rankings.
Several overlapping SEO practices can help both local and organic search rankings. For instance, both strategies require researching and incorporating target keywords into business descriptions and high-quality content to build relevancy.
Here we recommend using BiQ’s Keyword Intelligence to help you with your keyword discovery. Our tool supports localized results and allows you to uncover search queries according to your preferred location and language.
Whether you use these keywords for on-site local SEO efforts like optimizing your Google My Business description or organic SEO efforts like writing an informative blog post, both your local and organic SEO efforts will help improve your website rankings.
However, do note that this works both ways. While local and organic SEO practices can improve your rankings, they can also negatively affect your rankings when done incorrectly.
A solution to this is to use our BiQ’s Rank Tracking tool to keep track of your local rankings. This can especially come in handy during optimization strategies, as changes in rankings are not often reflected immediately.
Another newly released local rank tracking tool we highly recommend is Grid My Business. For your information, BiQ and Grid My Business are sister brands both invested by the same investors, but we are 2 independent product teams, imagine us like Google Map and Google Mail.
Grid My Business is a local rank monitoring tool that will show you the local search rankings of your local business and your competitors’ on Google Maps in a grid view.
It supports all locations that can be found on Google Maps. Once you have finalized your targeted keywords, you can obtain more profound insights into your local rankings with Grid My Business.
Grid My Business allows you to uncover ranking opportunities among your pool of competitors based on each specific search query. You can identify local rankings of multiple search queries by performing a quick and easy bulk scan of up to 5 keywords per scan. It saves time saves money.
Besides that, you can also schedule an automated rank monitoring and obtain precise weekly updates of all your local search rankings in a comprehensive white-label report.
By having this report, you can easily keep track, monitor, and even have a side-to-side comparison with your local competitors. Thus, supporting your local SEO ahead of the competition.
Ultimately, both local and organic SEO serve important but different purposes for digital marketing. And depending on the kind of business you have, you would want to invest in one of the optimization strategies.
If you run a business that relies on a local customer base, you will start with local SEO. Whereas your business operates solely online and you do not have a physical storefront to attract customers, your need for local SEO would probably only be for managing your company’s reputation.
Then again, if you are a local business looking to grow and want to target a larger market than just your local area, combining both local and organic SEO would help you elevate your business.
Updated: 26 January 2022