Local SEO vs Regular SEO: The differences you need to know about 

Research shows that around 93% of online experiences start with a search engine such as Google, Bing or Yahoo!. When someone is searching online, it’s rare that they know what they want – they might have an idea but they need a search engine to help guide them. 

An effective search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy helps you to make sure your business is discovered when customers are looking for businesses, products and services. Without an effective SEO strategy, you will miss out on a huge number of prospects for your business, both locally and nationally, who are looking for your products or services but don’t know what you exist. 

Both organic and local SEO are the perfect way to get your business seen online but differ slightly in the results they can help you to achieve for your business. As a result, it’s important to be aware of what they are, how they differ and which strategy is best for your business. 

What is the difference between SEO and local SEO? 

Traditional and local SEO are both similar in that they focus on improving your website’s rankings within the online search results to help more people find and purchase from you. 

Whilst SEO focuses on improving your site’s visibility on a national or global scale, local SEO focuses on capturing customers in your local area. Many of the strategies used are similar but local SEO uses slightly different methods to help you appear for searchers in your area. 

What is SEO?

SEO is a valuable strategy for any business and uses on and off page strategies to help ensure that your website appears when potential customers are searching for related keywords or phrases. 

Traditional SEO strategies include: 

  • Conducting keyword research and optimising your website to target these keywords on your site 
  • Creating high quality, in-depth content around your expertise, products and services 
  • Ensuring your website loads quickly 
  • Streamlining site navigation and optimising for user experience 
  • Earning backlinks from relevant websites to build domain authority 

Building an effective SEO strategy helps you to make sure that your business appears in the top of the search results when potential customers are looking for keywords or phrases related to your products and services. It allows even more people to find, contact and purchase from your which helps to drive more traffic to your website and drive revenue. 

What is local SEO?

Local SEO focuses on reaching customers in your area when they’re searching for your products and services. For example, if you own or manage a hotel or restaurant in Sheffield, you will want your business to show at the top of the local results for that search. A local SEO strategy can help you to get there. 

According to Google, 76% of people who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a physical place within 24 hours and 28% of those searches result in a purchase. As you can see, investing in a local SEO strategy can help to drive sales for your business. 

Local SEO strategies include:

  • Claiming and optimising business profiles on local listing sites such as Google My Business 
  • Earning and managing customer reviews on local sites 
  • Targeting local, relevant keywords on your website 
  • Creating location specific website copy and landing pages 
  • Adding name, address and phone number (NAP) information to your website and relevant local directories 
  • Earning backlinks from relevant and reputable local websites  

What makes a search local? 

Organic search looks at the relevancy of your website to a user’s query. However, local search looks to provide geographically relevant information to match local intent behind a searcher’s query. Local search is more likely to have purchase intent than regular SEO which targets a broad audience with both informational and transactional intent. 

People who are performing a local search tend to be looking for a business or place they can visit in person or a service that will come to their home. Examples include restaurants, a DIY shop, local doctors or plumbers. 

It’s easy to identify search queries with local intent because they usually look like this: 

  • [term] + city 
  • [term] + near me 
  • [term] + closest to me

These queries help search engines to filter the results based on location, how far they’re willing to travel and the urgency behind the search. More recently, Google has introduced neural matching for local searches which means it can better understand the meaning behind search queries. If local intent is implied, the search engine can match the searcher with the most relevant local searchers, even if there are no indicators such as a business name or specific locations entered. 

For example, if we search for ‘film times’, Google knows where we are and shows results for film times in Sheffield. 

When should you focus on local SEO? 

If you have a brick and mortar store and want to draw in customers from your local area, a local SEO strategy will be essential for success. When someone performs a local search related to business, it’s important for your business to show in the search results and within Google’s local pack. If you own local stores with multiple locations, a local SEO strategy can help you to drive footfall in a number of locations. 

On the other hand, if you operate your business solely online and you don’t have a physical storefront to attract customers to, local SEO might not be the right strategy for you. When you’re targeting a larger market, you will need to rank for a range of keywords that help you to attract a large, broad audience to your website rather than just the customers from your local area. 

Do local SEO and organic SEO affect each other? 

There are certain SEO best practices that should be incorporated into both a wider SEO strategy and a local SEO strategy. For example, when you add your business to local listing pages, you’re also adding a link back to your website from a high quality source which can boost your overall rankings. These local listings will also tell search engines where you’re located which will help you to appear when local customers are searching for your products or services. 

In addition, search engines like to see updated and fresh content on your website. So, creating relevant, locally related content not only helps to send out local signals, it also helps to boost your organic SEO efforts. 

If you run these strategies effectively, they will help to improve your website rankings. On the other hand, if they’re not run correctly, they can be detrimental to your digital marketing efforts. Knowing the differences between the two and when you should use each strategy can help you to drive results for your business. 

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