What Is the Difference Between Local and Organic SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a major component of digital marketing, as it generates significant traffic and revenue for a business. Local SEO and “normal” organic SEO are two important tactics within overall SEO campaigns. Knowing the differences between them and what goes into their strategies can help greatly increase your visibility online and bring your business the qualified leads it needs.

What Is Organic SEO?

Organic SEO can be described as the process of achieving higher rankings in search engine result pages by producing high-quality content that is trustworthy and authoritative in your niche. Organic SEO practices can include link building outreach, content creation and optimization, and even technical SEO.

How Does Organic Search Work?

With organic SEO, everything revolves around relevant and authoritative content. Organic content results are what Google deems as the best answers to whatever search query is entered into the search engine. And with nearly 53% of all traffic on websites coming from organic search, Google’s choice of “best answers” can result in a major boost in business for you.

Here is an example of the organic search results for the “how to ride a bike” query:

ride bike

The organic results are the sites listed under these videos with no “ad” box or location placed next to them. This is what sets organic search apart from local and paid search.

The key factor in organic search is relevance to the search query, not your location. In order to achieve this relevance and appear in the results yourself, you need to select specific keywords that you want to rank for. Once you establish your keywords, you can optimize the copy on your website to ensure that Google finds it relevant. Incorporate these keywords into your landing page copy, metadata, headers, and even links.

Another factor that affects your organic search rankings is other websites linking to you on their pages. You want other reputable websites to link to your site, showing Google that your content is worthwhile and trusted.

The Benefits of Organic Search

Some of the main benefits of organic search optimization include:

  • You don’t need to pay for anything, since it’s all free and your own work
  • It targets relevant traffic, resulting in qualified leads
  • You can outrank competitors so that users have a harder time finding their site and instead choose yours
  • Organic SEO builds trust and credibility
  • It can help you break into new markets with a variety of targeted keywords

What Is Local SEO?

Local SEO is the process of implementing strategies that will benefit your target audience in a specific location as well as the surrounding area. The goal of this tactic is to help your business gain better visibility in your key areas of operation and help you convert more qualified leads and sales for your company.

How Does Local Search Work?

Local SEO is all about increasing visibility online in your community and is based on geolocation. It helps businesses promote their products and services to local customers. The audience that this attracts is comprised of users who typically want to go to that local business and make their purchase. So instead of searching for “how to ride a bike” they would search “bike store near me.”

bike store

Local SEO is what pops up in this box. This is called the “Google Local Pack,” featuring three business listings related to the location of the search query.

The SERPs for local SEO utilizes Google Maps, taking information from your Google Business Profile (GBP). It is on this platform that you incorporate your address, business hours, photos, business description, products/services, and customer reviews.

Ranking well locally, according to Google itself, mainly depends on:

  • Proximity – Your location in relation to the searcher
  • Prominence – What other consumers say about your services
  • Relevance – How relevant your services are to the search query

The Benefits of Local SEO

Overall, some of the main benefits of local SEO include:

  • It is highly targeted and timely
  • It is free to claim your Google Business Profile listing
  • Positive reviews on your Google Business Profile can convince more customers to use your business
  • Only 44% of businesses claim their GBP listing, which increases your ability to outrank your local competitors

The Main Differences Between Local and Organic Search

The Overall Approach

When it comes to organic SEO, the goal is to rank as highly as possible in the search results. Because of this, organic SEO incorporates a lot of on-page strategies, such as optimizing metadata and the content on your web pages. Off-page SEO strategies are also utilized, such as implementing a link-building campaign.

Local SEO takes a more specialized and niche approach. Since the overall goal of local SEO is to rank for hyper-local results, strategies like optimizing service pages for location-specific keywords and claiming your Google Business Profile are crucial to ranking in Google’s Local Map Pack.

Your Targeted Audience

As we have referenced, organic SEO is going to have a more broad audience since there is not a specific location tied to the company itself. This means you could be running your business in Atlanta but target a national audience through your content.

When dealing with location-specific SEO, your audience is located in a far more concentrated area. Since 46% of all searches include local intent, it is important to appeal to the people that reside in your targeted city in order to achieve the best results.

Links vs. Citations

The differences between links and citations come down to how your SEO strategies will benefit from their uses. Links refer to building equity for your website by having high-quality websites and companies link back to your own website. For example, if you are operating a startup software company, having an extremely credible website like Forbes write about your company and link to your website would greatly increase your SEO equity.

Though local SEO also benefits from link building, it is not the only thing that can boost your traffic. Local SEO can also benefit from building citations, which include any examples of your company’s information on websites that are located in your area (i.e. Yelp, Angi, etc.). This can include your company’s phone number, email address, website link, and physical address.

This is why we recommend updating your Google Business Profile. It is reported that only 5% of Google listings result in some sort of call to action, whether it be a call or a click on the website. If the information on your listing is up to date and easily accessible, it could result in your information being shared more accurately and readily, as well as more traffic and leads being generated for your business.

Which Is Better for My Business: Local or Organic SEO?

The answer to this is completely dependent on the overall goals and motives of your organization. For example, if you are running an ecommerce website that does not include any physical locations, we recommend that you utilize an organic SEO strategy over more local SEO tactics.

On the other hand, if you own a chain of restaurants in the Midwest, local SEO is a great way to give each physical location the specialized treatment it deserves.

At the same time, it is important to note that certain companies can also benefit from both national and local SEO efforts. This can include companies that have physical locations as well as an ecommerce store that can ship anywhere in the world. If this happens to be the case for your business, try incorporating both and see how it benefits your company at both a local and national level.

Contact Sixth City Marketing for Local and Organic SEO Services

The synergy of both organic and local SEO efforts can have your business thriving online. Reach out to Sixth City today to learn more about our overall SEO services – we look forward to hearing from you!

Sixth City Marketing

About the Author

Sixth City Marketing

This post was written and edited by employees at Sixth City Marketing, a full-service SEO and digital marketing agency helping clients across industries such as manufacturing, ecommerce, and many others since 2010.

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