Local SEO vs Organic SEO: What’s the Difference?

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Last year, 97% of searchers online used Google to find a local business, and 46% of searchers are seeking local information. With statistics like these, it’s hard to argue that, if you’re a local business, you desperately need to ensure you’re optimizing your local SEO, with emphasis on Google Business Profile.

Regardless of what you sell or do, people in your local area turn to online search engines to find products and services like yours. The solution? Make sure they’re able to find you and contact you.

While this might sound easy, there’s a lot to know about local SEO and organic SEO. What’s the difference between the two, and how can you ensure your company’s website is optimized for both? We’ve got the answers for you.

Table of Contents

What is Organic SEO?
Why is Organic SEO better?
What is Local SEO?
How is local SEO different from SEO?
Is SEO the same as Organic?
What Appears on a Local Search?
Which Brands Benefit from Local SEO?
Tips for Optimizing Local SEO
Local SEO vs Organic SEO for your Business?
Need Help with Local SEO?

What is Organic SEO?Organic SEO dart board

SEO refers to search engine optimization. When you enhance your SEO, you’re basically making it easier for people to find you at the top of search engines like Google.

In terms of digital marketing, there are two different forms of traffic. One is organic, and the other is paid traffic. While there’s nothing wrong with paying for traffic through tactics such as ads, organic traffic is better in the long run.

Why? It helps you build your business in a way that’s, well, organic. You do this through search engine optimization, which requires optimizing your website, website copy, and all other online content with keywords so that people can find you.

This is why you’ll likely note that companies offering SEO services offer more than just keyword research. Sure, keywords are an essential component of organic SEO, but there’s a lot more that goes on behind the scenes.

SEO services include:

  • Optimizing on-site content through site structure and layout.
  • Optimizing your website copy, including blogs, with the right keywords.
  • Creating high-quality, consistent content to keep the site up to date.
  • Building off-site authority through link-building.
  • Indexing pages so that crawlers can find them and rank them easily.

See? There’s quite a bit that goes into creating an effective, successful organic SEO strategy.

Why Is Organic SEO better?

70% of marketers see SEO as more effective than PPC. Organic SEO is seen as a preferable option long-term to paid advertising.

Paid advertising gives businesses a burst of visibility, where they receive a large amount of interest in a short time frame. It’s easy to see the effect of paid advertising, as the results are so immediate. But as soon as the money stops, the interest stops.

With organic SEO, the initial stage of building content, authority, and backlinks takes time, with little visible reward immediately. This method requires consistency and patience, but once the results of your hard work start to take effect, you will quickly see a boost in traffic.

Rather than a short burst of interest, organic SEO builds a steady stream of clicks. Though the investment at the beginning of an SEO strategy is large, once your business is established it requires less time to maintain. You will still need to update your site or Google Business Profile regularly, but organic SEO becomes far less time-consuming after the initial stage.

Organic SEO is seen as a more natural way to attract consumers. Businesses that use this method over a strategy requiring a complete reliance on paid advertising are more likely to build authority and trust and attract returning customers. By providing useful content and appearing organically in search results, customers will come to you, rather than you having to pursue them.

What is Local SEO?

So, you understand what organic SEO is, but let’s take that a step further and look at local SEO, which optimizes your content for local searches.

Local SEO is a form of organic SEO, however, instead of optimizing your content for general searches in Google’s organic results, you’re optimizing your website to show up in Google’s local map pack.

Oftentimes, when customers perform local searches, they’re looking to visit the physical locations of a store near them. These searches often cater to keywords using some variation of the phrases “near me” or service or store in “X city.”

Therefore, local SEO is the act of optimizing SEO for Google searches in a local area. Instead of trying to rank for the keyword “oil change,” you’d try to rank for “best oil change in St. Louis” or “fastest oil change near me,” for example.

Any businesses that show up on Google Maps or in the listings at the top of the page are using local SEO to get there. They have designed their Google Business Profile to focus on their location and included keywords associated with the local area. This is useful for both the company and the consumer; companies are being placed in view of potential customers, while consumers aren’t being shown search results from halfway across the country.

Because search engines know where you’re located when you search, they’ll bring up the most relevant results near the searcher’s location.

If you do it right, you’ll appear at the top of Google’s first page with the relevant information someone needs to find and contact your business.

How Is Local SEO different from SEO?

Searching a Local SEO searchThere is little difference between SEO and local SEO – it really comes down to user intent. The same principles generally apply to both, but local SEO is a smaller, more focused aspect of an SEO strategy.

As we discussed above, SEO means search engine optimization. We use SEO to rank higher in search results for queries and keywords relevant to our business. Local SEO is also about ranking higher in search results, but it is focused on location rather than a variety of industry-related keywords and questions. You can combine both in an SEO strategy, but local SEO is all about appealing to people in the local area, hoping to find a physical location to visit.

“Where to buy” and “near me” mobile queries have grown by over 200% in the past two years. People are using search engines like Google to discover local businesses now more than ever. Utilizing local SEO could make a huge difference for your business – ignoring it could cause you to fall behind competitors.

Is SEO the Same as Organic?

Once again, SEO simply means search engine optimization. It is a term we use to discuss pushing our site and information further up the page in search results, however that is achieved.

When we discuss SEO we are usually thinking of the organic type, which is a longer process of providing useful content related to appropriate keywords, building authority with backlinks, and becoming a trusted source in order to climb the ranks of search results. But there is also non-organic SEO. If you ever see an ad at the top of a page of search results, that is an example of non-organic SEO. You don’t ‘earn’ your place in the search results per se, you pay for it.

Both organic and non-organic are useful types of SEO, but organic is generally considered superior. With organic SEO, though it takes far longer and more effort to achieve, you will eventually appear naturally in search results without having to pay a premium for it. Non-organic SEO yields results, but will not build you a retainable audience or relationships with consumers.

Still unsure? Find out more about SEO in our guide, or request a free consultation.

What Appears on a Local Search?

Assuming you’ve optimized your content for local searches (or have contracted the services of a local SEO company to help you do so), it’s important to make sure that when you appear on the first page of Google, the right information shows up.

When you search for “pizza recipes,” the results that come up are often regular recipes, sometimes with photos or a list appearing in a rich snippet. If you searched, instead, for “pizza places near me,” you’d see a map appear with a list of local pizza places.

To show up on Google’s local map pack, you’ll need to get your company set up on Google My Business. Then, you’ll need to add photos, ensure your information is correct, and begin to ask for reviews to pump up your business rating.

Utilizing your Google Business Profile is essential for appearing on local searches. Any business that relies on in-person purchases needs to use this tool; it’s a fantastic, straightforward way to market your business online.

However, another part of local SEO is optimizing your content with other relevant keywords so that local searchers can easily find you.

Which Brands Benefit from Local SEO?

Pins on the local map

In the Social Media Today study quoted above, statistics showed that 72% of consumers who search for local businesses end up visiting stores within five miles. This indicates just how important local SEO is.

And, it also highlights the fact that local SEO is better suited for certain types of brands and businesses than others. Namely, local SEO is best for local stores with a physical location in the city that searchers are searching in.

This includes businesses such as local:

  • Auto repair shops
  • HVAC companies
  • Food services
  • Fence contractors
  • Real estate companies
  • Services companies (plumbers, electricians, construction companies, etc.)
  • Most retail stores

As you’ll see, the one thing that all of these companies have in common is that they’d have a physical brick-and-mortar location in the general area.

If you’re searching for restaurants, auto repair shops, or a boutique clothing store near you, you’ll want to know specific details, such as opening hours, the address, and how to get to the store.

78% of local-based searches on a mobile device end in a purchase that the searcher makes after visiting the local business in person. This is why local SEO is crucial for those types of businesses.

Tips for Optimizing Local SEO

Local SEP Button

Just how do you optimize your content for local searches?

Signing up for Google Business Profile is a good first step. Then, you’ll want to ensure that you’re engaging in some sort of online reputation management.

Ensuring that you have great reviews online is part of local SEO. It will encourage those searching for your services or products to trust you.

Then, it’s a good idea to hone in on local keywords and use them all throughout your website, especially in your blog.

Use location-specific “about us” pages and work towards integrating yourself into the local community. The idea is to establish yourself as a well-respected and trusted go-to business in your local area.

Local SEO vs Organic SEO for Your Business?

While we have established that local SEO falls under the same umbrella as organic SEO, it is only a small part of a larger whole.

Ideally, you could use both local SEO and organic SEO more generally to market your business. You could harvest all the queries focusing on a local area, while also engaging with a wider audience.

But appealing to the more competitive questions and keywords in search engines for organic SEO is difficult and time-consuming. For smaller bricks-and-mortar businesses like cafes and independent retailers, it would be challenging to achieve both successfully; these businesses would gain far more by focusing on local SEO.

For some businesses, local SEO isn’t a priority. If your company relies on a network outside of the local community – and doesn’t have a physical presence that customers can visit – it would make sense to focus on organic SEO rather than local SEO, as you are hoping to rank for queries unrelated to a physical location. SaaS and many B2B companies will fall under this category.

There will be many, often mid-sized businesses that fall somewhere in the middle. They have a wider reach and more authority but are still entrenched in the local community. For these businesses, combining a strategy that includes both local and organic SEO would be worthwhile.

Need Help with Local SEO?

Understanding the difference between organic SEO and local SEO is only half of the battle.

Coming up with a solid SEO strategy requires lots of time and expertise. But, lucky for you, you don’t have to go at it alone.

We’ve worked with local businesses for years in helping them craft their SEO strategies and increase their local rankings.

Whether you’re just getting started or need that extra push to take you to the next level, we can help.

Request a free consultation, and let’s talk about your local SEO needs.


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