Organic SEO vs Local SEO

seo vs local seo


Today, in 2024, local businesses need more than just a great product or service to thrive. They need to be found online. That’s where Local On-Page SEO comes in.

As a local seo expert for nearly 10 years, I’ve been helping businesses stand out in local search results. Let’s now look into some of the essential strategies that will help your business dominate local search and attract more nearby customers.

For a more in-depth look at SEO vs Local SEO please read on.

Quick Answer

It’s my view that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) focuses on improving a website’s visibility in general search results, while local SEO optimizes a website to rank higher in location-based searches and appear in local map listings. The key difference is that local SEO targets customers within a specific geographic area through tactics like optimizing Google Business Profile and earning local citations and reviews.

The Difference Between Organic SEO and Local SEO

If your business relies on a physical storefront or targets a specific neighborhood, mastering Local SEO is crucial for driving local engagement and conversions.


Focusing on the core differences, SEO targets broad, non-geographic keywords to engage a global audience, whereas local SEO hones in on region-specific keywords to attract nearby customers.

When you’re optimizing for local, you’re directly addressing those in a specific geographic area, ensuring your services meet the local search queries.

Here’s a breakdown to help you understand better:

Aspect SEO Local SEO
Focus Broad, global reach Specific, local reach
Keywords General interest Geographically focused
Target Audience Global internet users Local community members
Key Goal Attract worldwide traffic Drive nearby customers

Ranking Factors

Understanding the distinct ranking factors for SEO and local SEO is vital for effectively optimizing your website.

For broad-reaching SEO, backlinks are vital, acting as endorsements from other sites that enhance your credibility and search engine rankings.

Conversely, local SEO thrives on a well-optimized Google Business Profile and local citations.

These elements verify your business’s presence and relevance in specific geographic areas, making it more straightforward for local customers to find you.

While both strategies value quality content and technical soundness, local SEO places additional emphasis on local relevance through reviews and locally relevant links, which are critical to appear at the top for location-based searches. reviews #1 rank factor for local business

Mastering these differences ensures your website attracts the right audience, whether global or local.

Optimize For Different Search Results

When comparing SEO and local SEO, it’s crucial to mention that SEO targets ranking in the main organic search results.

In contrast, local SEO aims to appear in the local map pack and local organic results.

You see, the search engine results pages for both strategies are designed differently to meet these goals.

Organic SEO focuses broadly on enhancing visibility across search engines, aiming to capture a global audience.

Meanwhile, local SEO concentrates on specific geographic areas, optimizing for local search with local landing pages that cater to nearby users.

This means that if you’re targeting local clients, your business needs to show up in the local pack, where localized search queries lead potential customers straight to your doorstep.

Business Type

SEO suits any online business looking to reach a global audience, while local SEO is crucial for physical stores and services targeting specific local markets.

If you’re running a brick-and-mortar business, local SEO helps you connect with nearby customers by addressing geographic constraints.

Conversely, SEO caters to online companies without such restrictions, broadening your reach globally.

SEO Type Ideal for
Global SEO Online businesses
Local SEO Brick-and-mortar businesses
Global SEO Service providers without location limits
Local SEO Service-area businesses
Global SEO Businesses aiming for international presence

Understanding these differences ensures you choose the right strategy to boost your business’s online visibility effectively.

Key Local SEO Ranking Factors

With supposedly well over 250 known ranking factors, some being just legendary SEO tails (see this post about debunked SEO myths and others solid bets, optimize your local SEO, by focusing on several critical factors.

First, consider how close your business is to the searcher, known as proximity.

Ensure your Google My Business listing is thorough and complete, as this directly influences your local search ranking.

Accumulate positive online reviews and maintain consistent citations, including your name, address, and phone number (NAP consistency).

These steps are crucial for enhancing your local visibility.


Closeness significantly impacts how high your business ranks in local search results, as search engines tend to prioritize nearby options for users.

The proximity or distance of your business to the searcher is a crucial ranking factor in local SEO.

When potential customers perform local searches, search engines aim to show them the nearby businesses that can most conveniently meet their needs.

Hence, if your business is closer to where the search is originating, it’s more likely to appear higher in search results.

This emphasis on proximity helps make sure that users are presented with options that aren’t just relevant but also realistically accessible.

Understanding this can greatly improve your local SEO strategy.

Google My Business Listing

Understanding the importance of proximity in local SEO, you should also focus on optimizing your Google My Business listing to improve your visibility in local searches.

Here are some key factors to keep in mind:

  1. Thoroughness of Information: Make sure your name, address, and phone number are consistently up-to-date. Discrepancies can harm your local rankings.
  2. Relevance of Categories: Select business categories that accurately reflect your services. This helps Google understand where to place you in local pack rankings.
  3. Completion of Profile: Fill out every section of your GMB profile. The more detailed your profile, the better the GMB signals, enhancing your visibility in proximity-based searches.





Online Reviews

Frequently, online reviews greatly impact your local SEO ranking as they provide trust signals to search engines.

Positive reviews not only reflect customer satisfaction but also send strong relevance signals to search engines, enhancing your local visibility.

Encouraging customer feedback, whether through follow-up emails or on-site prompts, can have a substantial influence on your position in local search results.

These online reviews act like a double-edged sword; while positive feedback elevates your profile, negative comments require careful management to maintain trustworthiness.

Always respond thoughtfully to negative reviews to show potential customers that you value feedback and are committed to improvement.

Engaging actively with reviews can make a significant difference in how you’re perceived locally.

Citations/NAP Consistency

While online reviews improve your local SEO through customer interactions, maintaining consistent NAP citations is just as vital to confirm your business’s legitimacy and enhance your local search rankings.

Here’s how you can guarantee NAP consistency:

  • Audit Your Listings: Regularly check your business’s listings across all directories and online platforms to ensure accuracy.
  • Standardize Your Information: Use the same format for your business name, address, and phone number across all platforms.
  • Update Regularly: Whenever there’s a change in your contact information, update all your citations promptly.

This attention to detail in your citations and NAP consistency significantly enhances your local search optimization efforts, making it easier for customers to find you in their local searches.

Optimize Your Website For Localized Signals

To improve your local SEO, make sure your website includes location-specific pages, locally relevant content, and precise NAP details.

These localized website signals are vital for increasing your visibility in local searches.

By embedding location-based keywords throughout your content, you’re signaling to search engines that your business is relevant to specific geographic areas.

This significance is essential because it helps match your site to the right audience—those in your vicinity looking for the services or products you offer.

Your off-page local SEO efforts must include building a solid backlink profile with links from reputable, local sources to improve your ranking in local search results.

Focusing on acquiring quality backlinks, especially those that are locally relevant, can significantly enhance your visibility to a local audience.

strong links

Here’s what you should prioritize:

  • Seek Links from Local Authorities: Engage with local chambers of commerce and professional groups that can offer quality backlinks.
  • Partner with Niche-Relevant Local Websites: Collaborate with businesses and blogs within your niche but also within your geographic area.
  • Create Locally Relevant Content: Generate content that local sites find valuable to link back to, enhancing your profile’s strength as a local ranking factor.

Click-Through Rates

Building a strong backlink profile is essential, but you’ll also need to focus on achieving higher click-through rates from local searches to improve your local SEO.

When users search locally, they’re typically closer to making a purchase decision.

If your site appears in local search results but isn’t getting clicks, it could signal to search engines that your site mightn’t be as relevant as others.

To boost your click-through rates, make sure your titles and descriptions are compelling and directly address local searchers’ needs.

Effective use of keywords that connect with your local audience also helps increase relevance, encouraging more clicks and, subsequently, informing search engines of your site’s value in those organic search queries.

Do You Need Organic SEO & Local SEO?

Determining whether you need both SEO and local SEO can be crucial for your business’s online success.

If your business has a national or global reach, general SEO techniques are necessary.

If your focus is on serving customers in a specific locale, local SEO is essential.

Assess your business model, target audience, and geographic service areas to determine the right combination of SEO strategies.

Businesses That Need Both Local SEO and Organic SEO

Many businesses should implement both general SEO and local SEO strategies to optimize their online visibility and reach. Here’s why you might need both:

  • Multi-Location Businesses: If you operate in multiple cities or regions, balancing local SEO and organic SEO helps you appear in relevant search results everywhere, from the local 3-pack to national listings.
  • Local Services with National Reach: Maybe you’re a local boutique with an e-commerce side or a service provider offering remote consultations. You’ll need a mix to optimize business growth.
  • Authority Building: Establishing authority locally and nationally demands a strategic approach to both local SEO and national SEO. This ensures your business remains competitive and visible in all relevant searches.

Businesses That Primarily Need Local SEO

If your business’s success hinges on foot traffic or local clientele, focusing primarily on local SEO can be your best strategy.

Brick-and-mortar businesses like car repair, physio’s, and hair salons thrive on nearby customers who walk through their doors.


Likewise, service-area businesses such as plumbers, electricians, and landscapers depend on local visibility to connect with customers with a geographic intent like ‘plumbers near me,’ and to appear prominently in local map pack results.

mobile physio near me search on google

Prioritizing local SEO ensures your business is visible to the community that you’re physically serving, maximizing your chances for growth and customer engagement right where you are.

Best For: Businesses that primarily need local visibility and engagement, such as brick-and-mortar stores, restaurants, and local service providers like plumbers and electricians.


  1. Enhances visibility in local search results, making it easier for nearby customers to find your business.
  2. Increases foot traffic to physical locations by targeting geographic-specific queries.
    Boosts the likelihood of appearing in the local map pack, which prominently displays businesses relevant to local searches.


  1. Limited reach to potential customers outside the local area, which could restrict overall business growth.
  2. Requires frequent updating of local listings and SEO strategies to stay competitive within the local market.
  3. Relies heavily on local reputation and reviews, which can both positively and negatively impact visibility and attractiveness to new customers.

Businesses That Primarily Need National SEO

You’ll find that businesses operating entirely online, such as e-commerce platforms and remote service providers, benefit greatly from adopting a national SEO strategy.

These online-only businesses thrive when they focus on national SEO vs local strategies that utilize industry keywords, aiming to reach a broader audience across the country or even around the world.

Here are key reasons why national SEO is crucial for these businesses:

  • Expands Reach: National SEO helps you connect with customers nationwide, not just locally.
  • Enhances Visibility: Using broader, more competitive industry keywords increases your online visibility.
  • Grows Business: Reaching a wider audience can lead to increased sales and business expansion, vital for online-only businesses operating in a global marketplace.

How Local Intent Impacts

Understanding how local intent impacts SEO strategies is essential for your business’s online success.

By focusing on keyword targeting and local pack rankings, you tailor your content to meet the specific needs and searches of your local audience, which often leads to better personalization and more relevant click behavior.

Grasping these elements allows you to optimize for micro-moments that capture users at the peak of their purchase intent.

Keyword Targeting

Incorporating location-based keywords such as ‘near me’ or specific city names into your content greatly improves your visibility in local search results.

When you’re aiming to attract local customers, understanding the impact of local intent in your keyword research strategy is essential.

Here’s how you can optimize:

Include City Names: Mention the city or region you serve to signal to search engines that your business is relevant to local searches.

Use ‘Near Me’: Integrate ‘near me’ in titles and meta descriptions to cater to voice and mobile searches.

Optimize for Local Intent: SEO keyword mapping will assist in tailoring your content around the needs and questions of local searchers, using terms that connect with the community.

Local Pack Rankings

When your business optimizes for local SEO, it’s more likely to appear in the local pack rankings, which are important for attracting nearby customers.

These rankings are influenced by local intent, meaning that search engines prioritize businesses that are close to the searcher.

By fine-tuning your Google Business Profile and ensuring it reflects accurate, detailed information, you’re sending strong local signals to search engines.

This, coupled with the proximity of your business to potential customers, plays a vital role.
It’s not just about being close, though; it’s about being relevant and prominent in local searches.

Therefore, focusing on these elements can greatly improve your visibility in google maps rankings.


As search engines become more adept at detecting local intent, they’re utilizing results to your specific location, ensuring that nearby businesses are more visible and accessible.

Here’s how local SEO harnesses different technologies to deliver these personalized results:

GPS Tracking: Local SEO uses GPS data to pinpoint your exact location, making sure that the search results reflect the nearest options.

IP Address Detection: By analyzing your IP address, search engines can infer your general location, further refining search results to show relevant local businesses.

Mobile and Voice Search: With the increasing use of smartphones and voice-activated devices, local SEO optimizes for these platforms, ensuring that searches made on-the-go yield immediate, localized results.

Click Behavior

Understanding how local SEO tracks and uses your location, it’s clear why searches with local intent often lead to more clicks on nearby business listings.

When you search with a local focus, the click-through rates for local listings soar because you’re likely looking for a business you can visit. This is where local optimization becomes important.

Factor Impact on Local SEO Importance
Local Listings High Necessary
Click-Through Rates Increased Critical
Business Visit More Likely Crucial


Local businesses benefit greatly from micro-moments, as these urgent searches often lead to immediate actions.

When you’re exploring the significance of local SEO, it’s essential to focus on how these moments of local intent can be captured effectively.

Here are three key strategies:

  • Optimize for Immediate Needs: Make sure your business appears for location-based queries that indicate an immediate need.
  • Enhance Local Listings: Keep your Google My Business and other local listings up-to-date to be easily found.
  • Mobile Optimization: Guarantee your site is mobile-friendly, as many micro-moments occur on mobile devices.

See this post here about the benefits of local SEO.


Ultimately, deciding between SEO and local SEO depends on your business’s scope and the clientele you aim to attract.

If your goal is to reach a broad audience, SEO is your ally.

However, for those businesses whose success depends mainly on local patronage, local SEO offers a more targeted approach, enhancing visibility where it counts.

Knowing your specific needs and grasping your audience’s search behavior will guide your best choice between these two pivotal strategies.

Key Takeaways

  • SEO targets global audience with general keywords; Local SEO focuses local market with geographic keywords.
  • Local SEO prioritizes Google Business Profile, local citations, reviews; SEO emphasizes broader backlinks.
  • SEO targets global visibility; Local SEO prioritizes local map packs, nearby results.
  • Local SEO targets nearby customers; general SEO suits broader online audiences.
  • Local SEO leverages location detection for proximity-based, locally relevant results.

Get In Touch

I can help get your small local business to the top of the search engines. Download my FREE pdf guide to local SEO guide via this link


  • John Johnston

    John Johnston is a seasoned local SEO specialist with 8+ years of experience. He has built and optimized numerous lead generation websites, showcasing his versatility. Currently, John works with a top London skincare clinic, leveraging local SEO to drive targeted traffic and visibility. With a data-driven approach and expertise in keyword research, content creation, and on-page/off-page optimization, John consistently delivers outstanding results, helping clients outrank competitors and attract qualified leads in the local search landscape.

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