Local SEO vs. National SEO

Nov 6, 2023 | Enhanced Visibility

What is the difference between local SEO vs. national SEO? The distinction between the two categories of SEO is actually quite significant. Recognizing how Google treats local businesses differently than national businesses in search results can significantly impact your SEO strategy approach.

Local SEO

Local SEO optimizes your online presence to attract more business from a specific geographic area, usually a city or region of a large city. These are called local intent searches. Local intent searches take place on Google and other search engines.

Imagine you own and operate a med spa in Colorado Springs. When someone nearby searches for “med spa near me” or “hydrafacial in Colorado Springs,” you want your business to pop up in the search results. That’s SEO for local results at work.

Critical components of Local SEO include:

  • Google Business Profile (GBP) listing: Google gives each physical address of the business a GBP. The business owner must claim, verify, and update the GBP listing as the GBP feeds information to various places, including local search results and Google Maps.
  • Local keywords: Using location-based keywords in your website’s content helps Google understand where your business operates.
  • Local citations: Ensure your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) are consistent across all online directories and listings.
  • Reviews: Encouraging satisfied customers to leave positive reviews on your GBP can improve your business’s visibility and attractiveness.

local seo vs. national seo

Diving Into National SEO

National SEO, on the other hand, focuses on ranking for broad keyword terms rather than specific geographical locations. National SEO is about reaching a national or even an international audience. This SEO strategy is suitable for businesses operating online without a physical storefront or serving customers across the country.

The main elements of National SEO include:

  • Keyword targeting: Instead of local keywords, you’ll focus on broader terms. For example, a company selling software for real estate agents would target “real estate software” rather than “real estate software in Boston.”
  • Link building: Acquiring high-quality backlinks from reputable sites within your industry is more critical here. It signals to Google that your site is a valuable resource.
  • Content marketing: Producing high-quality, informative content that appeals to a national audience can establish your business as an authority in your field.

Google’s Localized Search Results

Google wants to deliver the most relevant search results based on the user’s location and intent. This is Google’s goal.  For local queries, Google uses different ranking factors, heavily weighing the business’s location, GBP listing, local citations, and user reviews. If your website is SEO-optimized for a national audience, the website might need to rank better for someone searching for a local provider of similar services or products.

Related: What makes people click on search results?

User Intent

Understanding the searcher’s intent is crucial difference defining local SEO vs. national SEO. Local searchers often look for a product or service to use immediately or within a short time frame. They’ll likely choose a business that appears at the top of local search results. National SEO targets an audience without regard to location, often focusing on gathering information, comparing products, or making online purchases without the immediacy of local intent.

Competition

Competition levels can differ significantly when considering local SEO vs. national SEO. Locally, you might compete against a handful of businesses in the same city or region. Nationally, the competition extends across the country, encompassing every business within your niche, regardless of location. This difference can affect the strategies and effort required to rank well in search results.

Crafting Your SEO Strategy

Recognizing whether your business benefits more from a local or national SEO strategy is one of the first things to decide when defining your SEO strategy. Focusing on Local SEO is essential for local businesses like restaurants, plumbers, or law firms. If your business targets an audience without geographical limitations, National SEO should be your focus.

Hybrid Approach: Some businesses might benefit from a hybrid approach. If you have a physical location but also sell products or services nationally, combining both Local and National SEO strategies can maximize your online visibility and reach.

digital marketing services

Local SEO vs. National SEO – Key Differences

While local and national SEO both have the same goal to improve online visibility, the strategies and approaches differ significantly. Here’s a closer look at the main differences:

Keyword Targeting

Local SEO optimizes location-specific keywords, such as “Digital Marketing Company in Colorado Springs” or “Law Firms in Colorado.”  In contrast, national SEO targets broader, industry-specific keywords like “best digital marketing services” or “top legal consultation services”.

Content Creation

Local SEO requires crafting content relevant to the local audience’s needs and interests, including local news, events, and guides. National SEO requires generating generic, industry-focused content appealing to a broader audience.

Link Building

Local SEO focuses on building high-quality backlinks from local directories, websites, and blogs, establishing credibility within the local community. National SEO requires building links from a wide range of authoritative websites nationwide or globally.

Google Business Profile (GPB) Optimization

An essential tool for local SEO is Google My Business (GMB), as it facilitates appearance in Google’s local search results and on Google Maps.  National SEO doesn’t rely heavily on GMB optimization.

Related: Optimizing your GBP

Competition

Local SEO tends to be more competitive as businesses vie for a more minor, more specific audience’s attention.  National SEO, conversely, is about standing out within a broader industry.

Conclusion

In the digital age, SEO is indispensable for business visibility and growth. Understanding the difference between local SEO vs. national SEO and why it matters allows you to tailor your online marketing efforts effectively. Whether you’re aiming to be the top choice in your local community or to reach customers nationwide, the right SEO strategy can make all the difference in achieving your business goals.

SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Consistency, quality, and adaptation to the ever-evolving digital landscape are key to staying ahead.

Katherine A.

Katherine Anderson loves creating and designing. Her passion is helping local businesses apply digital marketing to attract and convert new customers. More articles by Katherine A.