What is Local SEO?
You moved into a new house in a new area and found out your roof is leaking. Since hurricane season is just around the corner, you decided to find a roofing contractor and get it repaired before it rains and the water destroys your new carpet.
You pick up the phone, open Google, and type something along the lines of “best roofing contractor near me” or “best roofing contractor in [your area].”
Google brings up some local businesses and presents them in a white box. You scroll past the white box and find a bunch of roofing contractors’ websites ranking on the first page.
You choose one business from the white box above or the page below and learn more about them.
What you just experienced was the search engine’s local search capabilities and the business’ local search engine optimization or SEO.
Understanding Local SEO
Local SEO optimizes a company’s online presence so that the business can appear to local searchers.
A business’s online presence may include its website and Google Business Profile or GBP (previously Google My Business or GMB) listing, especially in local SEO.
GBP listings are what you see at the top when you perform a local search – the white box containing a bunch of local business names, phone numbers, addresses, etc.
Local SEO works to help your business find visibility in the search results by providing your business with a strong GBP listing and a website optimized for local searches.
But isn’t that what regular SEO does as well – drive visibility? Yes, but there are some key differences between local and national SEO.
Difference Between Local and National SEO
National SEO is what we know as regular SEO. This process helps websites rank for relevant searches that may be coming from all across the country.
Local SEO and national SEO have a lot in common but there are some stark differences between them.
Let’s look at some of these differences:
Difference #1: Competition and Target Audience
When performing local SEO, you are trying to rank for local relevant searchers. These would be a limited number of people. This is why successful local SEO may only bring a small number of customers to your business.
As far as competitors are concerned, when doing local SEO, you are up against local businesses only. These may not be more than a handful in number. If that. Therefore, local SEO deals with much smaller competition and brings fewer customers.
National SEO, however, may get you more customers since it takes your business to a broader audience. But, you will be competing with similar businesses all across the country. Hence, you may have thousands of competitors. Therefore, earning visibility will likely be considerably more difficult, and you may have to ramp up your efforts to win.
Difference #2: Ranking Factors
Ranking factors are a bunch of variables, a list of requirements, you can say, that search engines check your website against to see if it is eligible for a higher rank.
Local SEO shares many of its ranking factors with national SEO. However, since local SEO is meant to connect businesses with local customers, Google uses certain additional factors to fulfill this requirement.
One of these ranking factors is an optimized GBP listing. Google wants to provide its users with complete and accurate information. So, it prefers to rank businesses that offer comprehensive information on their GBP listings. This includes name, address, and phone number or “NAP” consistency, reviews, photos, and more.
Google also ranks websites in local search results. Therefore, it has some website-related ranking factors as well that are unique to local SEO. These include local backlinks, on-page optimization with local keywords, etc.
These ranking factors are unique to local SEO and do not apply when doing national SEO.
Difference #2: Strategies
Since local and national SEO both have different ranking factors, it makes sense that they would have different optimization strategies as well.
Local SEO focuses on GBP listing optimization. It also involves strategies to help a website earn local backlinks and positive reviews. Local SEO also focuses on incorporating local search phrases within the website’s content.
National SEO builds on different strategies. It focuses on building a website’s authority by earning backlinks from other relevant websites. These websites may not necessarily be from the same geographic area.
User experience (UX) is another critical ranking factor for websites competing for non-local searches. Therefore, national SEO also improves the website’s content, design and structure, load speed, and other factors that make up a website’s UX.
Difference #3: Keywords
You have read above how local SEO involves optimizing web pages with local search phrases. That’s the third difference between local and national SEO.
While national SEO uses keywords geared toward reaching a wider audience, local SEO sticks to search terms that typically focus on specific geographic locations.
For example, a roofing contractor trying to rank for a local customer base would use location-specific terms like “roofing contractor Jersey City.” As opposed to that, a business looking to reach relevant customers all over the country would go with keywords specific to the product or service, with no geographic restrictions.
Besides this, the tools used for finding local and national keywords may also differ. Local SEO professionals may rely on Google Maps and local directories in addition to the regular keyword research tools when looking for relevant keywords.
Difference #5: Budget
Budget is another differentiator between local and national SEO.
You can likely build a local SEO campaign with a $500/month budget. A figure too small for a successful national SEO campaign, which often costs thousands of dollars per month.
Higher competition is one of the main reasons why national SEO is more expensive than local SEO. When battling stiffer competition, you need everything to be top-notch. This is why national SEO works on building a perfect website, optimizing every aspect, front and back.
National SEO also focuses on generating a high volume of good quality backlinks, involves creating valuable and informative content regularly, and focuses on all areas of the website, from load speed to the design and everything in between.
All of this requires more resources and effort and hence demands a higher investment.
Local SEO, on the other hand, mainly focuses on optimizing the GBP listing and ensuring that the website has local backlinks and keywords. Yes, the other regular SEO factors are still important, but a local SEO campaign can serve its purpose just fine without them. This is why it can be done on a smaller budget.
Do You Need Local or National SEO?
Now comes the interesting part.
If you are a small business only looking to get people from down the street or a couple of blocks over to know about your business, do you really need national SEO?
Of course not.
If you have a hardware store in Jersey City, you will not benefit from national SEO. Even if your website ranks for someone across the country, no one would ever come all the way over to Jersey City to buy a hammer from you.
Hence, in this case, investing in national SEO might be a waste of money. And local SEO might be the best way forward.
However, if your product or service can reach across the country, for example, you have an online hardware store and can deliver hammers (or other hardware products) to customers across the country, then it may be wise to invest in national SEO in addition to local SEO. This will help your business reach your target audience in your vicinity and far from it.
If you are not sure whether you should invest in national SEO or stick to local SEO, consider discussing your options with a service provider offering consulting in internet marketing and SEO services.
Landau Consulting, a NJ SEO company, offers local and national SEO services, helping all businesses build the capability of reaching a meaningful audience.
With over a decade of SEO experience and a team of qualified professionals, Landau Consulting can help you choose the best option for your business.
You can reach out to us or contact us.