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Local SEO VS. Organic SEO, What’s the Difference?

May 10, 2021
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Congratulations! You've built an amazing business and you have a top-notch website that showcases it. You're definitely going places! 


You also know that if you want your website to work for you, it has to be regularly updated with relevant content and optimal SEO. Why? Think of it this way. If your website is your fishing vessel, then your SEO is the bait that will help you reel in the new customers you need. The only question is, what kind of customers are you fishing for? After all, as any good angler knows, if you want to catch a specific type of fish, you need to use the right kind of bait.  


Wait! Back Up a Bit. Can You Refresh Me on What SEO Is? 



Sure we can! Ever heard of search engine optimizationIt's a mouthful of words, so we in the digital marketing world figured out a long time ago it would be easier for everyone if we shortened it to SEO. You'll find we do that a lot. 


So, to understand what SEO is, let's ask a simple question. What do you do when you want to find out more information about a topic? If you have a laptop, tablet, or mobile device handy, the easiest thing to do is type in a couple of words (aka "keywords") in your search engine browser that quickly describes what you're looking for. You'll then get a listing of suggested articles or websites that can likely provide you with the information you need. This list is called your search engine results pages or SERPs (See? We did it again!), and it was created by the process of SEO optimization 


Simply put, SEO is a marketing method used to improve a web page's or website's position in SERPs. The more a site appears in the top SERP listings, the more internet traffic is driven to that page or particular site.  


Got it? Now that you're up to date on the topic, let's delve into the two types of SEO you've probably encountered in your searches: Organic and Local SEO. 


Organic SEO: Casting a Wide Net 



It's quite likely that Organic SEO is the SEO you're most familiar with. When you optimize your website to regularly include specific keywords and topics a consumer interested in your type of products or services would use to make a search, you increase the chances of showing up on their SERPs.  


Organic SEO is all about having a good handle on the likely keywords people will type in their browsers and creating ample relevant content with those keywords to lure in a quality school of fish.  


A second and equally important way Organic SEO is used is by getting other topically relevant sites to provide links to yours. This is valuable because when search engines begin to see these multiple "backlinks", they take it as an indication that your website is a relevant and authoritative one. As a result, your SERP status gets an added boost.  


Organic SEO is particularly useful if you're interested in drawing traffic from anywhere and everywhere. People who make organic searches are usually looking to have a question answered or to get more information on a topic. For example, an organic search might ask:  


  • What are the signs that my car has an exhaust leak?
  • What's the best kind of lure to catch freshwater trout?
  • What is search engine optimization?


Traffic directed to your site using Organic SEO might not result in an immediate sale, but it opens the door for you as a company to convert visits to leads for future sales, and it helps to establish your site as a reliable and valuable source of information.  


Local SEO: How To Be the Big Fish in a Small Pond 



Consumers who use Local SEO, on the other hand, usually have a different intention. They are typically searching for a local brick-and-mortar type store or local venue for a particular activity, product, or service. 


Organic and Local SEO both strive to optimize websites to increase their online presence. But while Organic SEO is built upon keywords and links, Local SEO focuses on optimizing for location 


Typical Local SEO searches might include: 


  • Best restaurants with outdoor dining in Pittsburgh, PA
  • JT Bait & Tackle, Stafford Springs, CT
  • Fun things to do in Miami Beach


Good Local SEO is optimized to repeatedly provide location-based keywords including business names, addresses, cities, states, zip codes, as well as regions. If you want to be the big fish in your small local pond, your goal is to build a strong online connection between your business and your location so your website shows up regularly in local searches.  


But where Organic SEO optimizes by building backlinks, Local SEO does the same by building local citations and generating reviews that cast a business in a positive light.  


So What Are Local Citations? 


Local citations are any textual web references to a company that also includes three key components: The name of the business, its physical address and its phone number. Because we love acronyms so much, we like to call it NAP. Sometimes a citation will also include a website address. Then it's a NAPW. 


A company can work on building its NAP citations by adding its business profile to any number of reputable online local business directories, industry-specific directories, data aggregators, and review websites. Common examples include the online Yellow Pages, Angie's List, and Google My Business. Just like building backlinks, building citations is one of the best avenues for getting your website in a higher position on local SERPs. 


Confused about SERPs for Organic SEO and those for Local SEO? Don't be. If you've ever done a search on Google or any other major search engine, you've probably noticed that the SERPs include both Organic and Local SEO search results. 


Tell Me More About Google My Business 



Google is one of the most prominent internet search engines available, and as an industry leader it provides businesses with the opportunity to create a free business listing formally called a "Business Profile." This free profile will show up in Google Maps and local results when you do a Google search. Once online, a profile becomes available across the web for consumers to add photos, reviews, and other comments. But just because you have a Google Business Profile, it doesn't mean you own it. 


As a business owner, if you want to take ownership of, manage, customize, and optimize your Google Business Profile to show your company in the best possible light, you must sign up for a Google My Business account. It's a powerful marketing tool, and definitely one of our favorites. Best of all -- it's free! 


So what can it do? 


With a Google My Business account, you're provided with a dashboard where you can answer consumers' questions asked on your Business Profile, publish posts or respond to reviews. Using that same dashboard, you can add detailed information such as a link to your website, hours of operation, and pricing information. And because you can edit and update your account regularly, you can provide information about special time-sensitive discounts and deals. There's also a great analytics tab that allows you to gain insights about the consumers that visit your listing. 


But that's not all. 


Google My Business can also be a useful SEO tool. By embedding relevant keywords into the content of your Business Profile, including your individual posts, answers to questions and responses to reviews, and regularly adding various types of content, you can improve your overall SERP rankings.  


So Which Kind of SEO Should You Have In YOUR Company's Tackle Box? 



While both Organic and Local SEO optimizes websites for search engine rankings, they each serve a somewhat different purpose.  


Local SEO puts significant focus on tying small or mid-sized businesses to their local areas and generating immediate sales. It's a particularly useful tool for brick-and-mortar stores that depend on ample foot traffic and perfect for local contractors. Organic SEO draws attention to the informative content provided on individual websites that can help companies build their reputation and forge lasting customer relationships. E-commerce businesses and those that draw customers from a much wider geographical area can benefit heavily from this type of SEO marketing. There are many kinds of businesses also that can reap benefits by creating a hybrid of the two approaches.  


Chances are you have a few more questions, but don't worry! You won't be opening a can of worms to ask them. Besides, we love to provide answers that can help companies just like yours grow bigger. Just fill out the handy form below with your comments and we'll be in touch. 


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