The Differences Between Local and National SEO

by | Last updated Feb 4, 2020 | Published on Aug 6, 2019 | Local SEO, National SEO

SEO Search Engine Optimization Business Marketing Concept

Every business is going to have a unique combination of marketing techniques that work well to bring in new customers, and their unique combination is going to adjust over time to continue being as effective as possible. One part of most marketing plans today is search engine optimization (SEO), but within this, there are tons of variables to consider. When creating an SEO plan to market a business, understanding the differences between local and national SEO are crucial.

What is SEO and How Does it Work?

Search engine optimization determines how high a website appears in search results. Search engines like Google use a sophisticated algorithm to decide which sites are going to place higher than others. The search engines base the ranking on features such as usability and how well a website fits what the user might be searching for.

SEO techniques used for marketing are designed to adjust the ranking for a website, enabling it to rank higher for specific keywords. Users are more likely to discover that website instead of visiting a competitor. Business owners looking to boost the ranking for their website will want to consider whether they want to use local or national SEO. There are quite a few differences they should be aware of before they decide.

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is designed to boost the websites’ ranking within a specific area. This is often used for businesses that are within a particular location, such as a small business. This enables search engine users to find a company that’s local to them. For instance, a restaurant in Calgary would use SEO designed to help their website to be seen by people in the same city as the restaurant. People living in Edmonton will likely not be interested in learning about a restaurant they’d have to fly to visit.

The keywords used for local SEO are generally location-specific. Instead of just searching for a restaurant, search engine users would search for a restaurant in Calgary. Businesses can attract people who are more likely to be interested in their business. Folks who are more likely to visit it instead of optimizing their website to reach people who are not likely going to be interested in the business.

Strategies to Boost Search Engine Optimization of Website

What is National SEO?

National SEO is designed to boost a website’s ranking nationally, instead of in a specific area. This is more commonly used for national chains or for places that want to reach customers throughout the nation or the world. A local restaurant may use national SEO if they attract people from all over who might be interested in stopping by. Especially if they’re visiting the city, the restaurant is located in. They might also be selling products online that might be of interest to those living further away.

Keywords for national SEO tend to be more generic and do not focus on a specific location. Using the same restaurant example, national SEO keywords might include the type of restaurant or something the restaurant is known for. National SEO is geared more toward branding and having a much further reach. Allowing businesses to find customers – no matter where they’re located and helping businesses become more of a national brand instead of a local one.

Different Keywords for a Different Focus

One of the most significant differences is what keywords are used for local or national SEO. Local keywords tend to be long-tail keywords. This means they include a specific location, such as a city and province. Users in that location will then be able to see the website in the search results when they’re looking for something the business offers.

National SEO keywords are short-tail keywords, which means they’re generally much shorter and do not include a specific location. Users in any area will be able to find the website when they’re searching, even if they aren’t close enough to visit the business in person. The specific keywords can be similar between local or national campaigns; it’s whether there is a location included that generally makes a difference.

Amount of Competition for Rankings

The amount of competition for the top spots in the search results varies between local or national SEO. With local results, there are far fewer businesses competing for the same place in the search results. This tends to mean a higher ranking is not only easier to achieve but that it can be done more quickly.

National SEO, on the other hand, generally means there is a lot more competition for the highest spots in the search results. The SEO techniques used may be very different as they need to be fine-tuned to ensure the website ranks highly amongst all of the competition for the keywords. Keywords can be adjusted to account for competition. They still need to be carefully chosen to ensure search engine users will be able to find the business.

Affordability of SEO Locally or Nationally

Another difference businesses should be aware of is how affordable it is to optimize for local or national search results. In general, local SEO is going to be more affordable. There is less competition with local keywords because the business is only competing against similar companies in their location. If their restaurant is the only one of that type in the local area. There won’t be much competition at all for the highest-ranking spots, so not much will need to be done to boost the ranking to the top spot.

National SEO tends to be more expensive because it’s more challenging to get a higher ranking. Unless a restaurant is incredibly unique. It’s going to need to compete against all of the other restaurants for that type to get a higher spot using keywords that are not location-specific. The added competition means more strategic SEO needs to be used, which leads to more time and money spent on the SEO campaign. Depending on the business and the desired results, the higher cost may be well worth the results.

Choosing the Type of SEO to Focus On

Which is better, local or national SEO? The answer to this is that it depends. Which one to use depends on the type of business, the location of the company, the location of the customers, and the goals for the business. Each business owner will need to consider how they want to market their business online and whether they’d prefer local or national SEO.

Local SEO is ideal for small businesses or businesses in just a single location. Even though there might be three or four of the same restaurant, if they’re all located in the same city, local SEO is going to be a better option. Lawyers, tradespeople, hairdressers, and other business professionals who only operate in a single location are going to find local SEO is better for their budget because they don’t need to try to reach customers nationally.

National SEO is more often used for national franchises, world-famous restaurants and retail stores, and online retailers who ship products nationally. These businesses benefit from being able to reach customers no matter where they’re located and will find that the larger budget needed for national SEO is going to provide a much larger return for them. Smaller franchises may look into national SEO as well if they’re planning on expanding, as they will want to stir up interest in adjacent areas where they plan on opening a store or restaurant. This can be part of a national branding campaign designed to help gather more interest in the business as it expands to new areas.

Clipboard with SEO Service Concept

Combining Local and National SEO

Though local and national SEO is very different, it doesn’t mean a business has to choose one or the other to focus on. Since both have challenges as well as benefits for businesses today, a combination approach may be the better option.

Businesses that have local storefronts but that sell online are one type of business that may benefit from local and national SEO. Local SEO can help those customers who live in the area find out about the company so they can visit it in person. While national SEO can be used to encourage far-away customers to place an order online and to boost the branding for the business. The SEO campaign should be carefully planned to take advantage of the benefits of both local and national SEO. Though it can be a very effective way to reach more customers.

Search engine optimization provides businesses with a way to achieve a higher ranking so they can attract more customers but deciding on how to approach it needs to be done before specific techniques are considered and implemented. Though local and national SEO is very different, they both work well to help businesses reach more customers and continue to grow. If you’re getting ready to start optimizing your website, think about your current business and your goals to determine if you want to start a local or national SEO campaign, or if your business might benefit from a combination.