If you’ve been actively marketing your business online, you’ve probably familiar with both local SEO and organic SEO. But you might find yourself wondering what’s the difference between the two.
No worries. We’ll discuss the difference between local SEO and organic SEO and how they relate.
They both begin with search.
The main difference between organic and local search is that local search has a physical location component. If a user searches for your industry plus a specific location, the search engine knows there is a local intent in that search. Search engines job is to give the user exactly what they’re searching for. Here’s an example of how local search works:
You want to get your kids involved in some after school activities. You hear karate is good to get them involved in so you Google search “Karate Class Round Rock.”
So what’s it going to be? As you see, only three karate places show up in the local results under the paid ads on the first page.
Even when searching for “Karate” Google assumes I’m looking for a nearby karate class.
If you look below the local results, you’ll see what are called the “organic” results. These are the results search engines return on searches that they don’t see as having local intent.
Organic search happens when search engines decide there’s no local intent in the search. The searcher is looking for information rather than a specific location.
Maybe you want to teach your child some self defense moves yourself. So you search for “How To Do Karate” and the search engine will pull the best and most relevant results for that keyword.
So, you might be wondering how search engines determine which karate places (local results) or how to do karate (organic results) are the best or the most relevant.
Search engines use hundreds of factors to rank and index websites in searches, including keywords, outbound and inbound links and even grammar, just to name a few.
Who should rank in local vs. organic search?
Brick and mortar businesses with physical locations will want to rank high in a local search. Your target audience is likely looking for a place to go for a specific product or service. Therefore, your local small business needs to show up in local searches for your industry.
On the other hand, if you want your business to show up for certain search terms including or not including a specific location, you want to try to rank higher in organic search.
For example, if you sell art online but your business has no physical location and doesn’t serve a specific area, you want to show up in organic searches. You can still target a specific location or area, to potentially capture customers in your area.
Should local businesses rank high in organic search?
If you have a business with one or more physical locations as well as an online store, you want to be found locally as well as organically. You also want to be found both locally and organically if your local business has a blog.
That’s where organic SEO comes into play. Search engine optimization is the process of trying to make sure search engines know which searches your business or website is relevant for.
To rank higher in search results, both organically and locally, your business has to be relevant to a specific search. And to show search engines your business is the right answer for a particular query, you have to state the obvious.
It’s important for your business to show up in relevant local searches because over 50 percent of searchers visit businesses within 24 hours of a local search.
Naturally, optimizing a business for local search has more to do with location than with other factors. Search engines need to know exactly where your business is located so that when someone searches for a location, the search engine can find the businesses located in that area.
For local search, you want to make sure your business name, address and phone number is consistent across local listing directories as well as your website. That’s the bare minimum you’ll need for local SEO.
This has less to do with location and more to do with whether or not your website is relevant for certain keyword searches. That’s why “karate” and “how to do karate” are in bold in the “how to do karate” Google search. When searching for how to do karate the search engine wants to give me video and tutorials on how to do karate.
When optimizing a website for organic search, the intention is to get the website to show up for certain keywords. This could be a short term “how to do karate” or a question spoken into voice search on a smartphone. “how to teach myself to do karate?”
For organic SEO, you need to use specific keywords in headings and paragraphs. Don’t stuff the paragraphs full of keywords, but if you post a tutorial on karate, you might want to use the words “teach yourself karate” at least a couple of times.
How do they affect each other?
There are also certain SEO practices that help both local and organic search rankings. For instance, when claiming your business page on local listing directories like Google, Bing, and Yelp you are also adding a link back to your website.
These local listing citations (your business’s name, address and phone number) help local SEO by telling search engines where you’re located. They create links back to your website, which counts as a link building strategy that helps your organic SEO efforts, since search engines take the number of backlinks into account when they rank websites in search results.
On-site local SEO, such as writing a locally focused blog post or updating a page by adding your business’s address can also help your organic SEO. Search engines like fresh content, so while local SEO helps send out signals of local relevance, it can also help boost your organic SEO efforts.
When they’re done correctly, both local and organic SEO efforts will help improve your website rankings, but when done incorrectly, both can have a hugely detrimental effect on your online marketing efforts.
Remember, even though SEO is optimization for search engines, it is what helps consumers find your business. While you want to make sure search engines know what your business and your website are about, it’s important to think of those potential customers who are searching for your business. Don’t just optimize so that Google knows what you do. Make sure your target market can find all the information they’ll need to know about your business, such as exact location, hours, services or products, and more.
Do you want your business to rank better in local SEO, organic SEO, or both? Contact us and we’ll give you more information on steps you can take to rank better in local and organic search engines.