Local SEO vs. Organic SEO: What’s the difference?

Written by: Jason Bayless | June 05, 2018

“If you’ve been around the digital marketing ecosphere for any length of time, you’ve more than likely heard of the term search engine optimization or SEO. Narrow that idea down a little further, and you might even be familiar with the terms ” local” and “organic” SEO, even if those terms are a little unfamiliar to you.

So what’s the difference? In a word: geography.

What is Organic SEO?

Organic SEO is exactly as it sounds – the natural searches that pop up on general searches for keywords. For instance, if you want to rank for the phrase “donuts,” you’ll have to include that word in a high-ranking piece of content so that whenever someone searches for it, your page pops up. It’s global too, so regardless of where someone searches for that word, your page will appear. The term can either be a single word or a “long-tail” word comprised of a short phrase or series of words.

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is similar to organic SEO, albeit in a more geographically-specific sense. This time, if someone searches for the word “donuts” they may include alternate phrases that make it more targetted, such as “donuts near me” or ” where can I find donuts.” Those types of phrases signal to the search engine that you’re looking for something within a geographically specific area, instead of just in general. The competition for local SEO is not nearly as tough as it is to rank in organic SEO, but it still takes some research and effort to get it right.

What Should I Focus On?

That totally depends on your business model. If you are a local business that has a brick-and-mortar store in a specific location, you’ll want to focus most of your efforts on local SEO. However, if you’re more focused on building a brand instead of appearing in local results, dedicate most of your time to developing your organic reach. Even if you are a local business, an organic search may be right for you if you have plans to franchise or expand your brand online.

Can I Do Both?

Absolutely, and you definitely should.

One of the best things to do to help your ranking for local SEO is to list your addresses NAP (name, address, and phone number) on business directories like those found on Google and Bing. When you do so, you’re not only signaling to those search engines where your business is found, but you’re also creating a backlink that will help your organic SEO as well.

Another thing you can do is update your blog with valuable content that will rank well in organic SEO. Search engines crave relevant info that they can send to people who search for them, so providing high-quality resources are key to ranking well in organic SEO. However, if you insert your address into the page, it will help with local SEO as well. Alternatively, you could write a local-centric blog post that still provides valuable information, such as “Three Ways to Find Donuts in NYC.” That blog won’t only do well locally, but with the right content, may also perform well in organic search results.”