Organic SEO vs local SEO: Which is a better fit for your business? These days, organic search accounts for 53.3% of online traffic. But what exactly sets it apart from local search? And which one will get you the results you need? And how much of a difference does it really make? This blog post looks at the differences between organic and local SEO and helps you decide which SEO strategy is the right one for your business.
Organic SEO is the process by which businesses aim to get to the top of Google search rankings so they can drive traffic to their website.
Google uses an algorithm to evaluate all websites and creates a list of organic search results – also known as Search Engine Result Pages or SERPs. Those organic search results are extended with Google’s suggestion to find results on specific directories, such as Trip advisor or Facebook.
In addition to organic search, there is paid search that places Google Ads and other paid adverts even more prominently than the organic search results.
While content and technical page structure need to be optimised and up to date for organic searches, these factors take a back seat in the case of paid searches.
By optimising website structure and creating content that matches user intent, businesses increase their chances of ranking among the top Google search results. Studies show that 99.1% of clicks on positions 1 to 10 stem from organic searches. So if your website ends up on the second page, you’re virtually invisible.
Building internal links between the individual pages of a website makes it easier for Google to crawl web pages and their content. Software known as web crawlers or spiders automatically searches websites throughout the internet and creates an index. Search results are then listed based on this index.
The number and quality of external links (known as ‘backlinks’) that a business website receives from other websites give Google an indication of its authority and trustworthiness.
This means that trust and relevance are not only central to users’ online experience but are also key ranking factors for organic search engine optimisation. The better Google understands the content on your website, the more Expertise, Authority and Trust the search engine attributes to your website and the more likely you are to feature prominently in search results and, in turn, reach more consumers.
There are many steps that businesses can take to improve their websites’ search engine ranking.
Local SEO is the process by which businesses try to optimise the online visibility of each of their locations, specifically targeting users searching online for products or services near them.
Local search results suggest relevant locations that are near users. They are listed when search queries include local references such as ‘supermarket open now’, ‘restaurants near me’ or ‘electronics store Liverpool centre’. Even simple Google searches for ‘cafés’ or ‘post offices’ will immediately show three nearby locations –Google’s local 3-pack. As with organic search results, the search engine prioritises those locations with the most relevant business information matching the search query.
The fact is that local search queries (‘near me’ searches) are more relevant than ever – around 53% of all Google searches include a local reference. This offers enormous potential for businesses: 83% of U.S. shoppers who visited a store in the last week say they used online search before going into a store.
To make the most out of local search engine optimisation, you should pay close attention to various ranking factors:
For instance, if a user searches ‘best burgers near me’, ‘highest rated hotels in Prague’ or ‘top mechanic in my area’, review ratings will be the key ranking factor for the location. Here, Google’s search results are based directly on a location’s average rating. Users can also filter the search results according to rating scores.
Optimisation means more than just having your website pop up in search results. You need to make sure that consumers find you online and click on your website. The following steps show you how to optimise each of your business locations for local searches and claim your place in the local 3-pack.
Getting started: Our free 'Near Me' 360° tool will analyse the online presence of your locations and show you how well your customers can find them via a local search.
With organic search results, search engines show the websites that offer the most relevant and appealing content for a search query. This is the usual process for search engines regardless of whether a query is local or not.
When Google and other search engines see a user’s query as ‘local’, they supplement the organic search results with relevant locations near the user. As with organic search results, the search engine prioritises those locations with the most relevant business information matching the search query.
For example, Google understands that users who type the word ‘pizza’ into the search bar are probably looking for a local pizzeria or want to order a pizza.
However, a search for ‘pizza recipe’ returns a completely different set of results.
If your business doesn’t have any brick-and-mortar locations, then your focus should obviously be on organic searches. More specifically, it should be on optimising your business website with a view to attracting more visitors – and, above all, the right kind of visitors. In this case, neither your website nor your visitor traffic will be predominantly ‘local’.
If your business relies on physical locations and you want to reach more consumers across different devices and communication channels, you should integrate a local SEO strategy into your existing SEO strategy. An integrated optimisation strategy for local and organic search is the best way to get your customers to make the step from online search to in-store visit.
Your local SEO strategy should go hand-in-hand with your strategy for managing customer reviews. 95% of consumers refer to online ratings before making their final purchase decision. This means that active reputation management has a greater influence on your sales than you might think.
Unlike organic search, where consumers tend to check out the top results, clicks on local pack listings are influenced directly by rating scores. A study by Moz has shown that when the third result in a local pack has an average rating of 4.5 stars and the first result has not yet had enough ratings to generate an average, consumers are more likely to click on the third result because it has an established trust factor: the rating score.
In short, an effective reputation management strategy will get more potential customers clicking on your business locations. If you want to find out how to develop an effective strategy for managing your customer ratings, take a look at our Practical Guide to Review Management.
Local and organic search engine optimisation are two areas that have different objectives but can be combined for maximum effectiveness.
A ranking strategy for one SEO discipline will not necessarily affect the other one. However, depending on how the business is positioned, optimising the right elements can yield clear benefits: