If you’ve been creating content for a while, you might think you’ve got the SEO thing figured out.
But the Google algorithm is constantly evolving. And if you’re not utilizing the latest in SEO, you’re falling behind.
A simple working knowledge of SEO isn’t enough anymore. It’s important to have a good feel for the subsets of SEO as well.
This is where local and organic SEO comes into play.
Companies can use both or only one or the other, but having a working knowledge of local SEO vs organic SEO will help you reach your customers where they are and fulfill their specific needs more effectively.
So what’s the difference? Why do you need to know? Let’s take a look.
When you think of SEO in general, what you’re probably thinking of is organic SEO.
Also known as Global SEO, organic SEO is for companies without a local market.
Organic SEO uses keywords to take advantage of the search engine algorithms. Used well, it helps a site rank high in search listings, driving more traffic and more cash flow to the company.
It also helps consumers find a specific product they are looking for. They may not know the name of your business, but if you are savvy about how you label your products, organic SEO will guide them to your site.
This works great for bloggers, journalists, and e-commerce. Products that are offered via the internet itself benefit greatly from organic SEO.
For instance, if I am looking for advice on how to monetize my blog, chances are I am going to get that advice from a blog or online SEO specialist. I don’t need the results to come from my local area.
So, when Google hands back results for “Blog Monetization Tips”, it’s using organic or global SEO to produce the results. The first three results for that search are all blogs specializing in blogging. Meta, yes. But they’ve found what works.
Basically, organic SEO shows you results that don’t need to come from your local area.
But what if you need results nearby? Let’s take a look at Local SEO.
Local SEO works in the same way as organic SEO, but with more specificity.
For instance, if you are looking for a venue for your wedding in Madison, Wisconsin, you don’t need Google to show you the Plaza Hotel. Is it a popular wedding venue? Yes. But if you aren’t planning a New York wedding, it isn’t helpful.
Local SEO helps tailor results for a local area.
Think about the last time you searched for a local service. Did you go past the first page? Did you even go past the first three offerings on Google Maps? CHances are, you used one of those first three listings.
Why? Because that’s how our brains work, and those businesses are making good use of local SEO to drive their numbers.
The goal for anyone using local SEO is to appear as either option A, B, or C on that Google Maps search.
It’s the best strategy for location-based businesses. Family owned restaurants, local boutiques and city-based services all benefit from local SEO.
For instance, if your business is an Albuquerque-based floral design business, using flowery keywords won’t be enough. You want to make sure that your results are showing up in search results for people in northern New Mexico, rather than people in Vancouver.
Search engines are getting good at this, too. They utilize location services to ensure that when you search for a “pizza place near me”, you’re getting the best pizza in your neighborhood.
Which One For My Business?
Now that you know how organic and local SEO work, which one do you need?
It’s actually not too difficult a decision. Where do you do business?
Is the majority of your business done online, via coaching services, blogging, or shipped products? Organic SEO will help you compete with the big boys of those industries.
Is your business dependant on local clientele? Salons, restaurants, and even local government can benefit from local SEO rather than organic.
Can You Use Both?
This is a simple question with a complicated answer. In reality, local and organic SEO has more to do with how search engines interpret a query than with how you phrase your keywords.
Now, you CAN use keywords like “underwater basket weaving in Toledo”, but that gets a little clunky. However, search engines tend to be smart enough to read “underwater basket weaving classes” as a query that desires a local result.
The trick here is figuring out how search engines will handle your keywords.
For instance, if you are using a lot of “basket art” and “weaving” as your keywords, you’re going global, and unless you are an artist selling your wares, you aren’t going to get your business in front of your customers.
BUT, if you use “basket weaving classes”, search engines are more likely to match you with folks looking for your services.
In the same way, if you provide Enneagram consulting services, you don’t need to be in the local area of your clients. Using local SEO could actually damage your search rankings.
Local SEO vs Organic SEO: The Final Answer
Using SEO is an ever-evolving marketing strategy.
Deciding on local SEO vs organic SEO doesn’t have to complicate matters.
Just remember: If you are local, use local SEO. If you are global, use global (or organic) SEO.
Don’t overload yourself trying to use both. Trust that Google, that great search overlord, will interpret your keywords properly and bring you your clientele.
For more on how to use SEO to bring clients to you, check out our blog here!