Local SEO vs. Organic SEO: Understanding the Key Differences

person making a local search from the mobile device

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Search engine optimization is the practice of changing website content and site structure to potentially rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs). SEO can help businesses increase online presence and acquire new customers; however, with so many SEO strategies out there it can be hard to know which approach is the right one for your business. Here at Southtown Web Design we will compare two prevalent approaches – Local SEO vs Organic SEO.

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO strategy focuses on increasing online visibility for businesses that specialize in specific geographic regions, like New York City or Denver. Local SEO seeks to improve search engines rankings for location-specific queries such as “best restaurants in NYC” or “plumbers in Denver.”.

Local search optimization involves optimizing various elements of a website, including on-page content, meta tags and business listings to increase local visibility for their business and make it appear in “Google’s Local Pack,” a grouping of three relevant listings relevant to user search queries.

Local search optimization starts by creating and updating business listings on platforms like Google My Business and Yelp, in order to reach potential customers locally and build rapport. Listings should contain relevant details like name, address, phone number, business hours of operation as well as reviews/ratings that build reputation/credibility of any given business.

Local SEO involves optimizing website content and structure to best reach potential customers in one’s locality. For instance, a plumber in Denver could utilize long-tail keywords like “best plumber in Denver” or “emergency plumbing services in Denver”. Local SEO also makes targeting location-specific keywords much simpler so businesses can reach more of their audience more quickly.

Local pack results almost make up 15% of the positions on page one of Google’s search engines results page. This indicates that having optimized local searches is crucial, especially for small and medium-sized businesses who want to target a local audience through local search engine optimization.

What is Organic SEO?

Organic SEO (also referred to as traditional SEO) entails optimizing website content in order to rank higher on non-location-specific search engine results pages. Strategies may include on site optimization, technical SEO, link building and content marketing as part of organic SEO’s strategies.

Organic search engine optimization aims to increase website rankings for high-volume, competitive search terms such as “car insurance” or “best hotel deals”, which have global or national search intent.

SEO begins with keyword research, where businesses identify high-volume and low-competition keywords they would like to rank for. With these in mind, businesses begin adjusting their website’s content and structure so as to be relevant and informative for potential customers.

Optimizing technical SEO (e.g., improving page speed, URL structure and robots.txt files), building backlinks and producing high-quality content all help to increase a website’s rankings in standard searches.

Organic search optimization is an ongoing process, and results may take time to manifest themselves. In order to meet their SEO goals successfully, businesses need to be methodical in optimizing both content and structure of their website. For a more in-depth look into organic SEO, check out our article “What is Search Engine Optimization?“.

Key Differences Between Local SEO and Organic SEO

CriteriaLocal SEOOrganic SEO
Focus Local Search QueriesNon-Location Specific Search Queries
Intended AudienceLocal CustomersGlobal or National Audience
Target KeywordsLocation-based Long-Tail KeywordsShort-Tail, High-Volume Keywords
Location-Based QueriesYes No
Competition Low to ModerateHigh
Methodology On-Page and Off-Page OptimizationKeyword Research, On-Page Optimization, Content Creation, Link Building

The table above summarizes the key differences between Local SEO and Organic SEO.

Benefits of a Local SEO Campaign

1. Increased Visibility: Local SEO helps businesses appear in a special section of Google’s SERPs, called the local pack, which showcases three local business listings. This increases visibility and drives targeted traffic to the business website.

2. Location-Based Targeting: Local SEO helps businesses attract customers in a particular geographic location, enhancing the precision of their marketing efforts.

3. Increased Trust: Local SEO builds trust between the business and the customers by showcasing business information such as reviews, ratings, address, and contact details. 

4. Cost-Effective: It is much less expensive than other digital marketing forms like PPC. Local SEO services delivers excellent results and is beneficial for small- to medium-sized businesses with a local customer base.

5. Incorporation With Google Maps:  Google Maps is an important feature of Local SEO. It helps people find businesses faster and provides directions, allowing them to get to the destination seamlessly.

Benefits of Organic SEO

1. Sustainable Traffic: drives sustainable traffic to the website by targeting long-term, high-volume keywords.

2. Increased Brand Awareness: improves brand awareness by increasing search engine rankings and visibility.

3. Cost-Effective: Organic SEO delivers long-term value, making it cost-effective compared to other forms of digital marketing.

4. Helps With Long-Term Goals: Organic search optimization is beneficial in the long run. To maintain the ranking of a website, it requires constant maintenance, but unlike PPC, once you have achieved high rankings, you don’t have to pay to keep them.

5. Provides Better Credibility: Organic search is more credible than other forms of advertising. People trust the search results of the search engines more than any other form of advertising.

Which SEO Strategy Is Right for Your Business?

Selecting an effective SEO strategy depends on various considerations, including business goals, audience size and competition level as well as budgetary considerations. Here are a few things you should keep in mind to select an approach tailored for your organization:

Local SEO is ideal when:

  • Your business serves a specific geographic location.
  • Your customers are likely to search for you using location-based queries.
  • You have a physical location or storefront that customers visit.

Organic SEO is ideal when:

  • Your business serves a global or national audience.
  • Your products or services are not location-specific.
  • You have a significant search volume for high-volume keywords.

Businesses should optimize both Local and organic SEO to increase online visibility, particularly if targeting local customer bases. Businesses don’t necessarily need to choose either option over another as both have distinct advantages for themselves.


Local and organic SEO strategies should both be deployed simultaneously for maximum traffic growth, leads, and sales results.

Local SEO can be effective for businesses located within specific geographical regions while organic SEO works better if serving an international or national customer base. Both methods should be kept in mind for creating effective digital presences that rank better with customers online. Dedicated optimization plans help your business rank more favorably while expanding digital footprint.

Make sure that your SEO strategy matches with both your business goals and audience. Applying effective tactics such as making use of both long-tail and short-tail keywords, producing informative and engaging content, optimizing website design for user experience and regularly monitoring search results can all lead to a successful campaign.

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