Local SEO vs National SEO: What’s the difference?

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Today, SEO or search engine optimisation is one of the best ways to increase your online traffic and, business enquires/leads. As companies focus more and more on online business, it is crucial to incorporate various marketing approaches like local and national SEO into your marketing mix.

Most businesses have a minimal understanding of SEO. They know that SEO can help them reach more people through search engines like Google and Bing. The topic of investing in SEO is much more complicated than it seems.

Merely investing in SEO often isn’t enough to increase a company’s profitability. Search engine optimisation is exclusively about the company online and more importantly, the website. In recent years more and more businesses realise the potential of investing in digital assets like websites and digital marketing spend. However, many businesses don’t know how or maybe aren’t sure what digital marketing channel is right for them. So let’s ascertain which type of SEO is right for you, local or national?

What is local SEO and national SEO?

Both types of SEO are similar in their purpose – they are meant to place you on top of a Google SERP (search engine results pages) or somewhere near at least. The first few positions in Google get the most clicks; hence, they have the highest chance of making a profit. Furthermore, it is possible to use both of these approaches.

The main difference is where the visitors are coming from. For local search, you always focus on people who live in close proximity to your business. Which is great if you only work or need leads from that area. On the flip side, companies using national SEO wish to get as much traffic possible from the entire country.

While local SEO yields the best results for small and medium businesses that rely heavily on local consumption, national SEO is ideal for e-commerce shops and companies that can deliver their goods and services nationwide. Still, there are some exceptions to this rule.

Now, let’s analyse some of the main features of each approach.

Local SEO

As already mentioned, local SEO is ideal for small businesses and shops that rely on local consumers. Companies that usually profit the most from local search are restaurants, bars, car mechanics, beauty salons, etc. However, there are some instances in which a small service tradesperson will profit more from national exposure than regional. It all depends on the target audience.

During a local SEO campaign, the expert will focus on keywords that are relevant to the company’s physical position on local search. This includes a physical address, city area or the name of the city itself. Basically, by using this marketing approach, you’re trying to position yourself within the local community. It is crucial for people to find your local business easily. Usually, if the search optimisation is done correctly, users will see the nearest shops or services close to their current location.

Local SEO is much easier to perform than national SEO. First and foremost, there is a much lower online competition. Secondly, Google is inclined to show all the local companies online that match your search and are close to you. In that sense, it is much more inclusive than exclusive.

Here are some strategies that can help your regional SEO:

  • Include the company’s city and address on the contact page of your website
  • Add your city, neighbourhood and address to the service pages of your site
  • Add other information that might be relevant to local users (local phone number, map, working hours and so on)
  • Submit your business to Google My Business, regional directories and review sites – Make sure you keep your business information consistent
  • Create social media profiles that feature the company’s contact information

The basic principle of local SEO is being visible enough to Google in a specific geographic area. The search engine should understand that you’re a legit business that exists at a particular location. Like previously said, Google is willing to add as many local companies as possible as long they help users get the information and services they need. Our goal is to appear the most relevant result for our niche.

This strategy could also work great for national companies looking to dominate local areas by creating location-specific webpages for their website across the country.

National SEO in the UK

National SEO

National SEO is an ideal SEO strategy for big corporations, franchises, and online shops. These websites are interested in reaching as many people as possible. As they increase the number of online visitors (regardless of their location), they are more likely to increase their profit. Any company that can quickly and safely move their products and deliver them to distant regions is expected to adopt this approach. National SEO can also be used to set up the basis for international SEO.

Unlike local SEO, optimising your website on a national level is a much harder task. In a way, you have to prove to Google that you’re among the best companies within your country. This is especially true nowadays as it has become much harder to mislead Google with cheap techniques like link building and keyword stuffing. There are also some indications that Google is referring to user signals and engagement as a way of determining the relevancy of pages. So, you have to have some compelling content and products that users will engage well with and share on social media.

All of this makes national SEO vs local SEO much harder, more expensive and time-consuming. However, if you do manage to reach top positions for some highly lucrative terms, you will quickly take your business to the next level online.

Here are some strategies that can help your national SEO:

  • Make sure that your site has a proper structure and you can easily reach any page in 2-3 clicks
  • Ensure that your website is mobile-friendly and all its pages load quickly for users
  • Once you cover the basics, start investing time in ethical link building activities from authoritative websites in your niche
  • Your content should be optimised for particular keywords and, you need to have proper usage of semantics
  • Get rid of any errors you encounter

These are just some initial recommendations for national SEO. It’s not that easy or quick to get good online exposure nationally. Despite what people think, search engine optimisation is not a quick fix. It is a slow ongoing process that takes months and even years. Still, if you are prepared for a long-term investment, this powerful marketing approach can become one of the best sources of income for your business.

Which companies should focus on local SEO?

Whether you are a big or small company, every business owner dreams of having nationwide exposure. However, that is not always the optimal solution as it may cost a lot of money and time.

Here are some of the best cases in which you should focus on regional SEO:

  • If your company is too small or cannot handle too much business. By supplying your local community, you’re creating a solid basis which can, later on, serve to expand the business.
  • Local optimisation is ideal for certain types of businesses. This is especially true for service providers who can’t or don’t want to leave the office or travel to another city to provide their services.
  • If you’re not prepared for a significant investment, it is much better to stick with local SEO, even if it’s for the time being.
  • If you’re impatient to wait for the national SEO to kick in, even if you plan on going nationwide, regional SEO will provide you with the initial surge of funds that will help you expand your marketing campaign.
  • Lastly, if you prefer to prioritise local development over national, you should start with local SEO.

Which companies should focus on national SEO?

National search engine optimisation is a completely different beast. The whole process is much more complex and a subject to more frequent and bigger changes. This makes it a real challenge even for the veteran experts.

Here are some directions that will help you determine whether or not you should invest in national SEO.

  • The only way to stay profitable is to sell your products and services on a national level. This approach is great for corporations and franchises as they already have a local infrastructure in various cities and regions.
  • Companies that are focused on growth and are willing to expand should always focus on national SEO. This approach gives you the ability to increase the reach of your organisation even if it doesn’t have the proper structure to handle the incoming orders.
  • You have the ability to compete nationwide. One of the biggest issues with this marketing strategy is the fact that lots of other companies will also want first page positions in Google. This means that you have to be able to compete (and invest) over a longer time span.
  • A great method for building a brand and positioning yourself on the market. Not only does national search increase your sales but it has a massive impact on your business improving your reputation in the eyes of consumers.
  • A good approach for companies with huge budgets or unlimited funds. Like any other marketing activity, national SEO is a bottomless pit. So, as long as your priority is to expand and increase sales, expenses will be just an afterthought.

Last considerations 

In theory, local vs national SEO, every additional exposure is good for your organisation. No matter how much money you spend, you can always spend some more on marketing. However, in this case, it is more a question of functionality. Some companies simply don’t benefit from local SEO while others cannot go without it.

Make sure to create a solid marketing plan beforehand and choose the right approach that will fit your business goals. 

local vs national seo

Adam Cook