Search engine optimisation (SEO) has become a cornerstone of digital marketing. Whether you’re a local coffee shop trying to attract foot traffic or a multinational corporation looking to expand its online reach, SEO plays a pivotal role. But not all SEO is created equal. In this article, we’ll unravel the distinctions between Local SEO and general SEO, helping businesses navigate the digital landscape with clarity and confidence.

Understanding the Basics

At its core, SEO revolves around optimising your website and online presence to rank higher in search engine results. It’s about making your website more visible to users who are searching for products or services related to your business. However, the approach to achieving this visibility varies based on the scale and nature of your target audience.

General SEO focuses on reaching a national or global audience. If you sell software that can be downloaded by anyone worldwide, you’ll likely employ general SEO strategies. This method prioritises broader keywords, understanding global search trends, and building a worldwide online reputation.

On the other hand, Local SEO zeroes in on attracting customers from a specific geographic area. If you’re a restaurant owner in London, you’d want locals or visitors in London to find you when they search for “restaurants near me” or “best Italian restaurant in London”. Local SEO leverages location-specific keywords and other techniques tailored to draw traffic from a defined area.

The Importance of Google My Business in Local SEO

One of the most significant differentiators in Local SEO is the utilisation of Google My Business (GMB). GMB is a free tool from Google that allows businesses to manage their online presence across the search engine and its associated services.

Ensuring that your business’s Name, Address, and Phone Number (often abbreviated as NAP) are consistently listed across the internet is paramount. Any discrepancies can lead to confusion and reduce the trust search engines have in your business, affecting your local rankings.

Moreover, GMB offers features like Google Posts which can further enhance local engagement and visibility. These posts appear directly within your GMB listing, providing a snapshot of updates, offers, or news that your business wishes to share. By keeping your audience informed through Google Posts, businesses can drive more local traffic and conversions.

The Broader SEO Landscape

While GMB plays a vital role in Local SEO, broader SEO strategies have a different set of tools and priorities. General SEO encompasses a wider range of backlink building from diverse, high-authority sources, intricate on-site SEO optimisation, in-depth content strategies targeting broader keywords, and a keen understanding of global search trends.

It’s also worth noting that while Local SEO often leans heavily on GMB, general SEO spreads its efforts across multiple platforms, ensuring a broad-based online presence. For instance, while local businesses might prioritise reviews on GMB, a global software company might focus more on accumulating reviews on platforms like Trustpilot or industry-specific forums.

Why Differentiation Matters

You might wonder: if there’s an overlap in the tactics used for Local SEO and general SEO, why bother distinguishing between the two?

The differentiation is crucial because of the intent behind the strategies. Local SEO isn’t just about visibility; it’s about visibility to the right local audience. There’s no point in a local bakery in Bristol appearing in search results for a user in Birmingham, for instance.

Similarly, a business aiming for a broader reach would find little value in investing solely in Local SEO tactics when their audience is spread worldwide.

In Conclusion

Both Local SEO and general SEO have their unique places in the digital marketing toolkit. Depending on the nature, scale, and objectives of your business, you might lean towards one, the other, or a blend of both.

By understanding the nuances of each and their respective impacts on online visibility, businesses can chart a more informed and effective path in their digital marketing endeavours. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, staying informed and adaptable remains the key to success. Whether you’re aiming to attract a local clientele or casting a wider net, knowing the difference between Local SEO and general SEO is a good starting point.

About the author 

Francis Rodino

Francis has spent over two decades launching global digital marketing campaigns and delivering ROI for some of the world's best-known brands. From the BBC to Fifa, Playstation and Virgin, in 2018 Francis set out to make a bigger impact helping established small businesses and entrepreneurs harness marketing technology and cutting-edge digital strategies to increase sales, gain greater control and free up their time grow a business that runs itself.