Understanding the Difference Between National SEO and Local SEO

Understanding and explaining the differences between national SEO and local SEO and explore the best practices for both & how to rank in both

Updated on September 8, 2023
Understanding the Difference Between National SEO and Local SEO

If you are a business owner who has previously launched online marketing campaigns, you’re probably already familiar with the term search engine optimization. SEO is responsible for making your website show up on the first few pages of a search engine’s results, and it would do even better if you complement it with good web design. In this article, we’ll be understanding and explaining the differences between national SEO and local SEO and explore the best practices for both & how to rank in both.

A higher results ranking would mean that more of your potential clients would be able to find your website since the search engine finds it more relevant than other pages. SEO can be regarded as a referral of sorts, as it can be likened to a friend who can give a list of recommendations to a certain query of yours.

Let’s say that you asked a friend about the best local pizza parlors in Detroit. He then gave you a number of places to go to, in order of his preferences. When it comes to SEO, search engines play the same role as your friend. Type in a query and it will search for pizza parlors that fit your bill, and the results page will reflect what it thinks is relevant to it.

The Role of SEO in Marketing Campaigns

SEO plays a big role in the promotional aspects of a marketing campaign. It aims to promote your company’s products and services to all potential customers. SEO is just one of the many ways to do it, along with advertising, content marketing, email marketing, and social media marketing.

The right SEO strategies can improve brand exposure and awareness, boost your website traffic, and create the hype that you desire. To make it more successful, the next step is to examine whether local SEO or national SEO should be applied to your content.

How can you incorporate SEO with other marketing campaigns? An SEO expert can help. Digital marketing agencies play a significant role in developing and implementing SEO campaigns. They have experienced SEO specialists who carry out ethical SEO practices or white hat SEO.

A digital marketing agency employs the right people and tools to take your SEO campaign to the next level. In this way, you can attract more website visitors, potential leads, and customers for your business.

National and Local SEO: Are There Similarities?

Local SEO and national SEO may be concepts that you’ve come across just now. While they primarily differ in the target audience, their goals and principles are mostly the same.

For example, the main methodology that will be applied to both is similar. This includes content marketing, guest posting on other niche blogs, link building, and getting more backlinks. All of these will play a role in a website’s results ranking because it will help search engines determine whether your audience considers your page relevant.

Indeed, both types of SEO can significantly improve your company’s statistics. However, their differences can profoundly affect how your online marketing campaign plays out.

Before we discuss the main differences and the particular strengths of local and national SEO in detail, this short clip briefly explains the best usage for national SEO. It also discusses its advantages over local SEO depending on the circumstance. Keep reading to learn how to rank in local SEO and best practices for national SEO.

What is Local SEO? Understanding Difference Between SEO

Local SEO is the way to go if you are a business owner who wishes to target local clients. Let’s go back to the pizza parlor scenario that we used above. If you own a pizza parlor in Detroit, and you want to promote your restaurant among the locals, using local SEO can help your business come up in their search queries.

Small businesses that want to target more potential customers in a particular area are the kinds of companies that would greatly benefit from local SEO. Hence, if people are in town, and they are looking for a specific kind of restaurant, a coffee shop, a bookstore, or a spa in the area, local SEO can give you the exposure that can bring all these customers to your doorstep.

To launch a local SEO campaign, you can start by targeting a particular keyword that geographically focuses on your target audience. It also helps because the chosen keywords will have less competition. Let’s say that an AC repair company wants to get clients from Chicago and other nearby areas. This company isn’t interested to grow their business anywhere else in the US. Keep reading to learn how to rank in local SEO and best practices for national SEO.

Potential clients will usually type search terms

  • AC repair Chicago
  • Chicago AC repair
  • AC repair in Chicago
  • AC repair companies Chicago

The primary objective of a local SEO strategy is to make your brand known among the locals. When your company appears more in the search results, it also improves people’s brand recall. Work on your content consistently and, over time, people will become convinced that you are an authority in your field. Hence, it will help establish your place in the local community and understanding the difference between SEO.

Compared to national SEO, local SEO is way cheaper and there is generally less competition involved. You also don’t need a large team to maintain and oversee the processes.

Of course, your local SEO strategies will need to be modified depending on which areas you are targeting. For example, SEO for cities will slightly differ from SEO for suburbs. Keep reading for understanding and explaining the differences between national SEO and local SEO and explore the best practices for both & how to rank in both.

Some Strategies Involved in Local SEO

  • Include the name of the local area in your keywords (e.g. spas in St. Louis).
  • Include the business name and city name in your content.
  • If your business has multiple locations, each of those locations should have a separate page within your website. For example, if your business is based in New York, and you cater to multiple areas, you should have SEO content for those locations (e.g. acupuncture Auburn, acupuncture Newfield, etc.) Keep reading to learn how to rank in local SEO and best practices for national SEO.

What is National SEO?

National SEO aims to get clients from all over the country. This is highly recommended for online businesses, or for those businesses where the location is irrelevant. When your company’s products and services aren’t limited to your business’ actual location, national SEO allows you to win clients not just on a national level, but also on an international one.

In local SEO, keywords are less competitive since the business owner is specifically targeting people near the area. However, in national SEO, you will have to use more general keywords to reach your audience. The problem with this is that your targeted keywords are probably already used by many businesses that are similar to yours. This intense competition can make it especially difficult to rank well in search engines.

Let’s say that you own a photo editing business that specializes in product photography. Since the processes involved in this business is purely digital and computer-based, it doesn’t matter which part of the world your clients are in.

Because online shops are on the rise these days, you can be sure that you’ll have no shortage of clients. The challenge now is: How are they going to find you?

Your clients would probably type search terms

  • Photo editing company
  • Editing for products
  • Photo editing for product photography
  • Product photography photo editing

Since these are pretty general keywords, it can be difficult to compete against businesses that are also relying on these search terms to rank high. Local SEO doesn’t pose these kinds of problems.

Hence, to succeed with national SEO, it is important to examine all of your business goals carefully. This includes the things that you want to achieve in the long-term.

The information can expound on some of the tools you’ll need when creating a national SEO campaign.

Some Strategies Involved in National SEO

  • Employ advanced keyword research strategies to enhance content for a wider audience.
  • Employ long-tail keywords vs. broad keywords as a means of making queries more specific (e.g. graphic design for company branding vs. graphic design).
  • Incorporate Google Map optimization into the campaign.
  • Promote your business through consistent guest posts.
  • Create infographics and other visual media to show valuable information in an efficient and creative way.

Local SEO vs. National SEO: How to Determine What You Need?

Both local SEO and national SEO have their benefits, but how do you determine which of the two would be more beneficial for your business? Keep reading to understand how to rank in local SEO and best practices for national SEO.

Many businesses typically benefit from local SEO when starting out, but depending on where they want their company to go, a national SEO campaign may eventually prove to be necessary and understanding the difference between SEO.

Here are a few reasons to choose local SEO:

  • Local Area Focus: If your company is relatively new in the business, it’s better to target local customers first. Targeting potential customers in the local area is easier because people aren’t necessarily looking for industry leaders. They usually just want a nearby business that can address their needs.
  • Local Competition: If you are only competing against local businesses that offer the same products and services as you do, then go for local SEO. You want your company to be the one that comes up when people look for a business like yours in the area. If you stick with a long-term local SEO strategy, you’d soon see your company on top.
  • Nature of Business: Some people may be looking for a product or service in your area that only you can provide. Without local SEO, they couldn’t find anything because only a few irrelevant results come up. In this case, local SEO can improve your chances of attracting the people who might need you.

Reasons why national SEO might be the better route

  • Target Market: If your target market will benefit from your services regardless of your location relative to them, then national SEO can help you reach them. It may even help you forge long-term partnerships with them. Plus, they may be able to get you more clients and understanding the difference between SEO.
  • Established Expertise: If you aim to showcase what you have to a bigger audience, the competition may be very tough. However, if you have a national SEO campaign in place, it might help prove that your brand has already established its expertise with the relevant audience beforehand.
  • National Level Brands: If you have become big enough on a national level, national SEO can help you penetrate even the international market. This is especially helpful for brands that have consistently proven their quality products or services over the years.

Here is a chart that provides a short comparison of the two:

 Local SEONational SEO
KeywordsGeographic keywordsGeneral keywords
ExpensesInexpensive; less competitionExpensive; has a lot of competition
Company TypeLocal businesses (e.g. restaurants, repair companies, accountants, lawyers, spas, bookstores, etc.)Online businesses, field experts

Knowing which strategies to employ is critical especially for small businesses, where the marketing budget can be tight. Local SEO might be the best option for those instances to thrive in the field.

Of course, the inverse does not immediately apply. Having a lot of resources does not necessarily mean that national SEO is the right choice for you. You still have to consider whether it is helpful to your true goals or not. Keep reading to learn how to rank in local SEO and best practices for national SEO understanding the different between both.

Key Mistakes to Avoid

No matter which SEO strategy you choose. It might end up being ineffective if you don’t exploit their strengths the right way. Here is a list of mistakes that you should avoid:

  • Being Unreachable: Once you penetrate your target market, you have to ensure that you are always reachable. Make sure that your contact page is always optimized and has updated information.
  • Using Unfitting Keywords: Depending on what you’re after, you might make the mistake of using keywords that are too broad or too specific. Make sure that you use the set of keywords that yields more customer conversions and understanding the difference between SEO.
  • Creating Low-Quality Content: Your content has to be valuable to your audience for your SEO techniques to be truly effective. Otherwise, it would be hard to convince your audience that you are worth trusting.
  • Ignoring the Importance of Social Media: Ignoring your social media pages will make you miss a lot of opportunities to attract new customers and connect with loyal ones and understanding the difference between SEO.


In conclusion, local and national SEO is a great yet simple way to make your business interesting and helpful to your target audience. It also doesn’t cost as much as advertising does, but it can be pretty powerful when you do it right, especially when you always keep up with SEO trends.

It can even go beyond promoting your brand to your rightful audience, as it has the ability to grow your business in ways you didn’t expect.