Each of these digital marketing disciplines — organic SEO and local SEO — involves boosting online visibility for businesses and their websites. In other words, both strategies focus on making websites easy to find when potential customers search for relevant products and services of a business. Each discipline comes with its own distinct strategies and techniques and, when strategies for organic and local SEO dovetail with one another, they can become even more powerful.

Organic SEO

Components of organic SEO include selecting relevant keywords for a website that have reasonable levels of traffic with achievable levels of competition. These keywords are then used in page and blog copy, tags (title, meta description and H), internal links and so forth to send signals to the search engines about what keywords are important on that URL in particular and the site, overall.

Optimizing for keywords, though, is not enough. It’s important to also have a diverse set of quality inbound links pointing to a site. In addition to using common SEO tactics to improve your website’s ranking, you should also ensure that your site is well structured and easy to use. Equally as important, make sure the website aids in converting traffic into sales.

As part of organic SEO, it’s important to rank well for keywords that are appropriately paired with the locations of brick and mortar stores, if applicable, so strategically using geotargeted keywords (for example, Jacksonville blue widgets) is crucial. And, this is the point at which organic SEO and local SEO intersect.

Local SEO

A primary goal of local SEO is to have a website place well in the Google Maps local pack for relevant keywords. Not all keywords trigger a local map — only the ones that Google determines have local intent, such as for a pizza parlor or an attorney, a dentist or an ice cream stand.

When a local map does appear for a term, Google is currently showing three listings (the three-pack) and then a “More places” link. Ideally, you want your site to appear in the three-pack. To help make that happen, local SEO strategies include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Google My Business (GMB) optimization
  • Google reviews
  • Citation strategies, which involves verifying name, address and phone information wherever listed online, and correcting errors whenever possible

Local SEO became a unique discipline in 2005 by starting to distinguish itself as a separate branch of SEO. That’s when Google released its Local Business Center and then combined that center with its Google Maps. Although, as searchers, we now take this convenience for granted, that’s when we began to be able to access store information, including hours and contact information, with driving directions and more in one spot.

You can find more information about local SEO strategies here.

Strategic Synergy

Although organic SEO and local SEO each have unique features, commonalities exist, including:

  • Keyword research is essential for both, with organic SEO requiring a broader strategy and local SEO focusing on more niche ones.
  • Location pages on a website play a key role in both disciplines, as they can appear in search engine results pages (SERPs) as well provide key signals to help the site appear in Google three-packs for relevant keywords.
  • Online optimization is important for each, with NAP consistency central to local SEO.
  • Schema, a specialized form of HTML coding, helps Google “understand” the purposes of content; one area of specialization is for NAP, as one example, while another is for online reviews shared on the site.

Reverse Engineering Rankings

To rank well organically, it’s important to create keyword-rich content that engages readers, and to optimize back end tags and new URLs, to steadily increase the number of inbound links and so forth. Creating a quality user experience is also important, which includes (but is not limited to) boosting page speed. You can find more about organic SEO ranking factors in 2018 at Moz.com.

Ranking factors for local search, though, are somewhat different, focused on “relevance, distance, and prominence,” according to Google. “These factors are combined to help find the best match for your search. For example, Google algorithms might decide that a business that’s farther away from your location is more likely to have what you’re looking for than a business that’s closer, and therefore rank it higher in local results.”

To become more relevant, it’s important to comprehensively provide local information about the business. That’s because, the more easily Google can match your business and site with prospects searching for your products or services, the more often this will likely happen.

Distance is an important factor in local search, and Google will look at geotargeted terms used in a searcher’s query and then compare potential search results and their distance from the person. If the searcher doesn’t use a location-specific term, Google will still use what is known about that location when offering up results.

Then there is prominence. Being a well-known brand never hurts. But, even if you’re not a well-established brand, you can build a quality online presence to boost your authority signals. This can include regularly getting Google reviews, building relevant links and citations and more.

Clearing Up Misconceptions

People new to SEO sometimes have misconceptions about local SEO. As one of the most common examples, they might associate “local” with step one and “organic” as a broader step two. In fact, the most powerful SEO campaigns focus on how these two disciplines can be used in tandem to gain the most powerful online presence possible, being found right where potential customers are searching.

So, as a final piece of advice, we recommend you create a customized SEO strategy for your site that, from its inception, includes a focus on both local SEO and organic SEO.

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