Local SEO Vs Organic SEO: What’s The Difference:

Key Takeaways

  • Local SEO: Optimizing online presence for local searches, targeting specific locations.
  • Organic SEO: Aiming to rank higher in online searches and drive relevant traffic to the website.

Key Differences:

  1. User Intent: Local SEO targets users searching for local products or services, while organic SEO covers various search intents.
  2. SERPs: Local SEO includes the local pack results, while organic SEO focuses on traditional search engine results.
  3. Content: Local SEO emphasizes location-based information, while organic SEO covers a wider range of topics.
  4. Citations vs. Links: Local SEO benefits from citations and links, while organic SEO relies more on backlinks for organic traffic.

If you have a small business that you market online, you will likely have come across the terms Local SEO and Organic SEO.

Local SEO is a form of Organic SEO.

Broadly speaking, a local SEO strategy will involve local keyword research, citations, link building and will sometimes include content marketing.

The term Organic SEO is a little bit redundant. SEO or search engine optimization is increasing your website’s rankings in the organic (ie: not paid advertising) results.

In the article, we will discuss the main differences that distinguish local SEO from more traditional organic SEO efforts and the benefits that working on your businesses’ SEO strategy will have.

What is Local SEO?

Local search engine optimization is the process of optimizing your business’s online presence to gain more visibility in local searches on sites such as Google. 

A local search is when someone uses Google or another search engine to find a local business that sells a particular product or service relevant to a specific location. For example, when I search for “cafe near me” Google will display several two types of local results: three nearby cafes which are known as “Local 3-pack” and organic results which is a mixture of local businesses and review articles.

Appearing in the local 3-pack or in the organic search results is extremely beneficial for your business as both increase your online visibility which leads to more website traffic and ultimately more customers.

According to SEO Expert, 92% of searchers will pick businesses on the first page of local search results.

Optimizing your business for local SEO has a lot to do with location. It is vital that search engines know where your business is located so that when someone searches for your product or service, the search engines can see where your business is located and will display it in the search results. 

Local 3-pack

Benefits of Local SEO

Optimizing for Local SEO Will Increase Online Visibility 

The main goal of local SEO is to improve your business ranking in the local search results. A higher ranking leads to more visibility. This, in turn, brings more local customers to your website or Google Business Page who can be converted into customers. 

More Relevant Traffic 

If your online presence is set up using the correct techniques you should appear higher in rankings putting your business in front of relevant customers who are searching for the product or service that you offer.

Local SEO leads to Sales 

80% of local searches that are performed on mobile devices convert into sales. When Local SEO is used correctly your business will appear in front of users “ready to buy” your product or service.

Diversify Your Traffic or Reduce Advertising Costs 

A massive benefit of local SEO is it is a complimentary traffic source to Google ads. Some businesses are also able to completely replace their ad spend with SEO traffic however it’s generally beneficial to use both.

Over a longer period of time, Local SEO can be a cheaper way to get your business seen than other forms of advertising. 

Local SEO Optimization 

Now that you have a better understanding of what Local SEO is let’s take a look at what you need to do to optimize your business’s location so that you rank better in local searches. 

  1. List your company on Google My Business and Apple Maps. In a 2018 study, Moz found that your Google My Business Profile is the #1 ranking factor for gaining a spot on the 3-local-pack. 
  2. Build NAP citations. NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone number. NAP citations are online mentions of any of these three things. ​​The more consistent they are the more Google will view your business as reputable. 
  3. Encourage customer reviews as these help to build a reputation online and allow your business to stand out from other competition. 
  4. Build links. Bonus points if those links are highly relevant or are from local sources.
  5. Be Google mobile-friendly. When a site is mobile friendly it increases your business’s visibility which results in more customers visiting your physical store.

What is Organic SEO? 

Organic SEO refers to the process by which businesses are aiming to rank higher in online searches to drive more traffic to their website. However, unlike local SEO it is not necessarily dependent on a location. When a user types an organic search into Google, they have one of five search intents:

  1. To answer a question (informational searches)
  2. To find a brand (navigational searches)
  3. To find more information about a specific product or service (commercial searches)
  4. To buy a product or service (transactional searches)
  5. To find a local business or service (local search intent)

There are two key parts to an organic search strategy: relevance and trust.

Making your website topically relevant and trustworthy will improve your organic ranking in search engines. Organic search results are the results that appear on a search engine page because of factors such as relevance to the search term.

Benefits of Organic SEO 

More Relevant Traffic 

Organic SEO directs more relevant traffic to your website as the users it brings to your site are more likely to be actively searching for your product or service. 


Cheaper and more cost-effective than other forms of marketing and paid search. 

Increase Visibility 

Increased brand visibility, which also leads to an increase in sales. 

Organic SEO Optimization 

  1. Identify your target audience.
  2. What are their needs/ What are they looking for?
  3. Establish what keywords your customers use in their online searches. 
  4. Use these keywords throughout your website to position your business as an expert in this topic. 
  5. Build authority by writing great content on the subject.
  6. Optimize your metadata – e.g. Page title, page description and image title. 
  7. Use headings to clearly structure your page. 
  8. Build quality, relevant links.

Local Vs Organic main differences

Now that we have established a better understanding of Local and Organic SEO let’s take a look at the main differences between them. 

User Intent

The first significant difference between local and organic SEO is their audience and the intent behind what they are searching for.  

For local searches, these people are actively looking for a product or service close to their location. When searching for this particular product, service or business the user will also include a specific location or the term “near me”. Often these customers will follow through and make their purchase on the same day as the search.

As I mentioned above local SEO is a form of organic search engine optimization. Organic searches have a variety of intents including informational, navigational, commercial, transactional and local.


Both Local and Organic SEO is used to rank higher in search results. However, it is important to note that Local SEO includes another SERP result that a more traditional organic does not the local pack.

Organic SEO is used to rank higher in search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. These results will display links to either a home page or other pages on a website such as blog pages or articles. 


Both organic and Local SEO rely on content to help with optimization.

With Local SEO you focus on generating location-based information and building great service and location pages. This includes your business name, city/town, state, region, postcode, country and street name etc. For your business to have a chance of ranking in local search, search engines must know where your business is located. Highly-localized content will help your business to establish its geographical location and increase its overall ranking. 

Organic SEO focuses on a broader range of search engine results.

Citations Vs Links

Citations and links are both used for optimization. Local SEO benefits for both citations and links. Many less experience SEOs believe that links do not matter for a local SEO strategy. This simply isn’t correct – like more traditional organic search results there are a number of factors one of which is backlinks.

A local citation is any online mention of the name, address, and phone number of a local business. Citations can be found on local business directories, websites such as Yelp or Google my business and social accounts such as Facebook. Citations help users to find local businesses and also help to increase a business search ranking. 

Organic SEO relies on backlinks to help increase the amount of organic traffic visiting a website. Backlinks are links from a website page to another page or website for e.g a link to a blog post. Pages with a high number of backlinks tend to have high organic search engine rankings.

Organic Vs Local SEO: Which is a better fit for your business? 

If you are trying to decide between investing in local or organic SEO the good news is if you work on one you’re essentially working on the other. While not all signals are created equal (for example brand mentions are less valuable than links) any efforts you make to improve your online presence will improve your websites SEO.

If your business does not have a physical location or store then you are going to want to focus on more traditional SEO.

If your business is a brick and mortar store that has a physical store and you want to reach more customers in your local area then you should make sure to focus on local SEO. Location pages, service pages, reviews and citations are essential to ranking well. However, you want to focus on more traditional SEO as well. Things such as informational content, backlinks and PR will all help you local SEO efforts.

Integrating both of these strategies together is the best way to get more customers to visit your website and in turn more customers to visit your store.


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