Local SEO vs National SEO: Which Is Best for Your Business?
When developing a digital marketing campaign, marketers might struggle to understand whether local search engine optimization (SEO) or national SEO is better for their business. A Chicago SEO agency can help you with that decision but, with some research, you might be able to make that decision yourself.
This guide explores which SEO tactic is best, starting with the basics:
- What local SEO and national SEO are
- The difference between local and national SEO
- Which one is best for your business
Watch this video to learn about the Digital Authority Partners approach to local SEO!
What Is the Difference Between Local and National SEO?
Local SEO improves a business's online presence in their geographic area. If someone searches for "pizza delivery in Chicago," for instance, the search engine shows a list of pizza delivery businesses within the Chicago area. With local SEO, a local pizza business can improve its chances of appearing in the top local results and thus improve sales and revenue.
National SEO, on the other hand, improves website visibility in search results at a national or even an international level and targets customers across multiple regions or countries. National SEO improves a website's visibility to customers regardless of their location. If someone searches for "best restaurants in the US," search engines show a list of high-ranking restaurants nationwide.
With the two terms defined, let us take a closer look at their key differences in terms of target audience, keyword research, competition, and website design. Understanding them will help you decide which is best to use in your digital marketing campaigns.
1. Target Audience: Local vs. National Customers
The main difference between local and national SEO, in terms of target markets, is their geographic focus. Local SEO targets customers within a specific geographic area, such as a city, region or even just within a few blocks of where you are standing.
National SEO, on the other hand, targets customers across a larger geographic area, such as a country or even globally. Local SEO aims to promote a business within a smaller area, while national SEO helps companies reach a far larger one.
2. Keyword Research: Location-Specific vs. Generic Search Terms
When conducting keyword research, local and national SEO differ in focus. Local SEO keyword research focuses on identifying location-specific keywords, which customers use when looking for products or services in a specific geographic area, like those near them.
A local coffee shop in Chicago might focus on keywords such as "coffee shop near me," "best coffee in Chicago," or "coffee delivery in Chicago."
National SEO keyword research is about identifying keywords people are searching for without respect to geography. A national clothing brand may use keywords such as "women's clothing," "men's shoes," or "summer wear."
National keywords often have tight competition because many companies may target the same search terms. Ranking high in national search results for generic keywords is therefore challenging. Quite the opposite is true for local SEO, for which competition may be less intense.
3. Competition: Loose vs. Crowded Market
Handling competition differs between local and national SEO due to the difference in geographic focus and target market.
In local SEO, competition is localized and focused on businesses within the same geographic area. The competition is more concentrated, and companies must focus on strategies such as improving local business listings, reviews, and reputation management in order to stand out.
National SEO, however, has a broader target market and a more significant pool of competitors nationwide or globally. With this number of competitors, standing out in search results becomes challenging. Many businesses target the exact keywords and audience.
In national SEO, businesses must use more comprehensive strategies, including creating high-quality content, building authoritative backlinks, and leveraging social media. These strategies help build brand awareness and reputation.
4. Website Design: Localized vs. Broader Content
Local and national SEO strategies for website design also differ significantly. In local SEO, businesses must focus on creating a website for their specific local audience. Local website optimization includes using location-specific keywords, optimizing for local searches, and using localized content. It may even include a location map, directions, or information about local events.
National SEO focuses on creating a website that appeals to a broader audience. Optimization includes using more general keywords, creating high-quality, engaging content, and optimizing the website for various search queries.
However, whether it is a local or national website, creating a visually appealing, user-friendly website that is easy to navigate and offers a good user experience is a must to gain a high SEO rank.
Which Is Best for Your Business?
Businesses with a local store, branch, or office benefit best from local SEO, because it helps them target customers in their immediate geographic area. Local SEO can help small businesses improve their online reputation and credibility through reviews and local business listings. More importantly, it helps them increase foot traffic or in-person visits, as well.
Although national SEO can benefit some local businesses, it is generally better suited for companies with a broader target market. Examples are e-commerce businesses or those that offer services on a national or international level. Nevertheless, such businesses may also benefit from local SEO if they intend to increase their visibility in a specific geographic area.
To decide between national and local SEO, here are some questions worth asking yourself:
- Where is your intended audience located? Are they concentrated in certain areas or dispersed across the country? These are important questions to ask because you want to be visible where your audience is.
- What do I hope to accomplish? Your target audience may be all over the world, but is it your goal to get them all to buy your product or service? Perhaps you are seeking something else, such as focusing on a small area first. Be sure to clearly define your goal.
- Is it possible for me to compete in a crowded market? Determine how far you can stretch your resources and how much of them you are willing to use.
- Which strategy is my competitor employing? There must be a good reason for your competitor's success, so look at what they are doing and do it better.
You must answer these questions; they can get you started with your decision-making process.
Local SEO targets customers in a smaller geographic area or community, uses relevant localized keywords, and has competition from local businesses. National SEO is for businesses with a national or larger audience or customer base. Since they serve a large audience, they need relevant national keywords and have to double-down on optimization to handle the tight competition.
If you have a local business, localized optimization makes your company stand out. But for a large company that caters to customers nationally or worldwide, national SEO should be part of your digital marketing tactics.
A reliable Chicago SEO agency is your trusted choice for local and national SEO. Find out more today. Contact Digital Authority Partners now.
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