Local vs. National SEO: A Beginner’s Guide

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Discover the Right Approach for Your SEO Strategy

Local businesses and nationwide companies have a few things in common regarding SEO. They both want to rank on the top of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for specific keywords.

No matter who you target, SEO principles are relatively the same across the board—keyword research, relevant content creation with organic keyword integration and consistent execution of your strategy.

However, when it comes to targeting locally or nationally, the execution tends to differ slightly. It can become tiresome for a small business in Cleveland to target keywords that have no relevance to audiences in Nashville. A large corporation with a national footprint will likely want to target such keywords, which is where audience and keyword relevancy come into play.

Understanding where your business should focus its effort will yield results that place your website high on search rankings and achieve a better ROI.

Similarities Between Local and National SEO

When comparing a local and national SEO approach, the goal remains the same: Rank First!

Whether you’re a locally owned small business or a national brand serving customers across the country, the steps you take are still the same.

You still need to conduct keyword research and create relevant, optimized content that integrates the keywords organically. It would be best if you obtained credible backlinks from authoritative sources and continually updated on-page elements and image alt tags.

Ready to take action? Let’s have a conversation

When Does Local SEO Come Into Play?

Knowing when to focus on local or national SEO tactics depends solely on your business and who you serve. There’s no advantage to targeting potential customers in a state next to you if your business cannot serve those people.

If your target audience is in the same city or metropolitan area as your business, that’s an excellent indication to shift your efforts to local SEO. Typically these businesses include local service providers like contractors and tradesmen, restaurants and brick-and-mortar retail stores.

Local SEO best serves small to medium-size companies that only reach a specific physical area. While there are many similarities between the two approaches, your audience and their search intent will determine how you implement your strategy. Make sure you have a solid understanding of your audience with detailed client personas that can help guide your strategy. 

How Does a Google Business Profile fit Into This?

Did you know that 46% of searches on Google are seeking local information? This is why Google Business listings are prominently featured in SERPs, giving users quick access to the most relevant information.

No one wants a bad dining experience, so what do we do? Turn to Google and search for restaurants in our area. Google Business Profiles help identify local businesses in your area that provide whatever you may be searching for — information such as location, operating hours, Google reviews, a website and services offer almost everything users need to know to decide.

When the Hersh PR team implements a local SEO campaign, we place an emphasis on Google Business Profiles. Giving Google and its properties consistent attention is critical to a successful Local SEO campaign. When your local business is up to date with the freshest information, you empower potential customers with the information they need to make the right decisions to visit your business over everyone else.

How Does Keyword Research fit Into This?

Aside from knowing your target audience, how you approach your keyword research is the deciding variable between taking a Local or National SEO approach.

The keywords you target are determined by where your audience is located and what keywords will help target those areas. It doesn’t serve your local business well if you constantly target keywords that national brands target.

National brands will have the means to reach a larger audience based on various geographic locations. Local SEO keyword research will include more geographic-based keywords, and those keywords will be incorporated through the website. 

Here are some best practices when it comes to keyword research:

Understand User Intent:  Consider your customer’s intent when shopping for a service or product you offer. Evaluate different high-level topics that could shape your strategy. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and understand their journey from start to finish. These understandings will build a more solid SEO foundation. Use Professional Keyword Tools: Use the right tools to help you research your keywords. There’s no need to bootstrap your keyword research when there are tools designed specifically for this task. Having an agency who knows how to use these tools properly for keyword research is going to yield the best possible results. Implement and Test Your Strategy: Mapping keywords to specific pages and creating a detailed content calendar will help ensure success. Remember that SEO is not a one-shot effort; you must continuously try different keywords to get the most out of your campaigns.

Bringing It Together

Climbing to the top of a SERP won’t occur overnight given the intense competition online. But with the right strategy and an SEO expert in your corner, you’ll be well positioned for boosting website traffic and ranking.

The best place to start is by determining whether or not you should take a local or national SEO approach. The steps you take to execute local and national SEO campaigns remain relatively the same.

The most significant difference between the two depends on the type of business you have and your customers’ location. Small to medium-size businesses don’t get as much out of their SEO campaigns if they target nationwide keywords.

Constantly updating your Google Business Profile, re-optimizing old content, testing keywords and content, conducting new keyword research, and creating unique content requires significant bandwidth that you may not have in-house. Partnering with an agency gives your business the advantage it deserves while allowing you to focus on running and managing the growth of your business.

Hopefully the tips above will help improve your local or national SEO campaigns. Have more questions about partnering with an agency? Reach out to us directly.

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Meet the Author

Liz Hersh is the founder of Hersh PR and Marketing, a digital marketing agency. Together with a team of marketing professionals she helps clients generate leads and increase revenue. 

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