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Local SEO vs. Global SEO: Which Is Right for You?

Posted by Zach Chapman

local seo vs global seo

Are you trying to decide what keywords to use on your website? Are you looking to boost the organic traffic to your website or the foot traffic to your physical business locations? Both local and global SEO can be useful, but before you decide which SEO strategy is best for your business, consider your SEO goals, target audience, content requirements, and resources available.

Read on to learn how local and global SEO compare.

Main Goals of Local and Global SEO

The most significant difference between local SEO vs. global SEO is each strategy's primary purpose. With local SEO, you want to focus on getting traffic from people in your local area. Targeting potential customers is generally much easier when you focus on local searches.

On the other hand, businesses that want to reach a national and/or international market might not care as much about local search results. They want to reach as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. That means using more general keywords instead of location-specific keywords.

While the keywords and strategies you use can vary, both types of SEO have the same main goal in mind: increase organic traffic and improve standing in organic search results.

Specificity Matters

Another way the local and global SEO marketing strategies might differ is with the keywords chosen. Consider, for example, a local, LA-based boutique and a large online boutique. Both businesses will want to target keywords pertaining to women's clothing. However, the local company will want to use keywords like "women's clothing in Los Angeles" or "women’s clothing near me” while the online businesses would go after the generic keywords like “stylish women’s clothing.” 

In both cases, each shop is attempting to attract their ideal customer and the specificity of the keywords reflects that.

Traffic vs. Sales

Local SEO, particularly for businesses that operate brick-and-mortar stores, will focus on getting people to visit the store in person. A service-based business might include a webpage where clients can go to book an appointment, while a product-based company could have a list of their store hours. Social media can also come in handy here as the business attempts to connect with their desired audience and convert those connections into sales.

On the other hand, a global SEO strategy is simply focused on increasing the overall volume of website traffic and keyword rankings. It doesn't matter if the audience is from the same city or the other side of the world, the more people you can attract to your site, the better your odds are of earning more customers.

Handling the Competition

While you should be doing competitor research no matter what SEO strategy you’re using or what industry you’re in, the competition won’t be the same in local and global SEO campaigns. A local salon will need to compete with other hair and beauty businesses in the area. They probably aren't concerned about ranking higher than businesses in another state or country. Local SEO services should use local keywords, which may mean ranking in fewer searches but will translate into higher conversions, especially if your business type and niche is unique.seo competitor analysis


It’s the exact opposite situation when you target the global market. Global SEO can open up more keywords to you since you don't need to include a location...but you’ll also encounter stiffer competition than local SEO for those keywords. When doing keyword research, expect to find keywords with higher search volumes and higher keyword difficulty (a measure of SEO competition, usually measured as a percentage). That’s why it’s always important to look at the quantity and quality of the keywords (and backlinks too) and to go after long-tail keywords that are more targeted to your buyer personas without being location-specific.

Backlinking strategies will be mostly the same between local and global SEO, but in the case of local SEO, you’ll want to look at getting backlinks from other businesses and websites in your local market. This means other businesses that your target audience shops at or buys from.

Content Requirements

If you want to target multiple keywords for global organic searches, you'll need to create a lot of content for your website. This means creating lots of blog posts and other written content on a regular schedule. Creating a Google My Business profile won’t be of much help here.

With local SEO, you can focus on the content and on Google My Business. Then, people can see your business's profile when they search for your business directly, or for a relevant keyword. They can read reviews, call you, visit your website and find your physical store more easily. It's a great way to get more local traffic without needing to spend as much time writing content to attract a large market.

Key Takeaways

So what can you take away from all this? To summarize:

  • Local SEO is a better option for small brick-and-mortar businesses, whether a single location or a chain of franchises within a related geographical area.
  • Massive corporations, large e-commerce businesses, or a medium-sized business with locations in different cities may benefit from global SEO.
  • Keywords for global SEO campaigns will generally be more broad, have higher search volumes and be more difficult to rank for. This can be remedied by searching for long-tail keywords.
  • Keywords for local SEO campaigns will be location specific, have lower search volumes, but also less competition.
  • Social media marketing is an effective way to enhance your SEO, regardless of whether you’re running a local or a global campaign.

Whether you own a small brick-and-mortar shop or work for a massive corporation, you may want to hire a digital marketing agency like Sparkinator to build and manage a comprehensive SEO campaign. We’ll help you compare the pros and cons of each SEO strategy, including the cost of the campaign, the audience you should be targeting and the keywords you should be trying to rank for in your industry.

Give us a call to learn more about our SEO services, or fill out our contact form and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours!

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