Local vs. Organic SEO: What’s the Difference?

Almost every website needs to attract traffic from search engines if it wants to grow. That means you’ll have to work on its Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The problem is that SEO is a broad field, so breaking it down into multiple categories can help you make better sense of it.

Broadly speaking, you can separate SEO into ‘local’ and ‘organic’ categories. In most cases, you’ll need to spend time on both if you want your website to thrive, particularly if you run a business. By combining local and organic SEO effectively, you’ll be in a much better position to maximize your site’s traffic.

In this article, we’ll offer a brief introduction to SEO, and then talk about the differences between the local and organic varieties. Finally, we’ll help you figure out which type of SEO is more important for your site’s growth. Let’s get started!

An Introduction to SEO

When we talk about SEO, we’re referring to a collection of strategies you can use to help your website rank highly in search engine results:

The better your website’s ranking is within Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), the more traffic you’re likely to get. Your traffic level will also depend on how many people are looking for the type of content you offer, but in broad terms, strong SEO practices lead to more views and increased conversions.

Search engines take many factors into consideration when determining rankings, which means that SEO can involve a lot of work. Let’s say, for example, that you’re publishing a new article on your blog and you want to work on its SEO. This would require paying attention to proper keyword usage, optimizing its meta description, using subheadings correctly, and more.

All of those practices fall under the banner of ‘organic SEO’. Let’s talk more about what that is, and how it’s different from its local counterpart.

The Differences Between Local and Organic SEO

Generally speaking, the goal of organic SEO is to capture more traffic from search engines. It doesn’t matter where that traffic is coming from, as long as it’s relevant to your website and business.

Local SEO, on the other hand, focuses on getting the attention of people who are physically close to your business. If you run a dog walking operation, for example, it makes sense to advertise primarily to locals. In that scenario, your best strategy would be to prioritize local SEO over organic traffic.

To give you a clearer idea of what the differences are between these two types of SEO, let’s talk about some of the techniques involved in each. To improve your site’s organic SEO, for example, you’d want to:

All of these practices are key to attracting a high level of traffic from around the web. When it comes to organic SEO, on the other hand, here are some of the tasks you’ll need to focus on:

As you can see, there is some overlap between organic and local SEO. In fact, it’s usually a bad idea to focus on one of them exclusively, although you may want to prioritize organic or local SEO depending on your business’ type and needs.

Local vs. Organic SEO: Which Is More Important for Your Website?

In most cases, local and organic SEO go hand-in-hand. Let’s say, for example, that you’re running a business with a physical location. In that case, you’d want to do the following:

  • Create a listing on Google My Business
  • Make sure your store shows up on maps
  • Encourage customer reviews, so people know that you provide a quality service
  • Target local keywords, helping customers find you more easily

In the scenario above, you’re not beholden to organic traffic, because customers can find you in other ways. For example, if you ask Google about local restaurants, it will prioritize showing you the closest options, even if they haven’t worked much on their organic SEO:

However, by not paying any attention to your site’s organic SEO, you’re also missing out on potential customers who might not necessarily be locals. So it’s best to put some amount of effort into both types of optimization.

There are only a few situations where it doesn’t make sense to prioritize both local and organic SEO. These include when you run a personal website of any kind, or if your site is for an entirely-online business or blog (without a physical location). In those cases, local SEO isn’t very important, because you’re not trying to promote your site in one specific location.

Overall, local SEO is most critical for businesses with a physical presence. As for organic SEO, it’s always essential, no matter what kind of website you’re running.


SEO is a very broad field, and you’ll need to learn its best practices if you want your website to succeed. Otherwise, you might not get much traffic, which means that the content you create won’t find an audience.

Usually, local SEO is essential if you have a business with a physical location, since it can help you attract more customers. However, even local companies can benefit from organic SEO. In fact, you should never ignore the importance of organic search, no matter what type of project you’re working on.

Do you have any questions about the relationship between local and organic SEO? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!

Image credit: Pixabay.

Local vs. Organic SEO: What's the Difference?
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Local vs. Organic SEO: What's the Difference?
Learn about the difference between local and organic SEO in this article.
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