Local SEO Vs National SEO: How to Optimize Your Business for Both in 2024

April 5, 2024

In 2023, the world saw over 5.3 billion internet users, but let's focus on a smaller scale. There were 331 million internet users in the United States alone, highlighting the massive online market full of potential customers.

In the digital world, understanding the difference between local SEO and national SEO is important for any local business looking to boost its online presence. Whether you're just starting out or aiming to reach a broader audience, mastering search engine optimization (SEO) is key.

This guide will explore the essentials of local and national SEO, highlighting their differences and similarities and explaining how your local SEO efforts can shape your business's success. We'll also discuss which types of companies should focus on local SEO versus national SEO and point out common mistakes to avoid in your SEO journey.

What is National SEO?

What Is National SEO

National SEO is about making your website more visible in Google searches nationwide. It's for businesses that want to attract customers from all over, not just locally or regionally. This approach involves tailoring the website's content to rank well for a wide range of keywords and phrases that describe the business's offerings.

Companies practicing national SEO strategies aim to reach a national audience. For example, an online store that ships products nationwide would use this type of SEO to attract buyers from anywhere.

Their goal is to improve their national search rankings and expand their presence on a national scale through various national SEO campaigns. This often goes hand in hand with SEO and social media efforts to maximize their online visibility and attract customers nationwide.

Key Components of National SEO

  • Keyword Research: Find and use general keywords that match your business type. These keywords shouldn't be tied to a specific place.
Keyword Research
  • On-Page Optimization: Make sure your website's meta tags, headings, and text include keywords that matter nationwide. Also, organize your site well so it's clear and relevant.
On Page Optimization
  • High-Quality Content: Write attractive, fresh, and valuable content for people everywhere. This helps position your brand as a top name in your field. It's part of developing an effective content strategy for SEO.
  • Backlink Strategy: Get links from well-known and related websites. These links improve your site's authority in search engines, helping it stand out.
Backlink Strategy
  • Technical SEO: Speed up your site, ensure it works well on mobile devices, use structured data, and fix any crawl errors to keep your site running smoothly. This technical aspect is crucial to your national SEO strategy, ensuring your site performs well regardless of the viewer's location.
Technical SEO

What is Local SEO?

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO targets businesses that serve a specific area or region, unlike those aiming for a national audience. Businesses using local SEO tailor their website to attract people nearby, focusing on area-specific keywords and phrases. For instance, a roofing contractor serving a particular city relies on this strategy.

Key Components of Local SEO

The most important step is to set up and fine-tune your Google Business Profile. This profile shows your business hours, reviews, and location, acting as your online identity.

  • Local Citations: These are examples where your business's name, address, and phone number appear online. Places like Yelp, Yellow Pages, and local chamber of commerce sites are common spots for these mentions.
Local Citations
  • Online Reviews: Getting positive feedback from satisfied clients can significantly improve your presence in local search results and build trust.
Online Reviews
  • On-Page Optimization: Modify your website's sections, like inserting local keywords into the title, meta description, and main headers, to better connect with local customers.
  • Local Backlinks: Links from local groups, newspapers, or bloggers can strengthen your standing in local search results, helping your business become more visible to the local community and potential local customers.

Local vs National SEO – Difference at a Glance


Local SEO

National SEO

Target Audience

Local customers in a specific area

A broad audience across the country or globally


Tailors to local searches and specific places

Aims for a wider range of searches and demographics


Uses keywords that are relevant to local areas

Uses widely searched keywords not tied to a location

Google My Business

Vital for showing up in local search map results

It is not as crucial compared to local SEO


Relies on local business listings and directories

It doesn't depend much on local listings


Usually faces less competition in local regions

More competition due to the larger target area


Content often relates to local events, news, or community topics

More broad content about general industry topics


Focuses on local citations, customer reviews, and local website links

Works on building a solid overall web presence and high authority links

Local SEO vs National SEO: What is the Difference?

Local SEO vs National SEO: What is the Difference?

SEO is divided into two strategic paths, each with its specific targets and goals. Here's a clearer view of how they stand apart:

Keyword Targeting

When we talk about Local SEO, it's all about connecting with people in a specific area. The keywords used here are like a pinpoint on a map, targeting potential customers searching for services or shops in their neighborhood.

Think of phrases like "Miami car repair" or "best pizza in Chicago." These are not just words; they're signposts guiding local customers directly to the doors of local businesses.

Miami car repair

In contrast, National SEO is wider. It doesn't limit itself to geographical borders. Instead, it reaches out to anyone, anywhere, who might be searching for broader concepts or items.

Keywords are more about the product or service in a grand sense—like "luxury fashion brands" or "best laptops." These high-traffic keywords are chosen to pull in visits from across the country, sometimes even globally, which helps achieve national search rankings.

best laptops keyword

Content Creation

Content Creation

Local SEO means making content to read or watch that people living near you will find interesting. This could be news about your town or a story about something cool happening nearby. It's about showing that you're part of the local scene.

National SEO is about creating content that anyone, anywhere, would find helpful or entertaining. This could be advice that helps people with everyday problems or information about the latest trends.

Link Building

Link Building

Local SEO is about getting noticed by other local websites. It's like having your neighbors talk about you, which makes more people in your area trust you. This can mean being listed in local directories or getting mentioned by local bloggers.

National SEO wants attention from big-name websites from all over the country. This helps show search engines that you're important and trustworthy, so they'll put you higher up in search results.

Google My Business Optimization

Google My Business Optimization

Being easy to find on Google Maps is super important for local businesses. That's where having a good Google My Business Listing comes in. It's like a signpost on the internet that tells people where you are when you're open and what customers think about you.

National businesses don't use Google My Business as much. They're more focused on ensuring their website looks good and works well for anyone looking from anywhere.

Google's "Map Pack" Within SERPs

Googles Map Pack Within SERPs

Highlighting local shops and services in the Google Maps section can make a big difference. When people search for something nearby, you want to be at the top of the list, with your name and number ready.

Being on a local map isn't as important for businesses that sell things nationwide. They want to be seen by people everywhere, no matter where they're looking from.

Campaign KPIs

Campaign KPIs

When determining if your SEO is working, you look at specific numbers. For local places, it's things like how many people ask for directions to their shop or call them up. These numbers tell you if people nearby are finding and choosing you.

For big national companies, they look at how many people visit their websites from all over the country. They want to see big numbers to know they're getting popular everywhere.

SEO Campaigns

SEO Campaigns

National SEO is all about getting a website noticed for significant, popular keywords searched all over the country or even the world. It's perfect for businesses that sell products or services to people everywhere, like significant companies and tech giants.

Local SEO is for businesses like the corner bakery or the downtown dentist. They focus on getting known in their city or neighborhood. They want to be the first place people think of when they need something close to home.

Social Media

Social Media

Social media goals for local and national SEO can look quite different. National campaigns often have more resources for social media, managing a robust presence and engaging with a diverse, widespread audience.

But local businesses shouldn't be discouraged. Even with fewer resources, an innovative social media strategy can bolster their local presence, encourage shares and interactions, and support their local SEO efforts.

Both local and national businesses can use social media to help people find out about them. People like and share their posts, which can make them more popular on the internet, whether they're serving a small town or the whole country.

What is the Same Between National SEO and Local SEO?

What Is The Same Between National SEO And Local SEO

Even though national and local SEO aim at different things, they share a common goal. Both want to ensure that you find the best and most helpful websites or places when you use a search engine like Google.

Google doesn't want to point you to a nasty website or coffee shop that might make you want to try another search engine next time.

What search engines like Google do is look around the internet for signs that a site or local business is excellent. They want to ensure they're showing you places and websites you'll like.

For local SEO, search engines check out how well people rate a business, how close it is to you, and if it has pictures or the latest opening hours. They don't focus much on how many words are on a page. Instead, they look for other clues that tell them a business is worth visiting.

National SEO is all about the keywords on websites. Knowing how to make your website easy for search engines to read is essential. You want to give lots of good information that's honest and interesting, so Google will want to show your website to more people.

Both local and national SEO need to create great stuff online – whether that's using local SEO tools to show up in local searches or making sure a website has all the right ingredients to appear in searches all over the country. The main thing is that the better your content, the more likely you are to appear on that first page of search results.

Which Companies Should Work on Local SEO?

Which Companies Should Work on Local SEO

Even though having your business known nationwide sounds great, it's not always what's best for every company. Getting to that point takes a lot of time and money.

Here are some reasons why you might choose to focus on local SEO:

  • If your business is small and you want to keep things simple. Serving the people in your area well can build a strong foundation for your business, which might help you grow bigger later.
  • If your business is based in one place, like a restaurant or a hair salon, and you don't plan on traveling to provide your services, then focusing on local customers is the way to go.
  • If you're careful with your money and don't want to spend too much, sticking with local SEO can be a good choice. It doesn't cost as much as trying to reach the whole nation.
  • If you're eager to start making money and don't want to wait for the results that national SEO might bring local SEO can give you quicker results. This way, you can start earning now and consider expanding your marketing later.
  • If you think it's more important to become well-known in your region than all over the country, then begin with local SEO. It's all about connecting with the community around you and catering to that local intent.

Which Companies Should Work on National SEO?

Which Companies Should Work on National SEO

National SEO is a bigger deal than local SEO. It's more challenging and changes a lot, which can be difficult even for those who know their business inside out.

Here's when you might want to focus on national SEO:

  • If you want to make more money by reaching more people, national SEO is the way to go. It's good for businesses like chain stores or big companies with locations in many places.
  • If you're all about growing and getting bigger, national SEO can help you reach more people, even if you're not quite ready to handle many new orders yet.
  • If you think you can take on other businesses nationwide, then national SEO might be for you. It's tough because many others are trying to get to the top of Google's search results, too. You'll need to be ready to stick with it and invest over time.
  • National SEO is excellent for making your brand more famous and standing out in a busy market.
  • National SEO can be a smart move if you have a big budget. You must keep up with it to keep selling and growing your business.

Key Mistakes to Avoid

Key Mistakes to Avoid

Regardless of your SEO strategy, it could fail to perform well if you don't fully leverage its advantages. Below are some errors that you should avoid:

  • Being Unreachable: Once people are interested in what you offer, they should be able to reach you without any hassle. Always keep your contact information up to date and easy to find on your website.
  • Choosing the Wrong Keywords: It's easy to pick keywords that are too general or narrow for your goal. Use keywords just right to help bring in more customers and ensure they understand what you're all about.
  • Creating Low-Quality Content: If your information isn't helpful to your audience, they won't see you as trustworthy. Your content should be so good that it naturally draws people in.
  • Ignoring the Importance of Social Media: If you don't use social media, you're missing out on chances to grab new customers and keep in touch with the ones you already have. Social media is a big deal for connecting with people and showing off what makes your business unique.


Understanding the differences between local SEO and national SEO is crucial for any business looking to improve its online presence. Local SEO is your go-to if you want to connect with customers in your area, making your business a household name locally.

On the other hand, National SEO is your strategy if you aim to reach a broader audience across the country or even globally. Each has its unique approach and benefits, so choosing the right one depends on your business goals and target audience.

By avoiding common mistakes and tailoring your strategy to your specific needs, you can effectively boost your visibility and attract more local or national customers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a Business Benefit from Both National and Local SEO?

Yes, Businesses with both an online presence and a physical location can gain advantages from using both national and local SEO tactics.

How Often Should I Update My SEO Strategy?

SEO is an ongoing process. It's wise to regularly check and update your SEO plan to keep up with search engine changes and market shifts.

Is Local SEO Only Important for Small Businesses?

No, local SEO isn't just for small businesses. Even big companies with several locations can benefit greatly from local SEO strategies.

Can Social Media Affect My SEO Efforts?

Yes, social media can influence your SEO by bringing more people to your website and boosting your brand's visibility and interaction, which can, in turn, help improve your search rankings.

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