How Local SEO Differs From Conventional SEO

As a business owner striving to make your online presence known, you’re probably already familiar with the concept of SEO. But did you know you can target your SEO even more thoroughly through the use of local SEO? SEO strategies can be classified as either conventional or local, depending on how they are planned and executed. While they both seek to increase organic search rankings, local SEO requires a more nuanced approach that can be highly beneficial for certain types of businesses.


What Is Conventional SEO?

Conventional SEO is the practice of optimizing a website to rank higher in the search results. It covers many different on-page and off-page processes. On-page processes are performed directly on the website that is being optimized, whereas off-page processes are performed on other websites. Regardless, all conventional SEO processes aim to increase a website's search rankings.

What Is Local SEO?

Local SEO is the practice of optimizing a business's digital properties to rank higher in the search results for local searches. Like conventional SEO, it generally involves on-page and off-page processes to increase a website's search rankings. Local SEO, however, includes the optimization of other digital properties that represent businesses, such as social media profiles, directory listings and customer review platforms. All local SEO processes aim to increase the local search rankings of these and other business-related properties on the internet. For our tried-and-true Local SEO marketing tactics, read our blog 10 Tried-and-True Tactics for Local SEO Marketing.

Ranking Objective

The primary objective of local SEO is to increase the local search rankings of a business's digital properties. Local search rankings, of course, refer to geographically targeted organic listings.

Search engines frequently show different organic listings based on where a user is located. For example, if a user in Sydney and a user in Brisbane both search for "pet sitting service," they'll see different listings even though they searched for the same phrase. The Sydney user will likely see organic listings for Sydney-based pet sitters, whereas the Brisbane user should see listings for Brisbane-based pet sitters.

If you perform local SEO, you'll want to increase your business's rankings for searches performed in a specific geographic area. Conventional SEO ignores geographically targeted organic listings. Instead, its primary objective is to rank higher for all search engine users, no matter where they are located.

Audience Targeting

Since it focuses on searches performed in a specific geographic area, local SEO reaches a smaller audience than conventional SEO. If a user is located outside of the geographic region for which you optimize your business's digital properties, he or she may not discover your business.

If you're the owner of a local business, reaching a small audience isn't necessarily bad. On the contrary, local SEO excels in its ability to stimulate traffic and sales for local businesses because it targets highly qualified users.

You won't reach as many users when marketing your business with local SEO as you would with conventional SEO, but the users you do reach will have a higher chance of making a purchase. If a user lives in the same city where your business operates, he or she can take a short drive to your business to make a purchase. Conventional SEO, on the other hand, means users located across the country or even other parts of the world may discover your business when performing online searches.


You can expect less competition when performing local SEO than conventional SEO. Businesses located outside of your targeted geographic region won't rank for the same local queries as your business. The only competitors you'll encounter with local SEO are similar local businesses that operate and serve customers in your targeted geographic region.

Because it has less competition, local SEO is easier to perform than conventional SEO. It can take months of rigorous work to rank a website high for a common search query that's not geographically targeted. Even then, the sheer amount of competition may prevent the website from ranking on the first page. You may still encounter some competition with local SEO, but it will be minuscule compared to that of conventional SEO. As a result, local SEO requires less time and work to successfully execute.


For a successful local SEO campaign, you must build citations. While not required for conventional SEO, building local citations is an essential step in local SEO.

What are citations in local SEO exactly? They are snippets of information about your business and its location that appear online. Most citations consist of the name, phone number and address of a local business. You can build them on places like social media networks, Yelp and Google My Business. Local citations allow search engines to verify your business's location. If search engines find 20 citations for your business, all of which show a specific location, they may rank your business's digital properties higher for local searches.

For a successful local SEO campaign, you must build citations. While not required for conventional SEO, building local citations is an essential step in local SEO.

Customer Reviews

Another difference between conventional SEO and local SEO is that the latter places more weight on customer reviews than the former. If your local business has lots of positive reviews from real customers praising its products or services, search engines will identify your business as being popular among users in its targeted geographic region. Therefore, they may rank your business's website and digital properties higher for searches performed in its targeted geographic region.

Customer reviews don't have to appear on your business's website. Whether a customer leaves a review on your business's Google, Yelp or Facebook page, it will increase your business's popularity from a search engine’s perspective.

Not sure how to deal with bad reviews in future? Read our blog on How Your Business Can Effectively Deal with Bad Reviews

Choosing Between Conventional SEO and Local SEO

Whether you should use conventional SEO or local SEO depends on the type of business you operate. If your business operates online, conventional SEO is the way to go, since it doesn't restrict your business's visibility to users in a specific geographic region.

If your business operates in a local market, local SEO will prove to be far more beneficial. It will increase your business's rankings and exposure for relevant search queries performed by users in its targeted geographic region, resulting in more walk-in traffic and greater success with your local business.

Not all forms of SEO are the same. Conventional SEO is a broad optimization strategy that strives for higher search rankings for all users. In comparison, local SEO is a narrower optimization strategy that targets users in a specific geographic region. You can use either of them to reach search engine users, but if you run a local business, local SEO will drive the greatest success.

What SEO strategy did you choose for your business and why? Let us know in the comments section below.

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