Local vs National SEO

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What is Local SEO?

There are many different types of SEO – Local SEO of course, National, E-Commerce, SEO for a particular platform such as YouTube or Amazon, and probably many other kinds.

However what I want to talk about in this article is specifically “Local SEO” which is what the vast majority of owners of small-medium sized businesses will need.

To explain the difference between national SEO (okay “national” isn’t really a thing – it’s a convenient word to differentiate it from Local SEO), I’m going to take the example of a travel blog. Let’s say you’ve got a blogger and they are talking about backpacking around the world and they want to earn some money by creating an article about the best backpacks that they can buy.

An Example – Travel Blogger v Dog Trainer

They’re going to have affiliate links in that blog article and they’re going to make money from that. That blogger therefore wants his article to rank for keywords related to backpacks. What is important to understand is that it doesn’t matter where in the world the user the searcher is located, so this blog is targeting anyone in the world.

If we plug these kinds of keywords into a keyword research tool we will see some very important data. Firstly, that there’s a huge amount of search volume: we’ve got over 47,000 keywords that have “best backpacks” or “backpack” in them. Those thousands of keywords give a total volume of over 34 million different searches and that’s every single month!

That’s a whole lot of people wanting to know about backpacks! But don’t rush out and start a travel blog right now because with lots of volume also comes lots of competition… A tool such as SEMRush will give each keyword a difficulty score and it uses a traffic light system to give an overview of difficulty. All these massive backpack related keywords have orange and red dots next to them, which means it’s very difficult to rank for those term.

To put this into context what we want to do next is look at the kind of keywords that a small business might want to rank for. So let’s say you run a grooming parlour in Birmingham, you might want to rank for that phrase “dog grooming birmingham” so if I now plug that into the same keyword tool I get some VERY different results!

There are only 85 keywords and the search volume is just under 650 (per month). The keyword difficulty is significantly lower with only green dots showing up for these local keywords. These kinds of keywords are a lot easier to rank for because you’re not competing with the entire world!

If you run a business which is based in Birmingham then you’re only competing with the other businesses of the same type that serve the Birmingham area they’re not they’re not competing with every other dog groomer in the entire world which is what the blogging example is doing!

The other very important thing to understand about local SEO is the way in which the results are delivered. If you go to Google and search for something like “best backpacks for women” you’ll most likely see at the top of the results, we’ve got this big sponsored block which are all adverts that are paying good money to be there!

This blog appears above the organic listings which means that if our travel blogger manages to rank in the first position on Google, he’s still got all those adverts to compete with! This doesn’t usually happen with local searches.

So if we take a local search term such as “dog training manchester” and type that into Google we will see a picture of a map near the top of the listings. This whole area is called the Google Map Pack it appears above all of these organic listings which are all of the regular websites which come underneath.

Because the map pack appears closer to the top of the results, it makes it way more important because it really stands out when the businesses that are listed within it have got a good rating.

What is really key to understand is that what is ranking in this map pack are not websites – they are Google Business Profiles (GBPs). The reason this is so important is because local SEO has really changed in recent years. Before we had this map pack it was just about getting the website ranked now it’s a real high priority to have the GBP actually ranking high up in this pack. If it’s not in the top three it might as well not be there.

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