Local SEO vs Organic SEO

Some people think that they are the same thing. The truth is, they are very different processes.

We will explain the difference between organic and local SEO, two different ways to get a company’s website discovered by search engines.

Difference between Local SEO and Organic SEO

Before we look into the process and its usage, let’s understand each of these types of SEO.

Defining Organic SEO

Organic SEO is the practice of optimizing a website by increasing its ranking on unpaid search results, typically through improving the site’s relevance to the needs of web users.

Organic SEO has three main goals.

It is important for searchers, companies (websites), and search engines to have their goals aligned in order for it to be successful.

These are:

  • To satisfy customers by providing them with the information they are looking for
  • To provide a better user experience by keeping visitors on your site longer
  • Attracting new visitors (non-branded query) who are searching for specific information based on keywords or query that they type in

Defining Local SEO

Local SEO is a way to get your website discovered by search engines.

Local SEO focuses on the user, their behavior, and what they are looking for.

It is not entirely based on keywords or queries typed in by the user.

It centers around four areas that are important to searchers:

  • Business Hours – When are you open?
  • Maps – The map where you are located
  • Reviews – How was your customer service? Were they helpful? What did you find out about them when reading these reviews?
  • Location – Your business or services need to fit into the searcher’s radar

Local SEO can be as simple as creating a landing page for the searcher to visit, which will help them find your business.

It is important to include all of these things on your site so that they will be found by the search engines and help the searcher make an informed purchase decision.

A good example is an orthodontist business that can only be done through a local SEO strategy.

Intention Differences for Local vs Organic

different intention from users

Take a look at the above image, the same tea set can serve different intentions for the same user.

Before we look into the process and its usage, let’s understand each of these types.

Organic search and the intention behind it are very different than local search.

Local SEO is about relevance to the user’s current location and its main goal is to get your need met for services or products.

Local SEO is trying to attract new visitors to their site or encourage a purchase from a local customer looking for a company in the area.

The goal of organic SEO is to help consumers find information, answer queries they cannot find themselves, and provide them with detailed information that will help them make informed decisions.

This type of search engine optimization helps consumers, but not just the consumer – it also boosts companies’ sales through increased revenues.

Users of Local vs Organic

Both local search and organic search are for the users.

It is trying to satisfy their need for information.

The user in the organic SEO scope is more likely looking for something they generally know what they are looking for when they type in a keyword or query.

It is not meant to be a geo-location-specific type of searcher.

Organic SEO is mainly using keywords and queries to help the users find what they are looking for.

And for the local-SEO-based, to simplify the context of understanding, it can be if they are looking for, say, “near me” services or products.

Or they insert the location at the end of their search string like Pizza in Mont Kiara as one of our examples in the SEO Malaysia understanding.

In General Overview

The organic search seems to cater to a much broader audience. It can serve from informational, commercial to transactional types of searchers.

And while the local SEO still serves the informational type of query, but there is a sense of urgency or prioritization based on a user’s local search query or their location. Priority would be based on the searcher’s location or the specific place that they are looking for.

The difference between local and organic SEO is that the user has an increased level of intent.

This means that the user is actively searching for a solution or product, and they’re doing it “near me” or within their current geographic location.

And Google knows this, which is why it prioritizes local search queries by placing them at the top of the SERPs (local pack results).

How Different Can The Organic vs local SEO strategies Be?

If your content competes for the same SERP with Google My Business listings, it could be difficult to compete because Google’s search results provide maps and business hours, directories, and ratings for local businesses.

Or if you are searching for a local business that is within your city, then you can see which businesses are close to you. This is called location-based search.

A Local SEO strategy for a brick and mortar store should involve:

  1. Utilize Google My Business
  2. Build directories, PR & local listings link
  3. Create useful content
  4. Find out how visitors land on your site
  5. Users review
  6. Responsive site as most users are mobile based
  7. Make sure your contact page is clear and embeded with Google Map

While the organic SEO strategy should be surrounding the users’ needs, and give them what they are looking for. Informational and helpful content about the user or answers to their queries that are not location sensitive.

When to focus on local SEO

If you have a physical store, or your service only serves a certain locality, putting extra effort into a local SEO strategy is essential for your business’ growth and success.

The local SEO effort will directly impact your business. Putting all your resources and effort into bringing the most to your local business would be sensible.

When a user performs a local search related to your business, you want your business to always show up in their search results and within Google’s local results to cater to more of the transactional and commercial intent users.

When to focus on organic SEO

To tell you the truth, in our opinion, organic SEO should be the backbone of your entire digital appearance strategy.

Organic SEO is fundamental to providing helpful content to drive awareness and to build authority within your niche. It’s the bread and butter of long-term success.

Since organic SEO is not location-specific (it can be performed internationally), it is crucial that businesses continue to create useful, helpful content that people will naturally want to share with others in their network.

When you grow larger than Local SEO

Once your business scale grows too large to solely rely on local search, it’s time to turn your attention to organic SEO which is why we mention beforehand that it should be the backbone of your overall strategy.

By that time, you already have a very solid foundation and can straight jump into the bigger picture of your niche or industry.

The two strategies should be complimentary one from the other.

In this way, you can effectively align both local and organic SEO strategies for more profit.

Conclusion – Which to start with?

If you run a local business, start with local SEO

If you want to start small and grow your business locally, go for local SEO and if you want to capture the quality audience on a global scale, choose Organic or traditional SEO.

Whichever you pick as your starting point, the important message here is that both of these strategies are important for you to grow your business.

You need to prioritize if you are tight on budget as most SMEs do.

You can’t focus solely on one or the other because you’ll be leaving a lot of money on the table.

In order to succeed, you have to think about your audience and create content that speaks to their needs and wants, regardless of whether they’re searching for it locally or globally.

Any responsible SEO company will be able to assist you in the process of achieving these.

Put Learning Into Practice

Grab our actionable local SEO checklist (with progress tracking) to gain an upper hand over your competitor now for FREE!


  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_search_engine_optimisation
  • https://www.techopedia.com/definition/5184/organic-search-engine-optimization-organic-seo

Joe is passionate about SEO and has been working in the digital space for more than 10 years. Founded JustRank and aim to share his knowledge and passion about search engine optimization. Most love phrase - "David vs Goliath". Connect with me on Linkedin.