Local SEO vs. National SEO: Understanding the right search engine techniques for your business

Marketing / 10.08.23
Glenn Davidson

Imagine your business as a hidden treasure chest buried within the vast expanse of the internet. For customers to uncover its riches, you’ve got to mark an X on the map they’re being given. The quality of your SEO content is the difference between that X being an in-your-face, flashing neon sign, and a hand-scribbled cross, written by someone using a 2-inch Argos pencil.

So, get your Sharpie out, because we’re about to help you mark your map and start bringing more of the right customers to your treasure island.



What is SEO?

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the digital marketing term for how content can be created and adapted to improve a website’s performance within search engines.

Local SEO, with its colloquial keywords and community-centred techniques, speaks directly to nearby customers, like a familiar conversation with neighbours. It focuses on optimising your online presence to attract local search queries and enhance visibility within your immediate vicinity.

On the other hand, national SEO casts a much wider net, bridging the gap between a brand’s ambitions and audiences on a much larger scale. By employing strategies like comprehensive keyword research, content optimisation for broader search terms, and building high-quality backlinks from authoritative websites, national SEO aims to position your business as an industry leader on a national scale.

Jump straight to: Local SEO | National SEO | Tips to get started


The Power of Local SEO

Example use cases: Independent shops such as florists and bakeries, community classes and events, and fitness centres.

To dominate your local market, harnessing the power of local SEO is crucial. Let’s explore the key techniques and considerations for local SEO success:

Location-Specific Keywords

  • Conduct thorough keyword research to identify search terms that are relevant to your local audience. This can – and should – include references to relevant places, landmarks and other businesses if appropriate.
  • Optimise your website’s content, meta tags, and headings with location-specific keywords. This can – and should – include references to relevant places.
  • Incorporate location keywords naturally within your website’s copy to improve its visibility in local search results.

Example: If you own a coffee shop in Lewes, target keywords like “best coffee shop in Lewes” “Ringmer coffeehouse,” or “organic coffee in East Sussex”

Google Business Profile Optimisation

  • Claim and verify your Google My Business listing to ensure accurate and up-to-date information about your business.
  • Provide complete details such as address, phone number, business hours, website URL, and photos.
  • Encourage customers to leave reviews on your Google My Business profile, as positive reviews can enhance your local search rankings.
  • Post regular content onto your profile. See our guide on how to do this here.

Local Citations and Directories

  • Submit your business information to local directories and citation websites, such as Yelp and TripAdvisor. Bonus points if they’re industry specific.
  • Ensure consistency in your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) across all directories to establish trust and credibility.
  • Seek opportunities to be featured in local publications or websites, as these linking opportunities can massively boost your local search visibility.

Example: A boutique hotel in Brighton should strive to be listed on prominent travel directories like TripAdvisor, Expedia, and Booking.com, as well as in local travel blogs – like this one – or magazines featuring the city’s top accommodations.

Local Content and Reviews

  • Create location-specific content on your website, such as blog posts, articles, or guides that highlight local events, attractions, or community initiatives. Don’t be afraid to link to other sites early on, this will help you become an organic member of the business community and build an authority score.
  • Encourage customers to leave reviews on platforms like Facebook, Trustpilot or industry-specific review websites.
  • Respond promptly and professionally to both positive and negative reviews to demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction.

Example: A fitness studio in Uckfield can publish blog posts about the best walking routes in Buxted Park or interview local influencers to showcase the vibrant fitness community in the area.

By implementing these local SEO techniques and considerations, your business can significantly improve its visibility and attract nearby customers actively searching for products or services in their locality.


 National SEO for Broader Reach

Example use cases: Online and e-commerce stores, estate agents, digital pharmacists and healthcare professionals, and publications.

While local SEO focuses on dominating your local market, national SEO strategies aim to optimise your website for a broader reach. Let’s dive into the essential tactics for optimising your website on a national scale:

Keyword Research and Targeting

  • Conduct extensive keyword research to identify high-volume search terms related to your industry or niche.
  • Target broader keywords that have a national appeal and attract a larger audience. Don’t be afraid to go big and bold with your ambitions, it’s the consistent repetition over time that will be a key to wider success.
  • Analyse the search intent behind these keywords to create relevant and valuable content that resonates with a national audience.

Content Optimisation and Outreach

  • Develop high-quality, informative, and engaging content that covers a wide range of topics within your industry. You are already experts in your field, now you’ve just got to show it to the world.
  • Optimise your content with relevant keywords, headers, meta tags, and structured data markup to improve its visibility in national search results.
  • Conduct outreach to industry influencers, bloggers, and journalists to promote your content and gain valuable backlinks from authoritative websites.

Technical SEO

  • Improve your website’s technical aspects to enhance its performance, user experience, and search engine crawlability.
  • Ensure fast page load times, mobile responsiveness, and easy navigation for users on various devices.
  • Implement structured data mark-up to provide search engines with additional information about your website’s content.

Example: An e-learning platform operating nationally should prioritise technical SEO elements like optimising website speed, implementing schema mark-up for course pages, and ensuring seamless mobile browsing for potential students.

National Link Building

  • Develop a comprehensive link-building strategy to acquire high-quality backlinks from reputable websites. Tools like SEMrush provide a simple and effective way to identify backlinking opportunities.
  • Engage in guest blogging, content partnerships, and digital PR campaigns to earn valuable mentions and backlinks from influential sources.
  • Monitor your backlink profile to identify and disavow any low-quality or spammy links that could negatively impact your website’s search rankings.

By implementing these tactics, your website can expand its reach and attract a broader audience on a national level. National SEO opens up exciting opportunities for growth, brand recognition, and increased visibility across the country.


So, before we move into some of the detail, take a look at the table below that breaks down the differences between local SEO and national SEO focuses:

Local SEO National SEO
Focus Specific local geographical area Broader national audience
Target Keywords Location-specific keywords Keywords with national appeal
Google My Business Optimise Google My Business listing Focus on website optimisation
Local Citations Get listed in local directories Build authoritative backlinks
Content Create content for a local audience Broader content for a wider audience
Reviews Encourage reviews on local sites Garner reviews from a wide range of sources
Competition Local competitors National and international competitors
Advertising Local directories and online listings National advertising campaigns
Geographic Targeting Narrow audience targeting Wider geographic reach
ROI Local customer base and community loyalty National brand exposure and customer reach


A 5-step guide to getting started with SEO

Incorporating elements from both local and national SEO can be a winning strategy for maximising online visibility and reaching a broader audience. By blending the strengths of these approaches, businesses can unlock new growth opportunities and establish a strong digital presence.

  1. Identify Your Target Keywords and Phrases

To optimise your website and improve its search engine visibility, it’s crucial to target the right keywords and phrases that align with your business and resonate with your target audience. If you’re struggling to come up with the keywords and phrases your business should be targeting, consider the following:

  • My customers often ask me ______________________?

Think about the common questions or pain points your customers have. What are they looking to solve or achieve? These insights can help you identify relevant keywords and phrases that align with their needs.

  • The USP of my product is its ______________________

What makes your product or service unique? What sets it apart from your competitors? Highlighting your unique selling proposition (USP) can guide you towards keywords and phrases that emphasise your distinctive features or benefits.

  • People find my business when looking for ______________________

Reflect on the reasons why people discover your business. What are they searching for? Are there specific products, services, or solutions they associate with your brand? This can uncover valuable keywords and phrases that capture their intent.

Answer The Public is a great search listening tool, which can help you get started. It lets you see what people within your market are asking search engines and best of all, it has a free version for those just getting to grips with SEO.

  1. Conduct Keyword Research

Once you’ve answered these questions, it’s time to conduct keyword research to expand your list of potential keywords and phrases. Use online tools like Google Keyword Planner and SEMrush to explore search volume, competition, and related keywords. This research will help you refine your keyword strategy and identify the most valuable terms to target.

  1. Optimise Your Website Content

Now that you have a list of target keywords and phrases, it’s essential to optimise your website content accordingly. Incorporate these keywords naturally into your page titles, headings, meta descriptions, and throughout your website copy. Remember to prioritise user experience and provide high-quality, valuable content that aligns with the intent behind the keywords.

  1. Create a Content Strategy

A robust content strategy can significantly enhance your SEO efforts. Develop a plan to consistently create and publish high-quality, relevant content that caters to both local and national audiences. Consider incorporating localised content that speaks to your specific location while also producing broader content that appeals to a wider audience.

  1. Monitor, Analyse, and Adjust

SEO is an ongoing process, and it’s crucial to monitor the performance of your website, track keyword rankings, and analyse user behaviour. Utilise tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to gain insights into your website’s performance, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven adjustments to your SEO strategy.

By incorporating these actionable takeaways and finding the right balance between local and national strategies, you can position your business for optimal online visibility, increased organic traffic, and long-term success.

Remember, SEO is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and it’s important to tailor your strategy to your specific business goals, industry, and target audience.



Where do you go from here?

With the starting points provided in this article, you have the necessary tools to begin improving your business’s digital visibility, whether that be to local shoppers or national investors.

While this article provides a concise overview of local and national SEO strategies, it’s important to note that SEO is a complex and ever-changing field. To ensure a tailored strategy that aligns with your specific business goals, it’s highly recommended to consult with SEO professionals like Tomango.

They can provide valuable insights, conduct in-depth keyword research, and offer expert guidance to help you navigate the competitive digital landscape; because as we’re sure is the same in your industry, sometimes there’s no replacement for experience.

If you’d like to have a chat with our digital marketing team today, head over to the contact page and we can discuss the new heights an SEO strategy can help you reach.


But if you’re not quite ready yet, here is one last top tip:

Staying proactive is paramount in the world of SEO. Algorithms and best practices continually evolve, requiring businesses to adapt and refine their strategies. Keep a close eye on industry trends, monitor your website’s performance, and be ready to make data-driven adjustments.

Further Reading: