Try searching ‘Best Chinese restaurants’ on Google, and you will likely get a list of eateries around you, most probably in your vicinity, that offer Chinese cuisine. This is because of local SEO – a strategy where the search results are optimised, keeping in mind the audience of a particular local region. This blog will give you insight into the nitty-gritty of local SEO, how it works and the key differences between local and international SEO.
What is SEO?
Before diving into what local SEO is, let us first understand SEO and its working. To begin with, search engines like Google help us find what we’re looking for online. We use these for innumerable purposes like finding a great place to dine out, researching before investing in a new product, searching for a word’s meaning, etc. These search engines direct us to the relevant website where we get the desired information. This is where the role of SEO comes into the picture.
Search Engine Optimisation or SEO, as the name suggests, is the practice of improving the online presence of your business website in such a way that it appears on the top of search results. This increases the chance of drawing more website traffic. There are many ways through which this can be achieved. For instance, using relevant keywords, headings, or meta descriptions ensures more visibility on search engines. There are mainly 2 types of SEO: Local SEO and International SEO.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is an SEO strategy that helps businesses appear on top of local search results. This is particularly beneficial for companies with a physical presence in a particular geographical area. Such brick-and-mortar stores are more likely to get customers from places nearby rather than from anywhere across the globe.
Now, in the general scenario, search results are ranked in the order of relevance, prominence and popularity, which is determined with the help of its algorithms.
However, proximity is another factor that is considered, especially when a local query is placed. If we take the same example of a Chinese restaurant, even though you didn’t mention your location, Google will show you the restaurants that are near your place on the top. This is because Google has sensed that you have a need that has to be fulfilled locally and immediately.
Thus, the algorithm of local SEO works a bit differently as it focuses entirely on local results and caters to a niche audience limited to a specific geographical area. For this, you must hence consider adopting the best strategies and practices of local SEO for your business.
What is International SEO?
Now, let us assume your business has a worldwide presence and its operations are spread beyond the geographical boundaries of your area to serve the global audience. Companies like these have a presence at different locations and must optimise content accordingly. Moreover, what works for one country may not necessarily work for others.
Let us take the example of KFC, one of the leading fast-food chains in the world. It has a presence in more than 140 countries, and most countries have different dialects. Accordingly, what may perform well in the UK, may not do equally well in Dubai. In such cases, international SEO comes to the rescue that targets multiple countries (and languages!) through several global search engines.
10 Difference between International vs Local SEO
1. Target Audience:
Local SEO is designed to attract customers in a particular area. Local SEO is designed to attract people who live or visit New York City. International SEO, however, focuses on reaching customers in different countries and regions. A global software company might invest in International SEO in order to reach customers who live and speak different languages.
Local SEO and International SEO have many differences. One is the need for optimisation in different languages. International SEO requires businesses to produce content in multiple languages in order to reach their target audience. A global fashion retailer might need to have different versions of its website in different languages, for example, to appeal to customers who can speak Spanish, French and German. Language optimisation may also be required for local SEO, but only in the region where the business is situated. To cater to international and local visitors, a Japanese tourist attraction might need content in Japanese and English.
3. Keyword Research:
International SEO requires thorough keyword research in each country and language to ensure businesses target the correct keywords their target audience searches for. To ensure that they are targeting the correct keywords in each market, global hotel chains would research the different keywords for each country. Local SEO can, however, focus on specific keywords that are relevant to a particular region. Local SEO can target keywords like “plumber in London” and “emergency plumber London”.
International SEO involves the creation of unique content in each country and language. Businesses must create separate versions of their websites for each country and language. A global car manufacturer, for example, would have to create pages that are specific to each country in which they operate. Local SEO can be used to target specific areas with relevant content. A local Parisian restaurant might want to highlight the culture and cuisine of its city.
5. Domain Structure:
International SEO demands a domain structure that can be optimized for each country. You may need to create a different website for each country, or use a subdomain/subfolder structure. For example, a global retailer may have separate domains for each country they operate in, such as www.companyname.com/fr for France or www.companyname.com/de for Germany. A domain can be used for local SEO. A Miami hotel may, for example, use the domain www.hotelmiami.com.
6. Link building:
International SEO involves building links to relevant websites in every language and country. Businesses should focus on building links to websites that are well-known in each country and region. To improve their local search engine rankings, a global software company might need to link to technology blogs in every country it operates in. Local SEO may focus on building links to websites within the local area. This could include local directories, chambers or commerce and other businesses. Local SEO can help a flower shop get links from local blogs or event websites to increase their local search ranking.
Local SEO involves the inclusion of correct business information (name and address, phone number, etc.) in local directories and other sources. This is especially important for businesses that depend on foot traffic such as restaurants, retail shops, and service providers. A local dentist in Los Angeles, for example, would want to make sure that their business information is correct on local directories. These are not necessarily important for international SEO. A global software company might not need to be concerned about citations, as they may not have a target audience that is searching for local businesses.
8. Google My Business:
Google My Business (GMB), a vital tool in Local SEO, allows businesses to create a listing which appears in Google Maps. The listing contains information about the business, such as its address, phone number and hours of operation. It also includes reviews. A local bakery in San Francisco might want to have a GMB listing in order to be found in local searches when someone searches “bakery near me” and “bakery in San Francisco”. International SEO might not require a GMB list, especially if the business does not target a specific geographical area.
9. Social Media:
Although both local SEO and international SEO can be done using social media, the approaches may vary. Businesses can use social media for Local SEO to reach local customers and promote products or services. A local gym might use social media to advertise special offers to its local customers. Social media can be used for international SEO to connect with customers from different countries and languages. A global beauty brand might use social media to show their products to customers in other markets, for example.
Because local SEO can be focused on one region, it is usually less costly than international SEO. The cost of International SEO will vary depending on how many countries and languages the company is targeting. A global e-commerce business that targets 10 countries and has different languages might require more international SEO budget than a local restaurant that targets customers in a particular area.
|Feature||Local SEO||International SEO|
|Target audience||Local customers||Global customers|
|Language optimization||Local language||Multiple languages|
|Keyword research||Local keywords||Global keywords|
|Content creation||Localized content||Global content|
|Domain structure||Country code top-level domain (ccTLD)||Generic top-level domain (gTLD)|
|Link building||Local links||Global links|
|Citations||Local citations||Less focus on citations|
|Google My Business||Essential tool||Optional tool|
|Social Media||Local outreach||Global outreach|
|Budget||Lower cost||Higher cost|
The Final Verdict
In the current scenario, it is imperative to understand the significance of having a proper SEO strategy in place. Irrespective of the scale and size of its operations, SEO strategies are extremely helpful for any business to prosper. The more visible your company is on search engines, the more profits it will generate.
Also, it is a known fact that most of the time, when we search for something online, we barely look past the top 4-5 searches. Therefore, your business must rank high on these search engines to drive potential clients to your website. However, what is important is to analyse where your focus should be. Should you entirely concentrate on a targeted audience of a local area, or should your target be spread across the world?
On the one hand, you may lose out on potential audiences in your area if you neglect local SEO. On the other hand, you may miss out on the opportunities to flourish abroad if you don’t try to make good use of international SEO.
Thus, knowing what works best for your business is extremely important, or you may face repercussions. You can also count upon companies like Expand my Business (EMB), which has an extensive network of 1500+ verified partner agencies with cross-industry expertise to cater to all your digital requirements.