Local SEO vs Global SEO: What’s The Difference and What Strategy Is Needed for Each?

Local SEO vs Global SEO. So you know there’s a difference, but what is it exactly? And now that you mention it, how do the strategies differ for both?

In this tell-all article, we aim to dispel the myths surrounding both local and global SEO. We do this by outlining the following:

  • The differences between Local SEO and Global SEO.
  • Which of the two you should look to focus on.
  • The differences in the strategy you should employ depending on your chosen focus. 

What Is Local SEO?

Local SEO relates to optimizing your sites for local search queries. What we mean by this are search engine queries that are specific to the local area.

Often these are keywords that involve a place name, for instance, “Plumbers in London” or “Best Plumbers in London.” As you can imagine, these types of searches herald less volume of searches compared to the more generic term “Plumbers for Hire.” However, there is almost always less competition for these location-specific terms.   

What is Global SEO?

Global SEO relates to optimizing your sites for a global audience. If you take the example mentioned in the What is Local SEO section, the generic term “Plumbers for Hire” can be relevant to a global audience. 

Then again, what if you wanted to target this term in, say, France and Mexico? You would be looking to rank for the terms “plombier” or “fontanero” in these regions. Global SEO is about ranking for terms around the world, not just in your national market. 

These generic terms usually have higher traffic than location-specific search queries but are often many more times more competitive. 

Should I Focus On Local SEO?

Having read the previous two sections, you probably have a pretty good idea of which type of SEO you need to be focusing on. 

If you’re a business that operates solely in your local area –  you guessed it – you need to be focusing on Local SEO. Businesses like this could be independent brick-and-mortar stores or service providers that only operate in a certain location, like our friend the London Plumber.  

The reason for this is twofold:

  1. Keyword Difficulty
  2. User Intention

Keyword Difficulty

As mentioned earlier, it is much easier to rank highly for location-specific keywords than it is for generic keywords. If you’re a local business, you probably don’t have much time or resources to spend on lots of content and link building. However, Local SEO lets you rank for keywords that are still relevant to your business but for reduced time and effort.

User Intention

If you’re a local business, you really only want potential customers coming to your website. If you can only take contracts in London and yet you rank for a broad keyword term, you’re probably getting a lot of people coming to your website who you physically can’t work with. 

In addition, certain terms are automatically “localised” by search engines such as Google. Type the keyword term “plumbers” into Google and you’ll more than likely find a list of plumbers in your local area. This is due to search intent. Google knows that more often than not users typing in this term are looking for local plumbers. They are not often looking for a definition of the world or a history of this noble vocation.

So for these kinds of businesses, not only is it cheaper to target localised keywords, but it’s also completely unhelpful to target generic terms!

When Local SEO Should Be Part of a Broader Strategy

There are occasions when you should use Local SEO as part of your broader SEO strategy.

Take Fat Fish Marketing for example. You may notice that we have a locations tab in our navigation with both a Digital Marketing Agency: Belfast page and a Digital Marketing Agency: London page. We happen to have offices in both locations, although if we really wanted to we could have pages like this for any major city the world over.

Why? Well, being a digital marketing agency we don’t physically need to be in the location we serve and we have clients all around the world. What then is stopping us from targeting local keyword search terms like “New York Digital Marketing Agency” or “Toronto Digital Marketing Agency”? Especially when you consider the competition for the broad term “Digital Marketing Agency.”

INSERT IMAGES FROM SEMRush

As you can see from this keyword analysis from SEMRush, the broad search term generates many more searches. However, the keyword difficulty (the difficulty in ranking for a given term due to relative competition) for the localised keyword phrase is much lower. 

While we do target more globally applicable keyword terms, employing these local keywords into our broader SEO strategy would be a good way to get highly relevant traffic with less SEO competition.

Should I Focus On Global SEO?

So in the battle between Local SEO vs Global SEO, we should be pretty confident of when local SEO is appropriate for your business. However, when does global SEO have its merits?

If you operate in several international markets, you should consider optimizing for global search terms. These can be broad search terms as we have already mentioned. They can, however, also be region-specific search terms. This is especially true if you’re present in markets that speak different languages. 

It can be quite easy to transfer that hard-earned SEO power from one region to another, but we’ll get to that in the Global SEO strategy section.

Local SEO Strategy

In order to target local terms, make sure you get yourself registered with Google My Business. This will allow you to list your premises in Google’s directory and be findable when people search for localised keyword terms relating to you. 

The next step is to create pages dedicated to your focus local keyword. This could be your homepage if you’re only serving a particular area. However, if you’re like us at Fat Fish Marketing, this could be a separate page altogether like our Digital Marketing Agency: London page.

For more information on how to optimize your page for a focus keyword, why not check out our SEO for Dummies article?

Global SEO Strategy

A global SEO strategy is a little more complicated. Let’s assume that you have a website serving the UK market at a .co.uk domain extension and have recently launched a .com website serving the US. However, you’re not ranking for the search terms that you rank for in the UK. There are a few things you need to do to make sure you can rank in both regions and not just one:

  1. Use hreflang tags to tell search engines which page needs to serve which market. 
  2. Localise your content. For instance, make sure the .co.uk page uses British spelling conventions and the .com American. You should also use the appropriate height and weight system for the given region. This is especially important for e-commerce product pages that often include this information. 
  3. Redirect American traffic that lands on the .co.uk site to the .com version. There are WordPress Plugins and Shopify Apps that enable you to do this easily. 
  4. Build backlinks for each domain from high-authority sites in their respective regions.

Translations

If you’re trying to adopt a truly global SEO strategy, you’re also going to need to translate your content into different languages. This may be an additional cost but the benefits for SEO are huge. It’s also worth noting that it’s often much easier to rank in countries that don’t use English. That’s simply because there is far less competition for these non-English keywords. 

Domain Extensions, Subdomains and Subdirectories

There is some debate over which is better to use, but some experts report that subdirectories underperform vs subdomains.

He even recommends redirecting region-specific domain extensions to your appropriate subdomain.

However, we at Fat Fish Marketing prefer to use the right domain extension for the given region and do away with subdomains. This can improve credibility in the region with locals appreciating the company being based in their local area.

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