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Local SEO and international SEO: What’s the difference?

That’s right, there are two types of location-based SEO and the way you approach improving your results in search will depend on which one you want to target.

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Most businesses are aware of the importance of search engine optimisation (SEO), but many don’t know the difference between local and international SEO.

Many factors will play into your decision to focus on local SEO or international SEO, namely the size of your business, the industry it operates in, your target audience and your overall goals. But before you can settle on an approach, it’s important to understand the difference between the two types of SEO.

What is local SEO?

Local SEO is the practice of optimising your website so it’s visible to those in a specific city or region. Making your content relevant to market your products or services to searchers based on their current location helps to build engagement and generate leads from the community you serve. You should be looking to address specific search terms like ‘content marketing services in London’ to capture your audience.

When should local SEO be applied?

The decision to incorporate local SEO practices into your strategy will be a no-brainer for some small businesses with bricks and mortar premises or in-person services like plumbing or hairdressing. Enticing customers from nearby areas is the cornerstone to creating a successful business in these industries.

What are the best local SEO strategies?

Among the top methods for targeting a local audience through your SEO are:

  • Research and apply local keywords that are relevant to your audience.
  • Follow NAP best practices – this means your name, address and phone number are consistent across your digital presence and crawlable in HTML text on your site.
  • Verify your Google My Business page and ensure all information, including opening hours, is up to date.
  • Manage and reply to online reviews.
  • Engage the local community on social media.
  • Build a citation and backlink strategy.
  • Partner or collaborate with other local businesses or sponsor events.

What is international SEO?

Going global is a huge step for businesses, but a big part of its success will be ensuring international SEO practices are in place. That means having a website and its content optimised for different markets and signalling to Google and other search engines that your products and services are relevant across the world.

When should international SEO be applied?

International SEO should be used by multinational companies or those expanding into new markets. It’s not enough to simply copy content into another language, as key messaging may be lost and the nuances of a local culture completely overlooked. Research should be conducted on the market, translations and currency conversions applied, and native content created to truly suit this new audience.

What are the best international SEO strategies?

Some of the methods your international SEO strategy should include are:

  • Geo-targeting to ensure the right content is delivered to different areas of the customer base.
  • Research and implementation of relevant keywords for a variety of markets.
  • Link building efforts with international brands and organisations.
  • Location-specific URLs for each version of the website.
  • Hreflang tags and meta language tags to identify localisation of the site to search engines.
  • Updating your analytics strategy to ensure it’s capturing data from all regions.

Weighing the options based on your goals

While it’s true that 46 per cent of all Google searches are an attempt to find local information, that does mean 54 per cent of them aren’t. There’s a time for local SEO practices and another for a more international focus. Many businesses start with the former and after finding success move into the global marketplace. Whichever is the most relevant for your brand at this moment, be sure to follow best practice for that approach to achieve your goals.