SEO illustration overlaid on a keyboard
Search engine optimisation (SEO) helps your digital content rank higher in organic search results and ultimately, helps more people find and interact with your digital presence. SEO is an important part of any marketing strategy, as it helps draw more traffic to your website or business. 
So what is the difference between general SEO and local SEO? 
Top line, general or national SEO focuses on optimising your digital content for more general (non-localised) terms and keywords, such as “best restaurants 2023”. 
Local SEO, however, as the term suggests, is more specific and focuses on optimising your digital content to rank higher in searches that specifically include a geographic term. For example, “best restaurants 2023 Watford”. 
So, the primary difference between general SEO and local SEO is the targeting of keywords and content. General SEO is focused on more broad search terms and content topics, while local SEO is more targeted and focuses on search terms including location-specific keywords. 

So what does that mean? 

General SEO typically involves optimising website content including: 
meta descriptions 
body copy  
to attract more organic search traffic. Additionally, general SEO often involves link-building and other off-page SEO tactics. 
Local SEO, however, is more focused on optimising digital content specifically for local visitors in your vicinity. 
One of the most used search term add-ons today is "near me". Google's search algorithm is able to recognise the location of users as they go online, and investing in local SEO is worthwhile when the majority of searches are for local businesses, services or products. 
In fact, recent research from Google found that 46% of online searches have local search intent. This means that 46% of all online searches (5.6 billion per day) are for local businesses. 
Google and its clever algorithm can now judge user intent, so this is an important factor for SEO rankings. So, if we consider the stats above, more people are searching for their location. This means that your SEO efforts need to focus more on your local environment to increase your online visibility and make your business more discoverable in search.  
It's not just an online shop, either; higher on-site visibility also correlates with higher traffic to brick-and-mortar stores. 
There is a remarkable further statistic that over 80% of consumers use Google to evaluate local businesses. I suppose not surprising when you think about it 
Furthermore, for businesses that serve multiple locations, it is important to utilise both general and local SEO. 

What do you need to do to maximise local SEO? 

 Google Business Profile 

If you haven't set up a Google Business Profile yet, you need to do so soon. This is probably the best local SEO strategy that local businesses can really benefit from. 
It is a great source of free advertising, where you can share information about your business such as hours of operation, description of your product or service, your business location, contact details and website details . 
And it also allows customers to leave reviews about your business. 
With 2/3rds likely to read Google reviews before visiting a company website or making a purchase decision, a Google Business Profile is essential. 
Google Business Profile icon

Create and build local citations or back links 

This is probably the best local SEO strategy that local businesses can really benefit from. Free online directory materials are a great source of free advertising where you can share information about your business. This link-building strategy for local businesses is invaluable as Google uses citations as a ranking factor, and with your business name, location or contact details appear online in well-respected directories the better and higher the potential ranking. 

Targeted content at your local audience 

Providing content that local users are specifically searching for is a great way to reach your local audience. Doing this builds your reputation as a local expert on your products and services, solving a problem in the community. By creating content that solves a local need, you may also reach a wider audience than if you were just targeting the general public. 

Keywords or phrases 

Google uses specific terms when categorising your content.  
This includes keywords from your title, metadata, and any text on your page. When creating content for your business, you need to include the right keywords to rank high in search results. For example, many hairdressers use the keyword "hairdresser or barber" when creating their profile. 
However, this won’t rank high enough. This is a very niche keyword, but it can be useful if you’re looking to find a local hairdresser. You can create a keyword like “hairdresser Watford or barber Watford” by adding the location to your search query.  
This way, Google can identify the service and location being searched against each other. 

In conclusion........... 

Ultimately, SEO is a crucial part of any successful marketing strategy.  
For businesses focussing provincially, local SEO will help increase your overall visibility and website traffic.  
With the right strategy and tactics, you can see a major increase in organic search traffic and revenue. And it is not 'rocket science', incremental steps in 'bite size' chunks will do. 
At It'seeze Watford, we deliver affordable, professionally designed websites, and understand the importance of local SEO in order for you to have the best chance of being visible. We pride ourselves on a personalised service, and happy to have a chat and provide no-obligation advise. 
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