SEO may be the most common acronym associated with online marketing today. While most people know what the letters stand for (Search Engine Optimization), very few know that SEO is not a one size fits all term.

The purpose of this discussion is to simplify the key types of SEO, which business owners and marketers need familiarize themselves.


“Traditional” SEO refers to a marketing strategy that is focused on ranking pages within your own website higher in organic (non-paid) search results. The strategy consists of making sure your website is structured properly for search engines, as well as creating content on landing pages, blogs and social media. If you combine this with link building, which is getting popular websites (i.e. Huntington Post or Forbes) to link to your website, you can increase your site’s popularity. This is because as people link to your site, you will be seen as an authority by search engines.

The idea many salespeople push is to get your website on page one of Google search results for a few key-phrases relevant to your business, like “gluten-free cheese pizza.” Whether the company has a physical location for customers to visit is mostly irrelevant.

In short, SEO, as most people know it, focuses on getting customers to visit the singular website you created for your business.

Local SEO

In contrast, Local SEO is a marketing strategy focused on optimizing business listings on third party websites like Google+, Yelp, and Facebook, so they are fully enhanced to bring in the most views, and ultimately, the highest number of customers. Link building is also an important part of the Local SEO strategy. However, instead of getting the most popular sites to link to your main website, the goal is to get your listings linked to by online authorities who often link to specific business locations and places in your local area (i.e. independent local newspapers, event bloggers, local business writers, etc.).

Put another way – Local SEO aims to show search engines that a physical store location has a trusted and consistent presence online, which in turn helps search algorithms direct customers to your business through third party websites.

For example if someone searches for “Pizza Los Angeles,” because Google searches for its own content first, complete and enhanced Google+ listings will display before a business’s own website, along with a star-rating and review counts.

seo and local seo

What Google avoids is information that is inconsistent across multiple sites. If your phone number on Google+ is different than your phone number on Yelp and your address on Foursquare doesn’t match your address on Facebook, Google won’t rank your business as high because your information is seen as unreliable.

Which Should You Focus On?

Both strategies are highly effective, and when resources allow, focusing on both can yield a great return on investment. If you only have time to focus on one SEO strategy, the choice between Local SEO and traditional SEO should depend on these key factors:

    • What kind of business do you have? Companies with online stores that do not require customers to visit a physical location to complete a transaction would want to focus on traditional SEO and driving traffic to pages within their website. However, if you own a local business like a pizza shop and you want people to find your restaurant’s address, Local SEO would be the best strategy for your business.
    • How much time can you devote to your SEO strategy? Many of the traditional SEO strategies require an extensive time commitment as well as a certain level of expertise. Business owners must ensure their web pages are structured correctly and frequently updated with new content such as product and service pages and blog posts. If you don’t have a full-time PR or marketing professional on staff, you may find your time is better spent on Local SEO.
  • What is your budget? Traditional SEO requires the development and maintenance of a website, which has costs involved. Both SEO and Local SEO strategies can be enhanced with paid ad options and services, but you can accomplish more for free with Local SEO. For instance, it’s free to create listings on sites like Google+, Facebook, and Yelp, and if your information is consistent across these sites, you will almost immediately start showing up higher in search results.

If you choose to begin focusing on Local SEO for your business and you need help, Merchant Centric offers an excellent solution. You can request a quick demo or you can get started now with a free 30-day trial.

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