Aqueous Digital

Local SEO vs Global SEO


SEO is all about being visible to your target audience by improving your ranking on search engines, principally Google.

Defining that audience is crucial if you’re going to make SEO work for you, and therefore it’s important to understand the difference between local SEO and global SEO.

The names explain a lot. With local SEO, you focus on using keywords strategically concerning a specific area.

Global SEO, however, is about how you can rank more widely, reaching audiences beyond regional, or even national, borders.

What about local SEO vs global SEO, which is the more effective strategy?

There’s no right or wrong answer that applies across different brands and businesses. It depends on your type of enterprise, and the markets you’re attempting to reach.

Which type of SEO you opt to use will come down to what you’re marketing, and who you’re marketing for.


Local SEO

The basic principle behind SEO is targeting the words and phrases that people are using to search for things and ask questions on the internet.

With local SEO, you modify these phrases by adding specific regional references to them and you focus your efforts on gaining a higher placement in search results for local areas.

At one level, local SEO works like a typical Google search. Someone keys in a search phrase and Google scans its index to find the best answer.

However, it uses different ranking factors for local SEO.

These include the location the person is searching from, the presence of businesses in local Google listings, and keywords in these business’s Google listing profiles.

Online reviews and the keywords in them will also factor in local SEO search rankings.

Using local SEO, you can position yourself in a specific, localised marketplace for your services or products.  For example, a mechanic in Sheffield could create different optimised landing pages to focus on specific locations. These might include wider regional areas, such as South Yorkshire, or neighbouring towns, like Rotherham.

By contrast, a similar Manchester-based business would focus their SEO optimisation on areas specific to their target markets, such as Manchester, Greater Manchester or adjacent boroughs, such as Salford or Trafford.

This can be an especially effective SEO strategy for bricks and mortar businesses, and for enterprises providing services that appeal to local customers.

It can also be a good way of focusing your digital marketing efforts, since you’re narrowing down your audience and competing locally rather than nationally or globally.


Global SEO

Global or international SEO is a way of targeting customers across national borders, using global search engines.

The core idea of global SEO is essentially the same as local SEO – targeting words and phrases that people use in searches – but the scope is different.

With global SEO, the process is multi-faceted and therefore more complex. Now while the principle of trading online is that there aren’t any national boundaries, the reality is that going global online takes considerable effort.

The first thing is to consider how global is global for you. It may mean that you’re simply trying to appeal to an audience beyond your immediate area, or it could be that you’re targeting specific countries.

What it entails in practice is the use of more general keywords to capture the attention of wider target groups. It may also need multiple targeting strategies to cover different groups in different locations.

If, you were targeting markets across international borders, you’d need to ensure you had translatable content. But even countries with a shared language will have specific differences.

For example, American English involves different spellings, such as color, and words with different meanings. Vest in American English refers a waistcoat, not underwear, for example.

These cultural differences cut across different business sectors – in America, estate agents are realtors.

When it comes to keywords and phrases for products, you should consider the products themselves, but also the words you use to describe them. Commonplace idioms in one culture will be incomprehensible to another.

By its nature, global SEO will be more competitive, as more companies from a much broader area, will be looking to attract customers along similar lines.

It’s an SEO strategy that sits well with larger companies and corporations, or smaller enterprises that have a service or product that has the potential for a  broader audience appeal. For example, you could be offering something specialised that can attract an international ecommerce customer base.


Local or Global SEO?

You need an SEO campaign strategy that will align with your marketing and business objectives.

A key benefit of local SEO is that it can be easier to define your target market this way, enabling you to fine-tune your online activity to attract and engage with this audience.

46% of all Google searches are looking for local information. Local SEO can give you plenty of opportunities to grow your customer base. And it may well be that your business model is well-suited to this approach.

However, you may have other ambitions or have experienced growth that means you want to reach a wider customer base. Or, it could be that the type of business you’re in isn’t dependent on you establishing a local presence (even if this is digital rather than physical).

Pursuing a strategy for rankings beyond your local area may offer new opportunities and open up a wider competitive space for you.

You don’t have to make a strict binary choice between local or global SEO, however. With a multi-faceted content strategy, you can focus on different aspects of SEO in different contexts, depending on your type of campaign and who it is you wish to target.

What is crucial is that your approach to SEO is flexible and adaptable. Google regularly updates its algorithms, so you shouldn’t make your SEO strategy too rigid.



Your SEO Strategy

SEO can seem like a complicated and confusing process to understand and do well.

If you’re running a business with hundreds of competing demands, you might feel you have neither the time nor expertise to do the job as well as you would like.

Professional SEO support can turbo-charge your search engine rankings.

At Aqueous Digital we develop sustainable, long-term SEO strategies that help you achieve your goals. In July this year we gained international recognition for our Global SEO work with our customer ScratchSleeves by winning Best Global Low Budget SEO Campaign at the Global Digital Excellence Awards 2021.  The campaign was also nominated for a Global Search Award too.

For advice and support with any aspect of your business’ SEO contact us today, 0800 285 1424



Further reading on SEO

Aqueous Digital’s Guide to the Top 501 SEO and Digital Marketing Terms

Aqueous Digital’s Ultimate Guide to the cost of SEO in the UK

How long does SEO take to work?

What is Technical SEO?

What is Local SEO?


Link building and outreach

What are the most important SEO ranking factors?



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