National SEO vs Local SEO

What is the difference in 2021?

You are here: Home » National SEO Vs Local SEO


If you’re a national business concerned with the influx of competition from smaller, local businesses or if you’re a local business trying to compete with the big names, read on.

Both local and national SEO are more competitive than ever. And that’s going to make ranking for the keywords you want to rank for even harder.

I’ll explain the key differences and what strategies businesses and agencies use to compete in both spaces.


National, Local…It’s all SEO though


I’ll start with what should be pretty obvious: National and Local SEO are essentially the same thing.

Except with one you target visitors from all over the country and the other, from the local area your business serves.

However, many local businesses evolved in 2020/21 due to the pandemic and are now able to offer their services to a much wider area. Making the question for many local businesses, how can I attract a wider audience to my website?

The knock on effect has increased competition on a national level and national businesses need to be able to fend off that extra competition. Or maybe even venture into local SEO to even to score.

What is National SEO?


The easiest way to think about national SEO is just to think of it as ‘regular’ SEO.

How SEO used to be. Local SEO is the same but focuses on a place.

For example a Bradford based solicitor would target the search term “solicitors in Bradford”.

A national solicitors’ company would target the search term “solicitor”. I’m sure you agree that makes national and local SEO pretty similar.

Why is National SEO so much harder than Local SEO?


That’s because, generally speaking, the less words in the search term you want to rank for, the harder it will be.

You may have heard the terms, long-tail and short-tail keywords. And that it’s easier to target longer-tail variants of the root (main) keyword you want to rank for.

This is good advice and sums up the difference between national and local SEO rather nicely.

With local SEO you are always adding at least another word, Leeds or Yorkshire for example. And that makes the competition for that search term less. As only businesses in those areas compete.

This works exact same way it does for the search term “family solicitor” rather than just “solicitor”.  


Less competition makes local, and national SEO easier


The opposite is also true. And the more competition you have, the stronger it’s going to be.

There no way around it. You have to outrank whoever is above you. Which means you have to prove to Google that your page is better.

This means the tactics employed revolve entirely around whoever that is. 

For local SEO you can start with trying to get more reviews on Google my business and making sure the rest of your profile is setup nicely.

It’s really easy to do and if you’re lucky you’ll show on Google maps.

There’s some debate among SEO ‘purists’ if this actually classes as SEO. But it will get you local traffic. And that’s what matters.

But where the lines start to blur between national SEO and local SEO are when you want to rank for a super competitive local search term.

All the same advanced SEO tactics that an agency would use for national SEO work for local SEO too.

Things like optimising for core web vitals (Google’s way of saying page experience); internal linking structure; content optimisation and brand/social signals.

It is simply a case of how many and how far you have to go with each.

Which means that you can rank for anything, assuming you have the time and skill. Or money to buy the time and skill.

National brands are starting to choose local SEO


Google is on a quest to show the people who use it, exactly what they want to find.

And because people tend to prefer content that is tailored to their location, Google ranks this kind of content more favourably.

This is why big brands are starting to move towards hyper-local content.

It’s a form of local SEO that can be deployed nationally.

It works is by having local service pages as part of a national website. These pages can then rank for location based searches. For example if you’re a national solicitors’ company, and want to target people in Huddersfield, you create a “solicitors in Huddersfield” page.

Don’t be temped to take short cuts. It is much harder these days to mislead Google than it once was.

Cheap tactics like guest blogging and keyword stuffing run the risk of a Google penalty. And that’s not what you want (check out Googles webmaster guidelines if you’re in any doubt).

You must create a page that is genuinely useful to local people. So go the extra mile to create content that has value to a potential customer. 

If that’s true, will national companies dominate local search? 


The ones that will dominate are the ones that put the time and effort into hyper-local SEO.

But they have monumental task. And the bigger they are, the more work it is.

Which means if you’re a local business, you can still compete because you have much less work to do.

But if you’re a national player, and you leverage your brand signals, and then combine that with hyper-local SEO you can dominate local search. 

So what do I need, National or Local SEO? 


That’s like asking, do I need Technical SEO or Content optimisation?

The chances are you just need more traffic. And they are all just techniques that fall under the SEO way of getting it.

If you have any questions please feel free to reach out and I’ll personally come back to you.

Talk to an expert

10 shocking agency secrets here