Understanding the Difference Between Local and International SEO

Businesses focus their efforts on where their customers are, and online businesses are no different. Local businesses focus a lot of effort on their areas, while bigger businesses focus on getting as much attention as they possibly can. It is imperative for the success of a business for their online presence to be as robust as possible in their niche.

With the rise of mobile technology, people start doing all their purchases online. This is why almost all businesses local and international want to get noticed online. They create their own websites, and get more visitors to their sites, so they can convert such visitors into real customers. To make it possible, they apply various digital marketing strategies such as search engine optimization or SEO.

What Is Search Engine Optimization?

Search engine optimization is a strategy in which a website is designed to be seen on the first page of a search engine result in order to expose the website to search engine users as potential customers.

The most common SEO strategy for many businesses is keyword optimization. This is because a search engine result page or SERP is completed based on the keyword matches.

If a user types in a keyword like “t-shirts for kids,” the search engine crawler will collect and select websites that contain the most relevant keywords. If your site content includes the same keyword, your site is likely to appear on SERP. This will expose your website or landing page to a lot of users who type in the same keyword.

However, the more popular a keyword is, the tougher the competition becomes. This means that not all websites can have a chance to appear on SERP. Because of this, the search engine algorithm will only select websites based on ranking.

In search engine optimization, the ranking is the key factor. Just because your site has the keywords your target users may type in doesn’t mean your site will be on a SERP. You need to optimize your site in order to rank. Before you optimize your site, it should be clear which geo-targeting you are focusing on. There are two types of geo-targeting, and one is local SEO while the other, international.

International Search Engine Optimization

International search engine optimization is best suited for businesses that aims to reach the global audience. If your business has an established presence over a large area, including international areas, it is important that your website shows up no matter where the search is coming from. Likewise, if your website focuses on educating others or on providing online services, you will want to reach a global audience, making international SEO important for you.

Part of international SEO includes optimizing your website and products for consumption no matter where the visitor is coming from. Optimizing your site for an international audience is not really complicated because anyone from any place can be your visitor. But if you live in North America, and you are targeting another market like Germany your site should have a German version of your website that those visitors are directed towards. This means your site that ends in .com should have a .de version in order to increase your chance of ranking in SERP in that particular country.

This is why multinational companies don’t have a single website that fits all. Instead, they build a series of websites that have various domains that are commonly used in different countries. Examples are “xyzcompany.com,” “xyzcompany.de,” “xyzcompany.au,” and so on.

Creating a New Version for a Particular Country

If you create another version of a website for a particular country, you should translate the language on your main website to another language. Translation doesn’t necessarily mean you exactly and literally translate all the content on your main website. Instead, you can get the important details and include them in the creation of new content in another different language. When translating your website into another language, make sure that you use a fluent speaker who can accurately represent this information.

Of course, keywords in another language must also be different and should be based upon the culture of that particular country. If you wish to target keywords such as “bags for men,” this will be optimized only for search queries that come from countries where English is the primary language.

Depending on the level of traffic you are looking for from countries with other languages, you may want to stick with English. English is an international language, a website in English version may also suffice because people of different languages who type in English keywords are probably the ones who look for international products or services.

Local Search Engine Optimization

For smaller businesses that focus on a contained area, local search engine optimization is ideal for promoting their products and services in the area of their target demographics. Tourist business, car rentals, hotels, and restaurants all benefit from using localized SEO because it directs visitors to their physical locations in specific areas.

Local optimization is different from general SEO that is designed for an international audience. If you have a business like that of an auto repair shop, you don’t need to be found elsewhere. Your site can also be localized by using your local language.

You should still create a website and apply some SEO strategies to optimize your site only for a particular location so that users who use the internet and search engines to look for local products and services in your area may find your business. You may want to include the name of your location in your SEO strategies, and you will want to make sure that your physical location is easily accessible so that you can be found on different online maps.

However, a website is also not necessary just to get searched. In fact, most local searches across search engine platforms are coming from local listings such as internet yellow pages, Google Places, Google Maps, Yahoo Local, and other directories. Businesses that registered in any of such directories only use a single home page that serves as company profile page.

Combining SEO with your location and registering your physical address with local listings are the best ways to get your pages to appear in local searches. This means a website seems unnecessary for local searches. The question is, how do these business pages appear in the results of a search engine? How would you optimize your business for local searches?

Ranking in Local Searches

To be able to rank well in local searches, a local business should have a keyword-optimized name. For instance, your business is an automotive repair shop, and you can create a name such as “Joe’s Automotive Repair Shop.” Don’t create name such as “Fix N Go” as such names may not be clear not only for users but also for search crawlers. However, if your business already has such name, you can optimize it like “Fix N Go Automotive Repair Shop. This will help you appear in results pages when users type in keywords like “automotive repair shop.”

Your address is also very important as this is what gets you found. If you live in Los Angeles, and your automotive repair shop business is located in downtown LA, you should include a keyword phrase like “automotive repair shop in LA” in the description area. When users type in the above keywords, your local business page is more likely to appear in local searches.


Search engine optimization does not have a one size fits all strategy. It varies from one business to another. What works for a blog may not work for a different landing page. If you have a business, and you wish to use search engine optimization as a marketing strategy, you must determine whether it is for local or international SEO. It can be helpful to consult with an experienced marketing professional who is familiar with SEO in order to create the best strategy for you and your business.


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