Local SEO vs. International SEO – Understanding the Difference

Whether you’re an up and coming SMB or established international enterprise, SEO is an unbeatable way to broadcast your brand to the world!

Businesses of all sizes are choosing to work with SEO experts and digital marketing agencies as they make the shift to online sales and eCommerce platforms. It’s one of the smartest strategies for any business looking to increase sales, drive revenue, and expand their audience.

Local SEO and International SEO are two approaches to this aim – each with its own features and benefits. Whether you’re looking to establish yourself within the local community, or unlock the opportunities of a global marketplace, our SEO experts have the solution!

Wondering which strategy is right for your business? This article explains everything you need to know…

Editorial credit: Castleski / Shutterstock.com

How Do Search Engines Work?

Google conducts three basic tasks when searching for sites:

  1. Crawl
  2. Index
  3. Retrieve

Google crawls websites and links, takes into account all the content individually by page, catalogues the content with other content that is similar, and then goes on to index all the different websites’ pages for users to find when searching. 

Which SEO Strategy Should My Business Focus On?

Simply put, local SEO will help any business with localised services. If you are located in a specific geographical area, and people come to you to purchase products or use your services, local SEO will help you rank for the people who matter. This covers Local SEO.

International SEO is globally focused. This is important for your business services to reach as many people around the world as possible.

Local and National SEO

If you have a business such as a restaurant, beauty parlour, arts and crafts shop, hardware shop, or apparel shop, you will be relying on local SEO. The same goes if you provide a localised service, such as if you are a doctor, lawyer, gardener, plumber or electrician, or offer gardening services.

International SEO

If your business offers products that can be shipped around the world, and services that can reach millions of people, then you would have a look at an international SEO service.

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO services target specific regions and locations. It allows your business to appear in searches by potential customers in the area where your business is located. Google provides an algorithm that will display your website to people in that specific area who are searching online.


Local SEO implements keywords and phrases that are used in a specific area. These keywords end up in the “localised” sections of search engines.


There is also a higher chance of business occurring with local SEO. You are not really looking to create a sales funnel and conversions. Most of your online visitors already know what they are looking for and are willing to buy it. 

When potential customers perform a local search, they will usually use such phrases as:

  • [business type or object] + city
  • [business type or object] + near me
  • [business type or object] + closest to me

Google’s algorithm will then take these search inquiries, provide all the businesses and services related to their search, and display the search results that are located in the user’s area.

What Is A Typical Local SEO Strategy?

Here’s how to optimise your website for a local and national SEO strategy:

  1. Create and optimise Google My Business
  2. Build and grow your online presence with directories and local listings
  3. Create as much content as possible (blogs, customer testimonials, social media posts etc.)
  4. Track user and customer data
  5. Manage your business’s reputation
  6. Make sure your site is optimised for mobile devices
  7. Have an “About Us” page that is location-specific
Image Source: Google Business

How To Find Local Traffic?

It’s really important to track all your traffic and see where it is coming from with the use of an array of tools, such as:

Google Analytics

This is an amazing free analytics tool that displays traffic. Within this tool, you get the option to look at both your local and international traffic. You get to do this through segmenting and “Geo-location”.

Google Search Console

Here, you would go to “the performance” and then click on “search results report”, and filter for local queries where phrases such as “near me” are used. 

GMB Insights

You can use the following as the URL you enter into the profile of your GMB, as this will allow for tracking in GSC when your URL of your GMB appears and when people click on it:


What is International SEO?

How international SEO is different is that local listings and geo-location don’t apply.

To optimise your website for international SEO, it will have to appear in different languages. Your SEO optimisation will need to use keywords that contain regional dialects and colloquialisms. It also focuses on large-scale, generic keywords.

You are in fierce competition with thousands of other websites offering similar products and services, from all over the world.

If you are an online store engaging in international SEO, eCommerce SEO services or practices need to be applied, as well as possibly enterprise SEO strategy.

Is it Possible to Choose the Wrong SEO Strategy?

Just like any other area of your business, effective SEO demands careful consideration, research and planning. Making the wrong choice between Local and International SEO will have serious consequences for your traffic, rankings, ad budget and overall revenue.

Too much Local SEO applied will harm your global rankings. If you target consumers outside of the location of your business, then all your local SEO efforts will not aid you in getting ranked globally. This is because Google views you as only servicing people in a certain area.

The best way to refine your SEO strategy is to work with a digital marketing agency. This is especially true if you own a local business – but want your products and services to be viewed by an international audience as well. At First Page, this is our speciality!


Choosing the right SEO strategy for your business will depend on the reach of your products and services. Prioritise your SEO efforts to make sure your business gets the most exposure on search engines.

Working with a team of local and international SEO experts will change the way you do business, opening up opportunities both at home and abroad. Build your community and boost your brand with First Page!

Contact one of our expert Digital Strategists today, and they will help you with all your Local SEO requirements. Build powerful links so you can dominate Google’s first page!