The difference between local, national and international SEO

The difference between local, national and international SEO

The difference between local, national and international SEO may seem like a minor one, but there’s an important difference in the type of work that needs to be done, the difficulty and the investment.

As the world gets more connected, it’s becoming easier for small companies to do business internationally. Many small companies in the UK, including our own, already serve multiple geographic areas. Even though this comes with some added marketing benefits, it also poses some challenges.

In this post, we’ll cover the difference between local, national and international SEO, as well as cover which type of SEO you are set to benefit from most.


Want to work with an experienced SEO agency to improve your local, national or international SEO performance? Thanks to our years of experience, we’ve helped countless companies improve their performance in the SERPs and would love to do the same for your business. If you’d like to see what we can do for you, please get in touch.


Why it’s so important

The area you target has a major impact on the type of SEO work that you are set to benefit from most. It impacts the time it takes to get your results, as well as the results you can expect in the long run.

By understanding the difference between national, international and local SEO, you are in a better position to judge the investment required to get your site performing optimally.


What is local SEO?

Local SEO is a type of search engine optimization that focuses on location-specific SERPs. Local SERPs are shown when a user types a location-specific search term into Google, or if Google deems the search intent as local. This includes terms like “bakery near me” or “local plumber,” but also terms like “electrician London.”

Example of local SEO results
An example of “plumber in London” (a local search term) being searched on Google


Local SEO places a lot of focus on geo-targeting and relevance as opposed to industry relevance, even though industry relevance is still very important for local SEO. It covers things like content optimization, technical SEO and citation building. Local SEO is often considered the easiest type of SEO since competition is (generally) lower and it therefore takes less time/effort to rank when compared to national or international SEO.

Expect to start seeing a return on investment from local SEO anywhere from one month to four months after starting.


What is national SEO?

National SEO is usually used to refer to what is otherwise considered “normal” SEO. For example, a UK-based blog or news site that wants to grow its following nationwide, or an eCommerce store that serves an entire country.

When it comes to national SEO, you’re generally competing for high-traffic search terms with a lot of competition, making it more difficult to get results. This means that it will generally take longer to start seeing results and that it is more expensive than local SEO.

You should expect to start seeing results for national SEO after about six months. If you want to learn more about how these six months are spent, check out this interesting post on Forbes.


What is international SEO?

International SEO is very much the same as national SEO, only you’re targeting multiple countries. This poses a different set of challenges since the content needs to be translated and your site’s technical setup becomes more complex.

Since international SEO requires a larger, more complex site and targets far more keywords than a site targeting a single country, the costs are often double that of a standard site. That being said, this comes with the benefit of targeting two markets and offers double the profit potential that standard national SEO offers.

You should start seeing results after six months.


What’s the main difference between local SEO and “normal” SEO?

The main difference between local SEO and national SEO is that local SEO focuses solely on local SERPs. This means it’s a great, inexpensive way of generating leads for local businesses since they only serve a limited geographical area.

National sites like eCommerce sites and blogs won’t benefit from local SEO since they don’t serve a local area but the entire country. However, if they have a physical location alongside their online store, they may still benefit from local SEO services.


Which type of SEO can I benefit from the most?

Most SMEs in the UK are set to benefit from local SEO, as it provides them with an affordable way of generating leads. Plumbers, landscapers, architects, electricians and other contractors are perfectly suited to local SEO, as are shops with physical store locations.

Restaurant local SEO
Google Maps listings for local restaurants


eCommerce stores are better suited to national or even international SEO, depending on whether they offer national or international shipping. The same is true for blogs depending on the languages they offer their content in.

Still not sure which type of SEO is best for you? Feel free to send us a message with a little more information on your business and we’ll be more than happy to help you out.



Both local and national SEO have their advantages and challenges, and different companies will benefit most from different types of SEO. If you’re a local business, local SEO provides a quick and effective method for generating leads at a good price. On the other hand, if you serve a larger area, national SEO is going to be a far better choice.

Have any questions after reading this post, or would you like to find out how we can best support your business? Here at Racer, we specialize in SEO and web design and have helped many businesses in the UK generate leads via local and national SEO.


Do you still have questions after reading this post, or do you want to find out how we can help support your business in achieving its goals? Shoot us a message or give us a call


Customer feedback

Judge us not by what we say, but by the outcomes we achieve for our customers.

Over 500% ROI with PPC.

Your dedicated brand & marketing team

You have a business service or a product that you need other companies or people to find. You need to market your business or product to the correct audience. Our team with over 50 years experience can build a marketing campaign that will generate the leads you need.

What they need from you is a reason why they should relate, engage and buy from you. They need to know and buy into your Brand Story.
Dedicated brand & marketing graphic.

Integrity & Experience

We are a TrustPilot partner, Google Partners, registered with ICO and a NatWest sponsored award winning company as best B2B company in the Dartford Business awards