Though you might be hearing the term for the first time, search engine optimization has been around since the 1990s. In the decades since its advent, SEO has grown and changed; today, SEO is a massive field within digital marketing, segmented by different kinds of businesses and different kinds of searches. However, if you are new to SEO, you might not understand what kind of SEO services you need — organic, local or international?
When a web user navigates to a search engine, types in a query, receives a standard list of search results and clicks on an unpaid link, they have conducted an organic search. Organic search, sometimes called natural search, is most often defined in contrast to paid search results, which are akin to in-search advertisements. If you are not paying for Google Ads or any other search engine PPC — or even if you are — you must corner organic search to drive traffic to your website, which means you must somehow manipulate the search results and compel web users to click on your link.
Organic SEO is this pursuit. Most of the techniques you likely associate with SEO are employed in organic SEO, which is to say content marketing, website development, link building and meta text analysis. These methods are employed with the intention of helping the search engine identify your website as more relevant and more authoritative to certain searches, so the search engine can better connect your website with web users. Because organic SEO is the most common type of SEO, you can use almost any trustworthy SEO firm to help you optimize your site and earn a higher search rank.
Like organic search, local search begins with a search query — but crucially, that query has something called “local intent,” which is the web user’s intention to find solutions geographically close to them. Most often, local intent is signaled by word use; the search “pizza recipe” will yield normal search results, but “pizza near me” will trigger a local search. Different search engines manage local searches differently, but most often they display a map displaying the locations of relevant businesses and a selection of those businesses described in greater detail below.
Appearing in local search results can be an incredible boon for businesses. According to various studies, 72 percent of web users who conduct a local search visit a listed brick-and-mortar store the same day, and 28 percent of local searches result in purchases. If you conduct local or regional business, you should strongly consider participating in local SEO to harness its powers of conversion. Many local SEO tactics align with those employed in organic SEO, but local SEO also requires managing a business profile on various search engines and integrating location-based keywords and content.
Because local SEO is a bit more nuanced than organic SEO, you want to invest in an SEO provider that can meet your local needs. It is a good idea to find an SEO agency close to your region of operation; for instance, if you are based in the American Southwest, you might opt for Digital Current, an SEO agency in Phoenix. You should always verify that an SEO agency is well-respected and offers all the services you seek.
A final category of search is international search, which as you might expect tackles search queries that target multiple countries. Most small, American businesses do not need to concern themselves with international search because the vast majority of their customers and site visitors will be American. However, some businesses, especially large corporations or small businesses based online, might attract an international audience, and it might be useful to become more available to that audience through SEO.
International SEO is markedly different from both organic and local SEO because it typically requires building different, related websites for different countries and languages. In many ways, international SEO is much more technical, requiring special URL structures and website organization. What’s more, you will likely need to produce twice as much content, addressing the different language and cultural interests of your different markets. Thus, you likely need to contract an SEO agency with international experience, or you might want to hire multiple SEO providers from the countries you are targeting.
While SEO techniques might look similar, they are enacted in different ways to achieve different results. You should understand your SEO goals before you acquire SEO services, to ensure you are getting exactly what your business needs.