The Difference Between Organic and Local Search (And Why You Need Both)

The Difference Between Organic and Local Search (And Why You Need Both)

Do you need a Google My Business profile AND a website? Is one more important than the other? Which one should you focus on?

To help answer these questions, let’s talk about organic and local search.

Organic Search vs. Local Search

Organic search refers to those 10 blue links on Google — the left side of the results page on desktop. People turn to search for all kinds of informational, navigational and transactional questions like:

  • Where does coffee come from? 
  • What are bestselling books right now? 
  • Which companies are offering fitness apps? 
  • Is Kajabi or Thinkific better?

Local search, on the other hand, deals with the details of finding something nearby, often with the intent of purchasing a product immediately. It answers location-specific questions like:

  • Where’s the closest coffee shop? 
  • Where can I pick up a pizza tonight? 
  • Which gym is closest to me?
  • What’s the best hotel in Port Elgin?
  • Who’s the best real estate agent in Owen Sound?

Google displays local results in a Map Pack that lets searchers browse your business description, photos and videos, customer reviews, and more. 

When Google detects that the searcher is looking for local information and they are on a mobile device, this Map Pack appears above the organic search results. If your business doesn’t appear in these local results, you are losing business to competitors. 

Local Search: Why You Need a Google My Business Profile

The local search landscape is constantly changing. In 2021, we see the growth of “zero-click searches”. This means customers are making decisions about your business without visiting your website. 

Google My Business (GMB) is a free local listing service that lets you advertise and promote your business more effectively on Google. It means your business shows up when potential customers search for “available near me” (and they are – Google reports that searches have grown by 100% in the past year).

It’s like the Yellow Pages of the internet (listings include your address, phone number, website), but more interactive: you can post updates, special offers and promotions, photos, menus, and small snippets of information about your business. GMB also helps you earn customer reviews (ideally positive). As you build reviews, your business ranks higher on search results. 

GMB is essential to high-ranking search results. When searchers type in “best ____” (restaurant, hotel, pizza, etc.) in a local area, Google will display the top 3 local results directly from GMB listings. It also connects with Google Maps, so potential customers see exactly where you are immediately. 

Here’s what it looks like: 

Without a GMB listing, your business will not appear in the top 3, but at the bottom of the list after clicking on “View All” – not where you want to be!

Google has changed its priorities over time to favor GMB listings, making this local search tool vital to your marketing strategy.

Organic Search: Why you need a website

A website can help customers find more details about what your company offers, its history, what makes your business unique, etc. It’s also the place to talk about your products and services in a general way using blog posts – a crucial tool to rank your website high in organic search.

Using search engine optimization (SEO) techniques through blogging means you can leverage this higher ranking to serve customers outside of your geographical area. This is especially useful if your business delivers products directly to customers’ homes or customers travel to access your services.

If your business deals with higher-priced, unique, or more complex products or services, your website is just as important as GMB. Establishing a robust online presence through at least a website helps establish your business as a real, credible, trustworthy entity and anchors it as a part of your community. 

Invest in GMB and a website

We can get you set up with a mobile-optimized website quickly and affordably and get your started on Google My Business. Contact us, and let’s see how we can help. Take advantage of both organic and local search, and watch your small business grow.

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