Voices of Search Podcast Recap: Local Vs National Intent

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by WillMorriss


TLDR: It’s important to consider how local or national your SEO strategy should be to maximize your SEO investment. This ensures you are properly aligning your content, site structure, and keyword strategy effectively.

  • Before you create content for a keyword check if there are local or city-specific results and check the keyword’s ranking in multiple cities
  •  If there aren’t city-specific results then focus your attention on making pages focused on national search intent vs local search intent
  • If the keyword has city-specific results focus on creating city pages to capture local results and include the business name, address, and phone number by using local business schema 
  • Make city pages with as much unique, category-specific content as possible to improve your chances of ranking


Karl Kleinschmidt, LSG’s VP of SEO Strategy, recently appeared on the podcast Voices of Search to talk about how to better understand local vs national search intent. While businesses that sell their products nationally may benefit from a national SEO approach, ignoring local SEO could exclude potential customers. Therefore, it is in a company’s best interest to determine whether the keywords they intend to target have local intent or national intent before developing any content.

Some of the topics covered in the podcast included:

  • The differences between local and national intent
  • Ranking for local intent keywords
  • How to create city-specific pages

The differences between local and national intent

With national intent, you will probably receive the same content regardless of where you are in that country or region. There are several terms for which Google automatically assumes local intent and delivers city- or state-specific results. For the purposes of this conservation, search intent falls into these categories:

  • National intent
  • Semi-local intent or Semi-national intent
  • Local intent

One way you can tell is to check the Google results for your keyword to see if any are city-specific, these are classed as queries with local intent. With semi-local intent, you’ll see national website results with a local pack. However, with national, there will be no map pack and only national results on the website.

Ranking for local intent keywords

If you can pull the ranking data from multiple cities then ​​you’re able to see the domains that appear in many other cities and determine your main competition for those terms. Include five to ten of the largest cities in your analysis to gain a better perspective of the market for that specific search term.

If you do more cities you are also likely to find more opportunities in title tags or related keywords–particularly in smaller cities where there’s more variety in what’s ranking on page 1.

This is especially important for businesses like directories or multi-locations that are looking to rank in every city possible.

Additionally, it’s crucial to provide your name, address, and contact information on any pages that refer to real locations. It will be challenging to demonstrate that your company is a local one if not.

For Local business schema best practices, use the required fields to enter your name, address, phone number, and URL for local businesses. When writing city-specific information and your actual location isn’t the website’s main focus, put it at the bottom of the page and declare the whole page as a local business schema.

Google has started to show local packs on previously national keywords like “shoes” and eCommerce or internet online companies have a big challenge where Google is now displaying Google maps, especially on Mobile. However, websites with physical locations can feature products on their Google Business Profile or link to the category pages.

How to create city-specific pages

Make a decision as to whether you want to rank with a search page or a listing page. This is going to depend on the intent of the keyword you want to rank. For example, if you are Yelp and a user searches “pizza” the intent is likely going to be a list of pizza makers but with “dave’s pizza place” the intent is geared towards their listing page. So, you need to ask if the searcher looking for a list of locations or an individual location.

If you are a multi-location and don’t want to feature to your competition then create city-specific content pages that link to your listings page. 

Typically, the structure of pages should look like this:

  • State page
    • City page
      • Listing page

All of these should link to each other. So, state pages link to cities and city pages to listings. If you have priority listings pages you can also link to them from your state page. 

Additionally, you can have search pages for each city that are structured in a “Category+City” fashion. So, in our Pizza example that could be “Pizza Restaurants in New York”.

Add category-specific content 

Adding original, category-specific content will help you rank better but don’t duplicate your content if possible. Zillow is a great example of city pages with rich content like the average cost of houses and such that help make the city-specific pages unique. 

Try to make it as dynamic and city-specific as possible without making it duplicative of other cities or other categories.

If you don’t have the content to make each city page unique then you may be crafting too many city pages. You are going to increase your chances of ranking the few city pages you have but every city page allows you to tap a new market. So, this is a balance that you should continually be thinking about.

When a service is provided across several cities, make a page about it with excellent content so that each page can list the locations where the service is provided. Additionally, avoid using other people’s reviews, particularly if you feature Google maps reviews.

If you are interested in capturing local intent check out our guide to store locators to get the full details on the optimal structure, copy tips, and content suggestions for location pages.





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