Local SEO vs Organic SEO? What is the difference?

Local SEO vs Organic SEO? What is the difference?

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Over the years, I have spoken to numerous Pet Sitters who have claimed that their website has great SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Commonly, most of these websites are old, outdated and stale. To their surprise, their website actually isn’t ranking well. It is only ranking high in the Local 3-Pack.

This is a common misconception that if your business ranks well in the Local 3-Pack, it means your website is well-optimized for SEO, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

What is the difference between Local Pack And Local Organic SEO?

Local 3-pack results are the results you see on Google Maps that appear above the organic search results for searches with local intent. This includes searches with “near me” in the keyword or a local town in the keyword. The 3-pack is shown on almost all pet service-related services. In addition, the local 3-pack is one of the ways a small local business has leverage over national brands. National brands and directories are not eligible for the local 3-pack. 

Top ranking factors for Google’s Local 3-Pack aren’t only your on-site website SEO, but quality for your Google Business Profile listing, proximity, and reviews are factors are in many cases, more important. This is how many businesses with an old, outdated website still rank well in the local 3-pack.

Local organic search results are the ones that show below the local 3-pack results or when local keywords are used for a search. 

For local organic ranking, your website is the most important ranking factor in addition to backlinks from other reputable sites, and behaviour (usability). While there are several ranking factors in addition to your website, it is important not to neglect your website because of misconceptions. 


Ranking Factors: Local 3-Pack Vs. Local Organic

Rank Local Pack Ranking Factors Local Organic Ranking Factors Combined Average
1. Google Business Profile (36%) Website (34%) Website (25%)
2. Reviews (17%) Backlinks (31%) Backlinks (22%)
3. Website (16%) Behavioural (11%) Google Business Profile (21%)
4. Backlinks (13%) Citations (7%) Reviews (12%)
5. Behavioural (7%) Personalization (6%) Behavioural (9%)
6. Citations (7%) Google Business Profile (6%) Citations (7%)
7. Personalization (4%) Reviews (5%) Personalization (5%)

Example of Local 3-Pack

Here is an example of the Local 3-Pack when I search for dog walkers in my hometown, “Dog Walkers Ottawa”

Example of Local Organic

Here is an example of the Local Organic results when I search for dog walkers in my hometown, “Dog Walkers Ottawa”

Example of Local Organic


As you can see from the above screenshots, the results are quite different. This is because of the different ranking factors used to display the 3-pack vs local organic SEO search results.

Some ranking factors you have full control over, and others you don’t, so it is important to optimize those that you can control. It is important to remember that your website is not the only factor in SEO, so it is important that you prioritize the other larger factors as well as your website. A brand-new, well-optimized website, is an important piece to the puzzle, but that alone is usually not enough as competition is a factor.

Google’s algorithm is ever-changing. If your outdated website has been serving you well for years, that doesn’t mean it will continue to rank well with new algorithm updates. Google aims to improve the experience for searchers, to serve the best results for each query.  Old websites that are not mobile-friendly, using dated software will eventually be weeded out as better webpages become available. It may be time to update your website before you fall behind the crowd.

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