Search engine optimization helps businesses rank high in SERPs. This is the desire of every business, big or small, because research shows that most people only consider what is in the first page of SERPs and it is therefore not surprising that there is high competition for high ranking. Small businesses find it harder to compete with giants, so these tips are to help you compete effectively.
Why do small businesses find it harder to optimize for search engines?
- Google has a well-known bias for big brands. If all factors remain constant, the bigger brands will rank higher on Google. Google argues that this is because of behavior data suggesting that people are more likely to click on big brands first.
- Most small businesses have small sites while big businesses usually have bigger sites with more content and consequently more keyword phrases. Just think of Amazon and all the web pages the site has.
- Most big businesses have had websites since the very beginning; the same cannot be said for most small businesses. The Internet longevity means greater link profile and authority and it means the businesses know what works and what does not from experience. Google also has a bias for older domains.
- Most big businesses have a relationship with Google, mostly because they spend millions advertising on Google. If their ranking drops overnight, they can simply call their Google contact for help. Small businesses have to figure out how to improve their ranking without help.
- It is easier for big businesses to get media coverage and to do link building because they have more clout. Small businesses have to try really hard to get links and media coverage because of their lower brand recognition.
- Search engine optimization is capital intensive. Big businesses are able to spend money in analysis and monitoring tools, “big content”, the best consultants, great Web design, and more employees to man the campaign.
- Search engine optimization requires time and patience since you have to create worthwhile content, secure links, run A/B tests, do promotions, and optimize individual Web pages among many other tasks. Small businesses usually do not have enough time and personnel to dedicate to search engine optimization.
- Rules change every other day due to search algorithm changes, technology changes, and other relevant changes. Big businesses can afford specialists who always have their ears on the ground.
Tips to effectively compete with giants in search engine optimization
Leverage on local search
Since bigger businesses have brand recognition and are known nationally or internationally, it is natural that Google will rank them higher. One way of overcoming this challenge is going local. If you optimize for local search, you can compete favorably because, as an example, it is better to find the best plumber in Boston than an OK plumber on a national scale. Local search optimization is a relatively new concept, meaning you will be competing on a level playing field.
Personalize your social channel engagement
Although Google does not consider social signals as a ranking factor, social media marketing (SMM) is still very important in SEO and generally in website marketing. Take advantage of your smaller social media community to step up the “personal” factor, something big businesses always have a problem with.
Use long-tail keywords
Keyword optimization is one of the most effective search engine optimization strategies. The use of long-tail keywords is the great equalizer since the size of the business does not determine the keywords to use; just your creativity, research, and hard work. There are many Webmaster Tools that will help you come up with the best keywords, most available free of charge.
Specialize in your niche
One advantage of small businesses over large businesses is that small businesses tend to be in one niche while larger businesses tend to have their arms in several cookie jars. Take advantage of this and optimize for your niche. Although you will have a narrower range of keywords, the relevance of these keywords will be somewhat higher.
Work towards becoming an authority in your niche
Since bigger businesses have more clout than you do, the only way you can beat them in attracting quality links and media mentions is working towards becoming an authority in your niche. You can do this by patiently but aggressively building brand awareness, by publishing authoritative content, by running an on-site blog resource, by posting videos on social media, by producing and distributing eBooks, and by participating in podcasts and webinars. It may take time to get the desired results, but you will not regret the effort.
Monitor and mimic successful competitors’ backlink profiles
You do not have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to link building. Observing what more successful competitors are doing will help you adopt working strategies and fill in any gaps that they may have left. There are several tools that you can use for competitor analysis, examples being Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer.
Integrate social media in your website
A small yet faithful social community beats a large unfaithful one. Be personal in your replies to beat your bigger competitors since the sheer number of their followers makes this impossible. Engage with your customers and run contests and other promotions. You should have social icons on your website to encourage sharing.
Being different lets you stand out in a crowd. Larger competitors may not want to rock their boat, but you can afford to be different through such means as leveraging on new technologies, introducing new products and services, and having a spectacular web design. You will also stand out by creating a story since everyone wants to be part of a movement or something bigger.
You must be patient in your search engine optimization efforts and you should avoid the common temptation of engaging in Black HAT tactics because they could get your site banned. If you are unable to compete on the quality of the website or on content, you could always compete on price, speed, and value.