A small business is at a massive disadvantage when there is a big multinational company in the same industry. You will have a much lower budget for advertising and marketing yourself, as well as less ability to absorb losses due to increased competition or price wars. One place where you can still get yourself noticed, however, is on search engines.
Big business means big budget, which means that they will be able to spend more than you on PPC advertising as well as traditional marketing. However, it is very difficult for one company to take up the entire front page of a Google search (for one thing, Google doesn’t like it). That means that using SEO can help you to be found by potential customers, even when you compete with large corporations.
Pick your keywords strategically
While a big company with its own in-house SEO team can effectively carpet-bomb keywords, if you are doing yours yourself then you need to be pickier. Doing thorough keyword research might be a bit time consuming and boring, but choosing the right phrases can do wonders for your ROI.
What you are looking for are keywords and phrases that may have slipped under the radar a bit. Generally the top search terms will be highly competitive, while the lowest searched ones will not bring you many customers. You are mainly looking for the middle ground – terms that aren’t highly competitive, but still get a decent amount of traffic.
You can also target non-competitive low-traffic keywords to get yourself onto page one and hopefully pick up a few sales that way. This shouldn’t be your top priority, but it can be a good way to start to generate leads and start to make a name for your brand.
Quality over quantity
This applies to all of picking your keywords, landing page creation and link building. First of all, when you pick your keywords you need to be careful not to spread yourself too thin. A targeted approach is more likely to be successful than a scattergun one.
When you create your landing pages, they need to be unique, high-quality, informative, useful and, above all, interesting to read. This means making them long enough to cover all of your keywords properly without getting repetitive or spammy. You will also find it easier to write one landing page of 2000 or so words that covers 5 similar keywords than trying to create 5 shorter unique pages.
Finally link building works much better if the links to your website come from high quality and relevant websites, rather than looking irrelevant or spammy. Poor quality links can actually damage your website, while good ones can give your SEO efforts a huge boost. Rather than writing short articles and posts with links to put on poor quality sites you are better off writing a genuinely interesting and insightful article that people would like to read and which is likely to be accepted by high quality websites.
Local search is your friend
Local search is a relatively new Google function where the proximity of your physical location makes a difference in terms of how high you are in search results. If you run a small pizza shop in Manly, for example, and someone in Manly searches for “pizza”, then you would be far more likely to be on the front page than if they search from Penrith (or further away).
Ensuring that you have a Google Business listing and have a physical address for Google Maps can help you to take advantage of local search. You should also make sure you optimise your website for location based keywords – so in the above example you should have a page that is highly optimised for “pizza Manly”.
If you follow all of these tips then SEO can be an effective way to get noticed and attract customers as a small business. It is important to be realistic, however – our pizza shop in Manly will never be ranked above Domino’s for most major keywords! Even if it is very difficult to be number 1 for high-traffic keywords, just getting to the first page will help you to grow your business.
Kieran is the Social Media Manager and SEO Expert at SEO Shark. He is an expert in Social Media, link building, PPC and of course SEO. In his time off work Kieran enjoys reading and playing rugby, as well as following all kinds of sports! You can read some more of his articles here.