How Small Businesses Can Compete with Larger SEO Competitors
Search engine optimization continues to develop and gain popularity among businesses of all sizes, and as corporate giants take advantage of it, small businesses might feel suffocated. The fact is that with the right strategies, small businesses can compete at the same level as larger companies with more reach. While giants like Sears or Amazon generally get top rankings because of the millions of quality links, customer base and enormous amount of content, small businesses do still have a chance to perform well, because SEO is no longer simply about volume.
The truth is that smaller businesses in every industry will always have to face a competitor that’s been around for a longer period of time, and has invested more effort into their campaigns as they’ve grown. However, small companies can do very well in Google if they understand how to effectively target their demographics.
Here are four ways small businesses can prove to be worthy competition in search engines.
Develop a Long-Tail Keyword Strategy
If small businesses think they can rank for short, broad two-word keywords related to their services, they should rethink their strategy. Larger competitors in a vast sea of them tend to rank the highest for those because of their massive web presence, but they may not be targeting longer more specific keywords. Using long-tail keyword strategies can give smaller enterprises the upper hand in this case.
Long-tail keywords are longer keywords that may even be full sentences. For instance, a short-tail keyword for air conditioning may simply be “air conditioning installation”, while a long-tail keyword may be “how to install air conditioning”. There’s less competition to be found with the latter, at 140 searches a month and a medium competition level vs. the 4,400 searches and high competition found with the former. If a small business were to aim for “air conditioning installation” simply because of the higher volume, chances are they’d be lost beyond the first page of results, while they may experience more success with the long-tail keyword. It’s also more specific than the short-tail keyword, targeting people looking for installation instructions rather than the much more general term that could be relevant to either installation services or do-it-yourself instructions.
One of the most effective ways to develop a long-tail keyword strategy is to simply write high-quality original content. Longer phrases tend to appear naturally within content, and Google picks up on this.
Target Local Prospective Customers
Local search is becoming increasingly relevant in SEO, which means that small businesses should focus on local prospects. Small companies are much more likely to succeed in search engines if they target a specific town or region where they’re located as opposed to a nationwide scale. Businesses that are located nationally or internationally can also benefit hugely from covering specific key locations where they are likely to get more business.
There are multiple ways to improve your local presence in both your community and in SEO practices, including:
- Attending local events – Business expos, fairs and other events where businesses can promote themselves are excellent for business. Not only can companies spread their name to people attending, but they can also talk about their attendance in a blog post that can further improve their SEO.
- Writing hyper-local content – Rather than simply writing about services in a town or region, businesses can also benefit from expanding local-focused content to focus on even more specific areas such as neighborhoods and communities. With the greater coverage of local keywords, this will help small businesses get ahead of larger competitors that focus mainly on general areas.
- Getting good reviews – Websites like TripAdvisor and Yelp are significant in search engine rankings these days, as businesses with better customer reviews on those sites usually rank higher than their competitors. Using Yelp stickers and other means of requesting reviews from your audience can encourage customers to leave positive reviews. Obviously, the best way to get good reviews is to provide good products and services that are likely to receive them. Keep in mind that Yelp has a strict policy about rejecting reviews if reviewers are compensated or directly requested to provide a review.
Focus on a Specific Niche
Small businesses may feel the urge to come up with as many keywords as they can for all of the areas of expertise they cover, but larger companies will probably have most of the general keywords covered. This is why it’s important for businesses to specialize in a niche if possible. For instance, if your business specializes in roofing and siding construction, focusing on a specific type of roofing that people often install on their homes can raise your business above bigger competitors in this niche.
Become an Authority in Content Publishing
Publishing fresh content on a frequent basis about topics that prospective, current and past clients care about is a good way to establish your company as a content authority. People will be more inclined to share content from a business that helps them on a regular basis, whether that content is a blog post, e-book, podcast, informational video, or a webinar.
One way to make sure you publish content consistently is to develop an efficient content strategy that reminds you when and what to post. The more regularly you post content, the more people will find you to be a reliable source of information. This, of course, will also help with SEO and set you above competitors.
Keeping these aspects of your SEO campaign in mind, smaller businesses can triumph over more established competitors in a number of ways. Companies don’t have to settle for getting on page two when it’s perfectly possible to get the results you want by maneuvering around those larger businesses.
Ben Graves is an online marketing associate at Clickx, performing various SEO tasks for clients in order to help improve their online exposure and traffic, and to help establish them as leaders in their industries. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.