How can your business realistically compete in terms of SEO services for small business against the big brands, major directory companies, and other big players in Google search results?
One of the key advantages of online marketing – and search engine optimisation (SEO) specifically – is that it can empower all types and sizes of businesses to compete more effectively and cost efficiently, and so reducing the impact of different-sized budgets.
Small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) or enterprises should strive to compete more effectively against their larger rivals in the same digital space and maximise the opportunities of being a smaller online entity.
In Online Marketing Group’s latest article, we take a practical look at SEO services for SMBs and highlight 7 ways your business can punch above your weight class.
- Become The Expert In Your Niche Market
As a small business owner during COVID-19 times, you have an ideal opportunity to position your expertise and knowledge at the very front of your business’s niche through yourself and other key employees.
Within the online community, you have a chance to provide a trusted, credible and real-world face to a sometimes colder perceived digital footprint of many of the bigger brands.
Smaller businesses are often valued as already being more in tune with their audience – and feel their pain points much more closely, so when SMBs are able to adapt, identify, nurture and share their offline methods and how they can boost their operations online…those rewards can be huge.
There are a number of advantages that an SMB has over a larger company, such as:
- Less bureaucracy and internal barriers to gain access to the conversation with your potential clients sooner.
- Established people-focused ways of operating are often needed for smaller businesses to function effectively.
- Valued offline experience inside the community can be modified for actual online gains.
- Real-world opinion and chances for sharing open commentary.
- Capability to be agile in adapting approaches and taking increased risks with data-supported trial and error.
It is highly challenging for larger companies to create an authentic voice within the online community, and this provides an excellent route to market for SMBs.
- Ensure You Do The Basics Well
Now, I realise that ‘basics’ does have many varying connotations. However, with SEO services for small business, make sure you always keep the focus on the fundamentals for success.
Your time, resources, and budget can certainly place limitations on experimentation, so ensure you put the emphasis on the known elements that impact SEO and your website visitor traffic.
Try not to get caught up in unimportant metrics or success measures that actually prevent you from investing those critical gains into more SEO and digital marketing.
There are many basics you need to prioritise, and they will differ depending on your entry point into SEO, but remember to keep it simple and consider the following:
- Access to key content: How easily can people locate, absorb and utilise the informtaion from your content cornerstones?
- User Experience: How fast does your content and page load and are there any unnecessary distractions preventing the user from moving forward or navigating your site?
- Technical barriers: Do you make it easy for search engines like Google to understand, index, and rank all of your content?
- Page understanding: How can you emphasise the topic area of your content and enhance the signals you are sending to search engines based on your headings & sub-headings, URLs, internal links, and other signals?
- Content hierarchy: When you look at your website navigation and supporting content access components (e.g. the footer etc.), how intuitively and easily can users locate and access the most important pages on your site?
- Mixed content types: Do you make it simple for your content to rank for all types of relevant search results (images, video and others)? (Note that Google’s MUM algorithm targets this aspect).
- Comprehensive content coverage: Can your audience gain a thorough and complete understanding of a topic without leaving your page? Are there better examples of content out there that answer the user’s search intent more fully and should perform better than yours?
- The local advantage: Can you leverage your business location to strengthen your claim to SEO success more than other national or regional brands in the same space?
- Establish Greater Authority With Credible Content Creation
Smaller businesses tend to have a deeper, more complete understanding of their customers and clients. When this comprehension is combined with SEO services and an evidence-led approach for content building – it can lead to significant marketing benefits.
The creation of high-performing digital content doesn’t have to be a burden placed solely on small business employees, and neither does it mean the only other option available is through outsourcing it to an agency.
Often there is a blend of both options to explore, which provides the ultimate harnessing of the moment without overstretching an SMB’s resources or budget…and this can mean getting the most out of both.
After you have designed a content plan and have committed to it, you should really focus on the value to your target audience versus the monetary value to your business, and tweak the direction as you go, to ensure you get the balance right.
Typically, credible authoritative content will have:
- Tangible merit and real value for the audience.
- Standalone purpose and greater usefulness than competing examples.
- Opinion, data and true insight that’s uniquely and closely aligned to matching your expertise and niche.
- PR and social media value – especially for local publications.
- Powerful, trusted authorship within the seed idea of the content and its creation.
- Multi-layered impact for different personality traits.
- Mixed types of content to repurpose and target to various user preferences.
- Easy to find and digest messaging that’s well promoted.
To start down your content journey, it’s a good idea to make sure your first main content items are created based on the topic areas you are best known for within your business niche.
Consider the factors that need your company service or offering the most, and why potential customers will come to you rather than the competition.
Then you can reinforce this meaningful distinction and share many of your lessons and advice into a value-add content asset that can work hard for your link and authority-building exercises again and again.
Truly great content requires expertise, drive and a continued effort to garner the optimum potential from it.
- Leverage Local Search Tactics
To really punch above your weight in SEO, you need to squeeze every ounce of value out of the time you invest online.
Local search engine optimisation for SMBs will always provide an opportunity to increase your return on investment.
The reason for this is that you have a rightful claim to your local community and – certainly in a high number of cases – a more genuine claim to this visibility than other rival websites, regardless of size.
You will unlikely find an SEO article aimed at small businesses that doesn’t factor in local Search, and that’s because it tends to work well if your business caters to a small geographical radius.
There are core activities you can take to make progress on local SEO for small businesses. These include:
- Claiming, maintaining and sharing updates on your Google Business Profile (previously called Google My Business).
- Creating dedicated, location-based landing pages on your website, rich with hyper-relevant local content.
- Feeding into your services local updates and associated information (this has become particularly important since the onset of COVID-19).
- Being active with local media and publications.
- Generating location-based marketing campaigns and incentive schemes.
- Creating local reviews, testimonials and case studies.
- Being actively engaged in community websites, forums, as well as question and answer sources.
- Sharing your expertise and opinion on the main social media channels.
- Utilising LocalBusiness schema where possible.
- Redefine Yourself As A Problem Solver
One aspect that is always present in all business sectors is the need for people to have their questions answered and their pain points eased or addressed.
Focusing on problem-solving is a common tactic that enables your small business to be out in front of your audience online…and at times when they are needed the most.
For a fortnightly or monthly suggestion (depending on time and resources), take a deep dive into your Google Search Console data and look for all the terms that include; who, what, why, where, when and how. Alternatively, you could outsource this analytical exercise to your SEO Professional such as Online Marketing Group.
Then, consider relevant pain-point queries – for example, phrases including; issue or problem etc.
You can then add to this location parameters, cost or price, plus other broader suggestions such as evaluation and comparison terms.
The chances are that you’ll discover a number of new terms and topic areas that your audience is seeking advice on and find opportunities to position yourself and your small business at the top of mind to answering them.
This kind of value-add support and audience-centric content creation can provide multiple layers of value and business impact in the online space.
Much of the rich content you create using this approach will have numerous potential uses.
As an example:
- You could create a community hub to store content around FAQs.
- From this hub, you can then create content that has a broader appeal to your audience and delivers traffic and conversions to your site.
- You can promote and amplify this content via social media and on external sites in snippet form, to help solve repeatedly asked audience questions, and drive fresh links to your content.
- As with all content, this can be repurposed in other content types such as video and image assets, enabling ranking and SEO gains in new search pillars.
- As your visibility increases, you will attract numerous new and unanswered queries that fuel the cycle above.
- You can also add to the queries by completing content-gap analysis on your competitors with their question and answer visibility.
- Emphasise Your Strengths
Use Human Appeal & Tailor Offerings To Make Them Unique
While this may seem obvious, it’s truly surprising how many business clients take their individually tailored offerings for granted. Generally speaking, small businesses appear more human to us because the owners aren’t hiding in ivory towers and are often front-of-store facing. Small businesses are often much more flexible and can personalise the experience for each customer. What defines your business and makes it more attractive than a national company?
- Are you a home-grown Australian manufacturer?
- Do you only use real ingredients to make your jams or preserves?
- Are you bringing jobs back to locals?
- Is your small business family-run and locally sourced?
- Do you work closely with other businesses and organisations to boost the local economy?
Sometimes it’s the small things like this that have a great appeal to a new generation of customers who are increasingly moving away from mass-produced products that are imported from overseas. These are some of the things you SMB or your SEO provider should emphasise in your SEO strategy.
Focus On Quality Over Savings
Rather than lowering your prices to compete with the big corporates, position yourself carefully and state your price pointy with confidence (after carrying out thorough research on the given market). Proudly portray the passion and quality that defines your product or service offering, and let people know its true value.
Low cost (or cheap) is always going to be a highly enticing proposal, but research has shown over and over again that many people are willing to pay more for better quality products and services. Additionally, people are much happier to support small businesses they know and trust over cold, profit-centric corporations. Although, if you can keep your price point ‘affordable’ while preserving its quality, those are also alluring qualities that many people seek out and value.
- Utilise Long-Tail Keywords
Ah, long-tail keywords…my favourite!
The majority of large companies are driven to the typical short-head keywords that cost $55 per click in sponsored ads. For example, a large accounting company is going to aim for ‘accountant/accountancy,’ ‘bookkeeping,’ (if they offer both types of services) and similar short, highly competitive search terms. It will most likely work for them, as they have the budget and power to fight thousands of other companies for the first page of Google.
However, if you’re a smaller financial services company, you really don’t want to try ranking for ‘accountant’ etc. Unfortunately, it’s a battle you won’t win, and it will only serve to waste both your time and money. Instead of overarching, vague terms that describe your business overall, it’s much better to rank for highly specific words and search terms that your best customers / clients are searching for.
So, for a small accounting firm, it might be more beneficial to try to rank for phrases such as ‘affordable accountants for small businesses’ (just as an example to start off your keyword research).
The location of your search also makes a difference, so those searching within a close proximity will be more likely to see your business in local search results for these types of keywords.
As I mentioned earlier, these are only some examples – and either you or your SEO Professional will be able to advise you in more depth, as keyword research requires a much deeper dive as well as considering user intent as part of their ‘search journey.’ Online Marketing Group uses various software tools to compare keyword competitiveness and monthly search volumes etc, which helps us to formulate the most effective approach for each of our clients.
Small Doesn’t Have To Mean Powerless
If sports matches have reinforced this again and again, it’s that underdogs should never be underestimated – otherwise they can turn around and bite you. Being bigger doesn’t always mean better; what the little guys lack in size or strength, they can make up for in cunning or speed.
This is how you or your SEO Pro needs to approach your SEO. If you don’t currently have an SEO provider, why not contact OMG to see how you’re currently placed. Don’t be shy. If you’re not satisfied with your current SEO results, we’re more than happy to help, or show you a multitude of free resources that you can use yourself.
Small businesses have a really good opportunity to outpunch their actual weight online.
By channelling the 7 key points outlined above in this article and following up with the advised tactics to help support these, you will be in a position to ramp up your small or medium business SEO results in a tangible and value-add way.
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