Search engine optimization is not easy, and small businesses have it tough. Not only are they competing with other small businesses for organic search traffic, they’re also competing with big brands and their bigger budgets and teams. It’s a battle that never ends. Even if a business’ website makes it to the top of the search results, they have to continue to fight to maintain their spot.
It may seem like no matter how focused you are on your business’ SEO efforts, the search results are stagnant. Most of the time, big brands get more online visibility and the smaller businesses either stay the same or fade away. One of the biggest mistakes a small business owner can make is to focus on manipulative black hat SEO tactics as shortcuts to try to compete with larger corporations.
Instead of trying to beat the biggest corporations at their own game, here are a few SEO tips to help your small business compete with big brands online.
Some business owners might think that covering multiple areas of expertise is the better option for search visibility but that’s not always the best thing for your company. There will be bigger brands out there that do what you do, but better because they put more emphasis on it than you do. Instead of trying to focus on every product or service your business offers, focus on the things that sets your business apart.
If you want to go up against a big brand and knock them out of their number top spots, you need to focus on what makes your business better. What is your company especially good at? What can you provide your customers that no one else can? If you can’t think of answers to these questions, then you might need to make some fundamental changes to your business or lower your expectations for your SEO efforts. Figure out your niche and find a few search terms that you want to rank for. Focusing your efforts on a small handful of relevant keywords is your best bet to increase your visibility.
While taking the time to rank for specific keywords is a big part of SEO, defining your brand can help your business get that extra push to the top. Of course, this isn’t something that happens overnight. Building brand awareness, credibility and trust for your business takes constant upkeep and time.
For many people, the first thing that comes to someone’s mind when thinking about a brand is their logo. A company logo should encompass its mission and represent the things it stands for. It’s important to think long and hard about the branding and messaging you want associated with your business because once you’ve made your decision, it’s not wise to go back on it. When building a brand for your small business, consistency is key. If you are constantly changing your branding or messaging, you’ll only confuse consumers.
Strong brand awareness and credibility also comes from relevant, regularly updated content. Many companies have a running blog that is updated multiple times a week and some companies might produce guest posts for outside sites. A good mix of both, as long as the posts are high quality and relevant to the site they are being published on, will greatly benefit in building and strengthening a company’s brand and SEO rankings.
Your local community can be your business’s greatest asset. Big brands may control the top search results but, in some cases, Google will favor local shops and services for geo-specific searches. Dominating a niche market share by optimizing for a specific local area can help you beat out that big box competitor that just set up shop down the street. Constantly monitor local listings to be sure the information is up-to-date. Make sure that your business name, phone number and address is consistent across all online listings by using a service like Yext. Also, make sure your website is using the proper markup for local SEO.
Every business success story begins somewhere; why not set your success story in the community where it started? Join your local chamber of commerce, make your community a part of your success and involve other local businesses that can provide mutual potential benefits in the future. Encourage new and existing customers to write online reviews of the products or services they purchased from you and give promotions for people who bring friends or family into your store. Offer incentives for your customers to promote your business in social media. By being agile and creative, you may be able to leapfrog your slower moving competitors.
Getting to the top of a SERP takes effort and time. No matter what business you are running, you will always be battling against someone else. Earning your spot in the rankings takes work and staying there can be even more demanding. In order to keep up and compete with the big brands, find a specific niche, consistently establish your brand across all relevant platforms, and target your local community.