Small Business SEO: A Complete Guide for a Competitive Edge

Competition has always been a natural and unavoidable part of the business world. When another company is offering the same product or service as you, you need to strive to be better so your business can profit and survive. However, it can be intimidating to compete for customers when you’re going head to head with established corporations that already have an enormous advantage.

Most larger companies – particularly mega-corporations – have been around for a long time. They had the time to build their brand and become a household name. Additionally, they have an even bigger marketing and advertising budget that allows them to carry out strategies that you can never do.

That is why there is a large gap between them and small businesses. It may seem like an uphill battle, and keeping up with them is nearly impossible. However, many successful businesses had shown that small businesses can compete and even outperform their major competitors with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO gives small businesses a fighting chance because it reduces the ability to manipulate search results as much as possible. It means that there is more to reaching the Search Engine Results Page‘s (SERP) top position than a large budget and an established name.

Of course, competitive industries can spend large amounts of money on paid website traffic. Some might already have millions of inbound links, decades of content, and a recurring base of online visitors. Regardless, small businesses can compete at the same level as larger companies with more reach.

 

Utilize Long-Term Keywords

Choosing the right keywords is essential in any SEO strategy. Keywords refer to the specific keywords people enter into a search engine to find topics they are interested in. Since larger enterprises have a stronger web presence and bigger budgets, they have the advantage of successfully optimizing any keywords of their choice. Usually, they would aim for shorter keywords.

As such, small businesses shouldn’t choose short, two-word keywords that broadly cover their industry. Chances are, you will only end up lost beyond the first page of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Instead, you should target long-tail keywords.

Long-tail keywords are longer queries that are more specific than generic terms. These keywords target niche demographics, so they are less competitive than the shorter keywords. An effective way of developing a long-tail keyword strategy is by incorporating them into high-quality original content.

Longer phrases are more likely to fit naturally within the content, and search engines pick up on this. Additionally, people search for more detailed queries to solve their pain points as their customer journey evolves. For instance, users won’t probably search for “air conditioning” when they need help installing their air conditioner. Instead, they would search for “how to install air conditioning.”

If you choose longer keywords, you can match what users would search online. They can receive content that is more closely aligned with their needs while maximizing their ranking potential.

 

Focus on a Specific Niche

Aside from the length of your keywords, you also need to determine the specific keywords to aim for. In an attempt to improve search visibility, many businesses instinctively try to cover as many areas of expertise as possible. Unfortunately, larger companies will most probably have a majority of the general keywords covered.

If you attempt to pour all your effort into a wide range of keywords, you can gain relevance. However, you’ll get a lower ranking as your bigger competitors would be filling up the first pages of the results page. With that, you need to find a niche to specialize in.

A niche refers to the specialized or focused area of a broader market. For instance, a business specializing in roofing and siding construction can focus on a specific type of roofing that people often install on their homes. This can differentiate their business from their bigger competitors.

Generally, analyzing your target audience is a practice when conducting niche keyword research. While you want to choose keywords with low traffic, they still need to be something your audience cares about. This is why you need to understand all the needs, goals, motivations, frustrations, and expectations of your demographic.

If you are one of the few to meet their unmet needs, you will have a higher chance of dominating the search results page. 

 

Establish Your Company an Authority in Content Publishing

Content marketing is a highly effective method that can help you triumph over established competitors in this competitive marketing landscape. There are many ways to produce and distribute content. Some companies post theirs in the form of e-books, webinars, podcasts, or informational videos. However, the most common way to publish content is to an on-site blog.

Content is a great way to generate leads. As customers search online, they’re likely to come across the content on your page. Through your created content, you can share valuable information with your audience while getting a chance to interact with them. In turn, you can build a relationship with your audience and establish yourself as a trustworthy brand and an expert in your field.

Make sure to create high-quality content that would leave visitors feeling more knowledgeable and satisfied. This is because it will make them more inclined to share the content from the business that helped them. Additionally, it will also increase the chances that they will click on any calls-to-action (CTA) that you placed in your content.

Aside from quality, consistent posting is also essential to building your brand through content. Maximize the reach of your published content to maximize your Return on Investment (ROI), and be consistent with your publication schedule. This way, you’ll become recognized as a dependable authority and a reliable source of information.   

 

Build a Strong Digital Presence

Truthfully, social media has no direct contribution to SEO ranking. According to Matt Cutts in a 2014 YouTube video, any social signals such as likes, shares or retweets, and gaining followers does not significantly impact your ranking in the SERPs. This is because the web crawlers that search engines operate can’t keep up with frequent information on social media.

However, this shouldn’t mean that you should ignore your social media altogether. Most companies use their social media pages to let people know about any news related to their company or website. At the same time, they can also use it to keep an eye on the progress of their competition.

Additionally, it is also a great way to drive visitors and traffic to your site. If you share links to your page across your social platforms, you can increase brand exposure and drive more customers to your page. This is especially helpful in sharing content.

Social media pages are an excellent medium to share valuable content with your followers. These people are already interested in your business. As such, any relevant content that you post on your page will get their attention enough to engage with your content. Furthermore, this creates an opportunity to spread your content further.

If your content is satisfactory, your followers will likely share your posts with family and friends and create the opportunity for new leads to see your content. More people reading your content will mean increased traffic on your site, which will improve your SEO rankings.

Aside from search optimization, increasing your efforts to your social media can help your chances of overcoming steep competition by giving each follower a more personal and humanized experience. When large organizations hit a certain point in their growth, they lose a portion of their personalities and become disconnected from their audience.

Being a small and nimble business gives you an advantage. You can respond quicker and engage more with your followers. As a result, you can foster connections with current and prospective customers easier than your much larger competitors.

 

Focus on Local SEO

Local search is a powerful weapon for small businesses, especially those with a physical location or who serve a geographical area aiming. The process is similar to the regular organic SEO but with an added geographical content.

According to Hubspot, nearly 46% of all Google searches seek local information. Google even factored this in and considers the searchers’ locations when they type in keywords. It does not even matter if they didn’t include a city name or “near me” in their query. This is why you can miss out on potential customers ready to shop in your area if you don’t focus on their local SEO efforts.

Small businesses can have a massive advantage from covering specific key locations where they’re located instead of a nationwide or global scale. SEO strategies for local traffic warrant a more customized approach and improving your local presence.

If you want to put your business on the map in relevant local searches, it will involve the following methods. 

 

  • Participating in Local events: Events like business expos, fairs, festivals, and tradeshows are an excellent way for small businesses to get involved in the community and promote themselves. You can already generate more business just by being there. However, you can also take this opportunity to take this experience and create content with local-specific keywords to post about on your website.

 

  • Creating Hyper-Local Content: Search engines, notably Google, have improved on identifying and categorizing neighborhoods within a broader city. As such, you can expand your local-focus content further by using community and neighborhood-specific keywords. This can help you get ahead of larger competitors that mainly focus on general areas.

 

  • Receiving Good Reviews: Local reviews on websites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor can impact the search engine rankings these days. Businesses with significant positive reviews usually rank higher than those with few or negative reviews. This means that small businesses have an opportunity to improve their rankings without agonizing over producing content or building links.

 

Instead, you can pay attention to cultivating positive reviews from your customers.

Keep in mind that directory and aggregations sites, especially Yelp, may have policies against compensating for reviews or directly requesting reviews. If you want to encourage more reviews, use Yelp stickers and occasional CTAs with a link on your social media profiles.

 

Take Away

Trying to win against a larger competitor will always be a struggle for smaller businesses. However, the internet and SEO have shown us that there is a way to overcome your competitors. Use these simple tips of narrowing your topic and keyword focus and increasing your location-specific relevance will give yourself the best odds of showing up in the results.

SEO may take a lot of time to yield results, but if you keep working hard, you’ll find yourself reaching a deeper target audience and increasing your conversion rates.

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Jomer Gregorio

Jomer B. Gregorio is a well-rounded expert when it comes digital marketing. Jomer is also known as a semantic SEO evangelist and practitioner. Check out our Digital Marketing Services today and let us help you in achieving positive and profitable results for your business.
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