So what exactly is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)? This term gets thrown around so much nowadays that it is fast becoming a buzzword which people are more confused by than anything else. Put simply; SEO refers to the utilisation of techniques that help your website rank higher in organic search results. The aim of SEO is to make your website more visible to people who are looking for your brand, product, or service via search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. However, Google currently owns 70.8% of the search engine market share, with their closest competitors, Yahoo and Bing, collectively only holding 19.4% [Net Market Share, 2015]. This leaves no doubt that Google is the ruler of this domain.
If you are sitting there questioning whether dedicating time to SEO is worth it have a look at the following statistics from Search Engine Journal:
There are over 100 billion global searches being conducted each month.
70% of the links that search users click on are organic (i.e. not paid links/advertisements).
75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results.
93% of online experiences begin with a search engine.
With all this said, it’s no secret that SEO is complex. As the online domain becomes more and more influential and important, integrating itself into all aspects of our business and personal lives, the competition and the stakes get higher.
Below are 6 reasons why larger businesses have an easier time excelling at SEO.
1. More Money
A large company comes with a large budget. It’s true that you have to spend money to make money, so the businesses with bigger budgets to dedicate to SEO are going to see better results than small businesses with little dedicate to their efforts. Large companies can utilise their finances to hire more employees, bring in top-notch consultants, invest in content and web design, and purchase powerful software and tools.
2. More Time
Time comes in at a tied first place with money, because we all know “time is money.” Small businesses have less heads on their marketing team, meaning that employees in these companies are juggling multiple tasks and cannot dedicate as much time to SEO. SEO becomes exponentially harder the fewer employees you have as effective SEO takes time, creation of worthwhile content, web page optimisation, asset promotion, securing links and A/B testing. More time also gives larger companies the ability to keep up with changes as they occur. With so many elements to manage small businesses are often forced to do a rushed job or neglect this all together, resulting in under-optimised sites and poor rankings.
3. Google Favours Brands
This is a common complaint from small businesses, often whining that Google only cares about you if you’re a brand! This is sadly true, not just for Google though, everyone favours brands. When all other factors are kept equal Google ranks based on user behavior data. People click more often on recognisable brand’s websites, so if you plan to go after keywords and target markets shared by a big brand competitor, be prepared to work that much harder to prove your small business content to be relevant and worthwhile.
4. Bigger Websites
The larger websites have a much larger potential to rank. A small business usually means a newer and smaller website than large companies. Smaller websites have less content and fewer pages overall, thus fewer keywords targeted and fewer opportunities to rank overall.
Link building comes more easily to large companies. While your small business may bend over backwards to gain a single link to your website, large companies, who are viewed as an authority in their industry, will see this occur organically.
6. Relationships With Google
Big brands spend a lot of money on Google advertising (we’re talking tens of millions), which often gains them inside connections and personal relationships. As a result, Google wants to keep these brands happy. This means that if something goes wrong big brands can reach out to their dedicated rep or connection for help, while small businesses will face a much bigger struggle in such a situation.
With all of this in mind, are small businesses domed?
NO! The reason search engines are useful is because people are searching for a greater range of solutions. They want to see what options are available and find solutions they aren’t already aware of. Search engines are not just for the big brands. Users are already aware of them, they want to see what other possibilities are out there that could provide them with a solution. In order to capture these users here are…
6 tips you should utilise in order to see success in your small business SEO efforts:
1. Local Search
An edge that small businesses often have over larger companies is their appeal to local users. In order seize the opportunity that these prospects present you must make yourself accessible to them. In other words, make sure they can find you! Set up a Google Business Page for your company so that you can be found through “Google My Business” and Google Maps. Ensure you have up to date information on this account and cover as much detail as possible. As a minimum we recommend you chose a relevant icon image for your Google business Page, as well as a short description of your offering, your location, your trading hours and all contact information
2. Write Your Content For Your Customer Not For The Business
Ensure the content you are producing is created with the audience in mind. It shouldn’t be an egotistic plug for the company, but instead should focus on the production of targeted information that your audience is looking for. You need to regularly solve their problems in order to become an authority figure and grow your online presence.
Great content can also serve the double purpose of earning you great quality links! So figure out what your audience needs and give it to them. Remember though that building authority through content marketing is a long process that takes time and patience, so you need to be committed to this process for your SEO program to work.
3. Engage Regularly On Social Media
Social media pages play a large role in a local businesses visibility in search results. The more proactive a company is in their social strategy, the higher the likelihood of them attracting followers and appearing in search results. Note also that social media channels get utilised as search engines in their own right. Nowadays users don’t just go to Google to look something up, social channels have their own search boxes.
KissMetrics reported Twitter handles roughly 19 billion queries a month (more than 5x the queries handled by Bing!) and Facebook averages approximately 1 billion search queries per day. So optimising for these social search engines by engaging regularly with relevant content that is identifiable and searchable (depending on the platform this may mean Hashtags or mentions, so look into the medium and optimise for each channel accordingly)
4. Focus On Niches Overlooked By Your Competitors
Sometimes small businesses have to accept that they will never have the same online brand presence as their larger competitors. The local “Bob’s Bakery”, for example, will be no competition for “Bakers Delight”. But this doesn’t mean that Bob can’t dominate his own local market with the right SEO program. The key here is for Bob to identify which niche he can cater to. Bob may decide to provide to local restaurants or perhaps high-end hotel events or whatever local specialty is pertinent and overlooked by the bigger brands and claim that space for himself and make himself easy for those niches to find him.
It’s important to choose your keywords wisely here, because many branded keywords will not be worth investing time in, as you’re likely to never beat the bigger companies. Instead focus on long tail keywords. Long tail keywords are longer, more specific keyword phrases that visitors tend to use when they are closer to the point of purchase. For Bob he would be wasting his time trying to optimise his site for the keyword “bakery” given the high competition, however, if Bob is well renowned for making the best Vanilla Slice in Ivanhoe he could stand to benefit much more by optimising the log tail “Ivanhoes best vanilla slice”.
5. 300+ Words Per Page
You should ensure that every page on your businesses website has at least 300 words content. The reason is simple; would you expect to get a great deal of insightful information on any given topic you’ve search in 50 words? No. Google doesn’t think so either. There should be a significant amount of content for any of your pages to be considered a great source of information for any keyword.
6. Set Up Google Analytics
Google Analytics is an incredibly powerful tool for all businesses. This gives you the power to track and analyse your progress and determine if what you are doing is working. Without analysis you are blindly applying techniques with no insight into their effectiveness. Google Analytics can display your online insights in an easy to understand dashboard so that you can determine what tactics have been working for you and where you should be focusing your efforts moving forward.
If you are unfamiliar for Google Analytics have a look at some dashboard examples on Online Media Masters website HERE
Small businesses often feel as though they can’t compete with the big brands online. However, with the right focus and application of your limited resources you can find the key to SEO success. Ensure you cover your SEO basics, know you target and persist because in 10 years you won’t be a new business anymore. Doing the hard work now plants the seeds for your growth and future successes.
Remember, people search because they’re looking for information and they don’t necessarily believe the big brand is better. If you have a handle on your SEO and commit time to experiment and test, you can still profit from SEO.