Can Small Businesses Beat Big Companies With SEO?

Most bigger businesses have large websites and significant marketing budgets from which they can allocate a good share to SEO, so it’s fair to say they have an advantage over smaller businesses in what they can do online, there is more opportunity for them to get to the top of Google, however that doesn’t mean that smaller businesses can’t go toe to toe with them in the fight getting to the top of Google. The key to making significant gains on Google is targeting the right keywords.

I’ve been working as a freelance seo consultant for years now and in all that time I don’t think I’ve ever really met a client with realistic expectations of what SEO can do for them and there business. I like it that way to be honest as it gives me the opportunity to tell them how it’s going to be and what they can expect me to do for them for the money, so people like it, others don’t!

How should a small business choose the right keywords to get to the top of Google?

So let’s have a think about the types of keywords that people want to go for. Everyone always wants to hit there industry’s big terms – say they’re in the insurance industry, it’s not as bad as it used to be, people understand it’s unlikely they are going to rank for insurance but they do feel they can go after things like life insurance or travel insurance, failing to understand that the big boys out there with significant SEO budgets and long established websites have already picked off all the low hanging fruit. By the time the small businesses have managed to get the big terms they first approach me with they won’t be a small business and they’ll have had to achieve that growth through some other business / marketing model.

So the next thing is about thinking about the types of ways we can build up these keywords, so with insurance as an example you might want to target home insurance, but once again this is going to be too competitive for your budget so you add another word to the keyphrase, in fact to start off with you’re probably going to have to add 3 or 4 keywords to a keyphrase to get to the point where your small business website is able to get some quick wins. It’s likely that these phrases won’t get a lot of traffic to start off with but it’s a good start and as they say: everyone has to start somewhere.

Should a small business target local keywords?

When you are thinking about the types of terms you can add to your keyphrases to make them easier to compete on it’s important to add local keywords in there because Google is quite good at working out where businesses are based and also puts an emphasis on those businesses that specifically target locations believing they are capable of offering a better service.

It’s also important to understand the psychology of the marketing department of big businesses, there is an institutionalised ego in businesses and the bigger the business the bigger that institutionalised ego can be – naturally the big businesses will go after the bigger terms and as they start to see the returns they will naturally gravitate their efforts towards those terms that offer them the biggest potential returns (and as their resources are finite) this presents an opportunity to take a chunk from them where they aren’t looking.

It’s important at this point to bear in mind that Google doesn’t rank websites, the smallest unit of search is still the page and Google tries to return the page that is the most relevant. In order to create content that is more relevant than your competitors you’re going to have to look over your competitors that are ranking on page 1 and create better content than anything else that’s out there. That’s the first place to start. You are going to have to write a lot of content to get anywhere online, it’s important you understand that from the off.

How does a small business get high quality links back to its website?

These high quality, niche pages need to be promoted in order that they should rank higher in Google’s index, you need to be letting people and Google know they exist, the most important thing is getting links back to the page from a range of sources because this is how Google will rank you site.

The most important thing is getting the right links back to your webpage and it’s not about the quantity of links you get to your webpage (although in a level playing field the more links a website has the higher they will rank). So to get the right links you are going to need to get links from good quality websites who have related topics. A good place for the average website owner is to think about their customers and suppliers and have a conversations with them. This will get a company only so far.

It’s this link building that you’re looking for when you’re speaking to a freelance seo consultant or a digital consultant / digital agency because it’s important you understand how these links are being acquired.

What organic link building methods can a small business employ?

Websites always get some links in an organic manner and you need to be getting as many of these types of links as is possible – great content is the key to this as is having real conversations with people about getting links back to your site. Remember that whatever content you’re creating it needs to be relevant and related to the keywords you are trying to target.

As discussed above, this doesn’t have to cost money, if you’re in business it’s likely you’ve got a network of people with their own website who will be willing to help you get the business going. You can also offer them a blog for their own blog where you can use your expertise on their website to aid their readers and potentially get a good link back to your own site.

After you’ve exhausted this group of people it’s time to do some good old fashioned link analysis of the first page of Google, looking at people who already rank for the terms you want to rank for and for that pages banklink profile.  The best advice is to just get on the phone and make the call – you’ll be surprised at how willing people will be to help you, make sure you stay on the phone whilst they’re building the link if they can do it there and then (and most people have content management systems which allow them to build a link on a page relatively easily). Take the personal approach and you might get somewhere – I can’t tell you how many thoughtless outreach emails I ignore asking me to link to this site or another from Grow Traffic.

So to conclude, Can Small Businesses Beat Big Companies With SEO? Yes – they just have to follow the right process and not be too ambitious too soon. They need to do their keyword research and in fact choose the right keywords in the process (this is both an art and a science!), then develop some really good content that actually deservers to be at the top of Google in the first place and finally letting people know the content is there and getting them to let other people know about it by linking back to it. This isn’t a quick process that you can just turn on and turn off, if you want to do it right you’re going to have to put hours into this. As a freelance seo consultant I work on this process for people, however I am always reliant on their initial efforts to give me the kind of foundations to head towards those more competitive terms.

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