No matter what size your business is, everybody has some kind of online presence these days. As a small business, you may think it’s impossible to rank above mega-corporations in the search engines. After all, they will likely have been around for longer, and have a budget and resources you simply can’t compete with.
Luckily, search-engine optimization has evolved to make it easier for small businesses. It’s all about being the most relevant page or website for the searcher. In order to be seen as relevant you need to create focused, high-quality content, target your local audience and focus on your unique selling point. By using the right strategies, even the smallest business can outrank the giants.
Create engaging online content
These days, high-quality content is an integral part of any company’s online marketing strategy. You want to create content that’s not just there to please the search engines, but actually engages the relevant people.
Not only will quality content please your website’s visitors, but it will also increase the likelihood that other people will link to it. Inbound links will not just help to boost your search engine rankings, but it can also result in referral traffic.
Of course, creating a constant stream of top content is not an easy task for small businesses, so it’s all about maximizing the impact of every piece of content you create. In order to reach a wider audience, try creating content that can be formatted in different ways such as Podcasts, infographics, videos and slides.
Target your local audience
If you want your small business to beat the giants in the search engines, you need to turn the focus to your local audience. Local search is becoming ever more important, so rather than go for the keyword “lawyers in California”, you should go for “lawyers in San Francisco”.
You can even take it a step further and target your area by using neighbourhood-specific keywords. Do some keyword research to find out what terms local customers are using to find relevant products or services in your area. Not only will you face fewer competitors by focusing on a smaller area, but you will also be targeting a more relevant audience.
You should also focus on cultivating strong, positive reviews from your local clients or customers in order to boost your priority in the search rankings. If your business has a lot of positive reviews on sites such as Yelp or TripAdvisor, chances are you will rank higher than similar sites with little or negative reviews. Since these review pages tend to rank highly, you have the added bonus of ranking without having to produce your own content.
Focus on what makes you unique
If your small business has a unique selling point, you should be using that to your advantage. Do some keyword research to find out if the key terms surrounding your USP have high search volumes. If so, target these keywords on your website and in your content.
Let’s take a look at an example. The USP for a boutique hotel in Jesmond is the fact that it’s dog friendly hotel. If you do a quick search you will find that the keyword “dog friendly hotels” gets and average of 14,800 monthly searches. The Rosebery Hotel used this fact to its advantage and created a blog post targeting that keyword.
You can do the same for your small business. Find a USP and take a look at which relevant keyword has high search volumes. Not only will this set you apart from your competitors in the search rankings, but it help to define a unique identity for your customers.
Advertise on high-ranking local sites
One way to drive local traffic to your website is to advertise on local properties that already rank. Do a search for your main keywords and take a look at which sites are already ranking for those terms. If you can get your business mentioned on that site, even if it’s by paying an ad fee, then you can take their leads.
For example, if you offer after school drama classes in Newcastle, you might want to list yourself on a website like NetMums. Parents who are looking for an after school class for their child in the local area will come across your website, so you end up with relevant leads.
The key is to use sites that are already ranking for your main keywords. That way, you can still capture some of that traffic and find customers that are looking for your specific product or service.
Don’t forget about social media
Even small businesses need to make sure they set up relevant social media profiles. While social media activity doesn’t seem to be used as a ranking factor by Google, there does appear to be a strong correlation between the two. While you don’t need to be on every platform, you should create a profile on the social media sites your target audience is likely to use.
There are several ways you can boost SEO with social media, such as organically growing your followers, encouraging external sites to link to your content, influence social sharing to increase authority and participating with your local community. By increasing your reputation on social media, you can increase your online brand presence.
Social media is all about having a platform on which to engage with your customers, so use this opportunity to provide a personal experience. Give your social media site a personality in order to help nurture your following and get an edge over large businesses.
These days, competition is tough. In order for smaller businesses to succeed in the search engines, you need play up to your strengths. Use your geographic location to your advantage in order to target local customers, leverage social media to grow your online presence and remember that content is king.