This is a featured post from Keith Barrett at Search South.
Looking at some of the most competitive terms in Google, it’s noticeable that the top rankings are frequently dominated by big brands. You can see this by searching for mortgages or life insurance right now.
With the impact of the Google Panda update still being felt, it’s natural to suggest that these rankings reflect the fact that Google is currently favouring large, established corporations. Although this may be true, there are undoubtedly other factors at work here.
It might be suggested, for instance, that these larger companies will have massive online marketing budgets. A lot of money is being spent on optimizing their websites, whether that means employing a large team in-house, or outsourcing much of the work to an experienced agency.
With this in mind, small businesses might worry about how they can possibly compete. After all, for smaller companies, there may not be the option to throw such significant sums of money at the problem of search engine optimization.
Targeting your budget
So does this mean that small business owners should simply give up and accept that big businesses will dominate the search engine landscape? It needn’t mean this at all. What it does mean is that smaller businesses need to target their online marketing efforts more intelligently.
Fortunately, the flexibility that’s associated with smaller organisations can really be an advantage here. Don’t forget that large, multi-national corporations usually have multiple levels of management. This often means that decisions aren’t taken particularly quickly in such organisations.
The best approach is often to look for the opportunities that larger organisations are missing out on. When it comes to targeting keywords and phrases, it makes sense to look for niche areas. Where possible, you can also target potential customers close to the point of the purchasing decision.
So, if you were selling ladies clothing online, for instance, then you wouldn’t look to compete on the keyword clothing. You’d find that competing on that term would involve too much competition. You’d also discover that many people searching on that phrase are still researching options, rather than being at the point of making a purchase.
Instead, it makes sense to focus your resources on more specific terms. These might generate less traffic, but they’ll also be less competitive and will be attracting searchers who are at the point of buying, rather than simply browsing. Targeting a phrase like ladies brown leather jackets, as an example, is likely to prove more successful. Let the big brands compete for the highly competitive, broad phrases.
You’ll also find that your small business SEO efforts can be successful if you concentrate on a particular geographical area. Many shoppers love to spend money with local retailers and service providers, so this is an approach that can produce particularly strong results.
Rather than spending time and money focusing on international or nationwide search results, think about targeting your local area. You’ll find that this is less competitive and cheaper as a result.
Great SEO often involves some creative thinking. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can’t compete because you only have a small budget available. It’s simply a matter of using that budget wisely.
About the Author
Keith Barrett is an experienced SEO professional, having spent more than a decade in the industry. He’s viewed as one of the leading UK search engine experts and works at Search South.