With traditional advertising, your ability to compete with other businesses relies on your budget. That means that if you run a small business, it’s nearly impossible to stand out next to the giants in your industry.
The Internet, on the other hand, is a much more level playing field. While major brands still have bigger budgets and increased brand awareness, search engines want to provide users with the most relevant results – not the highest-paying advertisers.
This means that with a strong SEO strategy, your small business can compete with even the largest of companies and attract more customers online.
Use your niche to your advantage
The first step to any SEO strategy is determining which keywords you want to target. Generally, it’s a bad idea to compete for short, broad keywords since older websites will outrank you every time.
This may seem like a disadvantage, but it gives you the opportunity to target your potential customers more effectively. Large companies with lots of products have a hard time writing unique descriptions for everything they sell, and that leads to duplicate content problems.
Use this to your advantage and write custom product descriptions that not only show what you’re offering, but also the benefits they offer your customers. With long, specific keywords in the text, these pages will have a much better chance of outranking other sites that sell similar items.
Even if your business isn’t based on ecommerce, you can still write compelling descriptions of the services you offer. You can also use case studies and testimonials to show how you’ve helped customers and include long-tail keywords in these pages as well.
Target your local audience
As a small business, you likely operate out of one location and serve a specific city or region. Unlike major brands, who may have hundreds or thousands of physical storefronts all over the world, you need to use local SEO to reach your audience.
By targeting a local audience, you’re more likely to attract site visitors that will actually become customers. And when you incorporate location-based keywords throughout your site, you can even outrank the larger businesses in your area.
For example, take a look at the search results for “running shoes york pa”:
The first three results are all for the same small, local running store, and the fourth is for a similar store about 30 minutes away. This may not seem all that impressive on first glance, but there are over a dozen major retailers that also sell athletic shoes in the area (like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Finish Line, Foot Locker, and Sports Authority).
By focusing their strategies on local keywords, these small businesses outranked national chains – and your business can do the same.
Create content related to your industry
Even after you’ve written unique product or service descriptions and created a local SEO strategy, you’ve only laid the foundation for your site.
To build on that foundation, you need to start a content marketing campaign. Content marketing is an effective way to attract potential customers and help them learn about your business and industry. It can also help your small business stand out from your competitors. And although it’s technically a separate strategy from SEO, the two can work together to make your site more successful.
As you create blog posts, articles, videos, and even downloadable guides that are tailored to your audience, you’ll be able to build trust with potential customers by showing them your expertise. And because your audience is narrower and more targeted than the audience of an industry giant, you’ll have a much easier time selecting topics that resonate with them.
In addition to strengthening your position as an authority in your industry, original content will also help you earn links to your site. Link building is a great way to improve your overall site, and it helps you compete with large brands even more successfully.
Build your brand
Large corporations have the budget to run national ad campaigns and get their brands in front of millions of consumers, but those impressions don’t last. Viewers may remember seeing a commercial that made them laugh or a magazine ad that looked interesting, but not the company it was advertising.
When visitors arrive on your site, show them what sets you apart from their other options. Whether it’s your superior customer service, passion for the industry, or contributions to the local community, you should highlight these unique qualities to build your brand.
Although chain stores and major industry players may have the advantage of low prices and convenience, they just can’t compete when it comes to building personal relationships with customers. When you do that as you build your brand, you’ll be much more successful – regardless of your industry.
Does your small business have a strong SEO strategy?
If your small business struggles to compete with major corporations, you need a strong, location-based SEO strategy to stand out online. And if you’ve had success with the methods above (or any others), let me know in the comments below!