We’ve talked about search engine optimization quite a bit in the past, and with good reason. SEO is an absolutely indispensable way to reach potential customers, and in the competitive online market, small business SEO can be the difference between a thriving business and a premature bankruptcy. Today, we are going to talk about using SEO as a small business, and how you can make the most of your online presence.
What is SEO?
As stated above, SEO stands for search engine optimization. Optimizing your web pages to fit the algorithms on search engines like Google can boost your ranking when people search for terms related to your product or service. While there are a number of factors that go into this optimization, a few important ones include:
- Using relevant keywords
- Linking to other pages on your own site
- Linking to pages on other sites
- Avoiding repetitive links
We’ve talked about SEO in greater depth elsewhere, so we won’t get too deep into it here. But now that we’ve covered the basics of SEO, let’s get into what makes small business SEO different from SEO for bigger companies.
Big vs Small Business SEO
It should be pretty obvious that almost every business can benefit from SEO. That said, not every business benefits from the same strategy. Bigger businesses have far more money to invest, and typically have a wider audience.
A place like McDonald’s doesn’t really need to worry about their customers finding them on Google, as they are widely recognized throughout the world already. When a business like this engages in SEO, they’re probably going to be aiming at the highest level search terms, such as “burgers,” but they’ll also be focused heavily on their locations.
Such broad terms should not be chosen when attempting small business SEO, however. The reason is simple: competition is going to be insane. In order to pop up anywhere near the first page on a search for a broad, generic term, a company must out-compete thousands of other sites. Small businesses are rarely equipped for this.
This is an incredibly common mistake, and it ends up costing these businesses. If a business owner is working with limited resources, spending money on SEO that doesn’t get them any new attention can be a serious loss.
How to Win with SEO as a Small Business
Small business owners need to approach SEO at the local level. It is highly unlikely that a local shop is going to find its way to the first page of Google on a huge, inclusive search, but they can be mighty competitive if they get a bit more specific.
Sticking with the burger joint example, there is a very low chance a burger place in a small town is going to out-compete a corporation like McDonald’s. What they can do, however, is optimize for searches which are too specific for a huge, national corporation.
In practice, this means the local place would simply switch from optimizing for the word “burger,” to the search term “burger place Fort Collins.” Barrowing in will allow the local restaurant to slip through holes in the nets bigger businesses cast and show up higher on search engines.
If you are a small business owner trying to build SEO into your strategy, think about what your customers are likely to search. The more specific you can get, the better, as this will allow you to show up on the screens of those most likely to buy from you.
Don’t forget the people who are easy to reach and already want your product because you’re distracted by all the “maybes” out there. Hone in on your specific area and audience, and cater your content to their searches.
Of course, if you want to skip all the test runs and research, you could always hire a marketing team with tons of small business SEO experience. Who knows, finding a great team might be easier than you think.