When small business owners think about getting involved in SEO, they often become intimidated (or frustrated). They see massive corporations and large businesses dominating the search engine world, and it’s no secret why they’re able to. They have access to tens of thousands of dollars (or more) to spend on online marketing, a highly talented full-time staff to oversee campaign management, and perhaps most importantly, they’ve been around for years, so they’ve had time to cement their authority in their respective niches.
Seeing all this, you might think that your small business, with its relative newness and minimal resources, doesn’t have a chance to compete in SEO. But the reality is, small businesses have no fewer than six distinct advantages over their larger counterparts in SEO:
SEO for Small Business Advantages
1. Niche targeting. First, as a small business, you likely cater to a much more specific niche. A large business like Home Depot might cater to general homeowners with general needs like “home repair” or “plumbing issues,” so they can target these high-traffic, generalized keyword phrases. But by contrast, a local hardware store might be able to offer more hands-on help, and cater to specific types of homes and businesses in a given community. This makes it more valuable for small businesses to seek out and optimize for long-tail keywords, which don’t get quite as much volume, but are much more targeted (not to mention less competitive.)
2. Local SEO. Most small businesses are locally owned and operated, so they can take advantage of local SEO — whereas large, national businesses have a distinct disadvantage here. Local SEO operates on a separate algorithm, producing three relevant results in a “local 3 pack” that caters to a user’s query. Google selects the three most relevant local businesses for a given query (based on a user’s physical location), and lists their names as well as options for directions, websites, and a direct call. Your small business has a good chance of getting listed here — provided you’re optimized for the right keywords and your local citations and reviews are in order.
3. General agility. Large businesses have a major advantage because they’ve spent such a long time building a reputation for landmark keywords and general areas of specialty, but that advantage can also be a weakness. It means they have less flexibility to maneuver and pivot, and less wiggle room when it comes to ongoing experimentation. As a small business, with a fresh domain authority and more bite-sized keyword targets, you can adjust your strategy on a near-constant basis, experimenting all the time and trying out new strategies with reckless abandon. It gives you far more potential for growth.
4. Novelty. As a small business trying to break onto the scene, you have a degree of novelty attached to you; this is especially true if you’re a startup. When people find a website for a business like Walmart, they aren’t surprised or that interested — they’re just looking for a specific product in most cases. But when they find a unique local business or startup, they’re more intrigued. This tends to lead to more onsite user interactions, which can indirectly increase your rankings. There’s also some evidence to suggest that new sites added to Google’s search engine index get small, temporary boosts in ranking to evaluate these user experience factors.
5. Personal brand power. With some exceptions, most large corporations don’t operate efficiently when driven by the influence of a personal brand. This is because most large businesses are run by extensive teams of leaders rather than a single charismatic authority at the top. Your small business is probably run by a single leading authority — and it’s probably you. This gives you a much better ability to develop a personal brand as an extension of your corporate brand, which in turn leads to more offsite content opportunities, greater user trust, more social media activity, and an all-around greater SEO presence.
6. Publication appeal. Finally, small businesses have an advantage when it comes to publication appeal. When a major national brand attempts to get itself published on an independent content website, the publisher is generally dubious of their intentions. Large corporations often have ulterior motives and hidden agendas, whereas small businesses are more charming and trustworthy by nature. You may have ulterior motives as well, but as a small business, you’re a kind of underdog, and that gives you a certain type of appeal. In any case, small businesses oftentimes have an easier time getting published on offsite sources, which is another — final — critical advantage.
SEO is still a competitive industry, and there are no shortcuts — not for large businesses, and not for small ones. Still, based on the information I have, I sincerely believe that any business of any size and in any niche has a good chance of reaping the benefits of higher rankings, if they know where to pour their efforts. Knowing these key advantages small businesses have over big ones, you can customize your strategy to take advantage of them, and position yourself for better overall results — even with your correspondingly small budget.
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