What is SEO?
SEO is an acronym that stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is a process of optimizing your website in order to get organic or unpaid traffic from the search engine’s results page. In simpler words, it is the practice of increasing the number and quality of visitors to your website by improving rankings in the algorithmic search engine results.
On any given day, people conduct more than 2.2 million searches. That is just for Google, the numbers on the other search engines have yet to be added. According to the report of InternetLiveStats, more than 1.3 million searches were made at the time of writing this article. Thus, showing up in the top searches of Google is a very important factor which decides whether your online business strategy is working or not.
What are the types of SEO?
We can basically divide the types of SEO into 2 categories. They are –
- On-Page SEO – All the on-page SEO strategies happen on your website.
- Off-Page SEO – All off-page SEO strategies happen off your website.
Both the above mentioned strategies are equally important to make your website user-friendly and trustworthy, to your customers and search engines. Crawl reports tell you whether Google can access your site and if yes, what information can be recorded and if it is relevant or not. So, if these crawl reports approve your site as relevant for users, there is a high possibility of your website ranking well in relevant searches.
Why does SEO matter to search engines?
Whenever a person searches for something, the page he is delivered to, after entering the search query is called the search engine results page (SERP). On The SERP, you can find 2 things, the “organic results” and the “pay-per-click-ads” or (PPC). Here, the organic results are influenced by SEO while the PPC advertisements are paid for showing up on the results page.
We cannot pay any search engines to show up our ad in the organic search results. However, they make money by the ads on the page. It works in this way- the better results they show, it is more likely that the users will use that search engine again. The more people using the search engine directly leads to them showing more ads which ultimately makes money for them.
How does SEO work?
Search engines have web crawlers or spiders which are the automated robot kind. These robots or bots, collect all the information about your website and the pages which build up your site. They can use this information while displaying your site to the user. They collect things like page speed, title tags, backlinks, internal linkings, social signals etc.
Google uses more than 200 ranking factors in their algorithms. Thus, we need to consider a lot of things and plan our actions accordingly, while optimizing our website. The on-page and off-page ranking factors together decide as to how work our site is optimized and thus, how well it ranks on the search page.
The competition being so tough, how can small businesses compete with the big ones in the battle of SEO?
We have studied about SEO. It’s types, the importance of SEO to search engines and the working of SEO. After studying all this, it may now seem very difficult for small businesses to compete with the already dominant businesses in terms of SEO. But, there are benefits of running smaller websites, that can make a significant difference to your SEO.
Here, we’ll see how small businesses can target better opportunities than the bigger websites, even though the bigger websites have their natural advantages.
The advantages of having a bigger or high ranking website in SERP –
It is very natural for the bigger websites in SEO to have bigger advantages.The advantages of these websites are as follows –
- Domain Authority
Domain authority is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how likely a website is to rank on search engines results page (SERPs). A domain authority score ranges from 1-100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank.
Domain authority is calculated by evaluating multiple factors, including linking root domains and the number of total links, into a single DA score. This score can then be used when comparing websites or tracking the “ranking strength” of a website over time.
The big websites have built their big brand names and their reputation over time and over years. People know who they are and users are familiar with their products and services. Thus people have a biased tendency towards liking or trusting that brand and buying from them.
These websites have been in competition for a longer time and people have grown familiar with them and trust them. This thing builds over time and it is difficult to introduce people with a new concept.
- More financial resources as compared to a smaller website
When it comes to being strong financially, the smaller websites are often financially fragile, with little cash on hand or resources to buffer even a minor financial shock. On the other hand, the bigger websites are financially sound and put hundreds of millions of dollars towards their marketing or SEO efforts.
The advantages small businesses have over the bigger ones in SEO –
- The ability to take quick decisions
In small businesses, work priorities can change quickly. For a particular time, your team could be having different resources and you might be investing them to the said priority of that time. In a week or so, your top priority work might be replaced with some other work which could be required to be addressed as the new top priority. In this case, you don’t have to check up with the manager, the team or the boss. You don’t need to run the approval through three layers of management.
You can be very quick in taking the decisions and focusing on the work. Smaller businesses can get a remarkable amount of work done in smaller time as compared to the bigger businesses.
In a smaller business you don’t have a huge brand name and the fixed boundaries that come with it. Bigger businesses have an identity and people are familiar with it. Now, even if they wish to make some improvements in their working or products, they cannot make major changes, they need to keep up the identity with which people recognize them.
In smaller businesses, you can be more creative while thinking outside the box. You are allowed to execute your ideas and see how they work for you.
As a small business, you can choose to focus your marketing efforts on one specific thing. So, if you know that, SEO has better opportunities, then you can ignore other web marketing channels. If re-targeting and PPC are not working for you that well as compared to SEO, you can simply focus on SEO for a few weeks.
In bigger businesses on other hand, a marketing manager is responsible for a long list of things, which he needs to perform and just cannot ignore his other responsibilities in focusing on just one thing.
A bigger brand will generally have big brand associations. On the other hand, a smaller business may have a smaller audience but they can build very strong positive associations with them. As a smaller business, you don’t need to convert your website visitors into paying customers, that fast.
You can work on building your brand’s appeal to a very specific niche. If you monetize them over well enough, over time you can also build a great business. It might still be a small business, but if you follow this, it would be a great small business.
6. Niche Appeal
Let’s just say, we compare your small business with some big business like Flipkart or Amazon, who have a strong online marketing strategy and are in the top-most ranking in SERPs. They make a wide variety of products available for you online and after browsing through the products, you can buy from them.
Now you can choose to take a small slice of their business and focus on that. You can just exclusively focus on a few products and become an authority in that. For instance, you can only focus on home appliances and put all your efforts towards them and build your brand identity towards this specific niche.
Is SEO important for every business?
You may be having a business in industry, where there might be no competition at all. Evidently, you might be ranking no.1. Or you might be struggling to even get a rank and might be wondering to switch to other options than SEO, which might get you the visibility your business needs.
In this case, no matter what the situation might be for you, if you have a website for your company, you ought to have SEO. Whether your business is big or small, old or new, struggling or successful, SEO is very crucial for the success of your business online. In fact, even if your business is one of it’s kind in the industry, your business still needs SEO.
Top 4 ways in which smaller business can compete with bigger businesses in the battle of SEO
#1. Target those keywords which the bigger sites are unable or by far aren’t competing on
There are some keywords which the bigger businesses in this case like Flipkart or Amazon won’t be targeting yet or are unable to target due to legal issues or PR issues or because they have an indirect path to Return of Investment. Those keywords can be classified into 3 types. They are –
- Long-tail keywords –
So, Flipkart might be targeting something like, ‘Flipkart assured best AC’s’, but they are definitely not targeting something like, ‘Latest AC’s of 2019’. Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific keyword phrases that visitors are more likely to use when they are closer to a point-of-purchase.
- Comparison keywords –
So, Flipkart can’t go after their competitor’s brand names, and they certainly wouldn’t choose generally to compare themselves to another brand. So, some other businesses name vs. Flipkart, they are just not going to have that on their website.
But, you can have a comparison on that and also build your page around that. That’s a major advantage a small website has over a big one.
- Comparison keywords –
So, flipkart has business relationships with a lot of brands. So, it’s not in their best interests to rank the products from different brands from 1 to 10 or from 1 to 100.
As a small website, you don’t have that constraint. You can go after those keywords, which your competitors avoid using.
#2. Focus on building 1-1 relationships
You can build better and more direct relationships with people. Big businesses will go through their PR team and have their team connect with people. But, in a small business you can go directly and connect with people.
#3. You can go deeper into your research and build better content
You can invest more in a single piece of content rather than focusing on many different types of content. So, when a certain set of keywords are very important to your business, you can focus on building your content around those keywords. You can put your time, energy and resources into that content and focus on building your website around it.
#4. Aim for authority and brand association in a very specific niche
Bigger websites offer a wide variety of products and services and thus cannot entirely focus on a particular niche. But, smaller businesses can do this. They can aim for authority in a specific niche and strive towards ranking higher when a search related to that specific brand is done.
Some key insights on SEO for small business owners –
There are many things about your business that you can’t control. You cannot control when a new competitor appears, how well your customers react to a new product launch or even the profits your business gets.
But, they are some things about your business which you can control with the help of SEO. You can control how your website ranks in the search results, which leads to the number of visitors that visit your website, which decides how many online sales you are going to make and thus decides the amount of money you will be making by being online.
If you invest in your website’s SEO, you make a direct investment in it’s visibility and profitability. So, regardless of what might happen tomorrow, if your SEO is constant, you can count on it as an important factor in helping your business grow and prosper.