Offline or online, if you run your own business, at some point you’ve probably looked at your bigger competitors and wondered what it is that you can do to compete with them.
When it comes to competing online, what you need to do is slightly different. Very simply put, one of the factors of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and getting page 1 rankings on Google is getting more traffic. Larger businesses usually have a larger advertising budget which means they can get more traffic via paid ad platforms such as Pay Per Click (E.g. Google AdWords). A larger business may also have a physical location helping them benefit further still via passer-by footfall which will invariably have an impact in increasing traffic to their website.
Matt Cutts, head of Google’s head of search spam recently gave out some advice on how smaller websites can compete with bigger ones. This posts discuss some of his recommendations in greater depth whilst adding some more.
Focus on a niche
Which one would you rather be: a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond? That depends on the size of the pond, you may say and I’d agree. When it comes to SEO however, it’s usually a better idea to be a big fish in a small pond.
Whilst Google is usually quite secretive in disclosing too much about how it goes about determining rankings, it does give some preference to results from sites focused on one or few topics vs sites offering a plethora of information on various related topics (try out a couple of Google searches and chances are, you’ll find websites specializing in the topics chosen closer to the top).
in my experience I’ve found 2 types of clients – those that will want to do business with a company that offers all the services they need vs. choosing a different company according to the perceived area of expertise. In the long run, winners are usually the smaller businesses with a narrow area of business focus as once you’ve positioned yourself as an expert in a niche, prospects will come out looking for you.
Leverage on some of the unique advantages that small businesses have. For example, identifying market trends, keeping yourself up-to-date with news and events in your industry and thinking up ideas for new products or services – big businesses are generally much more risk averse when it comes to making inherent changes or trying out new technologies.
How this relates to any SEO advantage is by regularly publishing news, research and commentary that’s fresh and unique (Google does like fresh content).
Add more value
Generating content that your customers and prospects will find helpful (and hopefully share) is the cornerstone of successful SEO. This strategy alone can be the deciding factor between your website being on page 1 and not.
One of the ways your website can stand out is by improving the quality of your publications – delve deep into the subject, carry out and cite research, include commentary and thought-leadership. When it comes to writing for SEO, quantity over quality is definitely more important.
Improve your website performance
You may or may not be aware that your website’s performance has an impact on your rankings. By performance, I mean metrics such as how long they spend on your website, how many pages they visit, the conversion rate and so on (learn more about some basic metrics you should know about) – you’ll find all of these in your Google Analytics account if you have one.
Large and/or established businesses are usually very wary of making any changes to their website for various reasons but as a small businesses, this is something you could do quite easily.
There are various tools such as A/B testing via Google Analytics, a feedback widget such as Qualaroo or even a simple survey that you could use to get qualitative feedback about what your users think about your website and ways you can provide a better user experience.
Ofcourse, improving your website performance can also have a very real and positive impact on your bottom line.
The Wall Street Journal has a good article on the subject but from a non-SEO perspective – check it out.