For a small business competing against the big names can be difficult. The lack of endless budgets and dedicated marketing teams can make the task of competing seem overwhelming.
The good news is, being small has its advantages, but where should you start? Things can seem stressful at first when trying to gain an online presence, but here are five tips to get you started:
1. Google My Business
If your business falls under the category of a brick and mortar store or a service area business, you are in luck. Google My Business can give you an instantaneous boost above the big guys and gals. For starters, this gives you the possibility to be featured in the 3 pack for local businesses. The 3 pack is the first thing people tend to notice when searching.
The advantage here is that large businesses are typically come with many locations. Their main headquarters might be far away from the city in which you operate. Being local matters and being in control of your listing makes it easier to optimise. The big players tend to neglect their listings in the map pack and even worse, they do not even claim them.
The best part? Google My Business is completely free to use and easy to optimise. Here is what you need to do to compete:
Tips for optimising your GMB page.
- Claim your listing first and foremost - Visit GYBO.com to set up your listing. This will guide you through set up if you have never done it before and makes it super simple.
- Fill out every piece of information in the GMB dashboard that you can. Make sure your address and phone number are perfect, add photos, and choose a main category for your business. You can choose more than one but don’t go to crazy.
- Get verified by requesting a postcard at the verification step.
- Respond to every review in a positive customer focused manner. This is another sales channel, so you want to ensure you use grace and dignity for both positive and negative reviews.
- Don’t forget to add your branded map to your website as well. You can get the code to embed it straight from the map portion of the GMB listing.
Having your GMB claimed, verified and optimised is like having an extra website doing the work for you so you can see its importance.
They might sound like they wouldn’t get you much traffic directly, but the more directory style websites you are in the bigger your footprint becomes. Sites like Yelp and Squarespace allow you to add your business information to their listings. This is what we call a NAP. Not the type of NAP you’re thinking of.
It stands for Name, Address and Phone number. The important thing is that you need to enter it in exactly as it shows on your GMB page from Google My Business. Even a misplaced comma can muck up your efforts, so be careful.
The importance of these sites really doesn’t rely on the referral traffic although there might be some, but the truth is, it creates more legitimacy in the eyes of search engines, especially Google.
If you have a business with conflicting addresses listed Google will not know who to trust and your rankings will drop. Build enough of these perfectly and Google will understand that you are who you say you are and rankings will increase. Simple as that!
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2. Gearing Your Business Towards Small Niches
The big guys tend to have the market share on big keywords, say for instance, “shoes”. So if you are a small shoe seller this can give you quite the headache.
But don’t worry…
How you can stand out is to gear your website to compete for the “buying” keywords. These keywords are much better in the sense that these are the types of keywords that users are utilising to buy something and now. These types of keywords are also much easier to rank for.
Going back to the example of shoes, to compete in the keyword market, a small business should go after terms by adding natural content to their site that addresses the needs of their customers. For example, creating content on your website about how different shoes can affect a bad back, you can gain the attention of someone searching for exactly this. This is called a long-tailed keyword.
As you can see in the above results, the little guy wins out here. No Nike and no Adidas and best of all - A keyword search that will probably lead to a sale.
On the flip of this, if you Google “shoes”, the big brands start popping up along with heaps of ads and other Google nuggets that make it extremely hard to compete and let’s face it, going after a term this broad has a tendency not to convert. These terms are typical of an early sales cycle search for someone doing a bit of research and not ready to buy.
3. Local Service Means Local Understanding
One clear advantage for small business is that owners are close to the action. Not weighed down by bureaucracy they can create brand recognition with customer service both digitally and face-to-face.
By being on the front lines, the ability to exceed customer’s expectations has its advantages. Creating a relationship with your customers through face to face interaction, emails and even Google My Business reviews adds a personal touch. Your message and service won’t be lost in the bureaucracy of a corporation. Investing in customer service tools and branding your business as a reputable leader in the industry will go a long way.
Getting to know your customers and creating content geared directly at them on your website will have huge advantages, which moves us to the next step…
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4. Use Your Website’s Blog to Promote Your Business
Blogging is nothing new, but the beauty of small business blogging is that a small business caters to a specific demographic, where as big brands are trying to appeal to the masses. The content on these types of websites tends to be watered down as a result.
Small businesses typically have a couple of customer personas they are after and writing directly to them will increase the chances of being found based on the way and style of how they search. In fact, Google has created what is called Rank Brain. It is a type of artificial intelligence that matches a person searching with their intent.
Without boring you with the details, Google knows a lot about people and how to manipulate search. It gears intent right along side the user who is searching. If you are selling shoes to people with plantar fasciitis, a person with this condition might see your results first before a company that does not sell this type of shoe, all because Google (scary, I know) knows you like the back of your hand. In fact this is a hot topic amongst SEO agencies.
If you include content around the specifics of what you are selling and who you are selling it for, search engines get a good feel for your product space and will serve your listing based on this information within your website.
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5. Get Involved with the Community
This one can be the most rewarding for both your business and the community. Find a local charity or organisation to be a part of. Even sponsoring a peewee football team is a great way to become involved and grow your business.
This is twofold. For one, you are getting your brand out there with parents and potential customers. This creates brand loyalty and draws in people. If you’ve ever had a pizza place sponsor your kids tee-ball team, you will know what I am talking about.
Second, many of these organisations have their own websites. Ask them to link to your site as a sponsor. Backlinks have a strong impact on the way you rank. Especially for local businesses who get local backlinks. Something big brands cannot do frequently. This power will increase rankings and gives you more visibility online. The more places your name appears the better.
By leveraging the items where big business can’t compete you can gain a distinct advantage. A few tweaks to your website and growing your local presence will have a profound effect on your bottom line.
Everyone loves the underdog and by following through on these tactics you can win the day.
About the author:
Mike Tortorice is an avid writer and blogger at Infront Webworks. Mike has been in the Colorado Springs digital marketing space for over 10 years developing sound marketing strategies for thousands of clients in the process. An avid skier and hiker who loves all things digital. Mike’s passion is a result of being able to help businesses succeed in the digital landscape.