Picture of small boxer to illustrate how digital maketing helps small brands compete online

Digital marketing can be a confusing and challenging environment for the small business owner. There are only 10 (and sometimes only 7) positions on the first page of Google and when you type in search terms relevant to your business, you might find that big brands with big marketing budgets are occupying and competing for those very same spots!

What do you do? How can you possibly compete and get traffic to your website online? Then there’s social media with your competitors seemingly having an army of loyal fans where you are starting with nothing and it all seems so technical and costly so who can you trust?


First let’s tackle the issue of ranking in the search engines for relevant keywords

Very short and broad keywords you might have to forget about if you don’t have the budget of a big brand. This would be similar to “diet pills,”“lawnmowers,” or “power tools”…whatever your business, the short keywords like those will probably not be worth your time and effort

Fear not!  As the beauty of digital marketing means that even on a small business or start up budget you can still drive a considerable traffic to your businesses website and increase your sales and revenue substantially. All it takes is a different approach. Who knows, you may even turn into a big brand in your niche market!

Ok keyword strategy: Go long tail! What this means is instead of your business or marketing agency going after high competition keywords like “power tools.”  You go after low competition yet higher converting keywords like “Bosch PSR cordless drill”.  (ed. for keyword research tools, visit our SEO Resources page)


Local SEO for Small Businesses

Whether your small business is localized or has national offerings, you can benefit from location based optimization. This is also an area that doesn’t see many of the bigger businesses competing for search positions and relevant keywords.

Example: Your business might not be able to rank for “used cars” or “buy used cars” but you might be able to rank for “used cars Denver” and “buy used cars Denver”, “cheap used cars Denver” etc.

Generally potential customers using location-based searches are closer to the buying, so these keywords, although they carry lower search volume, tend to convert at a much higher rate, because of lower competition.  They are also easier, for your business, to maintain a dominant position in the Search Engine Rankings.

By going after these long tail, high converting keywords you will get similar traffic numbers to ranking for a handful of “big” keywords. Difference being your conversions should be a lot higher.

If your business actually has physical address that consumers can visit then you must at getting Google map listings to locate your business, which could prove to be a fast track to page 1 for numerous keywords, especially the local search results.  (ed. Our Salt Lake City and Denver SEO workshops cover local search optimization in depth.)


Pay Per Click For The Small Business

Another way you can get fast traffic to your small business is to pay for it using pay per click advertising. Here you can pay for your ad to appear on the first page of Google for relevant keywords.

If your budget is limited then a similar strategy will apply in the fact that you will have to bid on long tail keywords that will carry a lower cost per click and lower search volume. Bidding on very high traffic keywords, as well as being more expensive, will likely cause your budget to be spent very quickly without gaining valuable data or generating a positive ROI.  It is also a good idea to implement this to see results as your keyword optimization takes hold and your business organically moves up in the Search Engine Rankings.


Social Media For Small Businesses

Business in 2013 is social. It doesn’t matter whether you are a global corporation or a local business, you need to have a social presence. Thankfully the barrier of entry in the social world is very low. Getting a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a Google Plus account (and set up authorship – but that is for another post) is easy and does not take too much time.

With the accounts set up, you can share any content you produce through the social channels you create along with other really cool, interesting or informative things you come across, this will help to build up your ‘fan base,’ essentially online connections.  The more connections you can make through these channels the larger audience you will reach.  By sharing things that your target market is interested in, you will build a better audience and start getting the social signals the search engines look for.

 Do you have your own SEO tips that have helped you compete with larger competitors?  We’d love to hear your comments below.  Also consider signing up for our free SEO tips newsletter.

About The Author:
Scott Pittman is a digital marketing consultant for www.UpSearch.co.uk and has many years experience of planning and launching successful digital marketing campaigns for clients large and small.