With search engine optimization, small businesses have two advantages larger competitors often can’t match: creativity and agility.
By embracing these two philosophies as part of their digital marketing DNA, small businesses can carve out a search marketing strategy that runs circles around larger competitors.
Today, we’ll briefly explore why creativity and agility are advantages small businesses have for search marketing, and some quick tips to activate each.
Creativity as a search marketing advantage
Large = more risk management – Small = creativity/individuality can shine
Larger corporations are naturally risk-averse. Most won’t create blogs that take sides on issues, create controversy or linkbait, push the envelope with snarky ideas or allow shining examples of individuality. Which is why individuals and smaller companies have a continued advantage: there are far less stakeholders so it’s easier to sell creative, controversial or compelling ideas. The more creative your content is, the more editorially earned, organic links you’ll attract from the web community that content builds.
Tips to activate for SEO benefit:
Develop creative linkbait – small, creative groups have the perfect environment to brainstorm linkbait. Where larger companies will mostly follow proven archetypes, a small business can break the mold with clever, catchy and outside the box linkbait ideas. It’s an opportunity to create the kind of linkbait social web influencers are looking for but larger competitors do not understand. By embracing this it’s possible to outpace those who can only engage in manual/mechanical linkbuilding efforts because the content they are working with is dry.
Create controversy – success in small businesses comes from dedicated team members passionate about their industry of choice. Due to this passion, they will naturally have strong feelings about the industry they are in. Why not turn that passion loose on the web to attract others who feel the same? It’s going to be more authentic, let you leverage an angle larger competitors can’t or won’t use, and more closely connect with an audience. Even those who disagree with you play into this strategy, because as they respond to you in droves, they bring an influx of links and referral traffic. Individuals in your niche are dominating the SERPs by leveraging this approach and it’s an opportunity if your small business can artfully direct controversy.
Leverage a creative CMS – where large competitors are stuck using SEO-unfriendly CMS platforms, your small business can take advantage of cheap/free SEO-friendly online publishing tools like WordPress. Creative web developers can turn WordPress into an entire CMS to power your site at an extremely reasonable cost. If you need something more powerful, a CMS like Expression Engine is both affordable and natively search engine friendly. Small businesses have a choice where larger companies frequently get locked into complex systems or dated technologies.
Agility as a search marketing advantage
Larger = slower moving – Small = the advantage of speed and agility
Agility isn’t just a factor for influencing the social web. It’s an effective way for a small businesses to create an SEO strategy disruptive to competitors. Because larger corporations naturally have complex layers of approval processes, lawyers and committees, smaller businesses have an opportunity to exploit this by being first. Many small businesses try to act like large corporations, however this is not embracing the advantage possible by being able to turn on a dime.
Tips to activate for SEO benefit:
Flip your mindset about web content from formal to improvisational – particularly with content published through a social channel such as a blog. According to the recent TopRank Marketing survey on blogging and SEO 94% of bloggers reported seeing measurable SEO benefits from blogging within 12 months. A majority see benefit, since more content equals more hooks in the water for search engines. Data from Hitwise showing search phrases are getting longer reinforces this, showing you should feed the tail now more than ever. By having an agile content development process, smaller companies can and do outpace larger competitors who have more resources, but can’t get out of their own way.
Embrace personal brands – when a company embraces their team members having personal brands, this will as a by-product provide a search marketing advantage. For example: in interviews, on their own blogs and through their own exposure, a company and the individual both benefit since both parties frequently get mentioned/linked together. It’s a win-win situation. Where larger corporations use their many partners as an advantage for links, small businesses can encourage and embrace their passionate, trusted team members to develop personal brands in their industry.
Break news – as we’ve noted previously in social media marketing applications (and also discussed by Brian Clark at Copyblogger): every company is now a media company. By breaking news right along with media, you’re going to attract links and referral traffic. Instead of relying on external entities for attention, your company will start to become a trusted source as its own brand of media. To embrace this in a way that matters, agility is essential.
The more small businesses take advantage of their ability to be more creative and agile than larger competitors, the more their online content marketing and SEO programs will succeed.
What other advantages do you think small businesses have for search marketing?