TopRank Marketing Editor

Two Biggest Advantages of Small Businesses SEO

TopRank Marketing Editor     Business of SEO, Link Building, Online Marketing, SEO

agility-creativity-search-marketingWith 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?

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Comments

  1. I would add community to the list as #3. Social media and local SEO is about knowing and engaging the people within your community. Smaller businesses that are involved and have influencial leaders, move well withing their communities.

    It's kinda like guerilla warfare… You've got these huge companies trying to use massive weapons, but you can't hit all the guerilla teams that are hanging out in the caves and mountains. So, the more smaller business unite and move in their areas the less effective larger companies are going to be at delivering messages that relate to and target the locals.

    • The guerrilla warfare analogy is great. And I definitely agree – a community is an incredibly valuable asset for small businesses to nurture. Companies who have communities will outpace those in organic links, mentions and PR than those who are only engaged in push and manual tactics.

  2. You advise “to create controversy”, that is risky business from my experience. I understand the advantages of being different with strong ideas, but that brings in strong reactions which are not easy to cope with. It requires qualified people to reply with measure, and that takes time also. Most often, I’m blogging with the rule of avoiding to hurt anyone’s feeling.

    • Creating controversy is a potential path to gain awareness, links and attention and so as strategists we shouldn't rule it out altogether. It's certainly not for everyone but in cases it's applied intelligently and with purpose, it can be effective.

      • Creating controvery is a gamble. Hence, the bigger companies stand to lose more. Its like the onside kick, it doesn't always work, …but it sure help the Saints last night!

        Know your risk level.

  3. dmattcarter says:

    Curious about leveraging personal brands.

    In a very small company it can certainly provide the jumpstart of instant credibility (leveraging those with an identity to introduce those without an identity (new small biz)) but, at what point, size, stage of business maturity do you begin to see diminishing returns?

    At a certain point, that will begin hindering the company's ability to create a clear and focused and singular position for its audience, i.e. the Recent Forrester Personal Blog Smackdown.

    • I think an interesting example, although not a small business example, would be Scott Monty from Ford. He maintains his social media blog but there's no question of his focus. While building the brand of Ford as s social media savvy company he's building his own.

      For a small company, there does need to be strong vision and leadership to inspire (not dictate) personal branding and it's relationship with company representation. There needs to be a mutual understanding and values of public communications. A clear vision is what facilitates the singular position (if that's even reasonable) when multiple people are publishing and in a position of influence.

      • dmattcarter says:

        Scott Monty is a great example. You're right to take issue with “singular” position. Good leadership and a clear vision can often keep everyone rowing in the right direction.

        And slightly different perspectives voicing a common idea can often add “dimension” to otherwise flat corporate communication. Good point!

  4. Hmmm, some interesting perspectives in this one. I like creating controversy and improvisational content. I sort of do that by default, it's nice to look at it as a possible advantage!

  5. Megan Cunningham says:

    Brilliant post. I could some it up by “Don't be afraid to take risks…esp those that others can't; it's the only way to leverage the position you're in.”

    Nicely done, sir!

  6. Megan Cunningham says:

    Brilliant post. I could some it up by “Don't be afraid to take risks…esp those that others can't; it's the only way to leverage the position you're in.”

    Nicely done, sir!

  7. Small businesses would appear to have more flexibility to create targeted landing pages. I'd also suspect smaller companies have room for testing various elements of their sites as well as various techniques for blogging.

    These ideas are nothing large businesses can't take advantage of. Large businesses just seem to have more artificial barriers.

    But as the large companies work to break barriers, small businesses have a golden opportunity.

    Another advantage is the ability to connect with bloggers in your niche. Actively reach out to them with valuable offers and form relationships.

  8. “Two Biggest Advantages of Small Businesses SEO” I enjoyed reading this post. It really put a new spin the SEO topic. I think creativity and originality both should be exercised more in marketing overall by large and small companies. Some of the companies that do utilize social media for marketing have done a great job with their presence in places like twitter and facebook. I find the effort they put into the sites and actually maintaining the site's communication with their consumers/clients, etc. very favorable because it makes me more likely to stay as a customer.

  9. There are some really interesting points mentioned. It seems small businesses definitely have more flexibility, as they can try things out that larger companies would not.

  10. aryaschellemberg says:

    I loved your article and found it extremely interesting!!!!As a matter of fact, I work at a new SEO Company and I agree with your ideas and your tips are quite useful!!! Although, rumors have it that the excess of blogs in the web make it more difficult for companies to promote themselves since readers are more reluctant to dedicating much time to a blog that they fancy extremely similar to other 20. But I disagree with that…
    And since your article concerns the SEO marketing, maybe you'll find our tool an interesting, helpful one. Our aim with Sortfix is to help users get more accurate answers, faster, and make the search process a more efficient and enjoyable one.
    You’re more than welcome to check out our webpage http://www.sortfix.com and tell me what you think about it. We are always happy to get some feedback! Thank you very much and keep writing!!! I really enjoyed your article!

  11. One of the most advantageous aspects of social media marketing is: it makes it easier for the businesses to establish a direct contact with their customers. Because it is cheaper, the small businesses with limited advertising budget can gain an exposure as big as their stronger rivals. Social media optimization helps in brand building in a way that no other internet marketing techniques can. It proves to be more effective than other online marketing methods simply because it works within the periphery of a closeer group and can penetrates at a personal level. As a result, it becomes easier for it to evoke trust and reliability for a brand.

  12. Really great points! Definitely passing this article along…

  13. This is a great post and very true, as a multiple small business owner I feel one of the biggest advantages that we have is the ability to act much faster then our out of state larger “franchise” or corporations. I have actually had larger company owners tell me that they can't touch what we do in targeting search.

  14. Interesting ideas here; however, in my experience teaching online marketing to small business owners, they simply don't have the time, people, knowledge or resources to commit to SEO and/or other demonstrated and successful techniques used by big box retailers. Sure, they can be nimble, but it's more likely that innovation will be offline rather than on.

  15. Small business
    Small Business owners are largely forgotten. Thats why I only focus on them. I have experience several members of my family file bankruptcy due to small business failures. I also I suffered through 2 destroyed businesses due to failure however, in my failings I have learned some of the secrets to success. (Who can say they know it all?)
    What I like about small business owners is that they are not afraid to take huge risks and lay it all on the line. But, I agree they do need a lot of help with their marketing. I think having them go the social media and email route is not only the least expensive but its also the most effective. Thanks for the stats!
    http://www.onlineuniversalwork.com

  16. good post! i like the part about “Flip your mindset about web content from formal to improvisational”. this is an example of that http://www.aceaffiliates.com

  17. Small business

    1) Often we forget the little guy, the SMB, in our discussions of the comings and goings of the Internet marketing industry. Sure there are times like this when a report surfaces talking about their issues and concerns but, for the most part, we like to talk about big brands and how they do the Internet marketing thing well or not so well……..

    http://www.onlineuniversalwork.com

  18. Small business

    2) The Center for Media Research has released a study by Vertical Response that shows just where many of these ‘Main Street’ players are going with their online dollars. The big winners: e-mail and social media. With only 3.8% of small business folks NOT planning on using e-mail marketing and with social media carrying the perception of being free (which they so rudely discover it is far from free) this should make some in the banner and search crowd a little wary……….

    http://www.onlineuniversalwork.com

  19. That's so true! Often it's the case that SEO and creativity are looked as two opposing forces. However, your emphasis on blog authorship demonstrates that there are these creative approaches to boosting SEO that provide an advantage for small agencies.

  20. Small business

    1) Often we forget the little guy, the SMB, in our discussions of the comings and goings of the Internet marketing industry. Sure there are times like this when a report surfaces talking about their issues and concerns but, for the most part, we like to talk about big brands and how they do the Internet marketing thing well or not so well……..

    http://www.onlineuniversalwork.com

  21. Small business
    4) Small Business owners are largely forgotten. Thats why I only focus on them. I have experience several members of my family file bankruptcy due to small business failures. I also I suffered through 2 destroyed businesses due to failure however, in my failings I have learned some of the secrets to success. (Who can say they know it all?)
    What I like about small business owners is that they are not afraid to take huge risks and lay it all on the line. But, I agree they do need a lot of help with their marketing. I think having them go the social media and email route is not only the least expensive but its also the most effective. Thanks for the stats!
    http://www.onlineuniversalwork.com

  22. Great post. Some of the larger firms have had so much success with the way they've always done business that they really don't need to change. Their best strategic move is to continue business as usual and that is a great opportunity for smaller firms.

    We've recently been getting calls from the larger firms because they can accomplish so much more by taking advantage of our skills and talent without having to create a new division. Everyone wins.

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