Yes, Small Businesses Can Kick SEO Butt!


Bob Bly, copywriting guru, asks if small businesses can really compete in SEO. He says:

A bigger company can afford to dedicate one or more employees full-time to each of these major tasks. For instance, I know a company with a full-time staff person who does nothing but seek incoming links, one of the steps in SEO.

And my answer is, “Hell yes, small businesses can compete!”

Scads of small businesses give up on SEO because they figure that the big boys dominate the landscape. And in some cases, it’s true.

For instance, some publishers and large brands have, as Bob mentioned, large teams that measure their SEO results down to the penny. They know what works, when it works, and have a rocking in-house or outsourced staff that makes it happen.

However, many, many companies — and again, I’m talking big brands here — are totally messed up. Even with an in-house team, they have a poor site design, dismal copy and they ignore SEO’s “low hanging foundational fruit.” Instead of getting all their pages in Google’s index, they argue about the latest site design or technical tweak. They don’t do SEO as much as they talk about it.

That leaves lots of room for their small-business competitors.

But here’s the deal: If you are a small business and want to compete in the SEO space, you have to take responsibility. You can’t figure that the “economy is bad,” or “you’ll get to it later,” or “maybe you can trade with a SEO company someday.” Just like with any other marketing play, you have to take priority and make it happen.

Here are some ideas:

If it’s totally overwhelming, outsource it. Yes, this costs money. And yes, you may not have money to spare. But think about how much it’s costing you to not have a SEO campaign in place. Many of the top experts have small-business rates, and there are other SEOs that focus exclusively on small business. This is a good solution for businesses who want faster results and everything done correctly the first time.

Hire an expert for training and strategy. This can be a smart move for companies that have a hard time learning from books (or can’t translate what they read to their own site.) The expert would strategize a master SEO plan, plus teach you the basics as they apply to your site. The nice thing about this solution is, after the training, the owners/principals of the company know what SEO tasks to do and when to do them — and can train other folks to take over some responsibilities.

Read everything you can about search. This is probably the clunkiest option. There is a lot of misleading information on forums that is still promoted as “fact.” Additionally, what works for one site may not work for your site, so it’s smart to take all advice with a grain of salt. However, there are some good resources out there for the do-it-yourselfer.

Find a niche. This is where thinking out of the box can be incredibly profitable. What do you offer that’s decidedly different? How can you compete with less competitive — yet incredibly targeted — keyphrases? Yes, you may need to hire someone to help you ponder your profitable opportunities. However, the right keyword niche can help you dominate in markets where your larger counterparts can’t (or won’t) compete.

So, small businesses — don’t get discouraged. Get excited. Sure, you can’t beat big business all the time. But you can take a bite out of their market share and send it your way. There’s always something a small business can do, even with a tight schedule or a tighter budget. Stop the excuses and start your SEO process. As a friend of mine likes to say, “Get ‘er done.” And start (finally) seeing some SEO success.

3 replies
  1. Chris Auman says:

    This post is right on the money. I’ve frequently quoted my fee structure to a client and had them scoff at the costs. Then I tell them their options. Pay me to teach you, do it yourself and risk losing revenue, Let me do some and you can contribute, etc.

    Where there’s a will, there’s a way and there really is no reason why a small player can’t compete at some level with the big boys.

    Heck, I run a blog about SEO (very competitive category FYI) and I frequently find myself ranking for competitive key words and long tail phrases. I may not be first for SEO consultant or SEO book but I’m on the radar all over the place and growing all the time. The same thing holds true for any business that wants to use SEO to drive traffic.

    Based on your budget there’s a way to utilize SEO and use your investment of time and/or money to grow your business.

  2. Heather says:

    Thanks, Chris. I think it’s easy for small businesses to feel a sort of learned helplessness around SEO – they don’t have the budget, so they don’t try. The reality is that even spending a little bit of time can net really great rewards – especially with a smart strategy.

  3. Louis S says:

    DIY SEO can definitely go a long way towards benefiting a page, but as you said it can get at times get quite overwhelming, especially if you are just running the business as an individual before growing it into a team. Either way, great advice and thanks for the share :)


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