If you’re a smaller business and competing in an industry with big brands that perpetually dominate the search results, it can be tough. At times, you probably get frustrated and simply feel like you’ve been run over. No matter what you do, you feel like you can’t break through to gain the recognition you deserve.
Google has a reputation for preferring the big boys, and their brands seem to always appear at the top of the search results. It makes some sense, though. These are trusted brands that many customers as well as the search engines feel confident about.
So what can you do?
Plenty, actually. You’re not alone, and you DO stand a chance of winning some games in the big leagues. You just have to adjust your way of thinking and use the right tools. Here are a few ways that you can improve your playing strategy.
Focus on Branding
Stop spending so much time trying to research keywords and rank specifically for them. That’s always going to be a part of SEO, but we’re talking about stepping onto a much broader playing field—one whose boundaries don’t stay within the realm of SEO.
The way you convey your brand through visuals is important. It’s the first thing that registers in peoples’ minds. Before they read a single sentence, the colors and the overall feel of your logo and website have already made a statement.
Your logo should represent what you stand for. The color scheme should do the same. Your color scheme plays a big role in your branding. I’m sure you are aware that certain colors tend to evoke certain emotions. Did you know that there are also good color combinations and bad ones? Here are a few sources to help you out with that:
- Smashing Magazine’s in-depth guide to colors, what they convey, and examples of each
- Tons of color combo’s submitted by users in the ColourLover community
- The theory behind why some color combinations are just better for business, with examples
This doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition. It’s easy to find freelance designers who are very affordable. Once your designs, colors, and logo are ready to go, it’s time to bring in the copywriter. At this stage, you have to develop an original, catchy set of slogans, taglines, and other messages.
Brand Keywords & Steering Clear of Extremely Competitive Keywords
Let’s say that you run a store for dog toys. Instead of focusing all your content, titles, and keywords around “dog leashes” and “puppy chew toys,” switch to more brand-related keywords. If your store’s name is Zippy’s, for example, then use “Zippy’s dog leash sale” and the like.
Of course, you still want to include some generic keywords that people often search for; but don’t try to compete with PetCo and other big brands for the most common and obvious one- or two-word phrases. Instead, shoot for long-tail keywords. You’ll stand a much better chance at ranking for them.
Branding is about consistency and making sure that consumers think of you when they need your product or service. At the very first glance, they should recognize that an ad, a sale, or even an email is yours. Everything that you do should reflect your brand. Anything you do on social media should include it—your emails, your ads, your website. Everything.
If you’re a business that serves your local area, then you need to be concerned about and use local SEO to your advantage. If you do it right, you can generate an extensive amount of business.
Big brands might dominate most of the top search results. But in many cases, Google will place local results at the top for a lot of searches that people perform. Local, dedicated server hosting is one way to match what the big brands are doing if you want to compete for local search results. An entire book could be written around local SEO, so it would be a bit much to try to cover it all here. However, this guide to local SEO will get you geared up and ready to go.
Find Your USP & Get Creative
One of the best things you can do is to sit down and figure out what makes you different from the big boys. What do you have to offer that they don’t? That’s your unique selling point (USP), and it’s something that can set you apart and reward you with loyal customers.
Once you know what your USP is, get creative about letting people know about it. I actually found out about a company called Dollar Shave Club while reading a blog on branding here. This company nailed it, and they figured out how to let the world know! Just check out their video below:
Sure, Dollar Shave is competing with some very huge companies and brands. But they deliver what seems to be an amazing service, with a high-quality product that those big companies don’t have. They found their USP and they definitely got creative; they weren’t afraid to step outside the box. This video was uploaded merely a year ago and has received more than 9 MILLION views.
Don’t Forget Social Media
Social media can be a powerful tool for smaller businesses. It gives you the chance to do many things. You can put yourself on an almost-level playing field here: engage customers, run contests, and get attention just like anyone else.
One place in particular that will probably become a powerhouse for local businesses is Facebook Graph Search. If you aren’t active on Facebook, now is the time to start!
Image Credit: Shutterstock / iQoncept