Whether you run a local store or you are an international brand, search engine optimisation (SEO) is something that you should continually invest in if you want to carry on seeing great ROI numbers from organic traffic.
There are very few businesses around the world that wouldn’t benefit from SEO. Let’s face it, if your business is online, you need to make sure that you get seen. Otherwise, it’s like having the best store in the world and hiding it down a back street where no one ever goes.
SEO is a process that takes time. It is not a one-stop-shop where you can simply do it once and expect to keep reaping the benefits. Everyone else out there is also trying to rank in the first position for keywords that drive a high volume of searches and if you stop improving your own content, you can be pretty sure someone will come along and do something better.
Whilst big brands may have the budgets to keep investing in SEO, there is nothing to stop smaller businesses from competing if they target the keywords that are most relevant to them and also the ones that the big brands ignore, probably because they don’t feel that the search volume is high enough.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimisation is the process of optimising both the content on your website and the technical aspects of your website in order to rank better on Google and other search engines like Bing or Safari.
There are two main areas to focus on: content and technology.
Technical elements include things like page speed, mobile-friendliness, schema markup, crawling, indexing, and architecture.
Content, as the name suggests, includes the content on your website, the way the content is structured, the quality of the content and the way the content links to other pages. Content can also include the content created on other websites that links to your website, however, this is more typically classified as link outreach.
What are the big brands doing?
There is a lot that every business can learn from the world’s biggest brands when it comes to SEO. Whilst you might not have the budget to do everything they are doing, many things relating to SEO come down to time and effort, not necessarily massive budgets.
Don’t try and compete in areas where they will outspend you. Big brands have more money to spend on creating elaborate content, developing their websites and integrating their operations with other departments such as social media.
If you have a small business with a small budget, this is not the space to compete.
Instead, focus on the areas they are either ignoring, or they can’t get to.
Big brands tend to be slower at implementing ideas – you don’t have to be. They often pick a path and stick to it, regardless of the outcomes whereas you can quickly pivot from one strategy to another if you think there will be bigger rewards by taking a different path.
So what should you be doing?
Focus on branding
One area where big brands win out every time is for branded search. For obvious reasons, their websites dominate the search results for queries that include their brand name and for big brands, there is a huge amount of search volume for branded queries. So much, almost, that they actually forget or don’t bother to target non-branded keywords (more of that in a minute).
Whilst you may never drive as many search queries for your own brand, that is still an area you should focus on. Make sure you dominate the search results for your own brand – both with your web pages but also supporting channels like social media platforms. If someone searches your brand on Google, then make sure you control the top five clicks at a minimum.
Over time, you will hopefully see your brand awareness grow and you will start to reap the benefits of ranking strongly for branded search queries.
Target long-tail keywords
Keyword research is a crucial aspect of any SEO strategy and one area often overlooked by big brands is the long tail. The long tail refers to search queries that typically have more than three words.
As you add more words to a search query string, the search volume tends to decrease, however, the intent usually increases significantly.
Big brands are too concerned with the “head” keywords – the one to two-word keywords that drive huge amounts of search volume. You will struggle to compete for those keywords. Big brands dominate those types of queries because, more often than not, those are the best results for Google to show the searcher.
Instead, look for the value in the long tail where you will find a bunch of keywords whose cumulative search volume may get you pretty close to those head terms that the big brands are focussing on, but with a lot less competition.
If you are a business with a local focus, target your local audience. Big brands are typically too busy chasing customers from all across a country, or even the world, to worry about each and every small market out there.
That’s a gap for you right there.
The map pack results are a great place for small businesses to compete with big brands and the map listing often appears above the traditional organic search results, helping to drive a much higher click-through rate.
Increase your presence on local directories, create content specific to your local market, and get involved in local events in order to improve your visibility in your physical community, which will, in turn, improve your visibility online.
Remember this – every big brand started out as a small business trying to succeed. There are so many great examples of brands that started with nothing and that are now some of the world’s biggest brands.
Nike is a great example. A guy with a vision started selling shoes out of his backroom and through sheer perseverance and a vision to create a better running shoe for athletes, created one of the world’s biggest and most recognizable brands.
Still, they didn’t forget their roots. They still continue to invest in SEO and other channels, particularly social media and there is a lot that can be learned from them.
Betway uses a combination of search engine optimisation, content marketing and social media in order to gain an edge in a competitive marketplace. Instead of simply providing odds on a variety of sporting events, Betway is on a mission to “provide quality betting insights” with “the most informed betting tips of any online media outlet”. This commitment to content and social media promotion has seen them grow rapidly since they were formed in 2006.
Back when they started out, they were competing with the likes of William Hill and other established and traditional bookies, however, their commitment to tactics including SEO, content marketing and social media has seen them become one of the world’s leading online casino sites.
A lot of things can be done internally, however, if you have a small amount of budget and you want to take your brand to the next level, invest in a digital marketing agency and you will start to reap the benefits.