When you're just starting out in the world of search engine optimization, the prospect of competing with giant corporations or other well known local institutions can be a daunting one. After all, they've had years to hone their craft and build their rankings to the top of Google's search engine results page, while you're starting out at the very bottom! Many small business owners may wonder about how to rank for keywords when the odds seem so stacked against them. Fear not— we're here to tell you that it is entirely possible to become a top player with time and effort!
Search marketing has seen a massive growth in popularity, and as such, it's gone from being something that a few companies grasped, to being a necessity in today's digital landscape. Even the most niche of businesses are popping up online, building out their websites, and optimizing them for the few coveted spots at the top of Google's search engine. Whatever industry you're in, you're bound to have some form of competition, and chances are, they'll have been around longer than you, and have developed more inbound links and content. The great thing about this all, however, is that SEO is no longer a contest of who has the biggest content, or the longest running website. SEO is about who has the most relevant content for the audience they're trying to reach.
1. Focus on one specific area that you are passionate about.
The blanket approach to SEO (trying to cover everything at once) will leave your content and your efforts stretched thin. For example, if you run a local hobby shop that specializes in comics, board games, figures, and card games, your instinct may be to spend an equal amount of time on all of those keywords. This will give you relevance for many keywords, but each specific one won't be as high as your established competitors.
Instead, find one particular keyword and optimize around it as much as you can. In our example, you may find that many users are searching for a specific card game: "Magic the Gathering". Your goal should be to dominate this specific niche, so that while you may not rank highly for all your keywords, you'll be the highest when it comes to users looking for this particular card game.
2. Find longtail keywords that exist in your industry
Longtail keywords are searches people make with an extended phrase or sentence, such as " how to remove carpet padding from living room". Generally, they have a much lower volume than highly popular keywords, but they're also less competitive. This makes them more valuable to you as a small business compared to a highly sought after keyword, such as "carpet removal".
There are plenty of paid services out there that can help you find longtail keywords. Otherwise, you can take advantage of Google Webmaster Tools to help you find some.
3. Know your neighborhood
In recent times, a new tactic has developed that many small businesses have started to take advantage of: focusing on being hyper local. What this means is that instead of trying to go after established keywords for your state or city, you are instead targeting on a more micro level, going after specific neighborhoods that are around you. A recent article from SearchEngineLand explains that Google has started to get better at recognizing individual neighborhoods. This is especially useful if your business is located in a larger city!
You can take advantage of this by adding your neighborhood name to title tags on your website, as well as optimizing your Google Business page and social media profiles to reflect your location.
What other techniques can a small business use for learning about how to rank for keywords? Send us a comment on Facebook or a tweet to @SeafoamMedia with your thoughts!