SEO: The secret weapon to competing online

When searching for solutions that you offer, your potential clients will most likely begin by using a search engine. Will they be able to find you?

This blog is second in a series, a continuation of How Businesses Can Effectively Compete on the Web, that will take you in-depth into the strategies and tactics that give businesses a competitive edge. In the first blog, we took a 30,000-foot view at areas that create the most opportunity. Now, let’s dive into one of the most powerful drivers of the digital business world, SEO.

It seems as if every business, big or small and regardless of industry, has a website. Of the millions of business sites on the web, everybody is competing for only a handful of positions at the top of search-engine results pages.

Luckily, search rankings are not determined on sheer volume of content or how long a website has existed. Google has a complicated algorithm to determine which sites are featured at the top of the listings pages based on quality of content, relevance to the user’s search and many other factors.

Companies of all sizes are finding innovative ways to be rise through the rankings by creating content that is helpful, provides value and connects with customers.

Knowing a few simple SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategies can give you a competitive edge over other businesses in your market and industry.

Have a keyword strategy

Understanding the language your customers use to search for your product or services is a necessity when developing an SEO strategy. While it may be hard to compete with other companies who are more established online by using the most common keywords like “Cincinnati plumber” or “flower shop,” many emerging companies focus on their niche strengths to capture a smaller, but more accurate group of consumers. Consider secondary or long-tail keywords that your customers may be using. “Flower shops that deliver in NYC” or “24-hour emergency plumbing services.”

You may sacrifice some ranking potential with the most popular keywords, but you’ll increase your ranking potential with less popular keywords.

Optimizing for long-tail keywords has become easier. Start your research for the best long-tail keywords using Google’s Search Console, formerly known as Webmaster Tools. Blogging is also a way of naturally incorporating long-tail keywords into your website’s copy.

Go local

Focusing on your local audience helps you resonate with your audience and become more relevant. With so much information available to consumers on the web, presenting your services or products locally puts your company in context of your customers’ lives.

Even if your business operates on a national (or international) level, you can still win over your competition in at least one key region by optimizing for a specific city or region.

Promote local events and post excellent content featuring local keywords. Building local reviews on directory and aggregation sites such as Yelp or TripAdvisor, have become essential for SEO. With Google’s Panda algorithm update last summer, Yelp and similar sites continue to receive a priority in rankings. Businesses with positive reviews rank higher than similar sites with few or negative reviews.

Build relationships

Small companies have a clear advantage when it comes to personalizing content and engagement because they have smaller audiences. Having fewer employees and a smaller reach can actually be beneficial because you have the advantage of giving followers a more personal experience.

A small but engaged audience will always be better for business. It’s easier to respond to questions and concerns, it’s possible to target direct messages to the needs of each follower, and customers are more likely to see you as a human being, rather than a corporate bot.

If you were hoping for an SEO shortcut to shoot to the top of search pages, we can’t promise you’ll find it. The truth is, the market is constantly growing and competition is more intense than ever before. But with a strategy that consistently incorporates local content, great service and targeted engagement you can build a strong web presence and beat your competitors in specific key areas.

For more information on how your business can compete in your local area and in your industry, get in touch with our media experts to schedule a consultation.

 Galen KashtockBy Galen Kashtock

I lead sales support strategy and execution. Our team is hands-on from start to finish with the sales process, ensuring that we build and execute wildly successful media strategies for our clients.