As optimistic as we may be when it comes to making an impact on rankings, it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight. Writing one blog post on Wednesday and checking the SERPs throughout Thursday might just be a source of frustration when you don’t notice an instant improvement.
One of the aspects of SEO that many people don’t understand is that you’re playing a long game. As a small business just looking for any kind of footing in the rankings, it can be demotivational to see how your hard work doesn’t seem to be instantly paying off, especially when it comes to trying to knock the likes of Amazon and eBay off of their perches.
There’s no denying it: search rankings are more difficult to crack than ever with the big boys seemingly running a monopoly on the top spots. Their popularity and age is a big contributor to their successes, but it’s worth bearing in mind that they weren’t always as dominating. Every business has to start somewhere, including yours.
So, if you’re looking to take on the big guys of the SERPs and beat them at their own game, here are six ways to help you do just that.
- Optimise your website to almost perfection
Okay, so maybe optimising your website to the perfection that Google and its ilk craves can be a bit of a daunting task, but it’s absolutely essential if you’re going to want to get anywhere. Websites like Amazon and eBay have mammoth teams of SEO professionals ready to fix anything that comes their way which seems like they might have a big advantage. However, due to the scope of their websites, there’s no doubting that there are a few areas where their SEO falls down. Plug any gaps in your SEO as soon as you can.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that being too optimised can be an issue for your website. if your product and about pages are littered with targeted keywords and too little in the way of worthwhile content, it isn’t likely to rank well in the help-driven world of modern search engines.
- Compare your products and pages
As mentioned, the big guys have a lot of resources behind them to help with SEO, but it’s a tall order for them to ensure every single product page and resource is fully-optimised. When it comes to a particular niche, they might have prioritised elsewhere and hoped that their name would be enough to carry them through the SERPs.
Here’s where you come in.
Find a similar product on the big domains to one that you sell and analyse the accompanying page. Is it lacking quality copy? Are the images missing alt text? Have they omitted valuable details? Capitalise on their oversight by making your competing page a much more attractive prospect to search engines.
- Produce valuable content and market it properly
Do you think that the product you offer is superior to an alternative that one of the big domains are offering? Prove it by marketing it to the extent that it deserves with quality, authoritative content on a regular basis.
As well as writing blogs to announce that it is available, there are many to use content marketing to help you out in the SERPs. Write a comprehensive user guide, compare it to other similar products in a positive way and even put together a video demonstrating how to use it. Once your campaign is sorted, distribute it across social platforms and your email contacts.
Your competitors will be putting too many eggs into different baskets, giving you the perfect opportunity to capitalise on what they might have missed.
- Find keywords that they might have missed
The big guys don’t have time to target every single keyword related to their products and services, which is where you’re at an advantage. Sure, Maplin might have a tight grip on ‘batteries’ in the SERPs, but are they hitting the related keywords?
Use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner to find out if there are any that might have passed them by – long-tail keywords can be a great source of wins in the SERPs as more and more people search for specific results. Find the gaps in their keyword strategies and take full advantage of their missed opportunities.
- Build a community
Everyone likes an underdog. Show that you’re a friendly, approachable business to visitors by providing incentives for them to return. Whether you open a forum for them to discuss their purchases or run competitions to reward regular customers, there are plenty of ways to retain interest and show search engines that you’re a valuable resource.
Setting up forums is quite straightforward; your CMS probably has an available plugin that can sort out most of the heavy lifting. Running competitions really comes down to the constraints of your budget, but it doesn’t necessarily have to involve any money at all. Spotlight some of the best reviews from your customers and make them feel really appreciated, increasing the chances of web mentions and shares for your domain.
- Utilise social media
Google have outright denied that social media likes and shares have an impact on search results. That doesn’t mean you should forget about building a social media audience as popularity can result in indirect wins for you and your audience.
The more people share and comment on your posts on Facebook, retweet your tweets or pin your infographics on Pinterest, the likelier it is that you will garner web mentions and backlinks. Social media is seen as free PR by many companies and, as long as you utilise it correctly, it could be valuable for you too.
Small businesses like Arena Flowers use sardonic humour to reach a huge audience and drive sales. Although this might not be applicable to you and your niche, providing a friendly and fun outlet for your customers to find you on isn’t something to be neglected.
In many instances, running social media advertising campaigns can be cheaper and more effective than something like Google AdWords, which itself doesn’t impact organic rankings according to Google themselves. Run a small Facebook campaign to find out if you see some results and drive some sales before launching into a huge AdWords campaign.