SEO for SMEs, is it worth it?

A lot of Small Medium Enterprises down the years have all made a similar point:
“Why bother trying to optimise our site for Google search when we have a lot of big players in our sector with lots of resources taking all the top positions?”

This is a good point and worth exploring. With large major companies with marketing resources and deep pockets sharing the top spots on search engines along with the usual third-party suspects (Amazon, Wikipedia, job boards and the like), SEO can feel like one uphill struggle too many. But should you just give up or are there advantages to having a structured SEO strategy for your SME?

5 Good reasons for an SME to work on their SEO

First things first

SMEs come in many shapes and sizes. Selling locally, regionally, nationally or internationally brings different SEO challenges. Ditto physical or virtual products and products, services or both, level of expertise and business type. With that in mind the following 5 reasons are about why you should have a solid SEO strategy rather than specific things to do. We can cover that in later posts.

1. Search engine ranking is ultimately measuring how good your page is for people not for search engines.

A search engine continuously measures your pages to see if it is good enough to recommend to their customers (the searcher). It creates hundreds of checks to determine this. THEREFORE if you want all your potential customers to have a good experience, regardless of how they got there, you should be implementing many of the SEO guidelines and Best Practices.

2. An SEO strategy focuses you on what is important

During one SEO detailed analyses I did for an SME in Bicester they were “surprised” (not the word they used) by the variety of keywords they had an association with. Unfortunately their core business keywords and messages were completely lost in the jumble of so many unrelated key phrases. Another client in Thame were horrified to discover Google only picked up on a small sideline offshoot to their business and ignored the main part mainly due to the page content for the offshoot being written and optimised by a different marketing company.

Getting to grips with what keyword phrases are important to the business and how likely you are of being associated with them is an absolute must for all the marketing and brand* messages throughout. It focuses all your efforts and cuts out the need for going down blind alleys. If a key phrase is too difficult to ever own then you need to focus on ones that are.

*Every business of every size has and needs a brand. That’s for a different article.

3. Discovering opportunities you didn’t know existed

When we give our clients the “1000+ backlink prospects” list (apologies for the plug) which gives you potential websites for you to link back from, you will see some hidden gems. These are sites where potential customers who are looking for YOUR products and services are. A recent client from Oxford was interested when we showed them their competitor featuring in a few small but often relevant forums, helpfully answering questions and providing links back. These small forums added up to 1000s of users.

Getting to grips with your SEO reveals lots and lots of opportunities you never knew existed and with the bonus of search engines like Google gradually seeing your authority shine through on these sites gives you a warm glow of positiveness that all search engines are looking for. Bigger companies are usually not as welcome as you will be. It is a great way to move up the rankings.

4. Potential clients will find you

People looking for you but don’t know who you are is  common. There are also very hot leads as they are a type of referral.

“We used the flooring company in Kidlington”. (Location emphasis)

“I got it online from a firm who do extra large frames”. (USP emphasis)

“I spoke to a really nice chap called Steve”. (Personnel emphasis)

“Actually they have a local showroom” (location + USP emphasis)

“They are open on Sunday” (Time and USP emphasis)

All these are clues to find you and having your SEO strategy where you have recognised what is being searched for and backing it up with all the other signs great SEO requires, is an absolute must.

5. Not everyone wants to do business with the “big boys”

Plenty of people don’t want to do business with the all powerful big companies who dominate your sector. You therefore need to be the number 1 SME.
You need to have a solid SEO strategy that gives you ownership of those keywords and phrases people are using for this scenario and where the big ones don’t go.

This article is more general than specific but to illustrate this point  “local”, “independent”, “family run” , “community” “locally sourced”, “supporting the local economy” and hundreds of other phrases are being searched for semantically and may apply to you.

In conclusion

I would suggest that most sectors have the same “big business hoovering up the top positions” challenges. That’s the way it is. It is the same as a large coffee chain moving 2 doors down from your family run coffee shop. Initially you have no choice but to use paid ads or focus on different platforms such as Social where appropriate.

What we mustn’t do, us included, is to throw the towel in. If somebody compares one of the nationals with a local or a major online seller with a small independent retailer or whatever your scenario is, make sure everything is focussed towards what you are good at and not be a poor substitute to what the big companies offer.

SEO for SMEs is for me all about being both the best of the alternatives to the big ones but also finding those phrases and angles that make you beat them because they can’t go there.