“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”
If you are determined to create a killer search-engine-optimization strategy, take Mark Twain’s quote to heart. With the proper strategy and execution, your company has the potential to compete with a billion-dollar business on Google’s search engine and ultimately prevail as the underdog.
Herb Brooks was the coach behind the bench in one of the greatest upsets in sports history when the U.S. Olympic Hockey team defeated the Soviet Union in the 1980 Lake Placid Olympic Games. Brooks was famously quoted saying, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
Even if the opposing team has hundreds of thousands of dollars allocated to their marketing budget, that doesn’t mean much if they aren’t looking at the most effective way to enhance their search engine optimization. This is your opportunity to utilize a clever SEO strategy to upset your competition on Google.
Follow these SEO tips to get the jump on your competition with a more frugal and effective strategy.
Establish Credibility and Grow Your Brand
For a second, let’s envision that you own Tony’s Tacos in Tulsa, and your restaurant has just opened its doors. You claim to have the greatest tacos west of the Mississippi, but if people don’t start devouring your crisp-fried corn tortillas with seasoned ground beef, you’re not going to be in business long.
Luckily, Tony has a lot of friends in the downtown area who are eager to check out his restaurant. His buddies loved the Mexican food and the restaurant’s vibe, and they’ve started telling all of their friends about this cool new spot.
Tony is happy with the referral traffic from friends, but the ambitious chef and entrepreneur wants more. He calls The Tulsa World, the local newspaper, and gives a compelling pitch to the food editor, who does a terrific write-up on Tony’s Tacos.
The great review brings people from all over the Tulsa metropolitan area to visit Tony’s. Business is booming, but he wants more (and who could blame him).
Tony decides to convert all of his customers to brand advocates. Tony asks all of his regulars to leave reviews on Yelp and Google and post pictures of their dishes onto Instagram. This results in a crazy social media buzz for Tony’s, which brings in more business, and even gets food bloggers from all over Oklahoma to come check out his restaurant and write reviews for him.
Within five years, Tony’s Tacos is not only a hot food destination for Tulsa residents, but people from all over the country who are passing through Oklahoma are willing to wait for hours to eat at Tony’s.
How Google Views Your Business
The aforementioned example of Tony’s business evolution is exactly how Google will view your website. The search-engine behemoth wants to see a natural progression of web traffic, reviews, social shares, local press, brand mentions and compelling content – and that’s just to name a few of the ranking signals that Google will use to gauge your business.
If you just bought your domain in the summer and expect to rank as the top Google result by winter, this isn’t a very realistic goal, especially if you are targeting competitive keywords. You need to invest in your marketing efforts for the long haul to be able to get in the ring with billion-dollar companies.
Moz, the amazing SEO software, has a tool called Domain Authority, which provides their best estimate of how well a domain will perform in search results.
Google, for instance, has a domain authority of 100. The Huffington Post has a domain authority of 98. This tool is so fantastic because you can use it to scout out the competition and see how close your domain score is to your fiercest competitors.
Often, billion-dollar businesses put so little focus on their inbound marketing efforts, and they surprisingly have relatively low domain authorities. This is the perfect opportunity for your small business to surpass the competition with concentrated SEO efforts.
How to Compete with Goliath
Alorica Inc. is a call-center company with more than 73 locations worldwide. Over the past few years, Alorica has grown to over 48,000 employees with annual revenue of $1.2 billion.
Yet their domain authority is ranked at a 45. To put this into perspective, a local T-shirt company in Columbus, Ohio, Homage, has a domain authority of 51.
Granted, Homage and Alcoria are in completely different industries, so we can’t make a direct comparison between the two companies. However, a red flag for Alcoria is that the massive call-center company does not even rank on the first page of Google for the search term, “Call Center and Contact Management,” which is one of its primary services!
In contrast, Homage has taken a grassroots approach to growing its brand since 2007, by implementing a very similar strategy to the one that we alluded to earlier with Tony’s Tacos. They now rank in the top position on Google for “vintage t-shirts.”
If Tony’s Tacos in Tulsa is working on inbound marketing efforts to grow its brand, this small restaurant has the potential to bring in national buzz from food bloggers, magazines and websites. Over time, Tony’s Tacos website is gaining more credibility on Google’s search engine, and soon enough, this small taco shop can build up to a more powerful website than that of a billion dollar company.
Constantly Work on Growing Your Brand
Your company can outsmart the competition by dedicating just a few hours per week to growing your brand. There’s no absolute amount of time needed to devote to your SEO strategy. The most important piece of the puzzle is actually to invest time and effort into enhancing your website, growing your brand and improving your marketing efforts. Many large businesses neglect to spend the extra resources on solidifying their SEO strategy, and as a result, their smaller competitors can surpass them on Google’s search results.
As a general recommendation, for a small business you want to consider devoting anywhere between 7 to 10 hours a week to building your search-engine strategy and goals. As we mentioned earlier, it can take a while to see the payoff of a good SEO plan, so it’s vital to keep growing your brand in the meantime.
If you can devote more time and effort than the big-dog competitors, your website can surpass Goliath, regardless of your budget. On Moz, you can use Open Site Explorer, to discover links pointing back to your site along with your competitors. You can compare practically every metric of your URL to see how it stacks up versus the competition.
Let’s say Tony’s Tacos wanted to rank well for the search query “Tacos in Tulsa” but his competitor, Harry’s Hard Shells, dominates the market. Tony could conduct research to determine his domain authority against Harry’s. He could then formulate a digital strategy and conduct an on-site audit to see where SEO opportunities exist.
There are plenty of creative opportunities to surpass your larger competitors. You just need to dedicate the proper time and focus into your on-site and off-site strategy. This is where the hard work, proper game plan and flawless execution will pay dividends for your site.
Gianluca Fiorelli, an author for Moz, points out that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of ranking factors that Google takes into consideration.
To think that some solid PR in the local newspaper will make your website more powerful than a billion-dollar company is unrealistic.
The founder of Moz, Rand Fishkin says, “The best way to sell something: don’t sell anything. Earn the awareness, respect, and turst of those who might buy.”
The bottom line is that your small business really can compete with a billion-dollar brand once you continue establishing your credibility. Constantly working on your inbound marketing efforts raises brand awareness, which will earn respect and trust of your potential customers.