SEO is challenging at the best of times, but particularly so for small businesses in Ireland that have little resources at their disposal. And, in many cases, these smaller businesses are competing against recognised brands and market leaders with big advertising budgets and marketing departments with specific responsibility for search engine optimisation.
But, this doesn't necessarily mean organic SEO is an impossible task for small businesses. Big companies are often lazy in their approach to search optimisation, so there are plenty of opportunities for small players to compete with bigger brands by adopting a more intelligent, focused strategy that offsets the difference in marketing spend.
It goes without saying that the Google results pages are invariably dominated by big brands when it comes to “short-tail” SEO—general phrases with a high amount of search volume, e.g.”bedroom furniture”. There are exceptions, but this is the general rule of thumb.
So, what can Irish small businesses do to buck this trend and gain some SEO traction within Google's search results pages? The answer lies, as I said earlier, in adopting a more refined approach focused on keywords and search phrases where competition is lower. For example, when a geographical elements is introduced to the search phrase (e.g. “bedroom furniture cork”), the playing field becomes a lot more open and there is scope for smaller companies to compete aggressively with big brands for positions in the results listings.
Geo-Modified Keyword Targeting
This offers small businesses an opportunity to benefit from location-based SEO, without necessarily having to be located in that town. Provided the business can provide a service, or deliver, to the customer at that location there is no reason why this strategy couldn't be adopted across multiple geographical regions. A further benefit is that the competition for Geo-targeted search phrases is usually low and because the phrase is often searched at the purchase stage of the buying cycle, the conversion rate can be high which helps reduce your “cost per acquisition” ratio.
Let's use “bedroom furniture” as an example. On average, there are around 1,300 for that term each month in Ireland according to Google's keyword planner tool. Typically, a small business wouldn't have the budget to achieve a high page 1 ranking on Google for that term. However, when a geo-modifier such as “cork” is added to the query, the monthly search volume drops to 110. This is still a fairly healthy search volume, and a further plus is that it offers strong conversion potential (provided the website landing page is engaging & persuasive).
This particular strategy offers multiple ranking opportunities if it can be implemented at scale, by building individual, geo-targeted landing page content on the website for multiple towns, cities or geographical areas that the business can service.
Small businesses should start by optimising their web content for the geographical areas that have the highest demand for the product or service being sold (provided they can service these areas). This can be determined by using Google's Keyword Planner Tool which shows how many searches are conducted each month for specific phrases.
If the small business has physical locations that consumers can visit, it is essential that the website contains landing pages with content focused specifically on these locations. Very importantly, the page meta title & description tags should also include the town/city name immediately after the key phrase.
If you haven't done so already, another key strategy for optimising your small business for local SEO is to ensure your business is included in Google Places for Business. How to optimise your Google Places for Business listing is worthy of a post on its own, so I will be publishing some tips & advice in the very near future.