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How Small Businesses Can Beat Big Brands in SERPs

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Melissa Fach updated
How Small Businesses Can Beat Big Brands in SERPs

We had an in-depth conversation in last week's SEMrushchat, and the information shared could help small business owners, marketers, and agencies. Our guest, Tim Capper, and our community shared recommendations on the following questions: 

There were so many useful tips and strategies shared. We tried to choose the tweets that offered a variety of insights for our readers, and you can read them below.


What are some marketing advantages that small businesses have that they may not be aware of?

"In touch with actual customers- Personal connection. Flexibility to make quick changes - both online and offline. Highly focused on product and service. Location baked into their marketing - sponsorships, local news. Local customer word of mouth." — Tim Capper

See Tim's article Local SEO Basics: What Is Local SEO?

"Local relevancy. Small, local businesses are more likely to show up for the 'near me' or 'city' type searches. And those are high-intent customers a business would want more so than someone doing a broader search." — Diana Richardson

"Location - if you get the GMB set up correct you can power into the Map pack and steal all the big companies customers locally!"— Simon Cox

"Direct engagement with prospects and customers, humanizing their brand. They also have the luxury of testing ideas and see what works / doesn't. Enterprise brands have hierarchies and red tape. Small businesses often have less obstacles. Try things!" — Patrick Delehanty

"Generally speaking, larger businesses have to work harder to relate to customers on a local level, but small businesses can take advantage of their existing connections within the community to build their business online." — Ben Austin

"They're small. Which means intimate. You can actually get to know every one of your customers and build a relationship with them that extends beyond your business." — Jake Symons


What are some advanced local search strategies you can offer small businesses?

"We have been actively managing Questions & Answers on Google My Business by submitting our own 'on brand' questions and ensuring the business owner submits the answer so we get a verified checkmark. Thanks to @GregGifford for this knowledge!" — Lily Ray

"Reviews! It’s super important to signal to Google that your business is up-to-par with the big dogs! Got happy customers? Ask them to leave a review. It takes them a couple of minutes but can massively impact your local relevance and drive more business!" — Itamar Blauer

"Small businesses, especially with physical locations, should promote and compel their customers to add pics and video for their business into Google. I do this and my content for other businesses has 2.3M views. Biz owners tell me it helps - $$$." — David Cohen

"Location-centric landing pages. Local directory site listings (sometimes radio stations, news channels, etc. have business directories). Stronger ad copy that appeals to a locale. Colloquial keywords commonly used for names of the area (ex: The Triangle, NC)." — Diana Richardson

"On-Page optimization of location. Locally focused events, sales, and promotions. Google My Business. Local reviews. Produce local content - Q&A. Local structured data markup." — Tim Capper

"Move your shop to a street with a keyword in the street name. If I open a bakery it will be in Bakers Lane. Think ahead! ;)" — Simon Cox

Additional reading:

  • Leveraging Voice Search for Local Businesses [Study]
  • 10 Local and Affordable SEO Strategies for Small Businesses
  • A Local SEO Citation You Never Knew You Had

    What keywords could you target that big brands often neglect?

    One additional tip by Tim that we thought any business or marketer could use, "Dont be afraid of in-depth guides and tech specs (depending on business). Big Brands overlook this all the time."

    "I think it's important to target things like neighborhoods and/or parts of town that are part of the local language, and not common or important or known to outsiders." — Fistbump Media

    "Big brands often neglect long-tail, customer-specific search queries — Where to buy, How, What, Near Me, Product, Service in Location. — Tim Capper

    "Sidecar: What's with people literally putting the words 'near me in their title tags? That's not how those searches work." — Ryan Jones

    "Don't be afraid to go after some of the 'bigger' topics in organic search either. SMB are at some disadvantage, but Google is ultimately looking for the best content. Invest some resources in creating it, and it will pay dividends over the long-haul." — Alexis Katherine

    "Long tail keywords based on customer problems, big brands often fail to address their audience needs and focus only on sales, small businesses can take advantage of that to be recognized by users as experts in their niche." — Carlos Castro

    "Relevant long-tail keywords that you know prospects and customers search for through your conversations had with them (or by using @semrush) - develop informational, solution based content / pages around those keywords and have logical CTAs on those pages." — Patrick Delehanty


    What are some schema markup opportunities small businesses should take advantage of?

    Need to know more about schema markup and all the options? Check out Schema.org.

    "QA: Google is picking it up SUPER quick. Bonus if you include internal links in there. They will show up in the SERPs." — Malte Landwehr

    "Local Business. Events, Sales. Questions & Answers. priceRange. aggregateRating. geoMidpoint - for SAB. hasMap." — Tim Capper

    "Event schema is HUGE! Also, leverage the power of your sameas markup." — Brian Kato

    "Reviews Schema - Reputation is very important for small businesses! Local Business Schema (organization) - Boost the amount of information readily available on the SERPs! Events Schema - Allow your events to stand out." — Ben Austin

    "Job Posting! Great way to advertise your vacancies to people in your area!" — Herd Digital

    "Reviews, Product, Sales, Events, Q&A, Price, Aggregate Rating, Hours, Image/logo, hasMap, Geo, Contact point, SameAs, Address, and #." — Bentley University


    What tools do you use to find marketing gaps that a small business could use to compete?

    "You could check out the local competition (with a tool like, I don't know, @semrush). Do simple keyword searches in any number of tools or use Google auto-suggest to find how locals are searching. Check your analytics/GSC to see KWs for which you can optimize. — ThinkSEM

    "There is definitely some good competitive analysis stuff in @SEMrush, but I do quite a bit of observing and listening on social media to see what competitors are doing (and NOT doing) when it comes to content and conversations." — Fistbump Media

    "Google Search Console queries, @semrush's topic research tool for common questions. Not a tool, but listening to your customer's questions can help a ton!" — Netvantage Marketing

    "I always use @hootsuite to keep an eye on what's going on locally, tailoring it all the time looking for opportunities. I also use #semrush social media competior tracker to see where other businesses are focusing their efforts in case I've missed something." — Kieran Ledger

    "SEMrush Keyword magic tool OR Gap Analysis! Google search."— Webeo Global

    "@semrush, @googleanalytics, @marketo, @brand24, @HubSpot, @unbounce - page analysis, @Crowdfire, @hootsuite, @MeetEdgar, @sniply, @Bitly, @CMIContent, @SMExaminer, and @socialmedia2day." — Vraj Shah


    Do You Have Any Suggestions for Small Businesses?

    If so, please share them in the comments below. We also want to thank everyone that participated in the chat. Join us each Wednesday for SEMrushchat at 11 am ET/4 pm BST.

Melissa Fach
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US Personality of the Year 2017 Winner and die-hard Star Wars fan. Herder of cats. Non-cook. Find me on Twitter @SEOaware.
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