The Internet is often seen as the great democratizer. Thanks to the Internet, anyone can access any information they want at any time. They can also share the information they want with ease. Businesses of all sizes make use of the same Internet to attract customers, so it’s up to small businesses to make the most of what the Internet provides.
In many ways, being a small business on the Internet creates greater opportunities than being a big-box corporation. By being innovative, creative, personable, charitable, and local small businesses can use their web presence to compete with business ten times their size.
Be innovative. Unlike with a big-box store mired in bureaucracy and procedures, small businesses can be nimble. You don’t have to course correct a cruise ship, you can raise the sail and change direction immediately. If you offer a unique product in-store you should offer as unique a user-experience online. Naperville’s Colbert Custom Framing and Art Printing has a product offering far superior to the big store cookie cutter fixes, so they made their website a showroom of what they can do for customers – just about anything.
Google’s Matt Cutts has been forthright about the fact that larger websites don’t necessarily get a higher ranking in Google search results. Websites that are small enough and smart enough to be agile and roll out new ideas that respond to the news, or the new needs of their customers can quickly climb the ranks. “It’s not the case that the smaller sites with superior content can’t outdo the larger sites. That’s how the smaller sites often become the larger sites,” Cutts said.
Being creative, and offering your clients something outside the norm helps your site standout from the competition. It can also help make it a destination for advice and information as well as purchases. Our Buddingh & Associates website functions not only as a way for current and potential clients to get a sense of what we do, but also as a host for our original content including articles and blogs.
One of the greatest assets small businesses have is the people behind them. Highlighting your dedication to the business, your personal story or your employees puts a face to your brand that no big box can match. While bigger companies may be able to offer cheaper goods, Americans trust small businesses three times more than their larger counterparts, according to a recent Gallup poll.
Small businesses are a big part of the communities in which they operate. Giving your customers a chance to give back to that community can help draw people to your site. For instance, when Gerald Subaru of Naperville participated in the national Subaru Share the Love campaign, they chose to give back to Naperville CARES, giving their customers a chance to support a local charity when they bought a new car.
Once your website is nimble, local, and personable, the next step is to help customers find your website as easily and as often as possible by creating a smart SEO strategy. Entreprenuer.com shared SEO tips for small businesses, including the importance of specificity.
If you’ve taken strides to specialize and offer your customers something different from the big box stores, like Colbert Custom Framing and Art Printing did, then you should make your search terms specialized too. Long-tail keyword searches (i.e. “how to make a three tier cake” instead of “cake recipe”) reflect more specific customer needs and are less competitive terms, meaning your site can more quickly rise through the result ranks.
Make your website as local-focused as your business by featuring content devoted to local needs and events, and highlighting local reviews. Use your community insight to offer products, specials, and information that your customer base is looking for.
Google’s Matt Cutts says he often finds small businesses “do a better job of focusing on user experience; they return something that adds more value. If it’s a research report organization, the reports are often higher-quality, more insightful, or delve deeper into issues. If it’s an analytical focus, the analysis is generally more robust. Whatever area you are in, if you’re doing it better than the other incumbents, then over time you can expect to perform better.”
If you would like assistance in updating your company's web presence, contact us at www.BuddinghAssociates.com
Jeanne M. Buddingh is founder and partner in Buddingh & Associates, Inc., an award-winning strategic marketing consulting firm in Naperville, IL. Contact her at (630) 961-4504 or visit www.BuddinghAssociates.com.