SEO LevelsOne of the biggest positives of SEO is it gives small businesses the opportunity to compete with larger businesses in terms of search engine rankings. It will often be the case that a specific keyword phrase that a small business has optimized for, will have been forgotten by a giant within that industry, and the smaller one appears higher in the ranking for that search.

One of the biggest levellers is no matter how small your budget is you can still optimise your website because SEO is very cost effective. Naturally, the big players will have huge marketing budgets, but the vast majority of that budget will be in relation to paid advertising, both offline and on.

When it comes to SEO, the majority of the tasks that need to be undertaken can be learned for little or no cost, and the actions thereafter require very little in the way of a budget. You might hire someone to write content or to do some research in terms back-linking opportunities, but you could just as easily do these yourself. The cost now is your time instead of money, but for many small business owners, this is the way it must be done until their revenue reaches a certain level.

The opportunities that SEO offers for smaller local businesses is huge, and this has increased greatly, due to some of the changes Google has made to its ranking algorithms. Its Hummingbird update gave local businesses a ranking boost if they had certain factors optimized on their website such as name, address and telephone numbers. Being listed in local directories is also seen by Google as a positive.

A large, nationwide business is likely to target mostly broad, generic keywords and generally not concern themselves with the location of the person searching. By targeting and optimising for keywords which also include local cities, towns, districts and boroughs, small businesses who only wish to target local customers will often outrank these huge household names.

Take the example of a small gardening centre in Amarillo, Texas. That garden centre has little or no chance of competing with the likes of Home Depot, or Pike Nurseries, for the search term ‘garden centre’. However, were it to focus on optimizing for terms like ‘gardening centre amarillo, ‘best garden centre in amarillo’, it has every chance of getting to the first page.

Admittedly these two terms will have a fraction of the search volume that the more generic one has but consider this. With the generic term ‘garden centre’ a small business website could be languishing way down on page 10 of the results.

Even though that term might get over 130,000 searches a month, the chances of getting any clicks on page 10 are virtually nil. In fact, even if they were to get to page 2 the amount of traffic they’d get is minimal. This is why getting to page 1 is critical.

Looking at the more specific search of ‘garden centre amarillo’ we might see as little as 500 to 1000 searches a month. However, properly optimised for that term, that same business might appear in one of the top three positions of the results. At position 1 they’d get around 35% – 40% of the clicks so that is a potential 300 – 400 visitors to their website, versus nil for the broad term.

The final point about why SEO gives small businesses a chance is that it is constantly evolving, especially as Google continually look for ways to improve their search results. By keeping up to date with these changes and studying the latest information which Google releases about SEO, any small business owner can gain an advantage.

Knowing which changes are imminent gives a small business owner the opportunity to quickly update their website, add or remove content, add or remove certain backlinks, edit tags or any of the many other tasks which might be needed.