Ever since Google started up the ante with changes to its search engine algorithm, they’ve set off an arms race with search engine optimization consultants and businesses trying to keep up with the new standards. Failing to do so potentially resulted in a drop in SEO ranking, depending on what a browser was looking for. Along the same lines, local search has exploded as well, and this marketing niche has seen an evolution from simple search to something that resembles rocket science today. No surprise then, more than half of businesses surveyed are responding that search and local search have become much harder to implement and keep up with.
Expertise Costs Money
With the need for expertise, many small businesses have realized the need to go outside to get the skill set needed for effective SEO work. Unfortunately, anything in demand tends to go up in price when supply is limited, and good SEO services are going the same way. Granted, there are plenty of firms and outfits that offer such services, but not so many are able to keep up with Google’s changes as fast as they come out these days. Those that do cost more to retain, which bites into the bottom line of a business.
Big Brands Are Favored
The fact is, big brand names are recognized better by Google. In many cases, they even have a direct relationship with the search engine provider. For a small business to compete in the same industry, it most often needs to either be as a supplier to a big player or have a unique angle in a niche market—and sometimes, even that’s not enough). No surprise then, big brands will dominate particular search brackets as well, owning more traffic simply due to a wider range of brand awareness versus a small business.
Maintenance and Editing Services Cost People
Keeping a local search campaign going on a regular basis is no small affair. It takes lots of time and commitment to research, plan and implement regular changes with hope of capturing online traffic and potentially more customers for a business. If a small business can’t dedicate the people or the money to pay for contractors, the best it can hope for is a haphazard online presence—which often falls behind due to the sheer amount of work required to keep a good presence going.
So Is it Time to Throw in the Towel?
In a word, no. Customers are still looking for unique products and services. If they had accepted big brands as the end-all, be-all, then the world would be an endless series of shopping malls and nothing more.
Small business can still compete through simple avenues:
- Try as much as possible to have an online Internet presence that will get indexed, even if not in the first rank.
- Make sure every link works correctly and goes to the right website.
- Make sure the destination site is working properly and has a very clear call to action.
- Be ready to respond to customers as they communicate.
While the above won’t win over Wall Street, it can very well keep a live local search presence going for a small business, enough to pay the bills and grow the company over time.
Tom L is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.