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Search engine marketing: can small businesses be more competitive?

Smarter Staff
Smarter Writer

This article has been written by the Smarter Business™ Staff Writers

Smarter Staff
Smarter Writer

This article has been written by the Smarter Business™ Staff Writers

  • Focus on more specific or niche keywords as they are potentially less competitive and therefore easier to rank for.
  • With the right tools, a small business can improve its search engine rankings with just a little time each week.
  • When it’s time to take on an SEO agency, communicate your goals and agree on clear KPIs and measures.

The majority of Australian customers regularly use search engines to find and research a business, but only 26 per cent of small businesses use search engine optimisation (SEO) to be more easily found.

Nelly Phelan, senior marketing and communications manager for ELK fashion and accessories, joined the online marketing panel at Telstra’s recent Tech Talk event: Get set to find more customers online. The panel couldn’t get to all the audience questions on the day, so we followed up with Nelly to ask a few more.

Nelly Phelan, senior marketing and communications manager for ELK fashion and accessories. Nelly Phelan is the senior marketing and communications manager for ELK fashion and accessories.

SB: When the first 3-5 links in the search results are often paid or sponsored links, how can a small business organic SEO strategy compete?

Nelly: Ensuring you have a good organic SEO strategy along with backlinks from other brands is essential to achieving good quality rankings and a competitive edge. 

This means including lots of keywords in your website content to strengthen your organic SEO, while also reaching out to other brands and asking them to feature content and links from their website to yours to increase backlinks. 

Focus on your customers’ needs combined with your unique offer. ELK is renowned for their beautiful ‘wooden jewellery' and ‘resin jewellery’, words that are not as highly competitive in comparison to, say, the term ‘necklace'. However, they are words our customers use when searching for a business like ELK. 

Identifying more specific or niche keywords such as these, which are relevant to your brand, is a great way to establish a competitive edge.

SB: With search algorithms regularly changing how sites are indexed and results ranked, how can a busy small business keep up with today’s SEO trends without spending more time than they can afford?

Nelly: Make the most of free tools in the marketplace. A good example is Ranking Coach

These tools provide bite-sized, easy to manage checklists to help you build your organic SEO strategy in a time frame that works with your schedule. 

As a small business, checking in on your rankings each week and spending just a little time ticking off the list of activities to help improve your ranking position will reap rewards over time.

SB: It’s not unusual for a small business to receive regular emails offering professional SEO services but many small businesses seem to adequately manage their own SEO for free. When might it make sense to pay someone else for SEO and how do you separate the good from the bad?

Nelly: Start with the basics that you can manage such as organic SEO content on your website and reciprocal links. Identify keywords unique to your business that your customers and potential new customers are searching for.

Leverage free tools at the outset and once you have some good organic traffic and a budget to commit to the long-term, research local agencies who specialise in small business. Clearly communicate your goals and, together with the agency, develop a time frame as well as measures for success. 

Watch the Tech Talk for more search engine marketing advice from Nelly and other expert panellists.
Watch now

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