How to win against the big boys on the search engines

Last week I wrote about Why I don’t like Google’s innate conservatism, where I painted a picture of a category of entrenched sites that newer sites will struggle to compete with under Google’s current algorithm.

Just in case some of you got the wrong end of the stick, I’m not advocating giving up or even waiting until Google changes the way it calculates how it’s going to list your site.

There are some things smaller businesses and start-up sites can do to take on the big boys. That means having a highly effective site, marketed with real nous.

Only pick a fight you can win

For a start, you’re going to have to operate smart, and pick a fight you stand a chance of winning. Now, you’re unlikely to want to take on Tesco (Wal-Mart, if you’re reading in the States) by setting up a small general store next door, so why would you want to take on the Tescos of the online world in a similar kind of contest?

I’ve used the example of a financial services company before now. It’s because from time to time we get an enquiry from someone who wants to rank on the first page of Google for ‘home insurance’, ‘car insurance’, ‘pensions’ and ‘mortgages’.

Time to let them down gently. There’s as near to no chance within their budget and patience boundaries of getting them there because every bank and financial institution has been pouring loads of budget into marketing their sites online. Many have been there for years, and just as many of them have thousands and thousands of links. And, for regulated financial products, the poor financial services business will have government sites to contend with as well – Google loves government sites because they’re the ultimate reference for so many matters.

Where’s your niche?

We need to look at what makes them different. Particular product niches or geographical focus, perhaps? It’s basic marketing, not Internet marketing or SEO.

So how can you find a niche where your competitor is weak? What kinds of things can you do that your competitors don’t or can’t? If your business is already running, then the chances are, you already have figured out your niche offline. That’s your starting point for you you’re going to market online.

Or look towards your business plan. A SWOT analysis should lead you in the right direction, but how do you apply those findings online? You could move on by doing a SWOT analysis of your site and products in the online environment.

Pinpointing your opponents’ undefended side

But commission (or do) some appropriate key phrase analysis researching both traffic levels and link competition, and your opportunities should be laid out in front of you. By this, I mean higher traffic key phrases that are relevant to your business, that you should be able secure a first-page listing for on Google because the big boys have ignored those pieces of prime turf.

All you need to do now is implement the SEO campaign. :-)

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