Small business owners are often limited by small marketing budgets and manpower. But that doesn't mean they can't compete against larger businesses or websites when focused on search engine optimization. SEO is a basic marketing tool that everyone should use regardless of size.
Can the small websites compete with the big guys?
I'm often asked by small business owners if they stand a chance against larger websites when it comes to organic search results. My response is that size doesn't matter. When it comes to improving natural search results, it's all about the keywords you choose and how competitive those keywords are.
What makes a keyword competitive?
One way to determine the competitiveness of a search term is to simply type that search term into Google and notice the number of web pages that contain that search term. This number appears in the upper right-hand corner of the search results page and appears as, "Results 1 - 10 of about 228,000,000 for [your search term here]."
The large number you see gives you an indication of how many websites contain the keyword term or phrase you're searching for. Not all of these sites would necessarily be competitors, but have been indexed by Google none-the-less. From my perspective, when this number is less than 3 or 4 million, the particular search term would not be all that competitive in and of itself.
Determining just how competitive the search term is.
There are a variety of methods to determine true keyword effectiveness (KEI, etc.). However, if you're just a regular person trying to figure out how difficult it will be to rank well for a particular keyword, consider the following. In addition to the number of sites that contain your keyword, how well optimized are the top 3 sites that appear on the search result. You can determine this by:
1. Visiting the site and determining the Google PR of the page. This information is available by downloading the Google toolbar and looking in your browser. You will see a green bar and ranking (ex: PR5), which tells you how Google ranks this page/website with regard to popularity. Any site with a Google PR6 or better is well established and will be difficult to outrank in the near term.
2. Visit Google and type, "link:www.competitorwebsite.com". Be sure to replace 'competitorwebsite' with the website name you are researching. Remember, this should be a website that appears on the Google search result for the keyword term or phrase you're researching. This will tell you how many sites are linking to this particular website. The larger the number the more difficult it will be to outrank.
3. Look at the website code. Simply visit the competitor's website and go to "View", "View Source". Look for the meta tags of "Title", "Description", and "Keywords". Are the meta tags at the very top of the page? Does the website also use h1, h2, and h3 tags? If so, they probably know something about SEO and have applied some on-page optimization techniques.
Using the above will give you a good sense of whether of not you can compete for given keywords. As you've figured out by now, a company's size is no indication of their level of experience in optimizing their own website. You'd be surprise of the type (and size) of companies that call me for SEO advice.
Keep this in mind the next time you think that size matters!