SEO: What works for big enterprises and small businesses
SEO is an art and not all art is made equal, but all art is equally difficult.
Optimizers face different levels of difficulty whether they have a small 5-page WordPress website or a full-fledged 2000+ page eCommerce website. On the surface, it looks like bigger sites have a huge advantage in SERPs because of their sheer size and content. Sometimes this was true too.
Over the last couple of years, the way we searched and the way Google presented results have been undergoing a change too. People increasingly include specific location information in their searches. Seeing this Google is now prioritizing websites that are better equipped to give out local information. This is giving global websites comparatively lesser advantages.
The fact remains that the basic rules of SEO apply to both types of websites. Before we get on to the differentiators between the SEO for large and small sites, lets get aligned on their similarities.
All optimization begins with research. From in-depth research about the client, their goals, industry, online and local competitors, you’ll also have to do a site content audit before you get started. For both large sites and small, this process can be done using a tool like SEOprofiler giving great insights and saving time. Tools, in a way, become a leveler here. You have neatly stacked up audit reports that get ready (mostly) in a day, showing the exact sections that need your attention.
Another place where tools become a leveler is the UX for the website. Most large websites have standard templates for a lot of their pages. This makes it easy to create oprimized plug and play design. It does take a little extra time to run a check if everything is in place but design-wise things become easy when all you need to do is replicate.
Beyond this, things begin to change in terms of how you do SEO for enterprise and small businesses. The differences come in terms of efforts, time, skill sets and money. Yes, money does play a role in your SEO choices too. It affects who you choose to get the work done, the skills they bring to the table, the timeline for execution and the overall results.
Leveling the playing field with Plugins
In a way, plugins are a big leveller for SEO for both big and small sites. Extending similar functionalities to both types of websites, plugins are huge on saving time, money and efforts. With over 50,000+ plugins out there, it is likely that someone has already created a plugin for a problem you haven’t thought out yet. Here are some of our favourite plugins that both small business and enterprise websites can use.
- Yoast / All in One SEO
Yoast is considered to be the best ever SEO plugin for wordpress sites. It allows you to optimize each page individually for a focus keyword ensuring that your entire site is optimized without overlaps. The help analysis is simply amazing and it is one plugin you simply can’t do without.
While the basic plugin can work well for small sites, enterprise sites need the paid version of the plugin to get full advantage of its mass customization features. If you are wondering how it’ll work, you can try out the All in One SEO plugin for free which will again allow you to optimized several pages in a single go.
The best part is that both plugins do not require any coding knowledge and everything can be done easily by tweaking the settings and content in the dashboard.
- GA for Wordpress
There may be several paid tools for analytics but GA remains to be the best free one available. By installing GA for WordPress, you get insights and analytics right in your WordPress dashboard giving you a great view on your content metrics.
If there was one plugin that we would highly recommend, it is WPTouch. Converting a ‘regular’ site into its mobile-friendly avatar, this plugin gives you the edge you need to be on Google’s good books. Mobile friendliness is one of the key factors to improve visibility in search as the number of mobile/smartphone searches overtakes the desktop.
- Broken link checker / Redirection
The Redirection plugin is a super useful one. Allowing you to set up redirects within minutes, it also allows you to view all the work you’ve done with the plugin in a central repository. The broken link checker works to pull out broken links. This is especially great for large websites which have multiple people working on it.
Akismet is a great leveller for comment spam. You get to catch all the spam quickly and easily and curate the valid comments too.
Here are the ways that SEO differs for large enterprise v/s small business websites. Here, we are taking a general assumption that a large enterprise site is one that has over a thousand pages while a small business site is one that has the 30 odd standard pages along with a few blogs.
1. Keyword SEO
Keywords have been the driving and decisive factor in SEO. The choice of keywords has been instrumental in driving the right organic traffic to your website. Though things aren’t the same as before and there is a lot of improvisation happening on how keywords are chosen, they still happen to be a trackable metric in SEO.
For small business websites, keywords are generally selected via a carefully curated manual process based on search volume, competitiveness, and relevance. These are then placed on the site to optimize entire pieces of content surrounding the keyword.
The above exercise is quite difficult and time-consuming to execute for a large enterprise website as sites with over a thousand pages will be arduous to optimize manually. There are nifty workarounds that can be created for such sites.
For example, for a non-WordPress website, a simple PHP code can be written to pick out ‘product level’ pages and plug the page with pre-defined customized tags for each page.
If you have an eCommerce site working on Open Cart, you can install a relevant SEO plugin that will allow you to use your product name as the keyword for your product pages, thus optimizing them all in a single go.
If you do this in WordPress, plugins like All In One SEO have the capability to set up pre-defined SEO tags for pages where you aren’t manually putting in tag content.
Eventually, the time taken for both types of SEO, in this case, remains almost the same except that the large enterprise SEO will require a few additional skills and quite a bit of money.
The keyword choices too differ according to the type of website. Let’s take the online grocery segment. You’ll find the larger websites optimized for more generic terms like ‘buy grocery online’ while you’ll find local small businesses optimized for terms like ‘buy groceries in Andheri’ The geographical stronghold becomes of paramount importance for small business SEO who are serving a local audience. For small businesses, it is all about getting the location right and looking out for the right long tail list. For large enterprises, it is all about portraying the strength they derive out of their size.
2. 100s of pages v/s 1 page of cornerstone content
It is perceived that sites with thousands of pages and several hundred product listings enjoy an advantage in SERPs because of their volume. The sheer number of pages allow them to gain visibility for a whole variety of product terms.
To bust the bubble, this isn’t entirely true. Most eCommerce / product sites will tell you that they have repetitive content (similar and not same content) covering a lot of their pages. This doesn’t make the content quality outstanding. Besides, out of the hundreds of products under their umbrella, there may be 10 or lesser products in the highly popular category who have high search volumes and eventually become key traffic drivers. They, however, do have an advantage for ranking for larger number of keywords than a small business website.
How does a small business combat the Goliaths in their industry?
By becoming outstanding. Take any topic and create such outstanding content ‘cornerstone’ content for it that you are perceived as an authority on the topic. You’ll get Google love and link love both coming your way. Creating highly engaging content is the one way that small businesses can match large enterprises and sometimes even beat them in the game.
3. The Backlink gamechanger
We aren’t that old but we’ve lived through the era of directory submission link building and a time when buying links was done more easily. Things have changed now. Though you can submit to directories, Google doesn’t give these links a lot of value. Instead, links that are organically given via related content is considered to be the most valuable.
For large enterprise websites, such links come in the form of affiliates who may be selling their products for a commission. But for small businesses, the sheer quality of content and some smart techniques can be helpful in building quality links.
Remember that when it comes to links, it is always quality over quantity.
The Skyscraper technique: Popularised by Backlink.io, the skyscraper technique involves going after a niche but highly sought after content in your industry, research the few top-ranking articles in the niche for the keyword and then go about creating content that is much more superior than anything available on the internet right now.
4. Local SEO
Local SEO is done differently for small businesses and large enterprises. While almost all long tail keywords come with local intent for small businesses, the large enterprises have a mix of both generic and location-based SEO to be taken care of. Enterprise SEO has to be done keeping in mind that some pages will specifically have to be optimized for local intent.
5. Technical SEO (Sitemap, crawl errors, indexing)
Tech SEO is a crucial step in the overall optimization process. For small businesses, free tools are easily available to create xml sitemaps which can be uploaded into the search console. The indexing and crawling is also a quicker process.
For enterprise websites, creating a sitemap requires specialized (and mostly paid) tools to ensure accuracy. The overall indexation also takes longer and there is a higher chance of errors cropping up on the go when multiple people are handling different aspects of the site.
It all boils down to this folks. If you have the greens, there is a lot you can do (easily). Tools, plugins, specialized skills, an in-house SEO specialist, an external agency require extra dough. Small businesses are generally short on money, time and resources. There are a lot of things that demand their simultaneous attention and we’ve seen SEO fall out of the cracks more times than we can count.
With dedicated teams, experienced professionals and specialist agencies, large enterprises have a better chance scoring on SEO simply because they have more minds and efforts behind the task than anyone else.
7. The marketing differs too
Did you know that people subconsciously prefer clicking on well-known brands rather than unknown businesses in Google search results?
Well, Google knows this, that is why it favors brands too. So if you pick out keywords that the big brands are advertising on, it is going to be much more difficult to get anywhere close to page 1.
As a small business, you have less clout for PR, lower media coverage and a less powerful software coming in your way of online marketing too. But the one thing that pushes things in favor for large enterprises is their equation with Google. It isn’t hidden knowledge that bigger companies share a different equation with Google and other media houses. They do enough in paid marketing to know people on the inside who they can call if they need ‘help’. So you see, there is a lot of vested interest in ensuring their success, which small businesses don’t have.
So, should small businesses still do SEO?
YES! SEO isn’t an option. It is an absolute must if you want a chance to win the game. We’ve seen so many David v/s Goliath movies to know who everyone is rooting for. You can’t win if you don’t even enter the game. And SEO is your entry ticket. So go for it.
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