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Guest Column: How start-ups and SMEs can compete with big brands and MNCs on SEO results?: Anil Kumar Singh, Ogilvy & Mather

06-March-2017
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Guest Column: How start-ups and SMEs can compete with big brands and MNCs on SEO results?: Anil Kumar Singh, Ogilvy & Mather

Surely, every budding start-up or SME knows the importance of SEO in today’s digital age where web access is part of every part of society. If not, then this is time when one should start focusing on SEO to reach their business’s target audience. It is really important for any business, especially start-ups and SMEs to realise the strength and magic of SEO.  

SMEs or start-ups may show a huge lack of awareness about the significant and changing role of SEO. Also, it might be possible that the small business owners have just stepped into the phase of exploring SEO value for their business. May it be lack of knowledge, resources or the thought that small companies can’t compete on SEO with larger giants, the fact is just the opposite. SEO is equally fruitful, powerful and result-oriented for any kind of business, irrespective of their size. By far, it is seen that SMEs/start-ups couldn’t make-up their mind to utilise the benefits of SEO. Small businesses are neglecting SEO even if they have a website or mobile app thinking that SEO is too complex, technical or the business is growing well without it. But the fact is very different, as being at the top in search engine result page gives any business a great boost in overall growth, recognition and achievement of goals.

For big brands and MNCs, investment in any kind of promotions or media campaigns to reach their target audience is not a big deal any day. But for start-ups and SMEs, there is always a big question ahead of how to get the ball rolling on a limited budget. In that case, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is always a fruitful thought.

SEO is not a sprint but more like a marathon, where any business or brand can enjoy its benefit in the long term. So, without wasting anymore time, let’s get closer to the whole gme and approach of SEO. For those who don’t know what SEO is, Search Engine Optimisation is the process of enhancing the visibility of any website or webpage in a search engine’s organic result or natural results. Now, coming to the big question, ‘How SEO can help start-ups or SMEs in competing with big brands/MNCs?’

There are few basic thoughts, which every growing business like start-ups or SMEs should keep in mind while putting their foot ahead with SEO. Let’s take a look at them:

  • Analyse Target Audience: For every business, it’s really important to understand and analyse their target audience. By analysing the target audience, we mean what kind of audience will consume the services or products offered by the business, what is their age bracket, what are their preferences etc. In SEO or for that matter any campaign won’t work in the right direction if a business’s target audience is not defined. It’s just like playing in a dark room.
  • Make a SEO Strategy as per the Target Audience: After defining the target audience, it’s time to make a defined SEO strategy, which will include the present position of the business in organic search market, approach to tap the target audience, and of course certain long term goals to be achieved in the future. A basic SEO strategy will help any business in realising their current position in an organic search market and where they could be in future, only if things are done as per best SEO practices.
  • Relevance and User Intent: In SEO, it is really crucial to understand and keep in line with relevance and user intent factor every day. When it comes to search results, it is important to understand the relevance of the result and the user’s intent behind their search query. Suppose, if a user is searching for ‘blue bean bag’, they will be disappointed if they don’t find a page about a blue bean bag or if they get an irrelevant result for their query. Hence, it’s really important to always keep in mind the relevance and user intent while going ahead with keyword research and all other activities performed in SEO.    
  • Local SEO: For start-ups and SMEs, their target audience circle is quite small and specific in the beginning. So, why don’t they start tapping that small circle first rather than going for a large and more generic market at the start. This is where local SEO comes into play. Local SEO is an effective way of local online marketing. It helps in enhancing the visibility of any local business as per its local target audience. This means, local SEO helps any local business in promoting their product or services to local customers exactly when they’re looking for that particular business. For example, a local user based in Gurgaon is searching for ‘chicken home delivery in Gurgaon’, now with the help of local SEO, a chicken vendor based in Gurgaon could surely come up in the query result for chicken home delivery in Gurgaon.  
  • Identifying competitors: To be the best and come up in search results, identifying competitors is a must. Every business must know whom they are competing with, what are their competitor’s strategy, strength, weakness, where their competitor is getting traffic from and as many other details one could get about them.
  • Always think about user experience: In SEO, user experience plays a major role in achieving business objectives. If a user is having a bad experience while accessing any website like longer load time, page not found error etc., it is obvious that user will move to some other option. This bouncing impact will have real-world impact on your SERP (Search Engine Results Position). So, never ever forget that search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing etc. also looks at a website like a user. Want a happy audience? Bring SEO and user experience together.
  • Optimising for mobile: Last but not the least, optimising a business or any website for mobile is equally important as for a desktop. As many recent surveys reveal, nearly 65% + of searches are happening over mobile devices. Also, the search engines are increasing their effort and focus in providing better mobile experience to users. Most recent of these efforts include Google’s Mobile First Index and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). So, it’s better to keep up the website mobile optimised before all these efforts roll out completely and push your website in hard times.

Despite knowing the importance of SEO in ensuring a site’s visibility online, Search engine optimization (SEO) is low in priority for small business owners, with only 17 percent planning to invest in it in 2017. This means there is huge scope and opportunity ground open for small business owners to set in their feet & claim their position in search results before the competition gets tough. So, all those entrepreneurs out there, it’s high time to understand the power of SEO and choose it as your first weapon before your competitor grabs the opportunity to show up first on Google.

(The author is National SEO Director, Neo@Ogilvy)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com

Nayak currently heads operations under the Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) umbrella for Posterscope (OOH), Brandscope (OOH), Ambient OOH, Hyperspace (Retail), InDeed (CSR Advisory) and C-LAB (Celebrity & Sports Management)

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