Nine Reasons SEO Is Hard for Small Businesses

Nine Reasons SEO Is Hard for Small Businesses

May 25, 2021
(Reading time: 5 - 10 minutes)

If you are a small business owner or you have been tasked with helping to make a small business you know how hard it is to get the word out and get the business noticed. Now one would think that if we as consumers are going online at a rate of 97% then we should be able to find your small business. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Now the bigger question is not WHY is it harder but WHAT can we do about it. Below we look at the nine reasons why SEO is harder and six things you can do about it.

Nine reasons why small businesses struggle to succeed at SEO:

1. and 2. Time is money and you little of both!

Most small businesses are running on a shoestring budget. Simply adding a few hundred dollars a month can make or break your business. However, the old saying of “You have to spend money to make money” rings true. Large companies realize this and then put effort and money toward marketing and advertising because they can prove it is working or hope they can.

Again, most small businesses are too busy trying to run their business and have no time to devote to the proper implementation and maintenance of their website. I will often ask prospects and clients, would it be better to spend 4 hours a week working on tasks such as, optimizing your website pages and creating worthwhile content or doing what you know how to do? Which is going to make you more money? If small businesses decide to tackle this independently, they end up doing a rush and albeit crappy job, or they neglect it altogether.

Spending a little bit of money to let an expert handle things for you is much better than trying to go at it alone.

3. Something else always comes first.

Procrastination can be a dangerous thing. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” The problem is most small businesses who are already strapped for resources try to tackle SEO-related tasks, and they ultimately get pushed off to the next day or the bottom of the list.

I see it way too often, you go to a website, and they have a blog. However, there are maybe one or two posts over the course of about three months and then nothing. Looking at the dates of these, they may be six months old or five years. Small businesses always have a grand plan of generating content for blogs, creating videos and social media posts. However, it's about consistency or lack thereof that is hurting them more than anything else. 

Think about this, if you wait to do SEO until everything else is done, you’ll never do any SEO.

4. It’s harder to keep up with changes.

Google and the search engines are constantly updating and tweaking the algorithm. Every so often (historically about every 3-6months), they will come out with a big update or change. Want to see how often it changes? Take a look at the MozCast, AccuRanker “Google Grump,” or Advanced Web Ranking Google Algorithm Changes. While there are some great resources and publications one can subscribe to keep up with the changes, do you really have time to scan through a series of blog and emails for the latest news just to keep up with the latest SEO update and changes?

5. People favor brands

Let’s face it, people favor brands and name recognition over smaller, less known brands. With all things being equal, Google and the search engines will typically rank bigger brands higher in the search results over smaller brands. The reason being is they have more user behavior data indicating that people click more often on recognizable brand websites. Therefore if your small business is to compete for a keyword that bigger competitors' brands are also going after, you are on a tough uphill climb to prove not only to the user but to Google that your content is worth Google showing it and ultimately having the user click on your link on the search engine results pages (SERPs). 

6. Typically, the bigger businesses, the longer they have been around.

Let’s be honest, most big businesses didn't start big. Someone didn't wake up one day and say, “I am going to start a Fortune 1000 business and hire thousands of people on day one”. They started small and grew. However, there are lots of small businesses that started small and have never really evolved. 

Now you might say, well we have been in business for 5, 10, 20 or even 50 years, all well and good. The problem is that unless you have had an online presence for 5, 10, or 20 years, then you are already behind the eight ball, so to speak. Google likes to see longevity in business.

7. Your website is smaller.

As a small business, you may or may not have a website; you may have just a social media page you call your website. Let me remind you why your social media page is not your website. If you do have a website, it may be what we affectionately refer to as a brochure site. These will typically have your basic information and very little else. In contrast, the larger company will have lots of pages, including blogs, landing pages, geographic landing pages. These pages give the bigger company and their more extensive website a chance to rank for more keywords and keyword phrases.

8. You have less powerful software and fewer tools.

Have you ever put together a piece of furniture? You are typically provided a handful of tools, usually an Allen wrench and maybe an open-ended crescent wrench, which you are supposed to use to put what seems like 100s of bolts in. Now, wouldn't it be easier if you could go to your toolbox and grab your Allen wrenches and a ratchet and socket wrench to put this together? Even better, wouldn't it be wonderful to have some power tools to assist you? 

Now how does this coincide with SEO? Bigger companies have the “sockets, wrenches and power tools,” or in other words, they subscriptions to the software to check and monitor their website. These bigger companies may also have an in-house SEO  person or department. They may have ways of automating tasks, etc.

9. You have less clout to leverage for media coverage and link building.

Big brands and big sites have name recognition and reputations that tend to get links without even ask let alone trying. When you try to build links and do the link building, it helps to have some weight behind your name. 

6 ways you can compete with bigger businesses online: 

Now that we understand why it is harder, let’s look at how you and your small business can combat these issues you are facing:

1. Invest in your business, delegate, and outsource.

You know and I know that if you want to compete you are going to have to invest in your business. You should also consider delegating and outsourcing things.  

Unless you want to take on your website as a hobby then leave the implementation and maintenance of your website to someone who understands it. I however do not recommend your father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate that you pay $100 bucks a year to “do SEO” on your website.

Spending a little bit of money to let an expert handle things for you is much better than trying to go at it alone.

2. SEO and Content marketing

SEO and content marketing go hand in hand, like peanut butter and jelly. Focus on optimizing your web pages, creating worthwhile content including blogs and videos, promoting your assets, and securing links.

3. Pay-per-click advertising and social media marketing

Depending on your business you may want to consider pay-per-click advertising (PPC) and social media marketing. I only mention it here simply because people think that placing an ad can be a magic bullet because they see other bigger companies doing it. While spending money on PPC advertising may be advantageous, it can be a considerable cost barrier for many small businesses. SEO and content marketing can have a much longer albeit evergreen effect, but you have to invest in it to work.

4. Combating the longevity of your business

As said before, Google likes to see longevity in business, there are three ways you can prove your longevity to Google:

  1. Google can quantify if you have been in business for several years through your domain registration or your website URL. The longer you have had a domain name, the better off you are.
  2. Having lots of content on your website showing you are an expert. I will often say to prospects and clients; I know you are the expert. You know you are the expert. However, if it’s not on the internet for Google to find it, unfortunately, you are not the expert!
  3. For most businesses, social proof in the form of reviews and testimonials are beneficial. It seems that the bigger the company, the customer service tends to wane. By getting reviews from your clients, you can help increase your visibility as people love to see reviews about businesses we want to or plan to work with.

5. Answer people’s questions.

As simple as this may sound, start your content marketing strategy by answering people’s questions. Take a look at 5 Blog Topics That Will Drive Traffic, Leads, & Sales to learn more about what to initially write about. Then you can fell in with other blogs that discuss who you are and what you do. Think about adding different types of landing pages including geographic landing pages if are a service area business.

6. Focus on your local market

By utilizing local search engine optimization (Local SEO) or tailoring your website achieve a higher ranking in your local search results! Here are three ways to optimize your local SEO to get you started:

Final Thoughts

The trick for any small business is figuring out what you can accomplish given your limited time and money. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, delegate what you don’t have time for, and outsource what isn’t what is in your core business. Being small can be a major asset as well as it allows you to experiment and make your business more agile

If you are a small business and need help dealing with the challenges of SEO, local SEO, or content marketing then feel free to reach out. A free consultation is just a few clicks away!

Chad Treadway

Written by:  |  May 25, 2021

Chad is our business development manager. He will help you survey your business needs, ensuring you are educated on your options before suggesting any solution. Chad also has several certifications through HubSpot to better assist you with your internet and inbound marketing.

See Chad Treadway's' bio: