Small Business Vs Big Business: Competing Via ECommerce

small business vs big business

Small Business Vs Big Business.

How Smaller ECommerce Brands Can Take On The Big Guns & Win.

How does the underdog win the small business vs big business fight? How can you punch above your weight class?

The answer may surprise you. It’s actually possible for them to stake their claim online and not just compete, but win.

Think David Vs Goliath.

Use what could be perceived as a weakness to your advantage.

You’re smaller, which means you’re more adaptable, nimble and in-touch with what your customers want. You’re smarter, too, because you have to be to out-fox the big guys.

Here’s how to take those advantages and apply it to your ECommerce site.

In this article we cover:

1. Big Companies SEO Weaknesses

2. How To Do Ecommerce Better Than Big Brands

3. Winning at AdWords Without The Top Spot

4. Copy Your Competitors

5. Focus On Local SEO

6. Go Niche & Segment

1. Big Companies Often Have SEO Weaknesses 

In the battle of small business vs big business, you have one surprising advantage. Big companies at times are shockingly bad at SEO. A little competitive research and you can exploit their weak points.

This is particularly true when it comes to optimizing their online stores. It happens for a few reasons:

Paralysis Through Committee

Big companies have to go through a number of different levels of approval by their boards and stakeholders before they can get absolutely anything done.

And very few of these board members know anything about digital marketing, which delays things even more.

big companies confused about digital marketing

You, however, do not have this thick layer of red tape to get through. You’re small and agile and can roll out new products and campaigns in a hurry. You have no approval chain of command.

Your approval process consists of “Okay, let’s do it.”

Outsourced and Out of Sorts

A lot of these companies will outsource their SEO to big SEO firms. This creates an even bigger communication gap between the people who know what they’re doing (SEO Pro) and the people who can greenlight things (Stakeholder).

You have the ability to hand your SEO over to a firm without these complications. You can meet with an SEO firm and start implementing their strategy on the same day, without fighting your way through a mess of red tape.

Big Company = Big Turnover

The other issue these big companies face is they may have 5-10 people working on their site and adding products to their online store at any given time.

For example, check out this online retailer of footwear, Finish Line, a fairly sizeable company yet their SEO is a hot mess!poor meta tag formattingThe Meta Tag in this example isn’t optimized for search engines or conversion rates.

Don’t make the same mistake, it’s such an easy thing to avoid:

  • Write your Meta Tags for your customers.
  • Let them know what they will find on this page.
  • Most importantly what’s in it for them. Compel them to click.

This creates a massive issue in ensuring things are done the right way every time.

SEO success comes from repeatability and consistency. It involves implementing your plan, measuring your success and making any required changes.

You can’t really do this if five different employees are filling out the meta descriptions in five slightly different ways.

You have to tightly manage these employees and start all over again when someone quits or gets hired.

Small businesses run a much leaner team, so it’s easier to get everyone on the same page. 

2. How to Do Ecommerce Better Than the Big Companies

Now that we’ve discussed some of their weaknesses, let’s show you how to use them to your advantage to gain your competitive edge.

Choose The Right Platform For Your Business

The first thing you need is an Ecommerce platform that makes you look amazing and performs well, without costing you your whole advertising budget to set up and run.

The two major choices in the marketplace today are Shopify and Magento. They are the Coke and Pepsi of Ecommerce websites builders.

Shopify is making big waves in the market right now. Their revenue increased to $151.65 million, which was up 75% from 2016. Their active merchants also surpassed 500,000, up 67% from the previous year.

Meanwhile, Magento has well over 200,000 live sites, and they’re not going anywhere.

But which will help you win the small business vs big business battle?

Magento vs Shopify: Which Is Best for Small Business?

Every situation is different, but most small businesses are choosing Shopify these days. It’s easier to use, and works pretty much “out of the box.”

Magento gives you more control, but with that control comes a lot more work. If you don’t have much experience in the back end of websites (and most do not), you would probably prefer Shopify.

Simply put, if you want total control of your store, choose Magento. If you want to get up and running today, choose Shopify.

Okay, now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to…

DROP THE GLOVES!

Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan

Even if you choose the turnkey solution in Shopify, you need to know that the platform does not do the SEO optimization for you.

A lot of businesses assume that–and they pay for it.

And the importance of owning the SEO space cannot be understated, especially in this small business vs big business scenario.

More than 35% of your customers will start their buying process through Googling what they want.

The first thing you’re going to do is use your nimbleness to your advantage in two ways:

  • You’re going to create a “Best Practices for SEO Bible” to make sure you and your team always add a product/ blog to your page the exact same way.
  • You’re going to track your work carefully, learn from your mistakes, and adapt right away.

When it’s a small business vs big business fight, you can’t hit as hard.

But you can hit faster and more often!

A best practices SEO bible doesn’t have to be 100 pages, it can be a couple of pages or you could create a visual roadmap that keeps you and your team on the same page and following standard procedure.

Here is an example of what your SEO bible best practices section for Title Tags  might look like:

3. Win the PPC War Without the Top Spot

You also don’t need to pay the most to get the most from pay-per-click adds.

Is your competition pouring a lot of money into their PPC ads, and own the #1 position? Good for them. You can still get the upper hand.

People are more likely to click the #2 or even #3 ad if the ad:

  • “Speaks to them” and their pain points
  • Has a better offer

google ad words how to perform better than the top position

You simply have to write better ads, and you can get more clicks and conversions at a fraction of the price.

Look at the example above, the #3 placed ad is far more compelling than the top 2 – Oakley & Amazon.

They do a great job of:

  • Grabbing your attention with a discount.
  • Indicating that they have a large selection.
  • Provide more social proof then the top 2 ads with close to 20K in reviews.
  • Their Meta Tag tells potential shoppers that they have glasses starting at $24, free shipping and returns and a 1-year warranty.

You can follow this formula to outperform the big players with larger budgets.

Just remember…

You’re more in touch with your customer base, and you know what they want.

So take your customer’s wants and pain points and put that information into your pay-per-click ads. You will create something that is more compelling to click on.

4. Copy Your Competitors

This is a pretty simple concept. We talked about some of the weaknesses that big businesses are prone to, but let’s be honest, they have a lot going for them that allows them to dominate.

Big brands spend a ton of money on:

  • Market Research.
  • A/B Testing (Landing Pages, Ads, Copy & Creative).

Hopefully, you have already done some competitive analysis in the early stages of planning your business. This time around you’re going to get more detailed, you’re going to want to look at what specific techniques they are using.

For example, take your top three competitors and analyze their Google AdWords campaigns, Facebook promotions and associated landing pages.

Take note of what items are consistent between them, it’s a pretty safe bet that tactics that overlap are proven to work in your industry.

Taking the time to comb through their campaigns will help you get better click-through rates, increase your conversions and ultimately drive more sales!

There is a science and art to designing landing pages, chances are you don’t have the background to know what changes to make to your layout, copy and call-to-action buttons.

You can bet that the big brands do. They have teams running advanced analytics, A/B testing, and behavioral monitoring to determine what will deliver the highest results.

Just be sure to put your stamp on what you pull from their campaigns and personalize it for your customer.

5. Focus On Local SEO

Big brands are typically operating on a national scale, one the areas where you’re going to be able to get an edge is with local SEO.

You simply do not have the budget or resources of your larger competitors, by focusing on local SEO you’re able to maximize your spend.

Check out our recent article for more information on how to apply local SEO techniques.

6. Go Niche & Segment

Just as we spoke about optimizing your budget with a focus on local SEO, you’re going to need to pick your battles when trying to compete with bigger businesses.

Prioritizing a specific niche and then expanding is generally a safe bet. For smaller Ecommerce brands this could mean keeping your line lean, carrying just a few SKU’s or product styles.

When you do this, it’ll simplify a lot of facets of your marketing strategy.

It’ll make it easier to segment your audience, which will narrow your audience when advertising on social media.

You’ll have a tighter group of keywords to focus on and test in your AdWords campaigns.

You won’t have your operating cash tied up in inventory, giving you the ability to be a little more aggressive with your advertising.

We Can Help You Take On Even The Toughest Competition.

We’ve given you a fair amount of work to do, if you’ve got additional questions or if you want us in your corner contact us and let us know how we can help.

Click here to find out how we help small businesses get 10x results.

Justin Shaw is the founder and Managing Director of One & Zero we help small businesses and entrepreneurs achieve their peak profit potential online with advanced digital marketing campaigns. Our blog posts include tips and insights for business owners to put into action to improve their online performance.

If you have questions about this article just drop a comment below and I’ll be sure to get back to you!

How To Use Thin Content To Improve Your Rankings & SEO

When is thin content good for SEO?

When you are answering or solving a user search inquiry in a manner that delivers the most value, in a succinct format without filler.

That about sums it up.

Okay, that was really thin. I’ll elaborate a little.

As a result of the Panda algorithm update in 2011, we know that websites with “thin content” potentially face negative SEO consequences and penalties.

Countless articles over the past few years have shared information and studies that indicate long-form content is the path to better rankings. Many of these publications have recommended 1000, 2000, and even 5000+ words as the holy grail to a page one rankings.

I’m making the argument that you can go…

THIN FOR THE WIN

Panda penalizing “thin content” is referring to the content not being particularly helpful to visitors.

Google has stated multiple times that word count is not a ranking factor. 

What they care about is providing the optimal match to a user search query with content that serves the best answer.

Often brands simply do not have the bandwidth to publish long-form content, but that doesn’t mean they can’t serve their audience well.

QUALITY OVER QUANTITY

In the interest of keeping this post short and sweet, and avoid being called out for ironically posting a 1000 word article, I’m going to focus on a single actionable item to leverage thin content for improved rankings and SEO.

One of the most effective ways that you can publish impactful content quickly, is by focusing on optimizing for featured snippets via question and answer formatted posts. Check out this MOZ article on optimizing for featured snippets via Q&A for a detailed guide.

“A featured snippet is a summary of an answer to a user’s query, which is displayed on top of Google search results. It’s extracted from a web page and includes the page’s title and URL” (source Search Engine Watch).

Note the difference when the query is posed as a question and the position zero ranking:

thin content

 

what is featured snippet

BOTTOM LINE = VALUE VS LENGTH

If you can provide the solution to a problem in just 50 words, for instance, it has the potential to rank just as well as a post of 5000 words. Obviously, there are multiple factors that will influence ranking, but remember that word length is not among them.

Thin content, in my opinion, refers to a lack of value vs insufficient length.

Note: I struggled to find a source that corroborates my position here, not surprisingly. But, you can find a likeminded statement from AJ Kohn (Blind Five Year Old), a recognized thought leader in the SEO industry. He recently shared a similar opinion with Dan Sure (Evolving SEO) on his Experts On The Wire Podcast.

Word count for the record: 459, not that it matters.

Justin Shaw is the founder and Managing Director of One & Zero we help small businesses and entrepreneurs achieve their peak profit potential online with advanced digital marketing campaigns. Our blog posts include tips and insights for business owners to put into action to improve their online performance.

If you have questions about this article just drop a comment below and I’ll be sure to get back to you!