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August 23, 2006

SEO, Small Businesses and Niche Markets

By Li Evans

In this huge space of the internet, where’s a small business suppose to compete? I’ve heard that question many times over the past year. I’ve seen small business owners shrug it off and not do a thing, or throw up their arms in defeat at the thought of competing with the “Amazons”, “Walmarts” and “Ebays” of the internet. 

As more companies start pulling back on Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns and Paid Search Marketing Strategies and look to natural search optimization to reign in skyrocketing costs, it becomes more important for the small business to make sure their website is optimized for their “Niche Market”. By starting now, smaller companies can gain the “head start” on the big guys who will definitely rule the “generic” markets where traffic is the name of the game. 

What most owners of small businesses don’t realize is that have an unlikely advantage over the huge internet retailers. The advantage is that they have a lot more direct control over their content on their websites, and in search engine optimization, that’s probably one of the most important things to have. This means, it’s not going to take an act of God nor do you have to fight with 3 different divisions to have a product description changed, an “H1” tag added, a title tag tweaked or a meta description that’s enticing to click on added to the site. 

The other advantage small business owners have in their natural search optimization efforts is that they have a more intimate knowledge of their specific “niches”. Mass retailers online are doing just that – selling in MASS. Small business owners can take advantage of special lingo, misspellings and jargon that a copy writer for a CMS system at some mass online retailer more than likely is not going to know.

Lastly, the small company that is specializing in purple polka dotted and pink striped widgets can be a lot more personal and reach out to others in the “widget industry” looking for those all important links pointing to their site. That one on one interaction with people goes a long way than the impersonal treatment that people can receive from the online mass merchants. 

The niche marketplaces hold unlimited potential for small businesses. Most mass merchants really over look these small, well defined areas. Giant online retailers are so “mass” in size on the interior that they are merely relying on their content management systems for relevant content and not adding the true optimization to a product page that it may need. This leads them to rely on “rankings by consequence” in the search engines – not have that human touch of appealing to the niche market customers that a small business can do so well.

So if you are a small business owner, don’t throw in the towel when you hear the big online retailer is now selling some similar products. Embrace it and get to work at owning that niche, take advantage of the advertising the mass merchant does on the products, and be the top organically for your niche market!

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