9 Effective Search Engine Marketing Tips for Small Business Owners

Search engine marketing is an ideal way for your small business to compete with larger competitors. And with the right techniques, you can use search engine marketing to rank higher in searches on Google, which can make the difference in whether a customer chooses your company over your bigger rivals.

To find out the best tips for reaching customers through SEM, we asked nine members of YEC Next this question:

What’s one search engine marketing tip that will allow small business owners to compete with larger competitors?

1. Practice 80/20 content marketing

If content is the proverbial king, then 80/20 content marketing is the emperor. Create content that focuses on your top ROI products and services, and always interweave each piece with your brand’s story. The more personal the story—one that tells the “why” of your brand—the better. Stories from smaller companies will always resonate more over ones from larger companies. —Ron LiebackContentMender

2. Use keywords that speak to your client persona

We’ve discovered that nailing search engine optimization marketing begins and ends with the user persona, which maps out the needs, goals, and behaviors of your ideal customer. Ask yourself these questions: Who are they? What do they need to hear? Which keywords would they search for? We’ve found this works really well for our clients because it’s customized SEO marketing. —Uchechi KaluLinking Arts Web Design & Development 

3. Know your audience better than anyone

It’s not always the business with the most resources that wins. I find it’s those that get to know their target audience best that really succeed in the long run. Doing this brings your business closer to your customers’ fingertips when they’re searching for products or services like yours online. The more research you do on your audience, the better you will do. Familiarity wins out in the long run. —Bryan DriscollThink Big Marketing, LLC

4. Focus on the conversion funnel

One of the biggest disadvantages faced by small business owners is the inability to benefit from performance optimizations that require a certain conversion volume. Overcome this by treating an appropriate action along the conversion funnel as a conversion . For example, if you sell something and the number of monthly orders is too small to optimize for, you could optimize for the number of people reaching the billing page. —Shan RizviJust Ads

5. Be the go-to resource in your industry

The best SEO strategy is to build a content library on your blog that answers every question your audience could ever potentially ask about the problems you solve and the products you offer. By answering those questions, you’ll earn rankings for what people are asking Google, and you’ll be viewed as an authority by search engines and your audience because of the wealth of knowledge you provide. —Todd GiannattasioTresnic Media

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6. Try long-tail keyword mapping

Leverage a free tool like Google Keyword Planner and research the monthly search volume for the top 100 keywords in your industry. Then rank those keywords in order of volume and cost per click. Look for an imbalance with high volume and low price to uncover your opportunities for search engine marketing or SEO-based content marketing. —Jim HuffmanGrowthHit

7. Focus on your offering with the highest ROI

A number of our small business clients are in very competitive spaces. Many of them provide a number of services, so when it comes to their marketing, we’ll focus on the service that generates the highest ROI. That strategy helped one client grow from being a solopreneur to a team of seven with two offices in just over a year. —Ryan MeghdiesTastic Marketing Inc.

8. Produce blog content consistently

If you know your business well and know what your customers want, then blog about it. You can use your Google Webmasters Account or the Keyword Planner tool to better understand the keyword phrases people are searching and then create blog topics around them. Create a blog editorial calendar with eight to 10 topics and begin producing content. Weekly blog posting will help build your authority and traffic. —Ali PourvaseiLAD Solutions

9. Target the bottom of the funnel

Even in the world of digital marketing, large companies with domain authority and large financial resources have an obvious advantage capturing customers at the top of the funnel with general keywords. A small company, however, has the flexibility to focus on lower-funnel long-tail keyword searches that are prohibitively expensive for larger competitors to pursue and scale. —Kyle Wiggins, Keteka

RELATED: Small Business Marketing: Are You Doing It Right?

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