Top 4 Small Business SEO Challenges and Solutions

Date: October 17, 2019

Man and woman in two individual boxes using laptops

Major SEO hurdles that small businesses encounter — and sound ways to overcome them

The one thing that we count on when it comes to Google is this: It changes constantly. With the search engine’s ever-evolving ranking algorithm and shifting SEO best practices, it can be difficult for any business to efficiently optimize their online presence to be found through organic search. 

SEO for small businesses can be even more challenging, especially since their survival depends on reaching potential customers and spreading the word about who they are and what they offer before their proverbial nest egg runs dry. 

And what’s the best way to get noticed by people, specifically online? Rank higher in your audience’s relevant search results. 

Leveraging successful SEO practices for small businesses can help you gain a competitive advantage over others in the industry, create strong brand recognition, drive targeted traffic to your website, engage your audience, and ultimately convert readers into leads and leads into customers. 

But why is it so much harder for small businesses to be successful at SEO? 

Here is a look at the four major SEO challenges that small businesses face, along with ways to overcome them.

Finances are tight

Problem: This may be the primary reason that SEO is harder for startups and small businesses. You have less money than household brands, making the “you have to spend money to make money” adage especially difficult for budding businesses with low levels of expendable income. Larger companies have beefier budgets that they can use to optimize their SEO returns. Small businesses don’t always have that luxury.

Solution: If you want to maximize the outcome of your SEO efforts, small businesses should allocate funds for an SEO budget right from the get-go. To help define an SEO strategy and budget, you’ll need to determine your specific SEO goals — like how much traffic you want to drive or which keywords you want to rank for — right from the start. That way, you’ll know how to properly distribute your earmarked funds to things like content creation and SEO research tools. 

You don’t have as much time

Problem: This is another common problem within smaller businesses and startups. Less money means fewer bodies in the building, and when you’re a member of a lean team, everyone is responsible for wearing multiple hats. While multitasking is a common small business dynamic, nobody on a thinly stretched team has the capacity to focus 100% of their time on any one thing — and that includes SEO. When you are unable to make SEO a priority, your site will be under- or poorly optimized, and you will end up with poor rankings. 

Solution: To avoid Google penalties or having to climb your way out of a low-rankings hole down the line, allocate a portion of your SEO funds to hire an SEO consultant. These partners will help you conduct proper research, strategize, and even execute some of the more time-consuming SEO tasks like writing quality and engaging content. 

Google prioritizes big brands

Problem: While the favoritism that Google shows to big brands may seem unfair, almost everyone is consciously or unconsciously guilty of the same thing. Google ranks household names higher in the search results because users statistically click on brand websites that they recognize. In addition, big brands have been doing SEO longer, so they know what works and what doesn’t.

Solution:  When competing with name brands for SEO rankings, it will behoove you to take more of a niche focus. Pour your efforts into a small handful of keywords and long-tail keywords instead of trying to rank for a wide range of keywords. You may sacrifice some ranking potential by foregoing extremely popular keywords, but you’ll be gaining maximum ranking potential and drive more qualified search traffic with less-searched but more specific keywords and phrases. 

Low brand recognition means fewer backlinks

Problem: Well-known brands and companies generally have great reputations, and when your reputation positively precedes you, it can be nearly effortless to score backlinks. When outside websites link back to yours, they’re basically telling Google that they publicly vouch for you, resulting in major SEO brownie points for the popular big-name brand. Smaller companies have much less brand recognition, making it much harder to score backlinks. 

Solution: To help build your link portfolio, you should regularly create highly shareable content. Infographics, for example, generate high levels of search traffic because they are easy to understand and easy to share. And when other companies want to feature your infographic, they should include a link that leads back to your site. You can also offer to be a guest blogger or write testimonials for reputable third-party sites, which provides you with opportunities to link back to your company website, as well. And lastly, you can donate to nonprofit organizations in exchange for sponsorship mentions and backlinks.

If you’re a startup or small business, it’s important to remember that SEO struggles are natural and a normal part of building and maintaining a digital brand. Just stay focused, create an iron-clad SEO strategy, and don’t be afraid to seek professional guidance to help keep you on track.

Need help creating and executing an SEO strategy for your small business? Drop us a line.