If you run a Google search for coffee, Starbucks is the top result. If you do a Google search for smart phones, Apple is the top result. This is the way the Web is, and sometimes it seems like big brands are so present and popular that they continue to win more of what they've already won. All things considered, if that were true, then no one else would ever find much success in their SEO endeavors, so where are the smaller brands beating out the bigger brands? The truth is, for all the hype that big brands have, there are certain areas in which they fall short, and understanding those shortcomings can catapult your small but mighty brand into the ring. Here's where big brands don't do SEO too well and the hacks you need to compete with them.
1. Local SEO
It may surprise you to know that the bigger the brand is, the bigger the struggle to manage local SEO is. Big brands thrive off of brand recognition and exposure on a regional level. With their focus centered on beating out competitors of similar size and notoriety, emphasis on large scale recognition often takes precedence over localized details. Think about Nike, for example. If Nike's internal team is focused on managing a web presence that supersedes competitors, it becomes more difficult to maintain and update the information on individual Nike stores. If there are hundreds of Nike stores across the United States that have individual store hours, updates, promotions, or services, but the focus of their management is to push the brand on a scale as big as the brand, then the local SEO can fall through the cracks.
This is where you can practice better SEO than a powerhouse brand. A smaller brand will likely mean fewer locations, and fewer locations can make it easier to maintain accurate information within search engines or assistance apps, such as Foursquare or Yelp. You can use your small brand to have a big local impact that essentially markets itself with reliable details by having a little commitment to maintaining directory information.
2. Restrictive Keywords
Big brands tend to concentrate exclusively on brand keywords without trying to rank for loosely related keywords that will broaden their consumer reach. Why? Because they don't have to. Nike doesn't need to rank for non-brand keywords because everyone already knows the Nike brand. Instead, Nike focuses on outranking brands like Under Armour on the keywords relevant to their industry and product. While not having to focus on non-brand keywords is certainly to the advantage of bigger brands, it could be to your advantage, too.
The absence of bigger brands targeting non-brand keywords leaves a space for smaller brands to elbow their way in. Utilizing keywords and phrases that aren't quite as brand specific can open up your market and push just enough users in your direction to increase smaller brand visibility.
3. SEO Immobility
The bigger the brand is, the longer the chain of command gets, which can really slow down the process of putting SEO into action. Let's say an effective new SEO method comes out and someone at a big brand company wants to put it into action. It might take ten meetings, twenty signatures, and weeks before that action gets approved, by which time the brand is late to the optimization party. This is largely due to the fact that with really big budgets comes a lot of signing-off protocols and hoops to jump through, making implementing new ideas and strategies difficult.
This isn't so much of an issue for smaller brands, where the chain of command is typically shorter. Having the ability to pivot your SEO strategy can't be understated, because it gives you the chance to implement different ideas quickly and remain a leader of optimization trends as opposed to a follower of them.
Asserting your smaller brand can be difficult when the Web seems to be dominated by big name brands, but in using these niches you can actually use those big brands to leverage your own visibility.