It’s been several years since your SMB struggled to gain some positions on the most competitive keywords in Google. But one day, an important brand launches a brand new site. A few weeks later, it is already in first place in Google. Does this scenario sound familiar?
This article is aimed primarily at medium-sized SMEs, who have already tried a rollercoaster ride on the web and have been disappointed by the experience.
Why SMEs have trouble on the web
Why do SMEs have to fight tooth and nail where the big boxes have to publish 2-3 contents to dominate the web? The answer is in one word: “The Brand”. PLoS ONE conducted an experiment to show the value of this one. The researchers presented 4 sodas to volunteers: Coca-Cola, Pepsi, River Cola and T-Cola. They then asked them to taste each soda and note them. The soda marks were visible to the guinea pigs, but there was a trap. A single beverage was distributed in the different cans: a mixture of the first 3 brands, T-Cola having been invented for the experiment.
As they tasted the different sodas, an MRI of the brain of the volunteers was recorded. The results are rich with lessons:
Coca and Pepsi were better rated than the other 2 brands.
During the presentation of River Cola and T-Cola, the brain activity revealed that the volunteers were trying to attribute a value to the product of the displayed brand. This was not the case for Pepsi and Coca as if the simple presentation of the mark was enough to know that the product was good.
During the tasting of the soda (the same mixture each time): the brain activity indicated a greater activation of pleasure for the tasting of (faux) Coca and Pepsi!
For the net, it’s the same thing. Equivalent quality of content / website / community group / customer experience / design / etc, the user prefers what comes from a recognized brand. To make it simple: with equivalent value added, it is much more difficult for the small than for the big one. That’s the power of a strong brand!
Discouraged by this observation, weak brands abandon the digital by saying that they have no chance to break through. They invest resources in blogging or social media and then drop out after a few months for lack of visible results. However, it is by persisting that the results will arrive.
If your business is still relatively new to the world of the web, you will have to experiment, fail, learn, improve. Only then will you succeed. Remember, however, that the rules of the game for SMEs are clearly different from those of large groups. You will need to be more agile and patient. But if you go to the end, you will not be disappointed. The commercial machine you built will continue to run on your own. And you will have sufficiently consolidated your brand on the web to compete with the giants of your industry.
In this article, we will scan one by one the 4 main axes of digital marketing for SMEs (content, SEO, social media, conversion). Each time, we will give you the leads to optimize your investments on the web and accelerate your digital branding.
1. Content marketing for SMEs
- The encountered difficulties
- As you are little present on the internet, the first difficulty is that you do not know your audience:
- What are its expectations?
- Where to find it (so that it too can find you in turn)?
- When and how to communicate with it?
Since you don’t have many digital marketing actions, the second difficulty is that your audience will find little loyalty to your brand. It is necessary to maintain regular contact with it if you want to avoid that it turns to the competition. Still, a lot of your traffic probably comes from people who already know you. These are your “direct traffic”. They can also represent a lot of your organic traffic: in comparison to someone who does not know you, they will probably click more on your brand in SERPs. In summary: the more visibility you have, the more notoriety you have, the more traffic you have and vice versa. We will see how you can get out of this delicate situation!
Priority areas of work
Frequency of publication
First, publish frequently. Insufficient resources, too long or unreliable validation times, etc.: too many SMEs fail due to lack of content. To keep your audience loyal, always keep the same pace, preferably supported. This is important for both search engines and to build loyalty to your readership.
Concerning the type of content to publish, it depends first on the target and the brand to promote. When you have a limited budget, it’s best to focus on written content that allows you to work with specific keywords.
Quality of content
Your content must absolutely bring value to your readers that competitors can’t bring. What drives a reader to read an article is:
The reputation of the entity that wrote/published it.
The perceived interest of the article. For example, the use of effective interactive content strategy (including e-books, quizzes, microsites, infographics, and videos) is the best way to engage your readers within your website that would lead to less bounce rate as compared to static content.
The brand criterion thus comes before the quality criterion of the content. Not just, of course, but we can not do much! To have a chance to be read, shared, mentioned and to get backlinks, your content must be really better than those of your competitors.
For example, you are a little-known recipe site. I try to make lasagne. Why would I try your recipe while Marmiton offers me one, already noted and endorsed by a whole community? You must offer me additional value. You have to differentiate yourself. It can be by offering me a recipe of vegetarian lasagne, gluten-free, reviewed by a starred chef. Or a video recipe. You can also create a simple interfacing module with the nearest drive to buy the ingredients. In short, you must bring me something that Marmiton does not yet bring me.
To conquer your audience, you can also look for influencers. They will introduce you to their own audience. As an SME, you will not immediately have access to national stars. Aim for small influencers first: the goal is already to be recommended to a larger audience than yours.
Testing to improve
For the lack of knowledge of the audience, there are not 36 solutions. Test, test, test. You are not yet known: enjoy it! You can afford not to be perfect. Moreover, do not believe that because it is on the web, it is written for life. This is true, but in practice, people have more interesting things to do than stand out your closet mistakes. And even if it did happen, people zapped.
Try different content formats. Test different frequencies of publications. Test different editorial lines. It is by learning to know your audience that you will improve the quality of your content. And it is with quality content that you will build your audience.
2. SEO for SMEs
The encountered difficulties
To begin with, you should know that Google favors old domain names to recent domain names. Why? Domain names used for spam rarely last very long. So this is a way for Google to verify that your site is perennial.
If you are an SME, your site typically squares on 3 other crucial factors for Google:
- The backlinks: few and coming from sites little known by themselves
- Content: few and have not yet had time to prove themselves.
- The keywords: you do not know well the keywords to target.
People prefer to put links to resources recognized by everyone rather than to an unknown site. So you have to have really high-quality content to have a chance to get backlinks! In addition, as your site is little known, people find it less easily on the web. So they’re less likely to put a link to it.
SMEs often have sites with little content. This is problematic at two levels:
With little content, you’re positioned on few keywords, hence less traffic.
Everything less is an opportunity for someone to put a backlink to you.
These are the words that your audience types in the search engines. They should be seen as the customer’s voice. These small sentences represent the expression of the request. Only here, each keyword can hide several intentions.
Depending on what you sell, these intentions do not all have the same value. To optimize your SEO on the right keywords, you need to understand the intentions that lie behind them.
Priority areas of work
When you are in this configuration, the priority axes are:
- Catch the easiest backlinks.
- Creating useful content.
- Target long-term keywords.
Generally, there is quite a bit of complication in getting quality backlinks. You can, however, initiate some simple actions:
- Register your site in quality directories.
- If you have other websites: putting links from your other sites to the new site.
- Ask your partners to put links to your site. It will always be a good thing!
Content is a master. Each content represents additional opportunities to position yourself on new keywords and get backlinks. Even a badly referenced content without backlink is valuable: it will allow you to learn more about your audience thanks to the data that you will retrieve directly on your site (time spent on the page, etc …). It will help you to improve on the water.
Some keywords are much more competitive than others. The general rule: the more a keyword is lucrative, the more competitive it is. If your site is not yet well referenced on Google, there is no point in attacking the top keywords. Instead, aim for the so-called “long tail” keywords. These are more accurate, low-volume and less competitive.