A Digital Marketing Overview for Small Businesses

February 1, 2021 | Category: ,

For most small business owners, the internet is a crowded and obnoxious place. Far too often are their voices drowned out by larger companies with established clout. Excluding this, there are still infinite amounts of other competitors who are chasing after web traffic. The result is a small minority of ‘big fish’ taking most of the business, while schools of minnows all compete over the leftover scraps. 

So how can you make your business stand out from the crowd?

Most small businesses use the technique to give themselves a competitive advantage in the digital market by employing SEO and SEM strategies. While it may seem that more prominent companies hold all the cards, small businesses have their benefits as well. 

This article will provide a general overview of digital marketing for small businesses.


What Advantages Do Small Businesses Have? 

Though big businesses have access to more resources, they often suffer from the limitations and confusion caused by their size. The following advantages of being grounded and having less bureaucracy can be directly applied to SEO media strategies. Additionally, the birth of the internet has evened the playing field, if only a little. 

Small businesses are more hands-on

One of the essential aspects of SEO is utilizing keywords, and keywords are understood through consumer intent. Small businesses tend to be more directly involved with their operations and understand what their clients are after. 


Small businesses are grounded

Following the first point, smaller businesses tend to appear more ‘human’ since fewer people are involved. There are no large customer service departments or other diversions to go through with a small business. Without this wall, it is easier to identify with the actual people who provide services.  


You’ll experience less bureaucracy

One of the most underrated advantages that small businesses have over larger corporations is speed. Big companies are complex machines and thus require much more manpower and thought to run. If something needs to change within this complex system, then information must be passed up and down the command chain for approval. With all this red-tape in the way, it can take much longer than needed to affect change. 

By contrast, small businesses can affect immediate and almost instantaneous changes because of their size. There are no departments that must approve of spending, budget cuts, content, or even ads since there is likely one owner in charge. 



What’s the Difference between SEO and SEM? 

A Brief Overview of the two

Search engine optimization and search engine marketing differ in their approaches and their use of media types. SEO involves making your website seem more appealing to google’s algorithm based on structural and informational factors. SEM, on the other hand, uses paid marketing to drive attention. These terms are often not employed exclusively, as they all feed into one another when applied together. 


What is SEO and How Does it Work?

Search engine optimization aims to build websites in a way that makes them relevant to google’s algorithm. This is achieved by creating quality content that will show up as ‘organic search results,’ meaning the website appears without paying for a spot. The more authoritative, relevant, and user-friendly the site appears, the higher the ranking is achieved. Ideally, businesses will want to show up in the number 1 spot marked as a ‘featured snippet.’ 


Within a small business’s control are two kinds of SEO:

What is On-site SEO?

Onsite SEO focuses on including keywords, blog posts, relevant information, readability, and mobile-friendliness. Google’s algorithm analyzes all these factors to determine if the content is relevant to what people are searching for. Most content involved with onsite SEO falls under ‘owned media,’ meaning it is entirely under your control. 


What is Off-site SEO?

This term refers to anything outside of your website that organically promotes or recommends. As a subsect of ‘earned media,’ off-site SEO often comes in external links from other websites or reviews from clients. 


How Does This All Apply to Small Businesses?

Onsite and off-site SEO refers to certain types of media, which can be used by a small business to influence their online ranking. Three types of media to use, each of which will be explained below according to their relevance. 


What are the Main Types of Media, and How Can They Help Small Businesses?

What is Earned Media?

Earned media is a remnant of older forms of media. This kind of promotion is achieved through external recognition of a business’s needs. Some examples include customer reviews, press coverage, recommendations, and reposts on social media. In other words, earned media reflects the collective reputation of a person or business in the eyes of society, whether that be good or bad. 


Small businesses have a slight advantage in earned media since it has traditionally been relied upon. Typically, a small company operates with local people on an in-person basis. The quality of service then feeds into a positive or negative customer experience, which serves as a form of earned media to drive or repel traffic. In the digital space, the same rule applies. By being directly involved with customers on social media, email, or the phone, it is easier for them to identify with your business. More prominent companies are often looked upon as faceless, bloodless corporate entities that deserve no sympathy. Use your human touch to gain an advantage. 

A great example of earned media are online reviews and testimonials.


What is Owned Media?

Opposite of earned media, owned media refers to content that is directly created and controlled by a person or business. The most common forms of owned media are blog posts, websites, social media pages, or even white papers. Like the others mentioned previously, creating owned media to increase web traffic is also manipulating the public dialogue in your favour. For a small business, the goal is to create content that reflects your professionalism and authority over a subject. The more relevant and helpful information that you put out, the more likely it is that people will view your business as a trusted source. 


Types of Owned Media

  • Blog Posts

Blogs, in particular, are an excellent SEO tool used to direct brand influence through informative content. Small business owners can take advantage of their expertise by providing multiple informative articles that answer the questions their customers are looking for.
Unlike in more prominent corporations, small business owners have more direct experience in their field. This results in having a much more grounded knowledge base, which can provide information that more prominent companies miss while also sounding more relevant. Another bonus is that there is no limit to the number of blogs you publish.


  • Company Newsletters

Newsletters often contain updates and other specific information about the company that created them. While it is useful for employees, newsletters are also emailed to consumers to promote their products and services subtly. 

Small businesses have strength in their relationships with consumers, so keeping in contact with them through mail or email is always a plus. If done right, these messages can serve to influence consumers by not appearing ‘spammy subtly.’ 


  • Social Media Posts

While likes, comments, and shares are defined as ‘earned media,’ the actual post made by a company is considered owned media.
This is how companies can directly interact with the public dialogue by publishing their content into a forum like Facebook. 

Use social media to your advantage by providing visual and written content that shows your business’s ‘human’ side. Show the people behind the company attending events, doing everyday activities, or for promotion. Documenting any expansions also helps.


What is Paid Media?

Paid media is a tactic used by businesses to promote their content through the purchase of content. Typically this comes in the form of online ad space, both pop-up and static.
However, there are more organic ways of simulating promotion, such as paying an influencer for a review or even sponsored social media posts. These serve to create web-traffic and increase clicks through repeated exposure. In other words, starting a current in a still river. In this instance, companies are using money to manipulate the open dialogue in their favour. 

Both big and small businesses can use this method, though the more prominent companies have a financial advantage. Short bursts of paid advertising can help by placing your company at the top of google’s search results for a limited time. If your site is nurtured preemptively with the previous organic SEO strategies, paid media can help get the initial attraction started. 


Types of Paid Media

  • PPC (Pay Per Click) 

These ads are often displayed at the top of google search results. For advertisers, the hope is that having a front seat will make customers notice their product more often.
As a result, they are charged per click on the promoted content. As mentioned before, this tactic accomplishes the ranking goals of SEO by buying a spot out. Display ads are another aspect of PPC, though they are the static wallpaper ads seen on websites. 


  • Social Media Ads

Social media sites are collections of public discourse, usually aimed at a specific topic. Youtube is for video content, Instagram is for visual content, and Twitter would be primarily focused on writing.
By inserting ad content in videos or on the sidelines of pages, exposure has increased significantly. The main downside is that this method does not create ‘
organic searches.’ 


The arrival of the internet has created opportunities for all businesses to grow. For more information on some of these marketing methods you can visit our Digital Marketing Services page.

We hope you’ve found this article to be very informative and impactful. You can contact us if you have any specific questions.

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