3 Ways small retailers can beat the big stores online this Christmas

Too many small retailers are suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out) and applying a shotgun approach to search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies – a trend that is particularly prevalent as more and more businesses shift their marketing online, says one SEO expert.
Director of Elemental Search Limited, George Weir, says spending time and effort on broad keywords like ‘hottest toys’ is counterproductive because not only is there high competition for those types of search queries, by high authority brands and online shopping websites, but the ‘consumer intention to purchase’ is likely to be low.
He said a common reason why so many small mom-and-pop businesses go broad with keywords is for the simple reason of ‘popularity’ due to the significant number of monthly searches performed.
“If you’re a small or medium sized toy retailer, it’s going to be difficult to compete with the big companies like Amazon because they can afford to pour more resource, time and money into optimizing their website assets.
“It’s a classic case of David and Goliath, so pick your stones and ready your sling” says Weir.
He offered the following tips to help small retailers get the most from their SEO:
1. Go niche with your keyword phrases
“If you are a toy store, for example, rather than pouring efforts into optimizing for broad keyword phrases such as ‘hottest toys 2019’ – be more specific with terms like ‘Fingerlings Untamed Raptors’ or ‘Num Noms Snackables Cereal’.”
A retailer who understands what’s hot and what’s trending will get more cut-through when they niche.
2. Create more content-rich web pages
“Websites with more relevant, useful and well-constructed web pages tend to rank better than those with fewer,” says Weir.
Continuing the example of a toy store, Weir says that instead of just loading a web page with keyword phrases like ‘Num Noms Snackables Cereal,’ actually create an entire, content rich web page about the toy.
“An entire page dedicated to the toy that ‘makes playing with food fun,’ is going to be helpful to parents as well because it’s likely parents represent a good chunk of those searching for the toys,” says Weir.
3. Plan ahead
Weir says many small retailers are still missing out on capturing the names and email addresses of customers when they click online or visit the store.
“Building a database of your customers for next Christmas is a no-brainer. Added to that, capture information about the ages of their children so that when those children are a year older come Christmas 2020, you can be more targeted with your marketing.
Point-of-sale software like Vend make this a no-brainer. The information is incredibly easy to capture and few customers ever decline to give details, particularly if you’re offering incentives such as discounts or lucky prize draws,” says Weir.
Finally, he advises, always write for humans in the first instance not search engines
“Ensure your content is comprehensive, relevant and fulfils the intention of the search – would the user browse elsewhere for more information?
“Keep in mind users who are more visual by considering imagery and video, always attempt to optimize for a good mobile experience, find web pages that generate ‘voice search’ results and look for clues on how you can apply similar methods to your content. Take the time to write good page titles and descriptions,” says Weir.
Photo by: Andrew Wulf

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.