Search Engine Optimization and Website Consulting

You scroll past the banner advertisements and then enter your search term. You pass sponsored results without a second thought. You disregard the shaded results on the right and the sponsored results at the bottom. You eventually discover the desired outcomes buried somewhere in the midst of everything.
Welcome to the world of natural search, where mom-and-pop shops compete with multimillion-dollar corporations and multimillion-dollar corporations compete with multibillion-dollar corporations. Although many will argue otherwise, the playing field is relatively level.

For a variety of reasons, small companies can and do dominate their behemoth competitors in this world.

What Is Organic Search?

For those unfamiliar with the term, natural or organic search refers to the editorial search results on any given search engine. It is claimed that these results are completely unbiased, meaning that the search engine will not accept any payment to influence the rankings of specific websites. This is very different from the paid advertising that appears in sponsored or featured results, where the companies willing to pay the most per visitor are rewarded with higher positions.

Why is organic search significant?

Those who understand the distinction between paid and natural results are more likely to hold the natural results in higher regard, similar to how a magazine reader would likely be more influenced by an article about a company than by a paid advertisement from the company.

It is also likely that natural search will grow in significance over the next few months. The FTC will likely scrutinize Yahoos new Site Match program, which mixes some paid results with natural results (even though the fees paid are not supposed to influence rankings). This type of public attention will undoubtedly educate some oblivious users regarding the nature of sponsored results. Moreover, other search engines are likely to use this to differentiate themselves from Yahoo. It is not a coincidence that Ask Jeeves announced the elimination of its similar program the day after Yahoos new program was introduced, citing the impossibility of producing impartial results using this methodology. Microsoft also recently asserted that it is taking measures to further distinguish paid results from organic results. Regardless of the final outcome, one likely consequence of this increased focus on paid search engine advertising is that more average searchers will become aware of the distinction between paid and organic search results, and many will instinctively favor the latter.

What benefits do large corporations enjoy?

Large businesses do possess a number of distinct advantages when it comes to natural search.

a. Links –

The primary advantage of large corporations is their ability to acquire a large number of inbound links, which can have a significant impact on search engine rankings. Frequently, these links are provided without the companys request (or being aware that it is happening). Many of the enormous corporations vendors, affiliates, partners, etc. are eager to demonstrate their affiliation with the company and link to the corporate site readily and without reciprocity. Through a simple corporate policy requiring inbound links from any company wishing to collaborate with them, large corporations can also facilitate enormous increases in link popularity. Additionally, very large corporations may have multiple websites, which can sometimes be linked together effectively to increase link popularity.

b. Budget –

Although history demonstrates that a large proportion of major corporations do not spend wisely in this area, larger corporations typically have larger marketing budgets than smaller competitors. However, this does not necessarily imply that they will readily allocate a portion of this budget to search engine optimization, as will be explained in the following section.

What advantages do smaller businesses possess?

Although it can be difficult to overcome the advantages of large corporations, particularly in the area of link popularity, it is often unnecessary to attempt to do so. Large companies seem to consistently shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to natural search engine optimization, which is one of the primary reasons why small businesses can often outperform them. Particular benefits include:

a. A willingness to pursue the channel –

Typically, smaller businesses are more willing to allocate resources to natural search than their larger counterparts. For a major corporation to engage in this new channel, which is radically different from the traditional marketing strategies used to build the giant, enormous events must occur. Few corporate subordinates are willing to put their necks on the line by recommending something wholly novel and unproven. Even when a large corporation investigates natural search engine optimization as a potential marketing tool, a final decision can take many months or even years.

b. A willingness to change the company website

When it comes to changing the company website, large corporations face similar challenges. Within such organizations, removing even a comma from the text of a secondary page typically requires multiple upper-level management meetings and, ultimately, a board presentation. Smaller, leaner businesses can approve necessary website changes more rapidly and are almost always more willing to quickly adapt to the needs of both visitors and search engines.

Larger companies have more internal resources at their disposal and are less likely to outsource this specialized service to someone with demonstrated expertise. Frequently, search engine optimization is treated as an afterthought and assigned to an IT professional who is typically overworked and will approach the problem from a purely technical perspective. Natural search engine optimization is a combination of technology and marketing. Newcomers to the field (particularly those who view the discipline as a purely technical issue) frequently make fundamental errors that at best fail to produce results and at worst put sites at risk of being penalized.
Large corporations are more likely to have technical issues on their website that prevent search engines from indexing every page. Frequently, the pages of corporate websites are generated on the fly from large databases, and such pages (without modification of the URLs) are rarely indexed. In addition, although usability studies are causing this to occur less frequently, some large corporations have websites built entirely in flash or employ other search engine-invisible technologies.

The Conclusion

Search engine optimization is typically a very small piece of a massive puzzle for most large corporations, and it is a piece that they have been missing for years. Often, the steps required to fully embrace the channel are sufficient to halt even the most well-intended initiatives. As most search engine optimization experts will tell you, household name companies consistently make some of the most egregious search engine mistakes, giving their smaller, leaner competitors the opportunity to capitalize.
You can find assistance with website design and search engine marketing at www.onlinewebconsultants.com. The experts here are knowledgeable and certified in search engine optimization and marketing.

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