How Small Businesses Compete with the Big Guys in Search

The local search landscape has changed a lot. You no longer need to have the biggest ad budget to get to the top of search results. In fact, these days, many tools exist to let local, small businesses out-compete big businesses.

Google Knows Where Searchers Are

Google has always tried to provide searchers with the ‘best’ result for a given query.  Part of that answer is that, in most cases, people are looking for results that are close to where they are. This can give local businesses an edge.

With a search like “coffee shop”, Google can have pretty high confidence that searchers are looking for a local place. Businesses with a nearby address will rise to the top of the results.

Service providers have to work a little harder. If you offer services to help get more Instagram followers, for example, you’ll compete with providers who are everywhere unless, you make your local service area clear.

Place-Based Results

New features that Google has added to search results can also play in favor of small businesses.

Google generally shows more place-based results for local queries and fewer webpage results. Even the webpage results that show up beneath place results on local intent searches favor local business websites.

How to Rank Well Locally

How do you make sure your business ranks well for local searches? While no one knows exactly how the algorithms work, there are known factors that help Google to rank you properly.

Google My Business

Google My Business is an online tool where you can tell Google about your business – the kind of business you are, where you’re located, the hours you’re open and more.

On-Page SEO

It’s important to structure your website in a way that reinforces what you’ve told Google in your My Business listing. Use the same words, hours, name, address and phone, and repeat the service area on your website.


Link to relevant businesses and information, especially local resources. This affirms the community that you are part of.


Citations refer to online mentions of your business that may or may not include a link. Ask relevant websites to mention and link to you.


Customer reviews are one of the easiest and most sustainable practices you can implement to improve your SEO. Include reviews on your website and ask people to leave reviews at Google as well.

Social Signals

Be active on social media with the same information and details you share on Google My Business and your website. The more Google “sees” you online, the stronger the signal it gets about what you do and who you serve.


How To Recession Proof Your Business

Guest Post by Karen Wenner Cooper, Team Owner, Platinum Group Real Estate at Pearson Smith Realty

2020 has been a year for the record books in more ways than one! Like it or not, economic downturns and market fluctuations are inevitable. With the global impact of COVID-19 it would appear that we are rapidly heading in that direction (if not already there in some areas). So how do you prepare now, and what do you do then to ensure your business survives and even thrives?

As a business owner in the real estate space I’ve survived major (and minor) market adjustments, and learned a few things along the way.

Here are my top tips.

Protect Cash Flow/Prepare Your Personal & Business Savings

Start now by building strong reserves in both your personal and business accounts. Ideally, have 1 year worth of living expenses in savings at all times. Save, invest, and pay off debts.

As much as possible, stay lean in your expenses, in good times and bad. Heavy overhead can spell disaster in a market downturn.

Being a business owner or entrepreneur is a tricky business and rarely comes with consistent bi-weekly paychecks. Handling budgets can be a struggle when your income fluctuates so much.

What has worked well for me is having a separate business account that all of my business income is deposit directly into. Then each month I establish my family’s budget (which is more predictable, and more similar each month) and then “pay” myself from my business account for the month (transferring more throughout the month if needed). This way large sums aren’t deposited directly into my personal account and there is less of a likelihood of overspending in the moment.

Also, in addition to providing peace of mind, having strong reserves and cash flow will allow you to take full advantage of an adjusted market, which could mean business model changes and shifting direction. Both of which you can do more confidently when you have money in the bank.

Marketing, Marketing, Marketing

Speaking of marketing, don’t quit marketing yourself or your business when markets change! In fact, if possible, this is the time to ramp up your marketing if you can.

This tends to be the first thing to go for many businesses when the markets and economy starts to adjust, which means that this is the perfect time for you to invest more!

Remember that not all marketing has to be expensive. Grassroots (relationship) marketing efforts can be some of your least expensive, and most effective tools.

Relationships Are Key

The stronger your relationships with your clients, community and database, the better your business will fare when the market adjusts. When markets adjust, consumers are far more likely to choose service providers based on quality and experience, those they can trust to get the job done.

It’s no longer about who is the cheapest. This is the time when consumers are most likely to acknowledge your value as a professional and will seek out people that they trust. Focusing on growing and building your relationships will allow you to be this trusted advisor.

Focus On Core Competencies

Identify the pillars in your business (where your business comes from, where you want it to come from) and focus on these areas. When you know who your ideal client is you are able to be more clear to ensure that you spend less time and money “trying things” vs being strategic.

I see many businesses who are tempted to offer many, many things, but the problem is that sometimes when you are doing many different things, none of them are being done well. Also, the consumer doesn’t really know who you are and what you do. When you are clear, the consumer is clear, and they will know when to call you and why.

Be A Specialist

Find and develop your niche. Avoid being a “jack of all trades, master of none”. The more specialized you are, the more dominant you can be in your business.

When you specialize with a particular type of clientele or location it is easier to become known as the “go to” person or business. When markets and the economy shift, the strongest will survive, and that often means those that have a dominating presence.

Look for a customer need and serve it well. Many businesses and services will retain demand despite market conditions, someone needs to thrive, it might as well be you!

You must be willing to adapt if you will be able to adjust to market conditions. Flexibility and a willingness to embrace change will see you through tough times. Don’t confuse being disciplined with being inflexible (I often have).

You need to be disciplined in your marketing and consistent with how you manage your business, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do it in a fluid way. Nothing EVER stays the same. It is important to be able to roll with the punches as they say, and adjust to the changes and market conditions.

Market conditions change, consumer needs changes, ways of doing business and market changes. You need to be flexible, learn all you can, and adjust as needed.

Lastly, stay positive. Refuse to participate in a recession, bad market or market adjustment. Money will continue to change hands. Businesses will continue to operate.

The positive aspect of a recession or downtown is that it will help to weed out the excess competition in some markets or business. The dabblers, the commodities (those whose business model is based on being the cheapest), those considering retirement, the part timers will most likely not survive the market shift (either of their own choosing or not). The professionals will stay. Be a professional.

About the Author

Karen Wenner Cooper is the founder of Empowering Women In Real Estate, and principle behind Empower Coaching by Karen Cooper, providing coaching and marketing systems for women in the real estate industry, and owner of the Platinum Group Real Estate team at Pearson Smith Realty. An 18+ year industry veteran, having served many hundreds of clients, her greatest accomplishments and biggest joy are the three boys who call her “mom”.


How To Create An Online Event That Brings Value To ALL Attendees

Guest Post By Cynthia Battino, BHSP, Transformational Healing Life Coach, Energy Worker, Happiness Expert, Certified Vistage Speaker and Host of Sterling Women

COVID-19 made us shift, pivot, and bob and weave to keep our businesses up and running. Many of us worked virtually and found a new friend, Zoom.

There are other online platforms out there, but what I like about Zoom is 1) it’s free or relatively cheap, 2) it’s easy to use, and 3) it has some great tutorials on how to effectively use the platform.

Shifting from live events to online events can be complicated. Here’s what I have done that make our Sterling Women virtual networking events successful:

  • I make sure that my email blasts are easy to read, and they have a larger than life “Register Here” button. All sponsors are listed on the emails with links to their websites.
  • I send frequent email blasts starting at one a week and then more frequently up to the day of the event. I send one out the morning of the event and give them one last opportunity to sign up.
  • At the events they are given a program in pdf format, plus tips from some of our sponsors. (I always give a business, marketing and happiness tip – since most of the people who attend are business owners). This program also lists the sponsors and has space for them to take notes from the speaker.
  • I have someone helping me with allowing people to attend the meeting (I make them wait in the waiting room when they log on). He/she and the speaker become co-hosts. This way they can share their screen, unmute people and let attendees in after the meeting has begun.
  • We have a speaker who tells their inspiring story to motivate us to keep our doors open and do our best to be profitable – pandemic or no pandemic. This talks to the tenacity and strength of the human spirit.
  • I use the breakout rooms feature and let the attendees be chosen randomly by the software. They have 10-15 minutes to share their elevator speeches and give their contact information on the chat board.
  • I choose two people to give their elevator speech to everyone on the Zoom meeting call. I usually choose someone new to Sterling Women and someone who has been attending for years.
  • I give out some door prizes at the END of the event. This way attendees don’t leave early, and they have something else to look forward to.
  • After the event I send the names, business names, phone numbers and websites of all attendees (no email addresses are shared). They are also sent a survey they can complete so that we can receive important feedback about the speaker, format and event itself. I encourage everyone to schedule a 1:1 with at least one person from their breakout room in the next week.
  • Finally, I keep the core values of our live events the same as our virtual events. The Core Values for Sterling Women are: inclusivity, having fun while doing serious business, a sisterhood (sisters helping sisters), and making sure I give value to our sponsors and everyone that attends one of our events.

Just like I am giving you this information to use as you like, I had someone who taught me about events, and I have an assistant who has been doing events for years for non-profits. I love being the “bridge to abundance” for others. Whether it is connecting people or sharing what I have learned. We all deserve to be as successful as we can (and choose) to be.

About the Author

Life coach, energy worker, speaker, author, certified Vistage Speaker, host of Sterling Women and happiness expert; these are just a few words to describe Cindy Battino. Her coaching comes from her intensive study to become a Brennan Healing Science Practitioner. Previously she graduated from George Mason University with a degree in Economics. In 2011 she founded Transformational Healing in Middleburg, Va. Cindy is a teacher by trade and teaches relationship and life skills. These skills are the tools her clients use to transform their lives from a lack of happiness and success in one area of their life to happiness and success in ALL areas of their lives. She specializes in working with high level executives, business owners, entrepreneurs and much more.