Yesterday, we asked the question Can small businesses compete with the big boys?. All this week, we’ll be looking at the subject in more depth.

A few years ago, a concept that has become known as the long tail gained currency and was recognized as a viable way for niche businesses to make money online.

In a nutshell, the theory suggests that while big companies have the money to bid on major keywords such as ‘holidays’ and ‘car insurance’, there is just as much to be gained by the aggregate effects of optimizing for many hundreds of less searched-for terms.

In other words, you may never afford top position for ‘holidays’ but you might find that you can perform well on searches such as ‘child-friendly lettings in Dorset’. And while the latter search might only bring you, say, three or four searches a month, put a lot of them together, and suddenly you are getting respectable traffic.

Unfortunately, as time has passed, the big businesses have cottoned on to the benefits of the long tail, too. The prime example is Amazon – utterly optimized for any search for any book title, and the other goods it now carries, too. Not only is their entire site structured to build SEO into every element; but also, they can afford the staff and the development to ensure that every new page is optimized to the hilt.

For a small businessperson, the website is almost always one of many responsibilities that come with managing a business. They certainly don’t have the time to monitor search engine positioning and add every long tail term they can think of to their site. The only way to capitalize on the long tail phenomenon is to outsource SEO, and it does make sense to do so (that’s something we can do; just drop us a line if you’re interested).

Success with the long tail will very much depend on your business, and who your current online competitors are. But it’s definitely worth looking in to – or asking us to do that for you.