Results (year over year) 

  • Organic search sessions up 56% 
  • Subscribers up 146% 
  • Leads up 40% and 131%, respectively 

Does Google punish small sites? 

It’s true that certain challenges can make it more difficult for small sites to compete with larger, more established ones. 

This was the scenario for one small biz who seemed to be doing everything right but did not compete well in Google. 

Many small businesses have struggled since Covid due to supply chain issues, inflation, keeping enough quality employees. I’ve kept up with many of you during this time of waiting and my small biz has struggled too.

If your business serves a niche market with strong customer support, then SEO is likely a growth channel for you.

I shifted the SEO strategy for this small biz in April 2023 to optimize pages around prospect intent and user experience to better align with what prospects want. 

The goal: help the company become an SEO and conversion driven business. 

1. Category pages can attract people with both purchase and research intent, so I aimed to assist prospects in both areas. 

In this case, the products are handmade art figures that are antiques, collector’s items or decorative pieces and they are not cheap.  

I provided an overview of the products along with the value proposition of the business for each category of products. 

When I consider what it feels like as a prospect in this market, I found ways to be transparent with them, like removing products that are sold out or no longer available, rather than cluttering the category page and creating the illusion that a product is available when it isn’t.  

(Note: removing the link to these product pages did create orphaned pages, but that did not negatively impact rank for the category page.)

In addition, I removed over optimization and things that cause confusion and added user experience value. 

2. Prospects can be skeptical, so I ensured the product page offers comprehensive, transparent information to address their questions and concerns.  

For example, when an art collector sees an item, they know whether it’s genuine or imitation and if the price is a bargain, fair or inflated. 

So, I give them every detail that an appraiser would request to evaluate the piece: the item’s history, notable features, dimensions, materials, condition, etc. 

For art, a collector is most drawn to the images, and if done well, this can create an emotional connection. 

I wanted product pages to focus on people with purchase intent. 

Search term conversion rates

Impressions from Google began climbing within a month of upgrading many of the category and product pages. 

This approach not only helps in converting the most discerning buyers but also boosts confidence in less knowledgeable prospects, leading to higher overall sales and improved SEO performance. 

3. Establish and nurture key relationships to foster long-term success.

I spoke with the leaders of organizations dedicated to this type of art and learn about their goals and progress. Their opinion on specific resources I plan to create helps me learn which ones they find beneficial.

I engaged with artists and other professionals involved in the industry and can invite some for an artist spotlight.

I’m reviewing feedback from customers and prospects to seek out prime opportunities to request customer reviews. 

Building key relationships not only boosts immediate sales but also fosters long-term loyalty and trust in the brand. 

4. Build trust with skeptical prospects 

When reviews came from those who were happy, not only with their purchase but about their entire experience with the company, this took the site’s performance up a level. 

Happy customers can create growth! 

Encourage reviews at the appropriate time post-purchase and make the request personal. If possible, have the person who corresponded with the customer send the request. 

For product and business reviews the company uses EmbedSocial because it’s easy for customers, they have a good support team and deal with issues that come up in a timely manner. 

For Google to see the reviews, I added schema markup using JSON-LD and only on an appropriate page. 

Utilizing customer reviews is merely one way to build trust with skeptical prospects, there are many ways: influencer partnerships, entertainment, community building and way more (like the next tip). 

5. Produce resources that help people solve problems related to the product

Create valuable resources to enhance your SEO strategy and begin to establish your site as an authority in your industry. 

And since I had established and nurtured key relationships, I was prepared and ready. 

For one category, I put together a buyer’s guide that involved input from end users and is updated each year. 

I also created a DIY guide to improve a figure’s appearance and value with a humorous tone. This guide was better than any I found for this type of art; it included step-by-step photos, tools, supplies and links to purchase them, usually from retailers in the industry, not just Amazon. 

After publishing each resource, I let my key people know about them. 

The DIY guide rose to the top for many keywords used by people who already own this art. 

And I have plans to create more valuable resources that are laser focused on helping prospects. 

If you can help prospects make an informed decision with content like a buyer’s guide, expert interviews, comparisons, evaluation criteria or research reports, prospects will want to thank you for helping them and they probably won’t forget you even if they don’t buy now. 

An emotional connection with prospects can bring long-term goodness. 

You feel me?

The results 

These graphs from GA4 compare data from May 2023 – May 2024 to the previous year’s data: May 2022 – May 2023, before the shift in SEO strategy. 

Organic search sessions up 56% 

Subscribers up 146%. Leads up 40% and 131%, plus other events added less than a year ago.

User engagement up 54%

This approach to enhancing prospect intent and user experience has proven to be highly effective, and with continuous effort and adaptation, the company is well positioned to maintain its competitive edge in the market. 


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