Being a Big Fish in a Little Pond

Being a Big Fish in a Little Pond

When it comes to search engine marketing, companies generally want to rank as high as possible in search engine results as possible for as many terms as possible. And while that may be a logical thought process, it isn’t a reality that most companies are going to be able to lock down multiple high rankings for terms about their business. It can be done, with a lot of work and likely even more money – but that’s not the point of this article. I’m looking to target those ‘less searched’ keyphrases in hopes to land some big returns in conversions (notice I said conversions, not traffic.)

We have all heard the idiom, “Be a big fish in a little pond” – but how does that relate to search engine marketing? An example I like to share with my clients, especially ones in the Columbus area, is an example about ranking for “Columbus Website Design“. Doing a search on that in Google nets you 35,400,000 results (when I did the search on 2/4/14). As a newer, small business owner, how can you logically expect to be #1 on this list of established businesses with more resources, more content and more momentum than you?

The short answer? You aren’t.

You can spend time creating the best content, getting the best links, running the best PPC (Pay Per Click) ads and you’ll probably find yourself climbing the charts of the search engine result pages only to find out that your competition is doing the same thing and still ranks higher than you. Through hard work, you may be able to climb yourself into the top 3-5 pages. But considering over 60% of the clicks for a search term go to the top 1-3 results, you can imagine how much traffic you’ll get when you are in the 30-50 range.

Start Thinking Small

So, while I do serve all of Columbus (and beyond), I’m not going to get anywhere by trying to outrank 35,400,000 other sites to grab the attention of those searchers. What I can do – is market to a smaller crowd, Blacklick. I live and work in Blacklick, so if someone from down the street were to see my name pop up in their search results, I have an instant connection with them. Also, there is a significant drop in the amount of search results for “Blacklick Website Design” – 1,300,000 results, to be exact. That’s a 63% reduction in results that you’re competing for. Sure, there’s less searches for “Blacklick Website Design” than there are “Columbus Website Design”, but you can start to see the “Big fish in a little pond” analogy to search engine marketing start to work here.

Dominate Niche & Smaller Markets

Search “Columbus vegan website design” and you’ll find me on the first page (usually between 3-7, but it varies). Am I vegan? Far from it. I can be persuaded to do most anything for a well cooked steak. But I had two vegan clients at one time and while working with them, I shared their stories on my blog and have subsequently gained some rankings for Columbus vegan website design. Weird, right? Two articles on my site and I have infiltrated the first page for several years now. As a matter of fact, when I look at the results right now, I’m the only website designer on the first page. Now, when a client calls looking for a vegan website designer – I’m of course not the person they’re looking for, unless they’re one of those rare pro-other-people-that-eat-meat vegans.

The point here is that while “Columbus website design” is a broadly searched term with a lot of competition, you can delve deeper into a niche of consumers within that search term like Vegans and find some success in ranking for those terms.

Let’s Go Fishing

So, getting back to the analogy, “Be a Big Fish in a Little Pond” – would you rather be a blip on the radar for a broad term that many people search or have the ability to dominate a smaller market that less people are searching for, but might be more qualified leads? Building your site and content around a niche market is a brilliant content marketing strategy that’s worked for many businesses and individuals.


John Young
As a website designer and small business owner, I enjoy working with other small business owners that share my passion for growing their business and being successful online. I specialize in website development and design, email marketing, and providing solutions to my clients’ digital marketing challenges.