SEO on a Budget – But first a bit of history
So you’ve built yourself a website. Now what? I receive a lot of inquiries on Facebook and LinkedIn looking for free advice (that’s a rant for another day) and today I was asked about SEO on low budget websites. Individuals who have started a business with no real knowledge of how to start one, and the myriad of tasks involved to set up their online ‘shop’. When we broke away from the need to buy or lease a store front, the path was paved for anyone to become an entrepreneur. In the old days, any website would do. As long as you had a domain name and some content on the page, you were golden.
Those days are long gone.
There are more active websites today than there are people on the planet. When you consider how many third world countries don’t have internet access, let alone the ability to build a website, it means the rest of us have been really busy hanging multiple shingles.
Competition is fierce
In today’s digital marketplace, the competition is fierce and only the best rise to the coveted Page One of Google. If your business is landing on page two – or worse – you’ve got a lot of work to do. Gone are the days people scroll through page after page of SERPs (search engine results pages). Internet searchers will type in a word or phrase and look at Page One. If they don’t find what they think they’re looking for — they rephrase the search and try again. Adios, page two businesses.
How can you improve SEO without spending a fortune?
Well, first off it doesn’t cost a fortune to improve your SEO. There are a lot of shysters out there, for sure, that will take your money and not do a thing for you in the long run. They’ll promise they’ll add your site to 700 different search engines and social networks. That doesn’t work or do a thing for you. Save your money. Run far, far away. The work begins on your website. So, what can you do yourself until you can hire a professional (real) SEO strategist?
Real SEO, not the smoke and mirrors kind, but the real stuff is simply content. Words. Well written copy that tells your customers specifically what you do, where you do it, and how your product or service will help them. Google is smart. Very smart. It knows if you’re purposely shoving a bunch of words on the page. It’s called keyword stuffing and they hate that. Write copy that is engaging, well written, and with headings that mean something.
If you write well, that’s a huge step in the right direction. Don’t know how? Hire a copywriter. I use Heather Parrott of Maroon Ink for my clients. On a super tight budget, try to write it yourself. New website owners usually go through phases. If you’re in the ‘low-budget-build-it-yourself’ mode, do the best you can.
Do some research
There are a ton of SEO and Keyword apps that will help you discover what words people are searching with to find a business like yours. SEMRush, SERP Stat, Keyword.io and many others offer limited use searches for free. You may not understand all the data they provide, but it becomes pretty clear what’s popular and what isn’t.
Ask your friends
A simple concept, but ask your friends what they would type to find your kind of business. You’ll likely get a dozen different responses. Good! Use those words in your copy.
Research your competition
Using the same SEO services, you can research other companies that do what you do. What words are they using? Are they working for them? Researching the competition is the easiest way to not make the same mistakes.
Local Business SEO
If your customer base is only (or mostly) local you need to define your market to your area. Your SERPs are more defined to your area, and in many ways easier to optimize. Build a Google Local profile, stat. Then include your location in your copy in various ways. I live 70 miles west of Fort Worth. But if I wanted to get local business I would also mention Dallas, the DFW metroplex, Fort Worth, Arlington, and even the counties those cities reside.
One word of warning, Google Local assumes you have a store front, and will include your address. If your address, like mine, is your home you need to know that it will show a picture of your Google Streetview. If you’re a single woman and don’t want people coming to your house unannounced – use discretion. You can fiddle with the addressing to show just a city.
Improve your website platform
One of the biggest mistakes is choosing the wrong website framework to build your site. These days anyone can build a site. There are hundreds of do it yourself website builders that make it easy. Some are better than others. If you have zero experience in building a site, these platforms look appealing. But, there are downsides to a few. Some prevent Google from ever crawling your site and giving you any sort of SEO ranking. No matter what you do, you’ll never, ever, appear in the results.
You can always improve your ranking by doing some simple updates. Better content, better platform, sage advice. When the time comes and you do have a budget, hire a professional that knows and understands business and the digital world in which we work. A pretty website isn’t enough. Make sure your developer knows business and that she can help you succeed in it.
SEO can be accomplished with a small budget
You can do a lot towards improving your rank yourself. If you need to start small with little to no budget you can do it. It just takes time and work and bit of knowledge. Do your homework.
Are you ready to hire a professional?
SEO is an ongoing process. You don’t do it once and forget about it. If you are wanting to improve your business, a site and marketing collateral audit is the place to start. Let us take a look at what you have, research your competition, devise a plan, and jettison your business to the next level.