5 Ways to Bootstrap SEO When You're on a Tight Budget
Every business should be implementing SEO strategies in order to improve their website’s search engine rankings. But unfortunately, there are a lot of marketers and small-business owners who are not. Why? Many of them use the “it’s out of my budget” excuse to justify their decision to ignore SEO. However, SEO is more cost-effective than many other forms of marketing, including pay-per-click ads and social media marketing. And while not every business will have the budget to spend thousands every month on an SEO campaign, there are some simple things that you can do to get the most search traffic possible on a tight budget.
1. Google My Business.
Small businesses and brick-and-mortar businesses should focus on gaining local exposure instead of trying to target potential customers located throughout the country. One way to improve your business’s local SEO is by optimizing its Google My Business page, formerly known as Google Places and sometimes called a Google Map listing.
Start by making sure you own the page and have access to make edits to your business' listing. Then move on to filling in any information that is missing on your page. Be as accurate and descriptive as possible, and don’t forget to incorporate a few keywords as well. When choosing categories to describe your business, it’s best to be specific. For example, if you are a personal injury law firm, choose “personal injury attorney” instead of simply “lawyer” or “law firm.”
Take advantage of all the fields, making sure to add your business hours, photos and as much other information as you possibly can. It only takes a few minutes to make these changes, but they can pay off in a huge way. After the page is complete, your business will have a listing on Google that will appear in local searches.
2. Target long-tail keywords.
There are two main types of keywords -- general competitive keywords and long-tail keywords. If you have a limited marketing budget, it’s best to focus all of your SEO efforts on long-tail keywords.
A long-tail keyword is a phrase that is very specific to your customers’ needs. For instance, let’s say you own a small salsa dance studio in Chicago and want to attract new clients who are interested in lessons. A general keyword for your business would be “dance instructor” whereas a long-tail keyword would be “salsa dance instructor in Chicago.”
Both keywords are relevant to your business, but the long-tail keyword is the phrase you should be targeting. Why? There are probably hundreds of other businesses that are targeting the keywords “dance instructor,” which means the SEO competition is fierce. However, there are probably not very many salsa dance instructors in Chicago who are targeting the long-tail keyword. Therefore, you have a better chance of ranking with this keyword since it is less competitive.
Since long-tail keywords are also more specific, small businesses will be able to reach a much narrower audience of people. Someone searching for “dance instructor” may not necessarily be interested in hiring a dance instructor in Chicago or a salsa dance instructor, but someone who is searching for “salsa dance instructor in Chicago” is far more likely to be interested in your services.
3. Incorporate keywords in key spots.
Once you’ve identified the best long-tail keywords to target, start incorporating them on your website. Small businesses should focus on placing keywords within page titles, URLs and content on their website. However, it’s important not to overdo it when incorporating keywords into content. Try to use the keywords in one of the page’s headers and within the first paragraph of the content. This should be enough to get Google’s attention without going overboard.
You can also create new content around your long-tail keywords. Whether a static page or an article/blog post, having a specific page for your long-tail keywords will increase the likelyhood they will rank well organically.
4. Write fresh content.
Publishing fresh content on a regular basis is a great way to improve your website’s ranking within Google’s search results. Why? Every time new content is added to your website, Google’s web crawler will visit your site and index it. This basically means that the web crawler will analyze the website and recalculate how it should be ranked within the search results. The more often you add fresh content, the more often the web crawler will stop by to reanalyze your website. And the more quality pages you have on your site, the more chances for people to find you on search engines.
It’s important to note that the web crawler will not boost your website’s ranking simply because the content is new. The content must still be high quality, unique, relevant to your audience and formatted correctly in order to make an impact. If you continue to post high quality and relevant content, the web crawler may eventually realize your website is valuable to people searching for your targeted keywords.
It may seem like a hassle to write fresh content on a regular basis, but it doesn’t have to be. You are the expert on your business, so you should be able to think of a handful of topics that you can easily write about. If you’re not a strong writer, focus on writing “how to” or “list” articles. The content in these types of articles can be broken down into smaller paragraphs that contain basic information, so it is fairly simple to write an article in one of these formats.
5. Get some links.
One of the oldest yet still most important factors in SEO is link building. Search engines basically view a link to your site from a 3rd party website as a "vote" that you should be shown higher in search results. The more high quality links you have, in general the higher you will rank.
Link building can be one of the most time consuming aspects of SEO, however for businesses looking to take on their own link building, start with some of the low hanging fruit such as business directories, yellow page listings, local newspapers or publications, chambers of commerce and business associations. Most businesses can build a dozen links through these methods in just a few hours time.
These SEO strategies can be implemented by any business with a limited marketing budget. By following these tips, you can improve your business’s search engine ranking and drive more traffic to your website.