As the Internet reaches maturity and digital marketing continually evolves and changes, the most effective sales channels available to businesses and websites also change. At this stage, most channels fall into one of two categories: organic or paid. Organic channels, such as organic social and SEO, allow site administrators to work with algorithms and partners to maximize reach and connect with target demographics. Paid channels, alternatively, make site visitors available to sites through dynamic paid advertisements and campaigns.
Though it’s technically an organic form of digital marketing, effective SEO can require tools and resources that require large budgets. In some cases, small businesses and start-ups have issues furthering their SEO campaigns for lack of capital or available hours to work on it themselves. To help these small businesses claim the organic search traffic available to them, our team has designed an SEO guide for businesses and organizations with smaller budgets. Below, be sure to consider which steps can be implemented sooner rather than later and which processes could provide the most value to your business or organization as it stands.
Content & Keyword Strategy
On-site optimization is a good first step for any website administrator to begin with. It is fully within your control how well optimized your site and its written content are for the web and the Google algorithm. We recommend that you start off auditing your site’s content and sitemap.
Ask yourself questions such as…
- Are there any pages that are targeting the same keywords/SERPs?
- Is the content on my site’s primary pages keyword-dense, optimized, or neither?
- Am I including keywords in my site’s meta titles and descriptions?
- What keywords am I even going for?
Once you’ve made these considerations, undertake some keyword research to better understand your positioning.
Keyword research involves gathering information on the different keywords you’re considering for your site. Tools like SEMrush provide robust keyword data, however, if you have a Google Ads account already, you can use the free Keyword Planner there to do research as well. The findings of your research should include the search volume for your keyword ideas and the keyword difficulty percentage of those keywords.
Search volume is usually listed as the number of times a keyword is searched during an average month. Keyword difficulty is a rating that exemplifies how much competition is available for a keyword. This is an indicator of how hard it will be to rank well for that keyword.
Once you’ve done a preliminary round of research, build out some variants of your original keyword ideas and test those. Try switching the order of the words, using synonyms in place of commonplace terms, or adding a city name to these keywords. The more information you have on what’s available and workable, the more likely you are to choose keywords which will provide you exposure to users that are in the market for your content, product, or services.
Once keyword data has been collected and you’ve selected your most useful keywords, implement those in your site’s content. Decide which keywords you’ll target with the site’s homepage, location pages, and service/product pages, and list them out with their corresponding pages.
Focus first on optimizing the homepage. Homepage keywords should be as regional as necessary while also giving visitors a simplified understanding of the service your business provides. Inject important overarching keywords into the body content, headers, meta titles, and descriptions. For meta titles, try implementing the theory of keyword proximity, which suggests that keywords earlier in the field are more highly considered by Google’s algorithm. Don’t be afraid to start with a city name either. It’s a matter of testing different methods, however meta titles beginning in city names can provide you a boost in local searches.
Once the homepage is finished, inject keywords into these fields for every page you’re looking to optimize. Optimize content on the site’s homepage, location pages, and service/product pages. As long as you eventually submit updated page URLs to Google Search Console (once setup), you should see improvements in site rankings from keyword optimization alone.
Remember, on-site optimization is in your control and totally free with the price of your best practices, and add the most useful keywords to your site’s pages.
According to Moz, a prominent resource and tool provider in the SEO landscape, Local SEO can be defined as “anything you do on the web to promote a physical business that makes face-to-face contact with its customers”. What are some low-cost ways that businesses with websites can promote their physical locations online? The answer would be Google Map listings through Google My Business and other forms of local listings.
Google My Business
To maximize your business’s reach locally, it’s extremely important that you set up and verify a Google Map listing for your business. This will do a couple of things. It will garner your business and website more exposure on Search, given that 60% of Google searches are done via mobile devices (Statista). It will also reinforce your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) on the web. This boosts Google confidence that your business is legitimate, therefore giving your site more potential to rank you higher for other campaign efforts.
Setting up a Google Map listing can also provide accurate contact information, product/service descriptions, photos, operating hours, and more to users who never make it to your website. It can even drive more users to your website. Whether it be in the “Map Pack” or the Google Maps mobile application, Google Map listings appear all over the SERPs we generate. Create your listing today to get your piece of the pie.
Other Local Listings
If you’re interested in sending more positive local signals to Google, feel free to create listings on other local directories such as Yelp, Yellowpages, Bing, Hotfrog, etc. You can also work with a third-party platform, such as Moz Local, to handle these local listings for you. At $129/year, it is not free, but it could be a solid investment to make if you manage a local/regional business with a physical store or office location.
Affordable Forms of Link Building
Link building is one of the most essential techniques involved in SEO. The more citations and backlinks your business and website have across the web, the more confidence and trust Google has in your legitimacy. Link building, when done consistently, can significantly raise your site’s Domain Authority score and improve your site’s rankings as well. Consider these 4 methods of link building and begin acting on them. Remember, free with no price attached links are encouraged to stay in Google’s good graces. These four methods should allow you to build links with little to no capital investment.
Blog sites, both large and small, are always on the hunt for quality content to post for their audiences. One way to build solid links is to pitch blog sites with free, original content written by you. Should sites choose to agree to the terms and accept your blog post, they’ll win content, organic traffic, and labor at no cost. In return, you can win too if you include do-follow backlink to your website in the content.
Many businesses out there have branded mentions from old news articles or blog posts already on the Internet. Many others have built links in the past and those links were removed or left outdated. For these organizations, link reclamation can be the free link building strategy that they need. Simply reach out to administrators of sites that include branded mentions of your team or your work. This can be done via email or through their Contact pages. Simply request that they add a do-follow link to whatever mention they have of you on their site. Often, these site administrators will simply update mentions and links to your specifications just to avoid conflict. If not, that’s alright. Pick up and move along to the next site. Reclaiming business listings of your online and requesting do-follow links from their admins is free and requires nothing but time and communication.
Outreach Link Building
Say you don’t have any branded mentions or outdated links you can circle around to. However, you are aware of some blog sites in your industry that publish their own quality content. These sites are often willing to link to your site as well, because they are all about providing as much value as possible to their readers. If your site has valuable blog posts or evergreen content, try requesting links to those pages from industry blogs. If you already have an existing post of theirs in mind and a portion of text in their content that you think could work as a link, contact the site managers and pitch the idea. The worst they can say is no, though many will fulfill these link requests for free just to promote valuable information for their readers.
Directory Links (general, regional, industry-specific)
Many directories exist on the web that require no payment at all for quality links. These directories can be geared towards all businesses or businesses in certain regions, states, industries, etc. Search Google for directories such as these that fit your geographical area or industry niche. It can often be as simple as creating an account, building a profile, and submitting your website URL with the profile.
Search engine optimization is about adjusting the elements within your direct control so that they positively impact things like rankings, presence in search, organic traffic, and organic conversions. Not every company has the budget to acquire expensive Chamber of Commerce links or outsource SEO to an established full service digital marketing agency such as Geek Powered Studios.
However, if you have time, drive, and persistence, you can set a solid SEO foundation for your business by optimizing your site’s content for relevant keywords, building quality links, and engaging in Local SEO techniques. There are ways to ramp up costs in these areas, but there are also ways to get solid returns on your work for little to no financial investment.
If your small business has a minimal budget available for SEO, consider the options detailed above. If your business is growing and you find yourself interested in dedicated assistance from a digital marketing agency, contact Geek Powered Studios today!