How to Set Up an SEO Campaign With A Limited Budget

​​Patrick Foster, e-commerce writer & marketer
Ten years e-commerce experience under the belt, with a more than a fair helping of SEO know-how. Writing articles to help entrepreneurs and small businesses.

How to Set Up an SEO Campaign — Everything You Need to Know About Your First Steps into the World of SEO

For those who have never done any SEO work, it’s a subject area which can seem strange and daunting. But don’t worry, we’re here to take you by the hand and help you take those first steps into the world of SEO campaigns. You’ll find that it’s not so daunting, or as difficult, as you might have first expected…

SEO for Entrepreneurs

Are you an entrepreneur who’s doing everything yourself? If so, you can still get your SEO campaign going with some simple steps. And don’t worry — funds are obviously going to be tight in these early, tentative days, but there are actually quite a lot of things you can do without spending a thing!

Here’s an overview of some of the things you might like to do when you have the chance:

  • Keyword Research: It’s easy to do a bit of keyword research and this should help you decide what parts of your business could do with more SEO help — whether that’s building more contextually relevant links, or optimising pages slightly differently. Free tools like make it easy to get an idea of the important keywords for different search engines — track keywords and rankings on a monthly basis to keep an eye on campaign success and value.
  • Profile Links: If you’re running an online business, the chances are that you’ve already got quite a large internet presence, but it can be easy to neglect simple profile links in the rush of setting things up. Go through all of your accounts on different sites and make sure that there are links to your website on all of them. Individually, these links won’t carry much weight, but they’ll all help to contribute to your backlink profile. Some sites give you the opportunity to include links in more than one place — use all the SEO real estate that you can! (Here is a list of sites to join and places to get links from — some of them you may not use regularly, but it’s worth registering just for the link).
  • Forum Links: Are you a respected member of any forums? If so, you might like to try sharing a link to your site on them. As these people are probably like you, they should be happy to hear about your project; but make sure that you link back to a resource page or a post, rather than to a generic commercial page. If it generates a lot of conversation that’s good because a link in a popular thread can be quite valuable. Do not create accounts just to share links — usually, moderators will not allow it anyway and it is a very spammy form of SEO. You can also undertake some high-quality blog commenting for your business, which is great for powerfulno-follow links. Again, add value and don’t fall into the trap of being too promotional.

When you’re doing everything for yourself, SEO is probably going to be lower down on your list
of priorities, but you shouldn’t neglect it. If you can find the time, these three things are definitely worth doing — just remember to approach anything like this with a measured approach, as search engines are suspicious of sudden changes and new domains.

Small/Medium Sized Business SEO

If you’re a small business, then you may be in a position to hire somebody specifically to run your SEO campaign. With somebody dedicated to this full time (or even part time), you can get a little more ambitious with it.

Here’s what you could do with an SEO person on your team:

  • Blogger Outreach: An important aspect of SEO, is the number of blog posts which link back to your site — it shows that you are creating relevant content, have authority, and are a trusted business. An SEO team member can make connections with bloggers and arrange for them to either write about your business for you, or for them to host guest posts. This is not something which is endorsed by Google unless you focus on value exchange (rather than links), but it is effective if you can be discrete and build good relationships with blogger communities. Alternatively, if there’s no time for this, you might like to check out these other link building methods.
  • Competitor Research: Find out what terms your competitors are ranking for and, more interestingly, the terms which they are not ranking for. If there are any terms with a high search volume, which your competitors are not going for, you should definitely try to fill that gap. You can also check out where your competitors are getting links from… and then register for the same directories, or reach out to the same sites! Tools like SEMrush can really help you to obtain this information — paying for SEO tools will definitely help you take your campaigns to the next level, but try to consolidate costs into a few useful tools.
  • Research-Driven Content: A dedicated SEO would have much more time to dedicate to keyword research. They could help to ensure that the content you are producing is as fine tuned for SEO as possible, helping it to rank more highly and improving the rankings of your site as a whole. Better content will lead to more successful outreach and link placements — people like to work with brands and businesses with credible content, and quality profiles.
  • Algorithm Research: Most traffic will come from Google and Google is based on an algorithm which is always changing. As a business owner, you are not going to have time to keep up to this, but your SEO can. They can ensure that you’re always following best practices and that you won’t get caught out and lose your rankings when the next change comes (many affiliate sites were caught out by Fred recently).

To hire an in-house SEO, you could expect to pay them a salary of around $43,000 — so this is probably not going to be an option for a lot of people. However, there are a lot of freelance SEO consultants around who would be able to offer you some sound guidance at a much cheaper price. Speaking to an SEO could actually help you get an idea of more things that you could be doing yourself as well. (Hiring a digital manager to do SEO, PPC, social media, content and everything else might seem like a good idea at first…but can anyone really be an expert at everything?)

SEO Agencies

If you really want to push forward with a strong SEO campaign, then your best bet is to hire the services of an SEO agency. Doing this, you are most likely to be dealing with professionals who really know their stuff and the risk of working with SEOs who aren’t well enough informed is much lower.

Here’s the sort of things you can expect from SEO agencies:

  • Monthly Reports: These will let you know how you’re doing for different search terms and how many links and mentions are being built for you every month. You can also see how well your competitors are doing comparatively. This will help you decide what you want to focus on. Let them know your wishes and they will carry them out — reports can be modified to suit your business needs, and can also include things like revenue and projected growth.
  • Site Audits: If you want to get a really comprehensive overview of your current status, SEO-wise, then you could get them to carry out a full site audit. They can find out where all your links are coming from, which ones are beneficial, and which ones are harmful. They can look at every page on your site, make sure everything is working as it should be and alert you to anything which needs to be worked on. Even just paying for an SEO audit might be worth it — you will have plenty of actionable advice and next steps to implement from it.
  • Quality Link Building: A good SEO agency will get you links from all kinds of different sites. This variety of links will then help your website to rank more highly. An agency should be able to identify good, strong, honest sites which could give you a link. They’ll avoid spammy sites which could ultimately be detrimental, and will probably focus on high-quality editorial work. Not only will this help you build up your link profile, but it will also potentially help to bring in traffic too, from the people clicking on those links.
  • Specialisms: SEO agencies often become good at something, whether that’s outreach, technical SEO, e-commerce, or social media. Shop around for an agency with similar clients. If you are in e-commerce, agencies may specifically deal with only Shopify stores, or they may be WordPress or Drupal experts. Make sure that they have a full understanding of your CMS — the technical aspects of SEO are just as important as content and links.

Pricing will range a lot on this. If you can only afford a little, then you might like to pay for a slightly smaller service from an agency. Then, of course, there’s also the fact that there are huge differences between individual agencies. If any of them seem too good to be true in terms of pricing, you might want to find out more about their methods: they might be unreliable and outdated.

So in conclusion, if you are going to start up an SEO campaign for your business, there are several different paths open to you. Of course, different options won’t be available to all businesses, but there are tips here for businesses of every size. SEO is extremely important and now that you know how to get started, it would be a good idea to invest as much time as possible into doing so.

This article was first published on the Ginger Marketing Blog:

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