Affordable SEO: How to Optimize On a Budget
There are many factors that go into running a successful business. Over the past decade, as digital marketing has grown in popularity, the use of search engine optimization (SEO) has also become increasingly important.
SEO helps consumers find your business online when they are searching for specific keywords and terms. By strategically placing these keywords and phrases throughout your website, you can increase your rankings in search engine results. However, like any marketing strategy, SEO efforts can require some budgeting to make it work. Luckily, SEO focuses on online efforts, which means you can implement basic affordable SEO tactics without blowing your budget.
SPRUCE UP YOUR WEBSITE ON-SITE SEO
Your website is the fundamental digital marketing tool for your business. Ensuring that it is optimized for SEO can greatly improve web traffic and lead generation. Your website updates don’t need to be a complete overhaul or redesign. Rather, you can use affordable SEO strategy and make small changes on the back-end editing dashboard to help increase rankings.
Start by ensuring that your website is built with responsive design and is mobile-friendly. If your website is lacking one or both of these design elements, Google’s SEO algorithm will “ding” your site and you’ll receive poor rankings by default. While this could be a more expensive SEO endeavor, it is a must-have if you want to rank well of any search engine.
Next, go through each page of your website and make sure they all have their own unique:
- Page title
- Meta description
- Image alt text
Each page on your website should have a unique keyword. Start by thinking about the information given on the page and what visitors might search online to find that information. Then select a keyword that you have a reasonable ability to rank for and place it in the page title, meta description, URL and body copy. Be sure not to target the same keyword on two pages. This can harm your SEO rankings.
Your individual web pages should also have page titles. You can see this information on the back-end editor of your website (most sites like WordPress or Wix have user-friendly dashboards for editing). Or you can open the page in a new browser window and see if the page’s URL shows up in the tab.
A web page’s meta description is an HTML description of the page’s contents and topic. It is an extremely important part of SEO best practices. (But don’t worry, you don’t need to know how to code to insert a great meta description.). For optimization purposes, keep your meta description under 160 characters and consider including a call-to-action statement, such as “Learn more about affordable SEO tips.” Also, be sure to include the page keyword — this will further help search engines understand what your content is about. Your WordPress, Wix or other web hosting dashboard will then code it into HTML for you.
Your web page URLs are each page’s individual web address and are easy to edit in your website editing dashboard. While you can’t change your website’s main URL (for example watermarkadvertising.net), you can change the slug, or the portion of the URL that follows the main URL and a backslash (watermarkadvertising.net/work). Include the page keyword and keep URLs short, sweet and to the point. Make them just long enough that they tell what the page is about. Longer URLs will harm your SEO rankings.
Lastly, ensure that each and every picture on your website has alt text. Google’s algorithm cannot scan through images for optimization, therefore, image alt text, like a page’s meta description, is an HTML description of the image for Google. This description should be shorter than a meta description and should also include the page keyword.
OPTIMIZE YOUR BLOG CONTENT
A blog is one of the most useful affordable SEO tools available because you, as a business owner, can do it yourself. Because you’re highly-involved in your business, you are the expert in your industry, and therefore, can write and provide credible insight for your consumers.
Like your web pages, each blog post should focus on one unique keyword, and two blog posts shouldn’t target the same one. However, choosing the right keyword requires a little more effort than simply picking a term and writing about it. To pick the best keyword to target, you’ll need to do some research.
A quick search online will direct you to several keyword ranking tools. There are several free versions to try out, and if you find one you like, many offer paid versions that give additional keyword information. Most of these tools will give you a mixture of the same information, including three important keyword criteria:
- Search volume: This tells you how many people are searching for certain keywords and terms in a given month.
- Average cost-per-click (CPC): If you’re interested in pursuing a cost-per-click campaign to further increase your SEO rankings, this tells you the average cost for a CPC campaign for a particular keyword.
- Difficulty to rank: The display of this information will vary, but it tells you the same thing — how hard it would be for a website to rank for that keyword. For example, KW Finder uses a scale from 1–100 to display the difficulty of a keyword, usually with 1 being extremely easy to rank for and 100 being extremely difficult. For a smaller blog, try aiming for keywords on the easier scale, or under 40 in KW Finder difficulty.
The perfect keyword will have a low difficulty score and a high search volume, although, with the popularity of SEO, it is becoming harder for businesses (especially small companies) to find these keywords. If you run into an instance where you have to choose between a keyword with high difficulty/high search volume or low difficulty/low search volume, it’s best to rank for the keyword with a low difficulty/search volume than to not rank at all for the other.
Once you’ve chosen the perfect keyword to target, it’s time to draft out your blog. When it comes to SEO, there are a couple of things to consider — quality and quantity. When Google crawls, or scans through, website content for keywords and other SEO content, it considers both the quality of your writing and the length of the post.
Write about topics you know well. When you need additional information, do research and either cite your source or link back to the website you gathered information from. Aim for blogs that are around 900 words or longer. Blogs under 300 words will perform poorly in SEO rankings, and Google’s top ranking content tends to be on the longer side, typically 1,000–2,000+ words. So as you build up your blog, increase the length of posts.
Finally, once your content is proofed and posted to your website, always be sure to share it on social media. There is debate on the effects of social media on SEO, but Google does take into account the number of social shares content receives. Regardless of SEO impact, your social accounts should be active to help build your brand and raise awareness. By sharing your content and retweeting others’ relevant content, you increase your reach and build online credibility.
Overall, remember that your SEO strategy doesn’t need to be a budgeting nightmare. By implementing affordable SEO tactics, you can increase search engine rankings and help visitors find your website easier. With the right strategy, you can easily take advantage of the tools and resources you have available and develop a strategy that works for your business and doesn’t break the bank.
And if you’re not interested in handling your own SEO, here is everything you need to know about hiring an SEO agency.