Misconceptions about “affordable” search engine optimization

SEO is not a magic bullet that can solve all the problems in your business or completely change your marketing in a few days or week.

It’s not something that’s quick or easy to do one time that you set up and forget about.

SEO is an investment in your website and your content.

If you’re not ready to invest thousands of dollars a month and commit for at least a year to optimizing your website for search engines then you shouldn’t even consider spending a dime on SEO.

SEO isn’t the only digital marketing strategy or way to get traffic to your website.

However, SEO is extremely powerful and effective. It’s the only way to get the most sought after traffic, organic search traffic, to your website. 

SEO is not a short-term strategy. It can take 3+ months to even see progress or changes. Unless you’re committed to consistently putting out high-quality content for at least a year, this is not the strategy for you.

With SEO there are no quick tricks or hacks. It’s not necessarily something you can throw money at like influencer marketing or paid ads for quick results.

SEO is about convincing the Google algorithm you have expert, authoritative, trustworthy content (E.A.T.) and that its better than the competition.

And the algorithm isn’t easy to fool.

To win at SEO you have to actually produce the best content for people on a consistent basis.

Benefits of SEO for small business

SEO has a ton of upside for small businesses. The ability to develop a constant stream of inbound customers can’t be understated. 

Data from Junto Digital says that 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. 

On top of that, 57% of B2B marketers stated that SEO generates more leads than any other marketing initiative. 

The fact is that everyone is using Google to find the things they need so if you’re not on Google in many ways you don’t exist.

SEO helps businesses with:

  • Ability to target specific keywords, locations, and audiences 
  • Brand awareness and being seen as an authority in your industry
  • Constant stream of new and returning visitors for your website
  • Evergreen content that helps connect with customers and can add value for years to come

Think about the opportunity cost of not investing in search engine optimization.

Of having competitors and newcomers to the market taking traffic and customers that could have been going to you.

Something to consider when it comes to SEO outside of just general affordability is if you can afford not to.

Small businesses can live and die off local SEO

Coronavirus has wiped out massive numbers of small businesses since shutdowns began in March and many businesses that have survived until now have been forced to rely on technology to adapt to the “new normal”.

Businesses that used to conduct operations and appointments in person have moved remotely.

Brands that have neglected their websites have been scrambling to catch up and adapt to “the new normal”

More people are online now than ever before, and having a strong online presence has never been more important. 

SEO Expert Brad states that 46% of Google searches are for a local business or service.

Google has always been important for business visibility online but it’s also taken some steps toward aiding in marketing and selling with Google My Business.

People can do things like ask questions, write reviews, and directly people to things like phone numbers, services/products, hours of operation, calendars, posts/updates, and appointment links.

In addition to the integrations, Google My Business listings allow you to be much more competitive when it comes to local keyword targeting.

Joelhouse Search Media report that 28% of local searches result in a purchase.

For location based businesses and any brick and mortar business, local SEO and a Google My Business page are a must.

Check out this great resource from Search Engine Journal on How To Optimize Your Google My Business page if you don’t know where to start.

Optimizing your listing and connecting it with the proper pages on your website can bring in substantial traffic for businesses that are location based.

SEO audit services for small business

SEO audits are an important part of SEO to take care of any technical SEO issues you may have with your website.

Free SEO audits might point out some basic information or a handful of flaws or issues but won’t cover most areas usually.

A true SEO audit is conducted after you give a freelancer or agency access to your website so they can plug in tracking and analytics and see all the data available.

Carrying out a good technical sweep of your website should be one of the first things someone does if you’ve hired them to handle your SEO.

The only exception would be if you’re working with an agency pre-website launch.

In that case it should be done as one of the final steps once the website is ready for final pre-launch check.

A good SEO consultant or agency should make sure that your website has:

  • No duplicate content on it
  • URLS and general website architecture optimized
  • No content being indexed that’s too short or has no value (considered “thin”)
  • Pages are optimized for target keywords
  • No meta title, alt tag, or meta description errors
  • No broken links or 404 errors caused by links on your site
  • Proper 301 “redirects” for links or pages that require it
  • A profile secured on all necessary social media platforms
  • All your necessary sitemaps are submitted and your site is being crawled and indexed by Google
  • Google Search Console, Google Analytics and any other tracking software is properly set up

Making sure the website is technically sound is a prerequisite for accomplishing any other type of effort you’re putting into your SEO strategy.

Effective keyword targeting

One of the most powerful tools for businesses when it comes to SEO is keyword targeting.

Keyword targeting allows you to select certain keywords and optimize the pages on your website to rank for them.

Keyword targeting also involves:

  • Getting into the mindset of the customer and what they’re searching for
  • Making sure keyword acquisition strategy makes sense for the level your website is when it comes to age and domain authority
  • Looking at what pages are already successfully ranking for that keyword on the 1st page and figuring out how to produce better content than that
  • Making sure your content fulfills the search intent, or helps provide value to the people who come across it
  • Fitting it into the overall content marketing strategy and website architecture (topic clusters for example)

Using software like SEMrush and ahrefs and other keyword tools they should be able to identify keywords that make sense for your business to target in relation to your products/services and target audience.

Depending on the domain authority of your website and how well ranked your site already is by Google, will dictate the keyword difficulty of the keywords you can go after.

Keyword difficulty relates to how competitive a keyword is to rank well for in Google. A good SEO will help your business target keywords that your website can realistically rank for while having as much volume or search traffic as possible.

Keyword targeting is about more than just finding keywords and phrases with good ratios in SEO software algorithms. If it was that easy anyone could download some software and publish content and make money.

When you outsource SEO services to someone they should help you come up with a growth strategy that makes sense for your business and audience and also has valuable and attainable keyword opportunities.

SEO benefits of blogging

Your blog can be the most effective tool at your disposal when it comes to driving organic search traffic and ranking for keywords.

You can build optimized pages for different keywords with a well constructed piece of content.

According to Hubspot, businesses with active blogs get 55% more website visitors than businesses that don’t.

Can you afford to have your blog sitting idle and pass up all that traffic?

SEO pricing packages

There are multiple affordable SEO services available for small businesses that can have a real business impact.

According to ahrefs, the upper end of monthly costs are:

  • Agencies: $2,819.87/month, on average.
  • Consultancies: $1,906.48/month, on average.
  • Freelancers: $1,364/month, on average.

Typically whether you’re dealing with an SEO consultant/freelancer or an SEO agency, factors that would impact the price are:

  • How much content you need created
  • The size of your website (number of pages you have)
  • Whether you’re a location based business, pure eCommerce, or a hybrid
  • The experience level of the consultant/agency. The less experience they have the cheaper the service
  • Whether you’re buying SEO alone or part of a full service digital marketing package that may include other things like content creation, social media posts, and marketing automation. 

Businesses that aren’t prepared for that or are looking for a quick-fix should look at other strategies.

Free SEO tools for businesses

  • Google Analytics – Google Analytics is a powerful and free tool that lets you track all sorts of activity on your website. Whether it’s direct traffic, referral traffic, social traffic, or organic search traffic, Analytics gives you data and plenty of options for reporting to make sense of it. This tool can take some getting used to but there are plenty of tutorials and informational blog posts online that discuss how to set it up and take advantage of it. 
  • Google Search Console – Google Search Console is another critical tool from Google that lets you collect all sorts of data related to your organic search results. You can verify your sitemaps and make sure your pages are being properly indexed and crawled by Google as well as verify mobile useability. It also tracks search queries, impressions, and clicks from Google search results.
  • AnswerThePublic – AnswerThePublic is a content brainstorming tool that gives you different topic clusters if you put in a keyword or short phrase. The data visualization lets you see potential questions and phrases related to your keyword as well as the estimated volume of those questions and phrases. 
  • YoastSEO – Yoast is an intuitive and free to use SEO plug-in for WordPress that allows you to optimize your content and your website with some nice options. You can set up your settings to include or exclude certain types of pages in search results, establish no-index rules, and set up no-follow links.
  • Redirection – Just as the name says, Redirection is a WordPress plugin that specifically helps with setting up redirects. Redirects allow you to forward someone from one URL on your site to another. This tool helps detect 404s (broken links) on your site and easily set up 301 redirects between pages as well as containing an option to automatically route pages from http to the https version.
  • GTMetrix – This is a good tool to check the technical health of your website and general site performance. From page load speeds, to mobile usability, to browser caching info, GTMetrix gives you a snapshot of the technical status of your website. It then gives you scores/grades on different areas and recommendations on how to address them.
  • Google Trends – This is a keyword research tool that lets you compare different search terms and their search volume against each other. The tool can also recommend related search terms. It’s great for comparing terms to see which one gets more volume or is a more commonly used phrase.

Should you hire a search engine placement company?

There are lots of affordable SEO services businesses can take advantage of to boost web traffic for their brand.

There are free tools available as well as scores of freelancers and agencies that can help.

What businesses have to decide is if they’re ready to make an investment in their website for the long haul.

It’s important for small businesses to understand:

  • The misconceptions about SEO 
  • The benefits of SEO for small businesses
  • The impact of local SEO 
  • The need for a technical SEO audit
  • The power of maintaining an active blog
  • How to use free SEO tools 
  • What goes into SEO service pricing packages

Businesses that are prepared to commit to their long-term website success should absolutely invest in SEO.

If you’re interested in SEO for your business or you’re on the fence and would like to discuss your options, please get in touch with us.