Here’s the problem. You have a business and a website. You want people to find you. You know that SEO is important, but you have zero cash and limited time to do it. What can you do? What you’re about to read will help you.
First off, so you won’t be disappointed, here are three disclaimers about this article.
- This is not a perfect solution, so please don’t expect rockstar results. You will get results, but probably not the killer jackpot results we all dream of. The process outlined below is the way that some companies have gone from zero to big time in just a few weeks. Some of the stuff is common sense SEO, but it’s still solid.
- You’re going to have to spend some time. Yeah, sorry about that. Maybe you can carve out a few hours a week. Just try it, and see what happens.
- When you start making enough money from your business, find a good SEO agency. It’s worth it. Coming from an SEO professional, this may sound a bit biased, but please hear me out. SEO is one of the most important things that any business can invest in. I strongly encourage you to speak with an SEO agency to discover if you can scrape together a few dollars to have them do something. You’ll positively get results if you follow my quick-and-dirty. But you’ll get even better results if you work with an SEO consultant.
1. Begin guest blogging
You don’t need to be an SEO pro to get SEO results. Guest blogging is the way to do it. As a business owner, you need to establish your credibility in the market, and let the world know about it. Guest blogging is a win-win-win. First, you provide top-notch information for a blog’s readers. Second, you provide high-value content for the recipient. Finally, you win by earning thought leadership, recognition, backlinks, and more business. Maybe that’s more like a win-win-win-win-win.
- Time: 4 hours a month
- Cost: Zero
- ROI: Increased leads/customers, recognition, thought leadership in your industry, SEO link value.
How to do it: As long as you have your own website set up, you’re ready to begin. Find the blogs or news sites that are in your market niche. A few Google searches will probably turn up some good ones. Use the site’s contact page to send your inquiry. Put together a courteous and compelling article, requesting a guest post. It helps if you have an article pitch.
When you get some positive replies, simply polish up your content and send it in. You don’t have to be a professional writer, but you should ensure that your content has value and is grammatically perfect. Finally, be sure to include a linked byline at the conclusion of your article. Links should go back to your site’s homepage or your product landing page.
This is the real SEO value of guest blogging. Links from established and authoritative blogs will lend credibility to your blog. When your site receives a link, search engines read this as a sign of respect from an already respectable source. As a result, your rankings will rise. Plus, you’re getting all those niche readers from that site, turning them into potential leads.
2. Collect a list of keywords
Keywords are at the core of your site’s SEO. A keyword is a word or phrase that people use when they search the Internet. In order for you to be found when people type in that keyword, your site has to include that keyword or variations of it.
In other words, let’s say you have a bricklaying service in Phoenix. If someone is looking for a brick mason, they might type in “Bricklayer Phoenix,” or “brick mason in Phoenix, AZ,” or “Phoenix residential brick service,” or “brick driveways Phoenix.”
There are all kinds of variations that people may use. If your website is sprinkled with these words and phrases, it’s more likely that it will show up in Google when people search for it.
- Time: 1 hour, and then you’re done.
- Cost: Zero.
- ROI: SEO value
How to do it: First, you’ll need to come up with a list of keywords. Remember, keywords are phrases, not just single words. If your “keyword” is three to five words long, that’s good. These keywords, known as “longtail keywords” return more specific results than generic keywords like “brick” or “mason.”
To research keyword ideas, use Google’s keyword tool. Here’s a walkthrough for how to do it. Then, begin using these keywords in your site content. Keywords should appear in article titles, headlines, meta descriptions, and other select spots. Don’t overuse these keywords. If you do, Google thinks you’re committing the unpardonable sin of SEO — keyword stuffing. You’ll lose rankings fast.
Instead, use variations of your keywords once or twice in an article, occasionally linking one to another page on your website.
3. Adjust your onsite SEO
Now that you have your list of keywords, you are ready to make use of them on your site. Onsite SEO is making sure that you have the right keywords in the right places on your site. That way, searchers will find your website.
- Time: 1 hour/week
- Cost: Zero
- ROI: Improved SEO
How to do it: To make the best use of improving onsite SEO, I recommend that you gradually work through every page of your website. With your list of keywords in hand, use one or two of them on every single page. Here’s an excellent guide for improving onsite SEO.
Make sure that they fit naturally into the text, and be sure not to stuff your page full of them. If your site is designed on WordPress, there are plugins such as Yoast to help you with onsite SEO. Joomla users can use Smart SEO. Here are the major locations where you should use keywords:
- Page titles
- Page descriptions (meta descriptions)
- Image alt tags
- Image file names
- Headings (H1, H2, H3, etc.) in your content
4. Manage your social media channels
You probably already know how to use Facebook. What about Twitter? Pinterest? Tumblr? Social media is where the people are. It’s time to meet them on their turf, and say hello to a bigger audience.
The term “social media signals” refers to a how search engines see a website’s level of activity on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites. The more social signals your business has, the higher it will rank. All other things being equal, a homepage with 100 Google +1’s will have a higher ranking than a homepage with none.
- Time: 4 hour setup; 1 hour weekly maintenance.
- Cost: Zero.
- ROI: Social signals, leads, and SEO.
How to do it: The first step in social media is to claim your spots. Obviously, you’ll need to be on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Additionally, it helps to have videos on YouTube and Vimeo, and a listing on LinkedIn.
According to eBiz, Pinterest is now the fourth most popular social site in the world, and it’s not just females anymore. You may want a presence there. Beyond these big sites, find other niche social sites that may have people in your target audience.
For example, if you are an author, you will need to have a presence on the social media site Goodreads. If you’re selling digital photography, be on Flickr and Instagram. Musicians should have an account on MySpace. Once you’ve nestled into your new social media home, stay active. Search for mentions of your company on Twitter; some people use this as a de facto company help line. Offer deals on Facebook. Get author verification on Google+ so your smiling mug shows up in search results.
Social is a powerful form of search, simply because millions of people utilize these networks as part of their daily lifestyle. Plus, search engines recognize sites with lots of social signals as places where people want to be present. Thus, the search engines will return these results with much higher frequency.
SEO can be a daunting task. It’s okay. Even the SEO professionals are daunted sometimes. Trust yourself to take a step in the right direction. Do something. The good thing is, you can do everything on this list cash-free. Sure, it’s going to take a bit of time, but if you do little chunks of activity here and there, you’ll begin to see results.