Search engine optimization (SEO) is a relatively cost-efficient strategy. You aren’t paying directly for advertising exposure, like you would with traditional print or PPC ads, but instead you’re investing in a series of features and structures for your web presence to maximize your overall visibility. Because there are so many different tactics you can leverage and because the size and scope of your campaign is entirely up to you, you have a ton of control over your spending. That means if you have a large budget and you want the greatest possible impact, you can pour money into your campaign and start seeing results almost immediately.
On the flip side, if you’re an entrepreneur of a new or emerging business and you don’t have much marketing spend, you can still see significant results by investing your limited budget strategically. Use these seven frugal strategies to initiate your momentum on even the smallest budget:
Most SEO agencies will be able to provide you with a thorough onsite analysis, delving deep into the code of your site and making recommendations for every tiny feature that can be improved. While this extensive process is necessary for larger-scale campaigns, if you’re just starting out, you only need to focus on the basics—and the basics are free. Set up and log into Google Webmaster Tools. There are a few things you’ll want to check on here. First, check out Crawl > Crawl Errors. Here, you’ll be able to see some broad information about your site, such as server connectivity. You’ll also be able to scout for 404 errors and other crawl errors, which will need to be fixed. Next, head to Search Appearance > HTML Improvements. Here, you’ll find a list of duplicate or missing title tags and descriptions; make sure to correct these as soon as possible. Finally, make sure to submit your sitemap and check Google Index > Index Status to ensure all your pages can be seen by Google. This simplified analysis won’t catch every error or improvement on your site, but it can give you a basic run-down while saving you time and money.
There’s no reason to pay for expensive software that tracks, monitors, or analyzes your backlink profile. There are plenty of free tools available for your disposal, such as Moz’sOpen Site Explorer, sometimes known as the search engine for links. Here, you’ll be able to plug in your URL and see instantly which domains are currently linking to your site. You can weed out questionable sources, learn which sources are the most valuable, and even do some research on your competitors to help you build an ideal backlink profile.
Paying for external link building is useful, especially if you’re working with a company that uses a blend of links on high-authority sources and equally authoritative brand mentions. However, this service is only necessary if you’re trying to build rank fast or in a highly competitive environment. If you’re interested in building links organically without spending additional money, you can earn your links through content. You’ll have to pour some effort into producing high-quality, shareable material, but once produced, you should have no problem naturally attracting dozens or hundreds of links pointing back to your site.
When it comes to writing fresh content on a regular basis, many entrepreneurs fail. It usually comes down to not having enough time to write it personally and not having enough money to outsource the work to a professional writer or agency. If you’re looking to save some money, try divvying up the work among your own team. Make each of your employees responsible for writing a piece related to their department within your industry, or offer small incentives in exchange for taking on additional content-based responsibilities. When working as a team, you’ll be able to produce tons of content without paying out the nose for it.
Nobody has time to post on social media constantly—even full-time social media managers. Rather than keeping your eyes glued to your social profiles or spending additional money for a dedicated social expert, use a free post scheduling tool like Hootsuite to schedule the majority of your social posts in advance. In the span of a half hour, you can set your profiles up for the entire week.
Building relationships with other local businesses is pretty easy, and you might be able to do it while attending networking events or conferences you’d be going to anyway. Get to know other entrepreneurs in your area, and exchange guest posts to mutually increase your local relevance and authority. You’ll also want to claim your profiles on any local directories or review apps you can find, and make sure that your business information (with special attention to your name, address, and phone number) are consistent and accurate throughout the web. Be sure the formatting is consistent as well—even small discrepancies can damage your local authority.
Eventually, you’re going to run into problems with your SEO campaign. When you do, don’t be afraid to reach out to an expert for some key advice on how to address the issue. Even if you don’t enlist a professional agency for any ongoing paid services, you can typically pay for a one-time consultation or get some direction and pointers for free. Even if you have to pay to get through a particular obstacle, it’s going to cost you less money in the long run to work through the problem with an expert than to flal wildly in an attempt to conquer the problem yourself.
The great thing about SEO is that it’s flexible and scalable. If you start your campaign with a conservative round of investment and you start seeing momentum, whenever you have access to more capital, you can start expanding your reach. The more time and money you put into your campaign, the greater results you’ll see, so starting small and scaling gradually can yield the ideal balance between capital requirements and potential rewards.