How To Rank Well With A Small Budget
Given the current economic climate, most businesses are searching for ways to cut back on costs. Sadly, this is often the total opposite of what you should be doing. Assuming you can keep yourself afloat long enough, recessions are a great time to invest in your business. Costs for advertising, products and labor are cheaper. Everyone is dropping prices in order to attract new customers and keep the old ones. I smell opportunity. Play your cards right, and you can come out of this recession much stronger than your competitors.
But even though you should be investing, economic pressures are nothing to sneeze at, which is why it’s so important that you’re making the best use of your budget. When it comes to SEO, optimizing for the wrong keywords could eat up a lot of your budget while offering little in return in terms of qualified traffic. The following strategy will help you make sure you focus on the right keywords at the right time so you can maximize your SEO budget for profitability:
- Start with the long tail
- Become a brand
- Aim for the head
Long Tail Keyword Optimization
As we all know, it is generally much easier and cheaper to optimize for long tail keywords than the shorter, broader terms found at the head of the curve. From a budgetary standpoint, it’s nice to start out paying less. But there is another important benefit to taking this approach: the rising tide lifts all boats.
As you optimize your content and acquire links to get ranked for targeted long tail keywords, you will also start to rank for other keywords and increase the overall TrustRank of your entire website. Another way to make good use of your budget early on is to make sure you’re focusing on the profitable keywords. The long tail is immense, so you may as well invest in the cream of the crop. There are many ways to determine which keywords will be profitable, but the quickest, easiest method is to use pay-per-click. Even on a small budget, PPC can give you valuable, immediate feedback on which keywords convert into sales or paying customers. Identify your money words with PPC and then focus your SEO efforts on ranking for them. That way the increase in search engine traffic will coincide with an increase in profit.
Big Brands Rule the SERPs
Google loves brands. There is a good chance that your long-term success (in the search engines) depends on you becoming a brand name in your industry or local market. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to become a huge conglomerate. You can still be a small business and have a chance at ranking well. But let’s not beat around the bush – this will take significant effort in most industries. The process of becoming a brand should start as soon as possible. Today, in fact. It takes time and the sooner you start, the better. You don’t have the endless coffers of truly big, multinational brands, so you can’t expect to advertise your way into brandhood (yeah, I made that word up).
To become a brand, your company needs to become an authority and/or thought leader in your industry.
Easier said than done. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Make news. Do something newsworthy and make sure it gets picked up by the media. Then don’t be afraid to tout the fact that you were featured in those programs and publications. A solid Public Relations strategy will take you very far.
- Blog. I know, I know, you don’t have time to write, you’re too busy running a business. Wrong! If you’re serious about branding as a small business, you need to have something important to say about your industry and a blog is a great way to do it. Focus on providing value and insight to your customers and you’ll do just fine (hint, hint – blogs are a great way to create all that long tail content we talked about earlier).
- Write content for others. Syndicate articles, guest post on relevant blogs, write a column for a local newspaper – get your ideas out to a broader audience and your reputation will grow significantly.
- Speak at conferences. When you speak at a conference, people just assume you’re someone important and that you know what you’re talking about (hopefully you do!).
Go After the Big Keywords
Now you have a decent amount of long tail traffic flowing to your website. You’ve also begun to establish a brand in your market. Now it’s time to tackle the head of the curve. All the work you’ve been doing has laid the foundation to make this possible. You’ve obtained a lot of inbound links to your website and optimized (and got ranked for!) a lot of long tail keywords. You’ve put a lot of effort into becoming a brand, and now the search engines trust you. They see that you’re an authority and are worthy of high rankings. Had you pushed for the big keywords when your business was still nascent (in the eyes of the search engines), you would have been throwing money out the window. But now that your foundation is secure, ranking for these terms will be much, much easier – and cheaper. Now you can do some industrial strength link building and really focus on the high-traffic keywords that define your industry.