There’s no doubt that it’s a challenge to beat the big brands when it comes to ranking with SEO. Those well-established businesses on top have everything from a large team of experts who stay up-to-date with the latest technology and outsourced PR through some of the most reputable agencies, to sufficient funds that best their competitors’ budgets.
Subsequently, it can be hard to maximize visibility and profits, but the fact is that it’s far from impossible. The key is knowing how to intelligently make use of your available budget and avoid wasting money, time, and resources on strategies that won’t get you anywhere.
Here are steps to take if you want to develop a solid SEO strategy on a small budget.
Determine how limiting your budget really is
The very first step should be to gauge just how much you actually have to spend and how it limits your strategies. In many cases, you or your client may need to sacrifice some areas to excel in others. Frequently, a small budget will mean that you’re limited in terms of:
Smaller budgets give marketers a limited amount of time available to spend on SEO every month. Businesses may want to find out how much time they can allocate to SEO along with other marketing channels without wasting it on ineffective strategies.
You may not be able to use every tool out there, which may include backlink identifiers, keyword tracking tools, and log-file analyzers that cost some money to implement and utilize. Agencies might have access to these, but an in-house marketing team may have to find alternatives.
You may find limited ability to work beyond your skill-set. For instance, you might want to develop an outreach strategy, but with a tight budget, this will need to wait until you can afford to hire media producers, designers, and other professionals who can bring your ideas to fruition.
May not be able to benefit from a team of knowledgeable SEO experts. A small SEO team for an equally small agency will likely lack the specialization needed to gain the wide range of SEO knowledge needed to excel. Ultimately, this can severely limit your SEO progress.
Once you’ve figured out precisely how limiting your budget is, you can then decide on what to prioritize and what to avoid when developing your SEO strategy.
Compensate for the weak spots
While your budget may be limiting, to the point where you can’t afford the best tools and other resources needed to supercharge your SEO strategies, there are ways to make up for this with what you do have.
You can still find ways to track your website’s rankings, find backlinks, and analyze all log files without spending a lot, but you will need to settle for more basic tools and do a bit more work to get the results you want.
Develop your own skillsets to further compensate for a lack of resources. For example, maybe you have a good understanding and years of experience with technical SEO, but you want to improve as a PR expert or copywriter, in which case you can branch out and cover more ground without spending more.
Find out what’s working for you
It’s certainly true that you’ll have some disadvantages with a smaller budget, but you can still experience success by assessing your strengths. You might have a team of experienced copywriters who can produce fast and fresh content that increases user engagement, or perhaps you know how to approach backlinking.
Find out where your advantages lie and you’ll be able to work with those to help boost your campaigns. Even if you don’t have a lot of resources in your business, don’t be afraid to reach out. If you’ve developed a strong relationship with other businesses that can help you out, you may want to connect with them to earn links or simply strengthen your reputation.
Also, never underestimate the power of bartering. Some companies may be able to provide you with certain products or services you need if you help them with yours.
Set realistic goals
If you want to succeed in the world of SEO on a small budget, set expectations for success, but try to be as realistic as possible.
First, take a look at the organic traffic currently going to your website. You can then predict organic traffic growth using a predictive model. The key is to make sure you and your clients understand what is actually achievable with the available budget.
You may not be able to achieve a whole lot at this point, but planning for the future is still a good idea. Planning outreach campaigns and more might be worth shooting for once the business has some time to grow.
Stay simple to start with
You’re better off starting small if you want to develop a winning SEO strategy on a tight budget, determining which areas demand the most focus as the business develops. Consider your focus content, product, or service and make the most important pages or goals a top priority.
Trying to use your budget to cover your entire website will be a waste of time more often than not, so try to see which areas will benefit the most from more attention.
Fix website issues
If there are problems with your website, whether it’s with the site’s design or functionality, no amount of effort put into SEO will help. For instance, if your pages take too long to load, visitors will be less likely to stay on the page and leave to visit another website in search results, which will reflect poorly on your website in the eyes of Google, who may punish your website as a result of a high bounce rate.
You can determine what’s wrong with your site by conducting a thorough site audit. This may take some time to complete, but it will be worth it to see how well or how poorly your website is performing. Once you find out what’s wrong, you can address each issue and begin developing your SEO strategy.
Certain factors that might impact your site’s performance may include recent migration, a bad backlink profile, poorly optimized pages, and crawlability or indexability for search engines, among other issues that an audit can uncover.
Keep in mind that a website could suffer from myriad issues specifically because of an insufficient budget. Developers may not be available, reliable web hosting might be too costly, and other weak areas could hinder a website’s performance. Regardless of the issue, don’t give up on the website or your marketing strategy. Instead, place emphasis on shortcomings and try to sort them out to the best of your abilities before considering other strategies.
Go beyond google
With a smaller budget, you’ll need to get creative when it comes to determining how to spend that money. Google might not be your best bet when starting out with an SEO strategy.
Consider targeting other search engines if the competition is just too difficult in Google. You may find that businesses in your industry draw more traffic from other search engines. While you may scoff at the idea of using Bing, the fact is that the search engine took a 6.33 percent share of the American search engine market in October 2019, according to StatCounter. Some consumers may even have their default browser search engine set to Bing or Yahoo!.
If you have plenty of video content, YouTube, owned by Google, kind of acts as its own search engine that’s worth optimizing for using your video titles, descriptions, and tags.
In short, Google isn’t the only option when it comes to ranking on SEO.
Take a cue from competitors
Not sure where to go with your campaign? Take a look at what your competitors are doing and learn from what they’re doing right. Review their backlink profiles, scan their content, and determine what’s giving them the upper hand.
Maybe a competitor’s featured snippet in Google results is using a content structure that your website could adapt, or simply rework your copy to be more engaging and ensure that visitors don’t leave your page so quickly after landing on it.
However, try not to venture too far outside of your industry, or the businesses you’re comparing yours to might not be relevant enough to make it worth the trouble.
A small budget for SEO can still enable plenty of action
Taking all of these tips into consideration can help you make the most of your available SEO budget. If you take the appropriate steps and optimize effectively with what you have, you may see an increase in user engagement and ultimately sales that give you or your clients a bigger budget to work with over time.