Have you recently launched a new business, or are in the beginning stages of putting a website together to market your products or services? If so, you’re likely wondering how you’re going to attract visitors; will you need to purchase online advertisements, or can you count on the various major search engines to send ‘organic’ traffic your way? In this post we’ll take a look at eight search engine optimization strategies that you can perform on a shoestring budget to help how to maximize your SEO budget startup’s ranking on search engines like Google.
Step 1: Start by Combing Through Your Website
Before moving forward on any type of optimization strategy, you’ll need to ensure that your website is operating properly. Browse through every page on your website looking for spelling or grammatical mistakes, broken links, formatting issues and image issues to ensure that your visitors are receiving an optimal experience. Check your website on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets as well – about half of all visits will be from mobile users.
Step 2: Optimizing Your Content
Once you’ve ensured that your website is healthy, you can begin optimizing your webpage content. Google loves webpages that are large in scope (500 to 1000 words or more), are broken apart with subheadings and paragraphs, and aren’t covered in advertisements. You’ll also want to ensure that your important pages load as quickly as possible, so be sure to test each main page in a speed test tool like the one found at tools.pingdom.com.
Step 3: Do a Bit of Keyword Research
Now that your website is completely ready to go, you’ll need to determine which search keywords that you want to optimize your web pages for. For example, if you’re an accountant in Burnaby, British Columbia you might decide that ‘accounting services Burnaby’ and ‘Burnaby accountant’ are good keywords. Make a list of these and search through Google, paying attention to what kind of results are shown and – more importantly – which businesses are already ranking.
Step 4: Analyze Your Competitors
When it comes to search engine optimization there’s no sense trying to recreate the wheel. For any given keyword, Google, Bing and other search engines have decided to rank your competitors based on their websites, their inbound links and more. With this in mind, it’s an excellent idea to take a look at your competitors’ backlink profile using a tool like AHrefs or Majestic SEO to see who is linking to them and whether or not you can also obtain those links. For example, if you own a local retail store or are a professional, you may find that your competitors have links from the YellowPages website, and other listings where you can simply pay to have your own website added. This type of reverse engineering is a critical part of search engine optimization and will help you gain ground on the top ranking websites for your target keywords.
Step 5: Start Writing in Your Blog
You have likely heard the phrase ‘content marketing’ or ‘inbound marketing’ at some point in the recent past, especially if you have been reading through blog posts (like this one) to figure out how to devise a search engine marketing strategy for your startup. Without question, one of the easiest forms of content marketing is blogging. Its time to crack out the typewriter & get the team together for a half-hour session to brainstorm a list of topics that would be enticing to your target customers. Answer their questions, perform case studies, or explain industry trends. Not only will your blog draw in organic visitor traffic from the search engines, but it will also help your website’s search rankings as well. Note that if you aren’t a capable writer you may want to consider hiring a freelancer or content writing team to handle your blog for you. Contact us and we can advise you on how to best approach your inbound marketing.
Step 6: Start Writing in Others’ Blogs
Guest blogging is an excellent way to spread the word about your brand and to help educate your potential clients about your products or services. Make a quick list of the influencers and thought leaders in your niche, and send them a quick email with a pitch about a case study or blog post that you can contribute to their blog. Engage with these folks on social media and be sure to join any conversations or debates where you can make a positive contribution.
Step 7: Leverage Social Media and User-Generated Content
Speaking of social media, whether your startup’s focus is business-to-business or business-to-consumer if you are interested in building long-term brand equity you’ll need to ensure that you have a social media presence. Active Facebook and Twitter accounts are important as they allow you to communicate with your users and clients, engaging them with your brand and showing others that there is a personality behind it.
Also, if possible try to leverage user-generated content on your website – reviews, testimonials, stories and the like. If you have a physical product, reward your users for taking photos and posting them on Instagram or for making a video review and posting it on YouTube.
Step 8: Track Everything to See What Works
All of the above steps need to be tracked religiously in order to determine what is working and where you should be investing additional time and resources. Make use of analytics tools like Google Analytics or Clicky to understand how your visitors are landing on your website, and where they’re going before they depart. Heatmap tools like ClickTale can also give you an idea of how your visitors interact with your webpages, and can help to identify on-page optimization points that can improve usability and conversion rates.
Building a full content marketing strategy in order to improve your websites’ visibility in the major search engines and attract new visitor traffic isn’t easy.