Generating SEO growth on a budget

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  • April 18, 2016
Tiffany Bushell

Tiffany Bushell

Search Strategist

Even the biggest advertisers don’t have unlimited budget and SEO is only one channel among many, but it’s possible to prove the worth of SEO on a limited spend. It’s about focusing on the key actions and maximising the search benefits provided by other activity.

SEO is an investment into your business and, however big or small your budget is, can have a real impact on online performance. But if you are a brand with limited budget to spend, here are some tips for how to spend it effectively in order to achieve results.

Fixing technical issues like redirects will maximise ROI from links and content

Whether you are a large brand or a small brand, the best way to start any SEO campaign is to understand what shape your site is in from a technical perspective. Knowing whether your site is well optimised or has some major technical issues will help you to tailor your SEO strategy moving forward.

On a limited budget or with a tight dev queue, you can’t fix everything. However, you’ll achieve 90% of what’s possible as long as you fix:

• Multiple hops in redirect chains – a little link equity is lost through each redirect. One might be necessary, but two definitely aren’t. Make sure that all pages redirect straight to their destinations with one 301.
• Changing 302s to 301s – 302 redirects don’t pass link equity.
• Title tags too short, long or not there – still considered an important ranking factor.

In an ideal world you would fix all the technical issues your site is currently facing, but if you’re tight for time then deal with the above and move on.

Alongside ensuring that your site is up to scratch from a technical perspective, it is also important to make sure that the conversion journey on your site is fully optimised. This type of audit could include elements such as reviewing delivery costs, the checkout process and product pages.

It’s easier to demonstrate expertise when you specialise

Google’s leaked quality guidelines show that the search engine values expertise, authority and trust. It isn’t possible to compete with the big spending companies for authority when they acquire links in their sleep, or compete on trust when they run TV ads for fun… but you can demonstrate your expertise better than they can.

Use your agility (small teams = no committee, potentially less sign off) to get content online, and really focus on one area to grow it. Search performance will come faster, and later down the line this can be your case for more budget to replicate in other areas.

Due to the recent emphasis from Google surrounding quality content, a quick way to find gaps in content on your site is to conduct keyword research and find out where you are ranking for relevant terms. If your brand is either not ranking at all or below page two, you can create content surrounding this keyword and publish it on your site.

This quick win should provide you with incremental traffic and allow you to target long-tail terms more effectively.

Finding relevant opportunities and dominating within this area will be crucial for SEO success, ensuring that you are at the forefront of people’s mind when they are looking for a service or product in your sector.

On-site content needs to be relevant before it’s fun

Focus on your product areas and make sure you cover the basics before you branch out into listicles and fun content. You won’t make the most of the traffic you’re acquiring if the information they need isn’t available when they get there.

The recent update from Google back in January focuses primarily on user intent, as well as the quality of the content on your site. If your copy has not been updated in the last few years, a review is definitely in order.

You need to make sure that the content on your site answers the possible search queries that a user could be coming through to your site with. The content also needs to be rich, informative and not thin, as this could lead to your visibility suffering.

Link acquisition is key

As part of any SEO strategy, there should be an element of link acquisition. Gone are the days of easily building 100 links with the click of a button. Now Google makes you work for the rewards which can be gained from link acquisition, and it is definitely ‘quality’ which is reaping the benefits over ‘quantity’.

The success to a great link acquisition campaign is to create something newsworthy, that people will naturally want to share and talk about. It is called ‘natural search’ after all. The ideal situation when creating an asset is for high quality sites to pick up your asset, as well as influencers within that particular industry. If you create an asset which is newsworthy and will add value to a user’s journey, you will earn the rewards.

If you don’t have the resource or budget to create a stand-alone SEO campaign, other quick ways of acquiring links would be to piggyback on PR and other marketing activity. This will not only increase the reach of your campaign but you should also get a few high quality links out of it.

Buzzsumo and other social listening tools normally come with a hefty price tag, so if you want to create a successful SEO campaign which still understands your target market, Google’s Consumer Surveys has a free option for measuring site satisfaction. This can be especially useful when testing a new site design or content category.

So, I have a small budget…

Ultimately you need to prioritise. It’s better to choose one or two of the opportunities above and do them really well than do everything by cutting corners.

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