Depending on how much web page optimisation is needed to produce better search engine rankings, SEO services range from relatively cheap to very expensive.
However, even if you only have little SEO expertise, there are steps you can take to make SEO more affordable.
SEO’s generally classify their optimisation processes as either On-page SEO or Off-page SEO.
On-page SEO processes concern themselves with your sites structure and content. I’ll be covering both along with the steps that will make your ranking your pages more affordable.
Off-page SEO processes concentrate on promoting your content social networks and sites related to your specific industry or services. Good content promotion brings visitors to your website and more visitors means higher rankings and less SEO work to pay for.
Backlink acquisition spans both On-page and Off-page SEO process.
On-page optimisation, Off-page optimisation and backlink acquisition are inherently technical processes. However, they all incorporate nontechnical aspects you can do yourself to make SEO more affordable.
Write Better Content
If you have better quality content than your competitors, you don’t need to rely on paid backlinks to outrank them.
No one will backlink to a poor quality page without good reason. That reason is nearly always your willingness to pay someone for a link on their site. It’s common practise but often a waste of money.
Google are very good at spotting paid links and they ignore those links.
The paragraph below is from Google’s Quality Guide section on Link Schemes.
Any links intended to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links.
If you write quality content, promote it in the right places, you have a good chance of getting links naturally. Even if you don’t get any backlinks, you can still rank higher than you competitors just with the quality of your content.
What is Quality Content?
Google provides a guide to how they rate the quality of a web page via their Search Quality Raters Guide. The real target audience for this guide is the 8,000 or so Google workers who manually rate the web pages assigned to them.
It’s a safe bet to assume that Google’s page quality algorithm incorporates the same rules as the manual raters guide.
The jargon free guide is a 160-page PDF file that explains exactly what constitutes page quality. Read it and you will learn how to write content that search engines love.
Improve the Content You Already Have
It’s a big SEO myth that you have to produce new content on a regular basis to gain higher search engine rankings. It’s also the wrong way to think about SEO.
I see countless businesses producing new content on a daily, weekly or monthly basis without it providing any tangible SEO boost. There’s more SEO benefit to be gained from spending your time improving the content that is already on your site rather than creating new content.
For example, let’s say you have a page that ranks on page two of the SERPs. The page only gets a handful of visitors a month; however, it does bring in some valuable sales leads. Improve the content of that page enough to get on page one of the SERPs and that handful of visitors will become a steady stream of visitors.
Getting from page two to page one of the SERPs is a common problem. In some cases it does take backlinks to get on page one; however, it often just needs better content.
Ask yourself this question.
Does my page answer the search query far better than every other page that ranks above mine?
If you’re on page two, the chances are you page doesn’t answer the query as well as some of pages on page one. Improving your on-page SEO is a far more affordable and effective way than Off-page SEO.
Yes, there will be sites on page one that rank there due mainly to backlinks. However, you can still outrank them by providing more relevant and in-depth content.
Providing the most complete and best answer your potential customer’s questions is the best SEO tactic there is. Your visitors will appreciate your content and Google will reward you with higher rankings.
SEO is misunderstood on many levels. Too often people think lack of backlinks is their main problem when in fact, it’s their content that’s the main problem.
Improve Your CTR By Writing Better Page Titles
Great headlines sell newspapers and great web page titles improve the click through rate (CTR). If a page title stands out in a SERP it’s more likely to be clicked.
More clicks mean more visitors to your website; so it’s worth spending some time crafting page titles that will attract the click.
There are two SEO benefits to getting better than average CTR
- CTR itself is a small ranking factor
- Your website gets more visitors, and traffic is a very significant ranking factor
Your page title must be relevant to the content of the page but if your page title gets the click, you get an increase in traffic and higher rankings. Higher ranking gets you more traffic thereby creating a virtuous circle.
Find Your Competitors Content Gaps
If you study what your competitors are ranking for it may seem like they have covered all the angles, but I promise you there will be gaps in their content that you can exploit.
A content gap is an important topic/subject in your niche that has not been covered in enough depth by your competitors. Content gaps need to:
- Be useful to your target visitors
- Have enough search volume to bring a steady flow of sales leads
- Be relatively easy to rank for
Let’s say you sell wholesale fruit. There are thousands of search terms you can target in this niche. Take for example the search term “wholesale freeze dried fruit”.
At first glance it seems a competitive term because Google shows over half a million search results. In reality it would be relatively easy to rank on the first page of the SERPs for this particular search term. While I never promise number one rankings,top spot is a realistic target for this keyword.
The broad match search volume in the UK for “wholesale freeze dried fruit” has over 200 visitors a month. An extra ten sales leads per month is very possible by having a page that targets this one search term.
Of course it’s important to check out what sort of content Google thinks is relevant to any search term.
In the case of “wholesale freeze dried fruit”, Google understands searches want to buy freeze dried fruit in bulk.
Hence the top results all contain product pages where you can quickly add to basket and buy.
But what’s noticeable about the top results is that they don’t cover the topic of dried fruit in any depth. That’s probably because they want to make the act of buying as distraction free as possible and that makes sense.
But what the visitors were given the option to read about the health benefits of dried fruit?
By showing the health benefits below the products or be providing a drop down section at the top of the page, even a sales page can remain distraction free. (Yes, Google does see and take into account content out of view).
Adding supporting content in this way is great for visitors and skyrockets the page quality score.
Optimise Your Internal Linking
Typically, websites have a top and a sidebar navigation section along with footer links on every page. This method works fine from an SEO point of view and it does facilitate easy access to all your site pages.
Google, Bing and other search engines give greater weighting to the main (top) navigation links. The sidebar navigation and footer links are considered less important.
Therefore, the first step is to ensure your most important links appear in the main navigation. Make sure your site structure has a logical hierarchy that will help both visitors and provide a solid SEO benefit.
The second step provides a much more powerful SEO boost. You know that backlinks from other websites to one of your pages helps that page rank higher. The same applies to internal links, especially contextual links.
Internal contextual links are links that are contained within the actual content of a page that link to another page on your site. These internal contextual links provide high link equity to the page being linked to. Any page you want to rank well for must have internal have internal contextual links pointing to that page.
The result is that your navigational links point at your most important pages, plus many additional contextual links. Google is smart enough to figure out the contextual links means you want to rank for certain pages and promotes those pages higher in the rankings.
You have to remember that what pages appear in the SERP’s are not decided upon by humans but by algorithms. You need to tell search engines what pages you most want to rank for – internal contextual links are the best signal you can provide.
Write better anchor text. Anchor text is the clickable text that users will see as a result of a link,
and is placed within the anchor tag . This text tells users and Google something about the page you’re linking to. Links on your page maybe internal—pointing to other pages on your site—or external—leading to content on other sites. In either of these cases, the better your anchor text is, the easier it is for users to navigate and for Google to understand what the page you’re linking to is about.
Optimise Your Page Speed
The speed of your website has a big impact on user behaviour.
- Bounce rates
- Conversion rates
- Visitor satisfaction
- Overall perception of your business
- Ranking factor
- Minimise your use of images
That concludes the On-page SEO tips, it’s time to move onto the Off-page SEO tips that will make your SEO more affordable.
Expertise, Authority and Trust
I’ve just done a book search on Amazon for “social media marketing” and got 10,826
results. At one time or another I’ve had at least 30 social media books on my Kindle and I’ve read at least 20 of them all cover to cover.
I should be a social media expert – right?
Well, I’m not a social media expert in any sense. However, I do have a system that minimises the time I spend on social networks while still getting significant SEO benefits.
Each of my social network profiles has links to all my other social profiles. Every post I write on this site is added to one or more of my social sites and I get a nice backlink to this site.
Of course the backlinks don’t really count for much but that’s not the point. It’s an easy way to get content in front of more people and it brings traffic to my website. The extra traffic helps with rankings and it signals to the search engines that you are active on social media.
Businesses can’t afford to miss the SEO benefits of social media but it doesn’t need to become a big drain on your time.
I advice you stick to the social networks that should stand the test of time. Google Plus (G+), Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are the stand out networks. Pinterest is particularly useful if you have a largely female audience or produce lots of visual content. Instagram is now owned by Facebook so is another contender.
It doesn’t take long to setup accounts on these sites and it’s very easy to add the content from your own site to them.
The mileage you get out of social networks is difficult calculate. Both John Mueller and Gary Illyes (Google spokesmen) have recently stated that social signals are “too noisy” to be used in search rankings.
Create Your Own Citations
There a some very popular and services that automate the process of submitting your company details to the hundreds of the best known online directories. It seems an easy and cost effective way of getting lots of free links to your site; but there’s a problem with going down this route.
Apart from a handful of notable exceptions, the profile backlinks you get from these directories will not provide any SEO benefit. Google has to trust the site that contains your backlink otherwise the backlink is ignored. Google doesn’t trust most directory sites because they don’t do enough to weed out the spam.
YELP admits many reviews on their site are manipulated. Yet Google trusts YELP to some degree because they work hard at filtering out the spam.