In an ideal world, small business owners would have a limitless marketing budget and they’d be able to get awesome search marketing agencies to run phenomenal SEO campaigns, build amazing brand signals and generally win the Internet.
Meanwhile, though, back in the real world, there are businesses who simply don’t have significant enough budget to employ specialists in SEO (or other marketing channels for that matter). So how can you, assuming you don’t have a huge budget, at least build some foundations and start building your organic search presence?
These ideas assume you have some time. If there’s no financial budget, you are going to need to put some of your own time in. Here’s how I’d recommend spending time to start building your organic search presence:
1. Spend some time getting to know how your potential customers search
Get to know the way your customers might search for your products and services online. You can do this using Google’s own Keyword Planner tool. But don’t rely solely on this tool.
Other methods you can use to identify ways in which people might search you include:
- Uber Suggest (a tool that scrapes data from Google Suggest)
- Set up site search within Analytics (instructions) and use your internal website search data to assess how people might search for your products and services
2. Get the on page basics right
When I say “basics,” I’m talking about page titles, descriptions and content. This isn’t necessarily a quick job – if you have a big site this could take plenty of time. But it’s a good place to start.
Use the learnings of step 1 to ensure you’re mentioning key phrases in important parts of your page. There are resources to help here too.
Really do invest in getting things right on your website before you worry about the next steps!
Links, links, links…
If you’ve read those guides, you’ll know how much there is to do on site (particularly if you have a big site). But even if you get everything on your website absolutely perfect, there’s still a way to go. “Off page factors” make up, probably, the majority of what determines where you appear in search.
Off page factors are predominantly links, but also include citations of your brand and domain name amongst other things. But let’s focus on links given that they still play a significant role.
The remainder of these tactics are based on acquiring links to your site by distribution assets or creating brilliant resources.
3. Build a bank of Creative Commons Images
This is one of my favourite link acquisition techniques. You’ve probably come across blog posts where they’ve used an image belonging to someone else and they’ve credited that image with a link.
Well, with a bit of help from Flickr and Creative Commons Attribution Licensing, you can become the owner and distributor of images used by bloggers (and credited with links). I’ve written a comprehensive guide on “image link building” over on the Marketing Meld.
The basic principles, though, are:
- Decide what images might be relevant to your business. If you’re a local business, for example, pictures of the area in which your business operates could work well
- Upload images to a Flickr account and optimise the titles and descriptions
- Advise people how to attribute. I do this by adding a single line to the description asking people: “If you use this image, please credit [insert URL].
- Use Google Reverse Image search or a tool like Image Raider to track usage of your images and chase up relevant attribution
This can be time consuming, particularly accumulating images and getting them onto Flickr with relevant and unique titles and descriptions. But it’s certainly proven fruitful in my experience and doesn’t require a budget!
4. Guest Editorial and Expert Sources
Whatever industry you operate in, you’ve probably learned a lot about it. In other words, you have expert knowledge. There are undoubtedly publications out there who’d benefit from your knowledge.
So this means you can potentially build links, citations and other brand signals by sharing your knowledge on other’s websites and online publications.
There are several ways you can go about this. Here’s the resources you’ll need:
5. Research and Experiment
I’ve outlined just two tactics above that can be used to build links. There are countless techniques out there and, over time, you’ll probably devise more.
Research, read, try and test. Dedicate time to experimenting and learning wherever possible!
Ask Me Anything
Well, not anything. I’m not much good on nuclear physics, for example. But feel free to ask me anything about SEO and content marketing. You can get hold of me via my own blog or on Twitter.