How to save money on your SEO?
Word of warning
There’s nothing wrong with trying to save money on an SEO campaign, but it can become a slippery slope.
If you end up cutting corners and decreasing your investment in critical assets—such as landmark pieces of content—you might end up seeing no results whatsoever.
The goal shouldn’t be simply spending less time or money, but making sure they’re spent more effectively. We’ll show you ways that can be done yourself or by passing some of it on to an agency or freelancer.
Target a more specific niche
The old saying ‘divide and conquer’ works incredibly well in the SEO world.
You can reduce the time and budget requirements of a campaign during the strategic planning phase by (initially) targeting a specific niche.
One of your most important decisions is figuring out what market or demographic you want to target with your content. This will help you pick relevant topics and market to them more effectively.
It’s common for SEO experts to go with broad audience segments, hoping to maximise their potential readership. But, if you’re trying to invest less, you’re better off choosing a highly specialised, niche audience. This will allow you to become more relevant with less material, even if it means sacrificing some audience volume.
Find freelancers for specific tasks
There are three approaches to paying for SEO.
1) You can go with an agency, which is more expensive but comes with numerous benefits that are hard to get elsewhere
2) You can hire freelancers, who are cheaper but can be more unreliable
3) You can hire people full-time and do some work yourself, which is in the middle cost-wise, but you’ll sacrifice specialisation and accountability.
If you’re trying to get the most with the least amount of money, your best bet may be to mix your approach. For example, you can hire one person and rely on freelancers for the rest. Or, go with a small agency package and complement their offerings with your own work.
Only accept tactics that work and cut your losses quickly if you don’t see results
Most SEO Agencies and freelancers offer a clear strategy in the beginning. However, some of their strategies aren’t going to work as well as you thought they would.
You’ll experiment with something new, following an interesting recommendation or even basic best practices. Then, after a few months, you’ll notice it isn’t working for you.
In many cases, the SEO agency/freelancer will ask for more time, but follow your gut and don’t accept tactics that aren’t working. They’re wasting your time and budget. Cut them out as soon as possible.
Aim for Quality Over Quantity
A great SEO money saver is making sure you only spend your budget on quality. Taking cheaper strategies, on the face of it, sounds great. But, most of those approaches won’t work, so you’ll end up throwing money down the drain.
The SEO community generally recognises that one amazing blog post is worth dozens (or more) “decent” ones. One high-authority inbound link is worth far more than dozens, or even hundreds, of low-authority ones.
You may be surprised how much a high-quality link actually costs, but you’ll save money in the long-run with the increased traffic. The main thing is to invest wisely and think long-term.
Don’t hire a social media expert
Unless you’re actively advertising on them, don’t get your SEO agency to run your social media accounts. This is a huge waste of money as companies like www.zapier.com can automate all your social media (up to 100 posts a month) automatically for $10.
We predict that more social media content will be indexed on Google and other popular search engines such as Bing and Yahoo. This will, in turn, blur the lines between ‘web’ and ‘social media’. Be prepared to find, collect and use your valuable social content to gain maximum visibility. For many well-known brand names, social media profiles are amongst the top results in search listings.
Use videos to show your content (they are quite cheap now)
We all know that videos are a great way of keeping your audience engaged and entertained. Over the last couple of years, the cost of creating a video has dropped considerably.
A report by Marketing Land states that videos make for 62% of all Google searches. Moreover, Google has started giving attention to blended results/searches. So why not grab the opportunity to appear on the first page of search results by including an engaging video in your content?
There are now literally thousands of freelancers who can create video content very cheaply. Try freelance websites like www.peopleperhour.com or www.upwork.com to find a video freelancer to save yourself money.
Take a mobile first approach to your SEO from the beginning
By asking your SEO expert to take a mobile-first approach, you’ll save yourself a tonne of money in the long-run as you’d have to fix the problem sooner or later.
Mobile optimisation is fast becoming the norm, rather than the exception. It’s a good time to change the way you conceptualise and create SEO strategies for mobile searches.
Neilpatel.com states that the total number of searches on mobile devices has seen a 43% increase year-on-year. Also, Google’s algorithm update this year ensured that mobile-friendly websites get a ranking boost on mobile searches. As more and more people use mobile to surf the Internet, Google decided to make it easier to find relevant, mobile-optimised content. It now uses mobile-friendliness as a factor in ranking search results. If you’re still not convinced, here are just 5 stats that will make you go mobile-friendly in 2016.
- 4 out of 5 consumers use smartphones to shop. (Source: Convinceandconvert.com)
- 70% of mobile searches lead to online action within an hour. (Source: Socialmediatoday.com)
- Over 1.2 billion people access the web from their mobile devices. (Source: Mobify.com)
- Global mobile traffic now accounts for 15% of all Internet traffic. (Source: Newtarget.com)
- 95% of smartphone users have searched for local info. (Source: Adwords.blogspot.com )
Make sure that mobile optimisation finds a prominent place in your SEO strategy if you want to stay ahead of your competitors. Ensure that everything on your site; colours, fonts, content and logo design, etc. is mobile optimised.
Consider a mobile app
By creating a mobile app, you can increase the search ranking of your website. Your SEO agency will be able to use your app as part of your marketing material and promote it online through a number of websites.
App optimisation should top your list of SEO strategies. Several brands are benefiting from prominent mobile app visibility in Google’s organic search results. Have a look at what happens when you search eBay in Google. The app page URL presents a powerful opportunity to “occupy” the first page of Google SERPs.
Be fanatical about local SEO
Note everyone can afford global domination from the word go. So, before you conquer the world, start with your local area.
You must let Google know where you’re located and what you’re offering. This increases your chances of showing up in the search results of the relevant audience. Make sure you have local pages with Google, Yahoo and Bing that include the name of your business, address, phone number, etc.
Since Google came out with its “Pigeon” update, local SEO has gained significant prominence forcing businesses and marketers to focus on a local tangent. Make sure you have location-specific keywords and personalised content to stay ahead of the game.
Start Producing Regular Content Yourself
You don’t have to start a blog, but start publishing content on a scheduled basis. I’m not advocating turning your business into a publishing company by posting content every day. One or two scheduled updates per week or month is my recommendation — consistency is key. Also, bear in mind that content does not necessarily need to be text. For example, an architectural firm could publish professionally taken photographs of its projects or Realtors could publish weekly video bulletins. Publishing content that is tailored to the content consumption habits of your target audience is the goal.
Brush up on your Google Analytics
Have a basic understanding of Google Analytics. Understand the type of reports each Google Analytics tab covers — Audience, Acquisition, Behaviour, Conversions, and Real-Time.
This will help you appreciate the concept of traffic and its sources, and let you read reports provided by your SEO or web design agency.
The more you understand about the way SEO is affecting your leads, sales and enquiries, the better placed you will be to save money. You can quickly disregard strategies that aren’t working and focus on elements that are.
The importance of analytics in digital marketing is akin to financial reports in accounting.
Read at Least One SEO Blog
Yes, SEO can be quite a boring topic for some. But given the amazing benefits, it can provide for your business, it’s worth educating yourself by reading a factual SEO guide and subscribing to an SEO blog.
Here are my recommendations:
Hire a keyword research freelancer but keep an eye on his work
You probably understand your industry jargon and are aware of some different terms your customers use to refer to your services or goods.
When you hire a keyword research specialist, make sure that you can keep an eye on the level of detail they go into by using a free keyword research tool.
We recommend Ubersuggest (https://ubersuggest.io/), which is probably the easiest to use and will help you see a variety of terms and phrases.
If your keyword researcher isn’t picking up the keywords you are finding for free, then you know to stop hiring them immediately.
Learn SEO copywriting best practices
This applies to larger companies that have been outsourcing their SEO copywriting for a long time, as well as small to mid-sized businesses (SMB’s) that have talented writers on staff.
For larger companies: It can pay off massively to have all staff involved in producing and marketing content trained in SEO copywriting best practices. Be it marketing, branding, or even I.T. personnel, it’s important they understand why SEO copywriters write the way they do and how copywriting fits into the whole web development process.
For SMB’s: It can be extremely cost-effective to train any talented writers already on your staff in SEO copywriting best practices. It’s cheaper than relying on an outsourced SEO copywriter to create content.
Consider Guest Blog Posts from Loyal Customers or Readers
It can cost a lot of time and effort trying to produce fresh, quality content for your blog. Having one of your loyal readers or customers write about their experience of using your products or services via a guest blog post can help to pull in other readers/customers.
This will not only save you money but will serve to fill out some of those content “holes” in your editorial calendar and serve your readers by highlighting fresh perspectives from others.
The main thing to consider is that whatever you do, think Quality. Make sure the content on your website, blog or social media site is something you’re proud of and want to share with others.
Ask for competitor replication first
This is the equivalent of sitting an exam and copying the answers of the person sitting next to you. It’s very important to know that the person sitting next to you has the right answers!
However, if you do, then competitor replication can be an extremely efficient way of reducing costs. Many companies still don’t realise that by signing up to ahrefs.com, you can view all of your competitor’s links and therefore replicate their link building strategy and even their keyword strategy.
Use Zapier to speed up mundane tasks
Instead of paying an SEO expert to post your social media content, you can use tools like Zapier to automate this task for you. This means by just simply adding a post on your website; your content can be automatically sent to all your social media accounts automatically or even at scheduled times during the month.
If you have never heard of Zapier then don’t worry, most people in the digital marketing world have, and with a little investigation, you can hire someone to set up all your social media accounts and link them via Zapier.
Don’t pay an Agency to do your onsite SEO
Unless you’re a large company that has thousands of pages on your website, then you don’t need to hire an agency to do your onsite SEO. Most freelancers have the same onsite SEO software and will find out what needs to be fixed.
For basic onsite SEO, you can rest assured that hiring an experienced freelancer will deliver the same standard of work as an agency, but for less money.
Pick a blog strategy and stick to it
One of the greatest money wasting activities you see are companies creating content on their blog with no clear strategy as to why they’re doing it.
Appearing high in the Google ranking is usually the number one priority, but that isn’t a blog strategy. You must also think about how the reader views your blog as an informational resource.
This process is easier said than done. You’ll have an abundance of choice with no limit to the possible number of tactics you can use.
Think about what type of content you are looking to create. Is it going to be video, podcasts or just text? What’s the format going to be like? Is it going to be long and detailed or short and punchy?
And what about frequency?
This is just one side of the coin. The other is to understand that the content you produce is actually going to connect with your target audience. Every decision about your blog must begin with your readers.
Spend time knowing your customers. Imagine your ideal readers like an imaginary friend that you can start a conversation with. Understand what makes them laugh and think about the questions they would ask.