5 Smart, Easy and Affordable SEO Steps for Business
Finding your way through the SEO maze can cost your business $10,000+ and thousands a month in maintenance or it can cost you a whole lot less. Read on to learn the 5 smart, easy and affordable SEO steps your business needs now.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. And while this is a good thing in many ways because it would be kind of annoying if, say, gravity took a day off or if your brake pedal and accelerator decided to switch up just for fun, it’s also something of a downer.
Take, for example, bright and shiny SEO Consultants who earnestly proclaim, with all kinds of acronyms and multisyllabic jargon (“You need SEM and a CTA if you want to optimize your latent semantic indexing”), that you must spend a small fortune if you want Google etc. to give you some search engine love. And if you don’t? Why, then your website, and hence your business, might as well not exist.
And faced with that choice (it’s more like extortion), many businesses grudgingly fork over the aforementioned small fortune and then, well, nothing really happens.
Oh sure, maybe there’s some more traffic. Possibly a lead or two. Maybe (maybe) even a new paying customer. Hooray – break out the champagne! A customer is born from the womb of SEO, and it only cost a paltry $10,000. Nice Work from the SEO Consultant!
Sadly, however, unless you’re the government, spending $10,000 per new customer acquisition is a good way to go out of business. And soon.
So Let’s Recap
On the one hand, the SEO Consultants tell you that you need to spend an excessive amount of cash to appease the search engine gods and show up on the first or (maybe) the second page of results. On the other hand, you can’t afford not to get some Google, Bing and Yahoo attention, because these days, having a search engine presence is like having an email address: it’s no longer optional, it’s a basic staple of doing business (heck, even your grandmother has an email address. Your grandmother!)
So what do you do when faced with these two unsavoury choices? Easy! You refuse to choose, and instead create a solution; one that gives you the SEO rewards you want without the impossible financial risk. I call these the 5 Smart SEO Steps, and I lay them out below for you to enjoy, and for SEO Consultants to shriek at.
Smart SEO Step 1: It Starts with Content
You remember the old saying “Content is King”? Well, guess what? What’s old is new again, because despite the wonders of the digital world, with its virtual this and dynamic that, content is still the engine of SEO. In other words: the stuff you write that you want to show up on the search engines must be great. It must be on-message. It must be influential. It must use every tactic and strategy necessary (and there are a bunch) to reach out to your target markets, make a lasting connection, and inspire desired action.
That sounds easy, but hey, open heart surgery sounds easy. So does landing an aircraft or hitting a major league fastball. But try any of those things and you’ll discover that the only thing easy about them is that they sound easy. Sure, they’re not impossibly complex, but they require specialized professional skill (i.e. skills you don’t have). Remember: there’s absolutely no point in showing up in search engine results if, when prospective customers read your message, they aren’t pulled in by your tractor beam of brilliant content and brought into your world.
Smart SEO Step 2: Create Harmonized Suites of Content
Many people think that content begins and ends at what shows up on a business website. But then again, many people think that Mr. Rogers was once a Marine Sniper (really, I’m not kidding, look it up). So yes, many people can be wrong.
Your marketing collateral – which is the stuff that contains your content – should be part of a suite that includes any or all of:
- Your web content
- A press release
- A blog post
- An email blast
- Facebook wall posts
The above isn’t an exhaustive list, and I don’t want to exhaust myself trying to create one; especially since technologies are creating new channels all the time (today’s Twitter is tomorrow’s something way cooler than Twitter, whatever that might be).
The point is, when you launch content on one channel – say, your business website – you should launch it across all of your channels. Why not? They’re YOUR channels, right? It’s your blog, your Facebook page, your Twitter account, your article and so on. For all practical purposes, you own these channels (technically, you’re just renting accounts, but why get technical?), and so you should take full advantage of the benefits of ownership.
For example, let’s say you’ve expanded your business by forming a strategic alliance with a valuable partner. This is fantastic content, and it should flow as a harmonized suite across and through all of your channels. So you should have a web page that discusses this great news in some depth. And a blog post that covers the highlights. And an article that dives into the details . And a tweet (or many tweets) that skim the surface. And a Facebook post that tells your fans why this matters to them. And on and on.
With this being said, don’t make the fatal mistake of having the exact same content on every channel. That is, don’t copy and paste. Different channels exist in their own context, and the right message in the wrong context is always a mistake – because it doesn’t work. The news may be the same, but the context is different, and so the message has to be adjusted and tweaked by someone who knows how to do that.
Think of it like eating out. If your customers are in a fast food restaurant (e.g. Twitter), then serve it up hot’n fast. If they’re in a casual dining restaurant (e.g. your blog), take a little more time and throw in some mints with the bill. If they’re at an elegant dining room (e.g. your website), make sure you bring the wine list and a lighter for the candles.
Smart SEO Step 3: Backlink, Backlink and Backlink (and Backlink)
This is a little confusing, so let’s start with a helpful (if not perhaps a little painful) metaphor.
Do you remember that girl or guy in high school who’d only pay attention to you because of who knew you? I mean, you could be the world’s most wonderful person — or at least crack the top 100 — and that wouldn’t make a difference. The object of your affection wouldn’t give you the time of day unless the people around you – the cool people, the beautiful people, the PEOPLE people – gave you an endorsement and said: he or she is worthy.
Well, Google is a bit like that. At least, their search engine ranking algorithm is, because when it looks at a website, it doesn’t really pay that much attention to the website itself in order to determine if it’s worthy of page 1 or page 2 search engine results. True, the content and on-page optimization of a website does matter, but not as much as most people think. It matters for about 15% of an SEO score.
For the remaining 85%, Google looks to see how many other websites are linking to that site. It calls those links “backlinks” and if it sees that many backlinks pointing to a website, and those backlinks originate from quality websites (i.e. not websites that do nothing but link to other websites), then Google’s computer says: “This website is worthy of a higher ranking, relative to another website that doesn’t have as much backlink popularity.”
The implication of this, oddly, is that the difference between showing up on page 1 of Google results vs. showing up on page 6 often doesn’t have much to do with the respective websites. It has much to do with what websites are backlinking to those websites. It’s that guy or girl from high school all over again.
Now let’s leave that cruel memory behind, and bring this back to your pursuit of SEO magic. When you create your suite of content, you want to link back to your website and to your other channels so that you create a kind of linking system. You want your blog to point to your website and maybe to a press release. You want your Facebook post to point to your website and perhaps to the blog, too. You want your press release to point to your website, your blog, and maybe a cool YouTube video that you uploaded. You want any comments you make in forums to point back to your website, your press releases, or any other relevant content that serves your marketing purposes.
Do you see where this is going?
Basically, you never want a piece of marketing collateral (i.e. content) to leave your hands without linking to your website and to your other key channels. You also want all of your social media content – the stuff you send out there for folks on the Internet to bump into on their journey through cyberspace – to point back to your website too. This not only helps drive prospective customers to your website and therefore to the front door of your business on the web, but as noted above, it helps with SEO because it gives you backlinks; which means more juice to get you a higher search engine ranking.
Smart SEO Step 4: Use Free Distribution Services
Distribution is one of the biggest hidden costs of marketing. Really, it’s not so much hidden as it is unexpected. Many people just don’t figure that there’s a cost of sending something out there. But just as there’s a cost for paying for a parking space which, let’s be blunt, is paying to rent empty space, there’s a cost for distribution.
At least, there used to be. Now, with the wonderful Internet landscape at our virtual disposal, that’s changed and it’s a good thing. Because now you can take advantage of all kinds of free distribution services to promote your content, and spread your message across the digital landscape. Everything from press release distribution services, to article directories, to social media content, to blogs, and more.
And these virtual distribution services are FAST, too. We’re talking mere minutes and hours to get your stuff out instead of weeks and months. Seriously. You can launch your content out at 7:00am in the morning, and have it Indexed by Google, and in front of a potential customer, by 7:30am (if not sooner).
This kind of speed is a transformative leap forward from old fashioned distribution services, which had a built-in lag that was at least weeks long, but usually longer. In other words, the stuff you’d send to the newspaper, for your yellow page advertising, for a magazine advertorial or any other traditional distribution service wouldn’t be in front of your potential customers’ eyes for weeks or months. By that time, your “breaking news” would be stale and maybe even inaccurate (a lot changes in a month, right?).
And then, of course, there are the costs. Traditional distribution services were (and remain) prohibitively expensive for many businesses, or just a bad use of money for those that can afford it. Really, why spend $2000 on a newspaper spot, on a magazine advertorial, or a big Yellow Pages ad and hope that your message doesn’t change by the time it goes from point A to point B when you can launch out today’s news TODAY, and do it for free?
(That’s a rhetorical question, but please feel free to shout “I WOULDN’T DO THAT!” if you’re in a good place to do so.)
Smart Step 5: Getting the Right Help (not the Most Expensive Help)
Okay, the SEO Consultants who’ve made it this far in the article and haven’t yet pulled out their hair (or maybe even those who have) are no doubt screaming “but there’s more to it than that! There’s hotfrog and manta, there’s RSS feeds and Squidoo, there’s deep links and authority codes, and more and more and more! Why don’t you cover that stuff in here if you’re giving away all of our secrets?”
Well, yes, that’s true. There is much more to the SEO picture than what I’m covering here, and that’s deliberate because this isn’t a how-to manual on achieving SEO success. Rather, the goal here to liberate businesses – especially small to medium businesses – from being forced at virtual gunpoint to pay thousands and thousands of dollars to SEO Consultants; because there’s no need!
All you really need is an expert marketing and communication partner who will develop a solid, strategic plan (not some abstract guessing game, but an actual plan with objectives and goals), outstanding content that is on-message, influential and informative, and qualified – but certainly affordable – personnel to carry out the tasks of generating backlinks and other administrative duties.
Put all that together, unleash it on the FREE Internet platforms, and you’ll see your website climb the SEO ladder. It really is that simple. You just need the right help to get the job done – and not the most expensive help.
Put these 5 Steps together and You’ll Have Something to Brag About
Like it or not, but there’s a cocktail party of some kind in your future. And you know, you just know, that you’re going to hear someone prattle on and on about how they spend ridiculous amount of money on SEO, because that’s what you’ve got to do in today’s digital world. You may even detect some boasting in that prattling.
Now, after you’ve applied the 5 steps above and are riding happily on the free SEO highway, and your business is blasting through the competition for a fraction of what your competitors spend, how you respond to this scenario is entirely up to you.
You may allow a knowing, wan smile to pass your face; just enough to cause the aforementioned prattler to lose his or her train of thought, and wonder if you know something that they don’t. You can then politely excuse yourself.
Or, you may choose to let out a deep sigh and shake your head; the way that parents do when their children inform them of something so blatantly absurd that even discussing it would require a foundational understanding that they don’t yet have (the government should give every 16 year old a free new car, because, like, they want to get the youth vote, right?). This can be followed by a light parable about foolishness. Something from Aesop or the Brothers Grimm may do nicely.
Or, if you’re really in a good mood – and why shouldn’t you be? You’re winning the SEO game hands down — you may nod with empathy, and then clearly and diplomatically explain that there is a much better way to achieve SEO greatness – a way that doesn’t cost thousands of dollars a month, but instead takes full advantage of the brilliant technologies, tactics and strategies that exist right now. It simply takes the 5 steps noted above, and knowing how to use them to your advantage.
Get the Expert Help you Need and Win the SEO Game
Putting off or avoiding SEO is unwise, since it’s a permanent feature of the new business landscape and you need to know how to make it work for your business. Yet on the other end of the spectrum, spending tens of thousands of dollars on some pie-in-the-sky SEO Consultant is just as unwise – if not financially impossible for your business to bear. Fortunately, there’s a third option: get the efficient, effective and results-based SEO and Internet Marketing advice you need from CastleCS.
At CastleCS, we’ve helped numerous businesses win the SEO game and we can definitely help you, too. We’ll build and implement a customized plan that is tailored to your unique business, your marketplace dynamics, and your business objectives. You’ll enjoy the growth and other benefits of smart SEO, while keeping costs down and exploiting free and low cost technologies and tactics. In short, we make it simple and easy for you to focus on running your business, while you leave your cost-effective and result-rich SEO to us.
Contact us today to book a free consultation because you never know when the next cocktail party will be, and you want a really good story to tell.