“Google is the gatekeeper to massive amounts of traffic and leads,” says IMPACT. “Search engine optimization (SEO) opens the doors.”

Based on the quote above, every business should be actively engaged in SEO strategies that will improve their website’s search engine rankings.

Unfortunately, many small-business owners feel that SEO doesn’t fit into their budget. But as Entrepreneur points out, SEO is actually more cost-effective than other forms of marketing, including pay-per-click and social media marketing.

While not every business has the funds to spend thousands on an SEO campaign every month, there are still several things you can do to give your search traffic a significant boost. Entrepreneur offers 5 smart ways to improve your SEO on a tight budget:

1. Optimize Your Google My Business Page

“Small businesses and brick-and-mortar businesses should focus on gaining local exposure instead of trying to target potential customers located throughout the country,” says Entrepreneur. To improve your business’s local SEO, you should optimize your Google My Business page (previously known as Google Places; sometimes referred to as Google Map listing).

You’ll need to first make sure you own the page so you can make edits to your business’ listing. Fill in your business information accurately, being as descriptive as possible. Be specific when choosing categories to describe your business. If you are a personal injury law firm, for example, you should select “personal injury attorney” instead of “lawyer” or “law firm.” Don’t forget to add business hours, photos and other useful and relevant information.

Taking the time to claim your My Business page and fill in your information will really pay off when Google users perform local searches.

2. Use Long-tail Keywords

According to IMPACT, 50% of search queries are four words or longer. If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll want to focus all of your SEO efforts on long-tail keywords.

Long-tail keywords are phrases that are very specific to customer needs. If you own a small ballroom dance studio in Utah and want to attract people who are interested in salsa lessons, you’ll want to create a long-tail keyword like “salsa dance instructor in Utah.”

While a shorter keyword, like “dance instructor”, would certainly be relevant to your business, the long-tail keyword will be more effective because there might be hundreds of other businesses that are targeting “dance instructor,” and you don’t want to go up against that kind of competition. Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, are less competitive, so you have a much better chance of ranking well in search.

Long-tail keywords are also more specific, so small businesses are better able to reach a narrower audience. A search for “dance instructor” may not necessarily mean that a person is interested in a dance instructor in Utah or a salsa dance instructor. However, someone searching for “salsa dance instructor in Utah” is way more likely to be interested in the services your business offers

3. Use Keywords Strategically

Now it’s time to put your long-tail keywords to work for you! Place them in key spots on your website such as page titles, URLs, and in other content on your site. Just don’t get crazy and stuff your page full of keywords!

A good practice is to use your keywords in the page header, as well as within the first paragraph of the content. This will help you grab Google’s attention without overdoing it.

Another way to use long-tail keywords is to create new content around them. Whether you place your long-tail keywords on static pages or in articles and/or blog posts, using a specific page for the keywords you create increases your odds of ranking well in organic searches.

4. Frequently Publish Fresh Content

Adding fresh content to your website on a regular basis is an easy way to improve your ranking in Google’s search results. That’s because every time new content is published on your website, Google’s web crawler analyzes your website and determines how it should be ranked in the search results. The more often you give the web crawler a reason to visit and reanalyze your website, the more chances people will have to find you on search engines.

Keep in mind that the content you publish must be unique, useful, and relevant to your audience. As you continue to post fresh, relevant content, the web crawler will come to realize that your website is valuable to people searching for your keywords.

5. Do Some Link Building

“One of the oldest yet still most important factors in SEO is link building,” says Entrepreneur. To the search engines, third party links to your site are viewed as a validation that you should appear higher in search results.

While there are lots of ways to obtain links (many of them very time consuming), if you’re a beginner or you’re on a tight budget, Entrepreneur suggests going for the “low hanging fruit” by starting out with business directories, review sites, yellow page listings, local newspapers or publications, chambers of commerce and business associations. This will allow you to build at least a dozen links in just a few hours.

Conclusion

According to Search Engine Land, search engines and SEO play an important role in the future of your business.

The five SEO strategies mentioned above can be implemented by any company on a tight budget and will help improve your business’s search engine ranking, as well as drive more traffic to your website.

About Author

Sherene Funk

Sherene Funk is the author of the contemporary romance Autumn in Your Arms and the eBook The Small retailer's Ultimate Guide to Increasing In-Store Sales. She is a voracious reader who owns more books than she can ever read in this lifetime (but that doesn't stop her from collecting more). A graduate of Brigham Young University, she has published several humorous non-fiction articles and worked in advertising for many years before moving to her current position as a writer on modern retailing at Rain Retail Software. She researches non-stop to see what successful retailers do and loves to share what she learns with other small business owners through informative articles that address their unique needs.


Also published on Medium.

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