Designing a cost-effective SEO campaign can be complex, especially if you’re a beginner or have never done a deep dive into the world of search engines. There’s a reason why an entire career path exists around building effective SEO.
But, don’t let that stop you from implementing some time and money-saving best practices that can move your business and its pages up in the search results. Read on to learn more about how to build quality SEO and some of the traps to avoid.
Do: Research keywords and competitors
Cost-effective SEO depends on identifying both quality keywords and their relationship to your competitors. Whenever you create a new SEO campaign for a page or your entire website, you want to make sure that you’re optimizing for the right keywords, not just a whole mess of keywords.
Are you using Google Analytics? If not, you should be. A powerful tool within GA’s expert mode is the Keyword Planner, which can be an invaluable tool for doing keyword research. Alternatives include the free Answer the Public tool, Moz’s paid keyword search engine, and SEMRush’s keyword tool (this tool limits to 10 searches per day).
You can also spend some time searching Google for relevant keywords to your pages and business, and see what comes up. More specificity is better than less, and the more specific and well-integrated your keywords are, the more incentivized Google will be to place your page at the top of the SERPs (search engine results pages).
Also, you ought to spend some time scouting out your competitors. Look at their product pages and blog posts. What kind of keywords are they focusing on? In searches where you find that your competitors are ranking higher than you, become a detective. Try to determine what they’re doing that’s edging you out. Sometimes it’s higher volumes of traffic, but many times you can get an edge or close the gap by competing for the right keywords.
Don’t: Compete where you can’t win
First up, a strategy that’s certain to lose your money involves using popular keywords that have nothing to do with your pages or business. Google’s algorithm has advanced significantly to filter out and penalize pages that do this, so avoid that at all costs. That’s step one.
Step two of keeping your eye on the ball is ensuring that you don’t compete in categories where you don’t have a chance of winning. This comes down to a category called authority, which we will discuss in more depth in the next section.
However, there are sources that Google considers authoritative for different searches and pieces of information. An easy example is if you try to compete for a simple keyword like “shoes” or “athletic shoes,” your page will end up on page 2+ because Zappos, Nike, Shoes.com, and DSW are authoritative in that space.
That’s what we mean by don’t compete where you can’t win. No shade on your products, they are likely excellent, but as far as Google is concerned, it’s next to impossible to erode an authority for a keyword without enormous amounts of blood, sweat, and tears. When you also consider that there are many ways to compete for space in the SERPs and grab customers who are looking for what you sell, don’t bother with going after the big dogs yet.
Do: Create a structure or plan for your keyword usage
Planning is key in cost-effective SEO. Without a structure or plan for your keyword and SEO optimization, you’re doomed to make easily-avoidable mistakes. Getting a plan or structure in writing for your business is a great first step to saving time and money. Here are important things to consider in your SEO plan.
1. Relevance of content
As we mentioned above, Google ranks content based on its relevance. Whatever content you have created will only rank if it matches the needs of a given searcher. Google also tries to determine if your content is the best resource for that given search query.
What this means for you is that when you’re developing your content plan, you want to make sure that there is a direct correspondence between the keywords you place in a piece of content and the usefulness of the content.
What makes for relevant content? Well, we’ve written extensively about creating quality content, but in a short summary, the content you create for a keyword ought to answer the question that the query is asking. Without that critical piece, you’ll never move up in the SERPs.
2. Authority of content
Authority, often referred to as domain authority, is the weight that Google gives to sources that it deems authoritative. This is more of a reference to your business’s website as a whole. You want your entire site to be full of important information about relevant topics related to your business, because that communicates to Google that you are an expert in a category or field.
3. Volume of searches
Depending on the keywords you’re competing for, especially if you’re going after long-tail keywords or more infrequently searched terms, the monthly search volume (MSV) of what you’re searching for might be lower than more competitive keywords. You want to make sure to have a balanced SEO plan; make sure that you’ve got an equilibrium between keywords with low MSV and ones with mid-to-high MSV. That will ensure that you don’t set up your content to play to an empty auditorium.
But, the general rule of thumb is that the more quality content you’re putting on your site, the better your overall outcomes will be in terms of SEO. At the end of the day, quality content matters.
Don’t: Put all your keywords on a single page
This one is almost a no-brainer given what we’ve been talking about in this article, but it is a helpful reminder nonetheless. Google’s algorithms have evolved enough to the point where spamming a whole bunch of keywords onto a page is not going to be effective. Keyword stuffing, as it’s commonly known, is no longer the way to move your pages up in the search results.
Now, a separate but related issue is keyword specificity. After you’ve researched all the keywords you want to use, don’t put them all on the same page. You want to make sure that each page is competing for separate and distinct sets of keywords.
If you don’t do this, you can end up having your own pages compete against themselves, which is exactly the opposite of what you want. So, when you make your cost-effective SEO plan, make sure that it focuses on distinct sets of keywords on distinct pages.
Do: Cultivate guest posts and backlinks
Part of building a cost-effective SEO strategy hinges on creating a network of quality guest posts and backlinks. We’ll start with backlinks.
From an SEO perspective, backlinks can be part of what demonstrates a given site’s popularity. Whenever another site links to one of your pages, this tells Google that your pages have quality information. Importantly, backlinks from highly ranked sites will move you up more in the SERPs than a low ranked one. So, you want to cultivate backlinks from top-ranking sites. Here’s the main criteria to evaluate a backlink:
- Does the site the link is coming from have a high domain authority? You can use a free tool like this Ahrefs tool to check this.
- Is it relevant to your content? Even if the other site has high domain authority, it’s not best practice to send readers to an irrelevant site.
Focus on building backlinks slowly. Too quickly and it might trigger penalties from Google because it appears you’re trying to manipulate the rankings.
Now, how do you get backlinks? Well, you can offer link exchanges, but a more effective way to build these valuable connections is through guest posts.
Guest posting is writing content for another company or organization’s website. The process is fairly simple: Find blogs and companies that are relevant to your product or a topic you’re writing about, and reach out and see if they’d be willing to publish content written by you on their site. This content will naturally have backlinks to your site, and it also puts your business on their reader’s radar as well. In an ideal guest post agreement, both businesses benefit mutually, in terms of readership and SEO.
Consult the experts
Designing and building a cost-effective SEO plan can be difficult and time-intensive. Plus, mistakes can end up costing you, especially when you start factoring in ad spend and other methods for optimizing SEO. Our Ecommerce SEO service does the work of optimizing your website and business for you. Utilizing this service gives you access to a team of expert marketers who know the ins and outs of the SERPs and ecommerce.