For years, we have been helping owners of all types and sizes of sites with their search engine optimization needs. For many it is a seemingly mysterious process that they don’t wish to understand, and for others it is an at-all-costs necessity that they are involved in heavily. With all types of clients we feel it is important that they know what is being done, why we do it and how it works.

As with all advertising techniques – cost is always a concern. We don’t all have $10,000 to spend every month on digital marketing, PPC, and SEO. Nor do most businesses have an in-house digital marketing person that is familiar with all things web. So, for most clients it’s a learning process. We hope this article will help set you on good path.

cost-effective seo techniques

Search Engine Optimization isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution and many aspects have a low return on investment (ROI). Knowing which techniques are most cost-efficient is always the best place to start. Generally speaking, Pay-Per-Click advertising has much higher costs involved and lower ROI than organic search strategies. Organic listings are pages of your site that are indexed and ranked based on the strength of their content. Once indexed, the cost to keep them there is minimal or none.

Below is a list of starting points for organic SEO, which provide good benefits for minimal cost. (Please keep in mind these are generic and simplified in nature, and may vary depending on the type of site involved)

  • Content is King. Search engines index content – the more relevant and detailed the content, the better chance a page has of being indexed. Take the time to write as much as you can (within reason of course).
  • Strong title tags. A maximum of 65 characters is recommended. Be sure that whatever you use for the title tag is relevant to the page. Use keywords and keyword phrases when possible. Avoid special characters and repeating the same word more than a couple of times.
  • Description tags. Be sure that you are using keywords and phrases that are relevant to that page.
  • Alt tags. Don’t forget to use the alt tags on your images! The search engines seek them out, and it is another great opportunity to add relevant keywords and phrases to your content.
  • Internal page linking. This one is often overlooked and while time consuming, is fairly easy to apply. Find opportunities throughout the site to link between pages with overlapping or relevant content. You can also use this approach for external links, but keep in mind that directing traffic away from your site can be detrimental.
  • Properly use h1, h2, p, etc. tags. The search engines prefer consistent content that is formatted correctly. Make sure your site is using these tags where applicable.
  • No code or spelling errors. Just like in school – you don’t get points for sloppy work. Make sure you check everything thoroughly for errors.
  • No dead links. Periodically check your site for any missing or bad links. Don’t direct the search engines to broken or moved pages.
  • Robots.txt and favicon.ico. Make sure you have a robots.txt file and a favorite icon in place. The search engines look for them – why not make them happy?
  • Sitemap page. If your site is over 10 pages or so, it is wise to build a sitemap page that contains links to all the pages on your site. It doesn’t have to be a major navigational feature on your site – just a text link will do. It can help with indexing and the occasional lost site visitor.
  • Set up Google sitemaps. This is similar to the sitemap page, but it is an XML file of all of the pages of your site. Update: Sitemaps are now submitted to Google via Google Search Console.
  • Set up Google Analytics. This allows you to see a wide array of data about site traffic levels, visitor locations, traffic sources, and more. You can learn a lot from the data collected by Google Analytics, which may influence what keywords you use, and even how your site is laid out.

Things to remember:

  • Search engine rules continually change. Things that work today might not work the same way a year from now. Know this, and be prepared to adjust.
  • Don’t bend the rules. The search engines update their rules regularly to prevent people from abusing shady tactics. What good is the index if the results are all from people cheating the system, and not the strongest or most relevant content?
  • Search engine optimization is an ongoing activity and requires continual monitoring and adjustments. Your competition is playing the same game – you need to pay close attention to see what adjustments need to be made to stay ahead.
  • Patience is a virtue. It takes time to realize the full fruits of your labor. Update your site as needed, but don’t make too many changes over a short period. It takes time for your changes to be reflected in the index and rankings.
  • Don’t get bogged down in all the details. There is a lot to take in and try in regards to SEO. You can get lost in the advice and seminars – stick with what you are comfortable with. If you don’t understand it, it’s probably not something you will do well at.

Regardless of whether you choose to do SEO work on your own or hire a professional, organic listing-based strategies are the most cost-effective and reliable way to increase your search presence.