There are plenty of blog posts discussing what to do with large budget, big brand SEO, but what happens when there isnt the luxury of a strong budget? Many small to medium size businesses can be reluctant to spend money on SEO or simply dont have the funds to do so, despite knowing that they need to have a strong online presence. Im of the firm belief that good things can still be achieved with a small budget, even if its a few quick wins that can lead to a few more sales or a small increase in lead generation.
Ive had the privilege of working with quite a large variety of clients, many of whom dont have large marketing budgets to play around with. Having had that experience I would definitely say that there are things both small businesses, and us as SEOs can learn about how to make the most from even the smallest of budgets. If you are working with a client, or running your own campaign with a low budget then I would say the first thing to do is get realistic. Youre not going to be able to compete with large brands spending tens of thousands. Instead, its more about finding the areas in which you can improve and make a difference.
If moneys tight then that probably means your time will also be tight. As a result its vital that you identify the quick wins that will make the biggest impact in the shortest space of time. Of course, you will want to do this for any size campaign, but I feel its even more important when you dont have the luxury of time. Put simply, theres no money to waste on things that you might not be able to complete due to funds running out. For example, you might not have the time to do a full in-depth competitor analysis, but you should still be able to get a glimpse of what the competition is doing and get a basic overview of the most vital facts. Focus on the things that matter the most, and worry about the rest if there is still time left over.
This is possibly one of the most important points to consider. Unfortunately, building links costs both money and time. To build a large amount of links you might well need to allocate a considerable amount of budget to content creation, outsourcing certain tasks or whatever else it is you need to do. Not having that spend will certainly limit you as to what keywords you can feasibly compete for. It might be best at this point to start thinking about long tail traffic, or chasing after location based keywords instead of the huge traffic drivers.
Good results on location based keywords and the long tail are much easier to achieve, so this could definitely be a good consideration if your budget is low. If done correctly, this could still make a good difference to your business, even when working with the smallest of budgets. The worst thing you could do is aim your sights too high and start chasing rankings you will never achieve.
All Hands On Deck
If a client really doesnt have much money to invest in SEO, its worth encouraging them to do some work themselves as this will certainly help spread their budget further. When Im approached by a client with very limited funds, one of the options Ill suggest is a training session with some specific advice tailored towards their situation. With that, they can spend one sum of money and hopefully spend their own time improving their rankings based on some solid advice. Again, people do have to be realistic. If lots of new content is needed but they cant afford to hire a copywriter; guess whos going to have to write it? If you can encourage the attitude of getting staff and other people in the company involved, that work ethic can really make a huge impact on a small budget.
A Final Thought...
As a parting note I think its worth mentioning that being honest, open and realistic are probably three of the most important things. If youre talking to a business who want to rank number one for DVDs but they cant spend more than $500 per month, you have to be honest and tell them they might struggle! Just be open with them and suggest some other options that might provide them some benefit (ROI!) on their budget.
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