SEO is a long-term effort that can be really expensive when not managed well. So, should businesses with low marketing budgets avoid SEO?
In this guide, we will discuss several strategies to reduce your SEO cost without sacrificing result.
Let us begin by first discussing why SEO can be expensive in the first place.
Why SEO Can Be Expensive
Before we can understand how to make SEO more affordable, we must first understand what made it expensive. Here, we will discuss several factors that might cause your SEO campaign to break the bank. Let us begin with the first one.
#1. Valuable Contents
High-quality and relevant contents are now a must not only for SEO, but digital marketing in general. In the past, we can use low-quality, keyword-stuffed contents for SEO, where our main focus are solely about keyword density. Yet, since Google’s Panda update, that is no longer the case, as you can get penalized for keyword stuffing.
So, regarding contents for SEO, there are two main things to consider now: the content should be valuable and relevant enough so we can get more backlinks, and it should also include natural occurrences of keywords, as well as the related semantics.
Yet, the development of high-quality contents can be really expensive, and your job does not stop there. Content promotion and management are also a thing, and unless you want to do everything yourself, you will need to hire someone, and hence our next point: human resources.
#2. Human Resources
SEO is a long-term effort, and you will probably only see significant results after 6 to 12 months. During that period, you will need a consistent effort, as well as technical proficiency, and it is very difficult to do every single aspect of SEO by yourself.
So, you will need an SEO team, either by developing an in-house team, outsourcing to a professional digital marketing agency like Nine Peaks, of hiring an expert SEO freelancer(s). The thing is, all three options can be really expensive in the long run.
#3. Web Development and Maintenance
Similar to contents, we can no longer rely on sites that are not well developed (read: crappy websites) to rank well, because Google now also considers factors like bounce rate and click-through rate in their ranking algorithm, thanks to Google RankBrain .
Not only that, but mobile-responsiveness is an absolute must nowadays, with more and more people exclusively browse the internet (and do searches) from their mobile devices. While load speed is not (yet) a direct factor for SERP, it might affect the bounce rate, so you should also consider speed optimization.
While web development and hosting are generally more affordable compared to, say, a decade ago, it can still be very expensive if you are not careful. Don’t forget that we also need to factor in the cost of long-term on-site optimizations.
As we can see, there are generally three main factors that can bloat your SEO cost: your manpower, your content development, and your website costs. So, our main tactics to reduce the SEO cost will be focused on those three aspects, which we will discuss on the rest of this guide.
Reducing Your Content Development Cost
Here are some of the effective tactics to have more affordable contents without sacrificing quality.
#1. Quality Over Quantity
In an ideal world, you would want to publish as many high-quality contents as possible. They should be valuable for your human readers while also naturally include the focus and related keywords. Yet, when the budget doesn’t allow, it is better to produce just a few high-quality contents instead of a lot of so-so contents.
A common mistake for many SEO practitioners is choosing quantity over quantity, which on the surface is a sound plan because with more contents, you can target more keywords.
Yet, it is better to have one really good, in-depth content that are linked and shared by a lot of people compared to a lot of contents without any tractions at all. Get a content producer according to your budget, and if you can’t afford many contents, just get one or two really good ones.
#2. Expand Your Outsourcing Mindset
Here’s the thing: many non-native English speakers can write really well, and there’s even an ongoing argument that non-native English speakers are actually better in presenting ideas.
So, if you think that your current native English writer is too expensive, don’t limit your options. Explore freelancing sites, content mills, and many other available options and if you are careful (and lucky), you might get cheaper writers that can write just as well (or even better).
Reduce Your Human Resources Cost
Reducing the human resources cost is honestly more difficult than the other two, and there’s no shortcut. There is only one option to reduce your manpower cost in the long run:
Build Your In-House Team
While there are certainly outsourcing options that are far cheaper than building your average in-house team, when you do it right, you will always get more control, accountability, and results from your in-house team. If you see that your current strategy is not doing well, you can do a quicker pivot with an in-house team compared to your outsource. This can be a major money saver in the long run.
Also, an in-house team will be more focused on your business compared to an outsource agency which typically handles multiple clients at the same time.
Reduce Your Website and Optimization Costs
There are several approaches on this aspect you can take to cut costs, they are:
#1. Taking Advantage of Affordable and Free Tools
With so many available tools nowadays, we don’t really need the help of professional web designers to develop an optimal site. Take advantage of trustworthy platforms like Wix, WordPress, and others to save money while not sacrificing results.
Also, check out this guide listing responsive HTML5 templates to easily develop a mobile-responsive site.
If your website is WordPress based, there are also many plug-ins and tools to optimize your site and improve load speed. A lot of them are absolutely free.
#2. Optimize On-Site SEO
In some case you would really need to hire a professional SEO consultant to optimize your on-site SEO. In general, there are only three basic principles you should follow:
- Title Tag: Include your focus keyword in the title tag. Make sure it is below 70 characters and can be easily read by human readers.
- Keyword Frequency: Aim for 0.5 to 1% of keyword density on a page, make sure the occurrence is natural for human readers.
- URL: Keep your URL short and comprehensive. Include your focus keyword on the URL. This is also useful for human readers to comprehend what your page is about.
While SEO is considered one of the most affordable digital marketing tactics out there, it still can be very expensive when not managed well. By optimizing the three areas we can discussed above, you can maintain the cost efficiency, as well as maximizing ROI.