6 Ways to Improve Your SEO Rankings on a Budget

Budgets can be frustrating things. Your work priority might be to get your company better positioned on search engines, for instance, to help build brand awareness, generate more leads and sales enquiries, and maximise ROI. The problem is you don’t have much of a digital marketing budget to work with.

A new year can start with a new marketing budget – often, frustratingly, smaller than the last. Not really what you need when trying to get your site to rank better on Google – especially after yet another one of its algorithm updates. Well, not having a big budget might limit you from trying certain things to improve your digital marketing strategy, but it certainly doesn’t stop you from moving up your SERPs – search engine ranking pages.

Why Your Site Might Not be Ranking Well 

Some reasons why your company website might not be ranking well include:

  • Your content isn’t optimised for search engine optimisation (SEO), so isn’t visible to your potential customers when they search
  • Search engines don’t understand or value your content
  • Your site isn’t optimised for mobile
  • Page speed on your site is slow

There are different things you can do to help overcome some of these issues. And they can easily be implemented into your SEO marketing strategy, without costing the earth. Here are six of them. 

Use Long-Tail Keywords – & Use Them Well

Ah, keywords. Finding out what these little SEO nuggets are has probably been placed as your number one priority to get your site to the top of SERPs and beat your competition. The thing is, it’s not just the words themselves that are important. It’s about how and where you place those terms too, including their placement in meta tags and titles.

This is because search engines, namely Google, are changing all the time and can now read content like a human. They want to see words that flow and fit, and don’t feel clumsy and forced. This means keywords need to feel relevant and appear in content naturally.  

When it comes to understanding keywords themselves, it’s important to know there are two types:

Short-tail – These are one or two words, such as:

“Shoes”, “men’s shoes”, or “financial services.”

Long-tail – These are longer in length, like four words or more, such as:

“The best men’s shoes for business trips”, or “Things to know about financial services in 2019.”

Long-tail keywords are referred to by the world’s biggest digital experts as the holy grail of SEO – and it’s on these you should focus. So why is this?

Well, research shows that long-tail keywords account for 70% of all web searches. Also, while short-tail keywords have very high search volume, they are actually harder to target because they have tougher competition. Long-tail, however, are more specific, so have smaller search volumes and less competition – making them easier to target.

People searching with these terms are also often close to a point of purchase or enquiring about something, meaning they have a higher conversion rate too.

Research shows the average conversion rate for long-tail keywords is 36%, whereas the top 10% of landing pages convert at just 11.45%.

Make Time for Keyword Research

Finding the long-tail keywords that are right for your business website is firstly about doing your research. Don’t assume your potential customers are searching for particular words. It would be a waste of time to write content for your site around keywords they aren’t actually searching for.

So it’s essential to research the types of long-tail keywords they do use, and implement them into your SEO strategy. 

Other things to consider doing include:

  • Making a list of relevant topics based on what you know about your business and how your audience search 
  • Researching related keywords and topically related search phrases 
  • Identifying your competitors’ keywords and adding those that rank well to your content 

Some keyword research tools to try are that can help with this are:    

  • Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
  • Google Keyword Planner
  • SEMrush
  • AnswerThePublic 

If you’re REALLY on a budget, you could also use the People Also Ask function on Google itself, or spy on your competitors to give you an idea of what to target.

Tip: Target a researched long-tail keyword and write a blog around it. This allows you to use the term naturally in the title and throughout your content. Include the term and variations of it two to five times, like towards the top and bottom of the piece.

To learn more about long-tail keywords and how to use them, read our article, SEO Copywriting: 4 Rules for Writing Optimised Web Content.

Create Quality Content

They say content is king (or Queen) and there’s a reason for that. The more interesting and inspiring your content is, the more a user is likely to engage with it and convert – make that enquiry or buy that product you want them to purchase.

Research shows 60% of consumers won’t buy from a brand that has poorly written content.

Producing quality content is also about keeping Google happy. The search engine can now check for content that’s unique, well written and relevant to a website – and will penalise those sites that don’t publish it, something that its recent algorithm updates have focussed on. This will result in sites losing their place on SERPs and dropping down rankings.

So what does quality content look like?

  • Informative and educative
  • Well researched and unique
  • Meets and fills the needs of your audience
  • Uses a tone and style that reflects your business and target markets 
  • Is a substantial length (over 1000 words) without being waffly and repetitive

Your content should also be updated frequently. But that isn’t just about producing blogs.

Depending on your target audience, what types of content ranks well for your sector, and what your competitors are doing, there are different types of content you could add to your SEO strategy. You could provide a helpful guide about a change in industry legislation, an infographic to explain your company services, or a Q&A with your business’s top experts.

It’s worth pointing out that your content should load up fast and be optimised for mobile. You might have the best piece of quality content, but if it isn’t mobile friendly – when most of your audience like to quickly scroll through blogs via their smartphones, for instance – then you’re going to have a problem ranking high on search engines.    

Achieve E-A-T – The Content Google Wants

In its effort to protect users from low-quality content, Google has raised the bar on the quality it expects from sites with its algorithm update E-A-T.

E-A-T stands for expertise, authority and trustworthiness, and is how the search engine now defines quality content. So, for higher rankings, your content should tick each of these three boxes. You should prove you’re an:

Expert – Show you’re highly knowledgeable in your field. This is not just in your content but with authors and their credentials.

Authority – Show others in your field see you as an authority. This involves having authoritative indicators that point back to your website, such as backlinks (explained below) from reputable sources, as well as mentioning things like awards.

Trustworthy – Show that users can trust you, which involves showing that your site is safe and secure. This is especially important if you’re an ecommerce business where customers are using your site to purchase products.

Tip: To cover these three areas without dipping into your budget, you could: author your content with suitably skilled senior staff and create bios for them; ask clients or customers to write service testimonials or product reviews; and publish details about your website security.  

Achieving E-A-T is particularly important for websites where content might impact the health, safety and wellbeing of the user, such as those in the finance, medical and legal sectors. So implementing it into your content strategy is a must if you cover these industries.

Content isn’t just a royal leader that can help you rise up rankings. It’s a money saver too. Research shows it’s 62% cheaper than traditional marketing strategies, and can generate three times more leads. 

You can learn more about its benefits on our Content Marketing page. Or, to get an understanding of our thought processes behind producing quality content, read our case study for construction and civil engineering company, the Eric Wright Group

Build Up Your Internal & External Links

Building links is essential for moving up search engine rankings. There are two key types and both can affect your rankings on SERPs: 

Internal links – those across the pages of your website. For example, a user clicks on a link in one of your blogs to reach a guide about a similar topic.

These links are important because search engines can see how your content relates together, what pages have more value, and how your website is structured.

External links – those from other websites to your site. For example, a user on a business site clicks on a link in a news article, which takes them to one of your service pages. 

These links are important because they give your site more credibility and show your content has value. They can also bring more traffic and potential customers to your site.

Research shows that the average page in top position on a results page has over 35,000 external backlinks. Okay, this number is a bit of a mountain to climb. But it goes to show the importance of external links and the value they can have to rank higher on SERPs.

Tip: When focussing on either of these, consider the anchor text you use – the text included in the link. For internal links, this should be whatever words you want the page in question to rank for. With external links, however, it is advisable to use the brand or the page URL.

Target Sites for Links with High DAs 

Building up external links helps increase your site’s authority and trustworthiness. So when doing this, you should aim to target sites that have a high domain authority (DA).

DA is a search engine ranking score created by the software company, Moz. It basically predicts how well a website will rank, scoring it from 1 to 100. The higher the score, the more value that site has as a link.

Moz and other SEO tool and resources sites, like Ahrefs and SEMrush, have software that allows you to check a site’s DA.

Note, it’s also worth looking at traffic levels and backlink history. Sometimes, a high DA can hide other things that might make a site a bit dodgy.

There are a range of things you can do to build up your external links – some more time-consuming and costly than others:

  • You could add outreach to your digital marketing strategy, for instance, like write suitable articles (with links) for bloggers about topics that relate to your business – but some bloggers might expect high fees.
  • You could produce opinion pieces or press releases about your business’s developments for editors to publish on their news sites. Doing this is particularly good if you’re a B2B company, as you can build links with high-DA sites in your industry that your potential clients might read. Note, though, that some bigger newspapers won’t link to your site, but the smaller locals are more likely to.

Tip: A cheap method is to turn your site mentions into links. Set up news alerts, so you know when an authoritative website mentions your business. Then contact them and ask if they’ll turn that mention into an external link to your site.    

You can learn more about link building and other tips in our blog, Does Link Building Have a Place in 2018.

Be Patient with SEO & Prioritise

Whether you choose to first focus more on long-tail keywords, improving your content quality, or building up your site links, it’s important to know moving up SERPs doesn’t happen overnight. So if you’re expecting to see some results quickly, you might be disappointed. SEO can take some time – four to six months, in fact – to become effective, so patience is key.

A good place to start is to find out what the priority should be for your site. This involves having a content audit to check what is working well on your website, and what isn’t.

To find out more, speak to our award-winning team about having a free SEO audit, or visit our SEO page about the processes we use to help boost your website up the ranks.

Written by
Heath Reidy
Heath Reidy

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