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Top 7 SEO hacks for startups on a tight budget

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If you look at website statistics across the world, you will see that new websites come up every day, and this trend is not about to change anytime soon. For this reason, websites are continually fighting for visibility. And the best way to obtain this visibility, or rather higher rankings and more traffic is through implementing the best SEO strategies. Some websites have adequate finances to hire SEO professionals who help to boost their rankings. However, startups may find it hard to hire these SEO experts because they are short on funds, but this doesn’t mean that they can’t practice proper SEO strategies to boost their rankings. Here are the top seven SEO hacks for startups that are operating on a tight budget.

1.      Use free SEO tools

You might have heard new online business owners complain that SEO is an expensive and tedious process that can only be done by experts. Well, that isn’t the case. You can easily optimise your site for search engines by using the available free tools to help you monitor the performance of your website. Fortunately, there are a lot of free tools such as Google Analytics, which shows you the landing pages that are doing well and those that are not. There are also free tools that show you your position against your competitors, while some help you fix errors on your website to improve your rankings. So, do not be restricted to optimise your site because you cannot afford to pay the charges demanded by some tools. The free tools are also quite effective.

2.      Select the keywords to use cautiously

Keywords are a crucial part of SEO. Although they are not the only ones that determine the performance of your website on search engines, you need to select the keywords you use carefully. Keywords play a considerable role in providing your audience with high-quality content. Without them, your target audience will hardly see your site. When you use keywords to optimise your website, do not exceed the appropriate density because stuffing them may make your content look completely irrelevant. As a startup company, you should search for keywords that are related to your business within your geographical location. This tactic could help to boost traffic to your site.

3.      Stay up to date with SEO trends

You have to know that Google keeps updating its algorithm to create a better user experience because its main concern is the visitors. Therefore, you have to follow up with what is going on so that you can change your strategy appropriately to increase your site’s visibility. When you implement the appropriate SEO practices, you stand a better chance of being recognised by search engines, which will lead to higher rankings and more traffic. However, you have to keep in mind that growth is gradual and it will hardly happen overnight. By following up with SEO news and trends, you will get to know the strategies that work best.

4.      Focus on image optimisation

Images and visual content on your site could help to boost your site’s traffic, and you should ensure to use them in your new site. However, placing them there doesn’t guarantee that your site will gain recognition. No. You need to optimise them because they cannot be identified by search engines when they stand alone. So, how do you optimise images? You do this by adding an image tag to describe the image. You could also add Alt text on your images to allow search engines to know what the image is about. File names are also important.

5.      Look for gaps in competitor sites and try to fill them

If you are working on a limited budget, but you want to boost your SEO rankings, you could look for content opportunities in your competitors’ sites and capitalise on them. The best way to do this is by following up with their social media activities or blogs so that you can identify the critical details that are missing. You could also look at the comments to determine what exactly the audience is interested in. When you have this information, you could create new content that fills the existing gaps or improves your content. This is a tactic that could see you generate more traffic.

6.      Set your goals

If you want to progress, you have first to make the initial step. In SEO, this step includes setting your goals and determining the desired outcome. Once you have a clear idea of what you want, you can start working towards it. Every step you make should indicate progress. If your goal is to generate a specific percentage of leads within your industry, then you have to come up with proper strategies that will let you achieve it. If you want to boost your blog’s traffic, then you have to post high-quality content.

7.      Attempt guest blogging

Blogs could help improve the performance of your site, and if you have been blogging for a while, you might consider guest blogging. Find relevant blogs that post similar content to yours and post your content in there. With guest blogging, you have to post quality content to ascertain your prowess in a specific field. It also helps you reach a wider audience, which may have a positive impact on your site’s performance.

Conclusions

From the tactics mentioned in this article, you can see that you can implement an effective SEO strategy without having to spend much, especially for startups. They could see your site grow enormously, helping you outrank your competition.

If you would like to establish your site’s performance on search engines, you can log on to serpbook.com to see if your hacks are working effectively.

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India still doesn’t give SEO the importance it deserves

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We have all contributed, and been witness to the exponential rise of internet usage in India. The advent of the smart phone and affordable internet access has radically transformed the digital landscape in the country, and has spurred new behaviours in all areas of life. From being a space to look for information, to connecting with others via social media, to digital payments and making purchases for everything from a pin to a plane (well, almost), ordering food and online learning as well, Indians from all walks of life have taken to digital and how! It isn’t surprising then to see that digital marketing has also grown at an equally fast pace, and has become a regular part of most marketing plans today.

Digital Marketing in India today sees a YoY growth of 30-35% on an average.

With companies getting the desired results from digital, digital budget allocations are no more considered optional. However a point to note here is that for most companies, digital primarily revolves around maintaining a website, and paid marketing efforts. We see many companies investing heavily in building snazzy responsive websites, mobile apps and social media communities, then promoting these through paid search, display and social media. Paid efforts no doubt give quicker results, and agencies often push these to demonstrate the performance of their digital services. This also looks good in year-end reviews, no doubt! But in all of this, SEO, a crucial aspect in digital marketing, often gets sidelined or put on the backburner.

Understanding SEO, the underdog in digital marketing

SEO, an acronym for Search Engine Marketing, is a process by which you can optimize your webpages for better organic visibility on search engines, for a specific set of keywords. What this will do is that it allows your webpages to rank higher on search results for your industry / work, and this will allow your business to be seen by many prospects. A higher visibility on search will translate to a higher number of visitors to your website, a higher number of leads and eventually, more business. And all of this will continue to grow over time, so you can enjoy incrementally more unpaid traffic without having to rely on paid marketing efforts.

With all these advantages, it is only natural to wonder why SEO hasn’t gained its time under the sun as much as other tactics have.

Here is why SEO is not as popular with Indian digital marketers

Despite the host of benefits that SEO can offer, there is a small catch, and I wouldn’t even call it a catch.

  • With SEO, you need to go slow and steady

SEO is a time-consuming, technical process that takes time to start showing results. This could vary from a few months to over a year, depending on your category and objectives. And in this era of instant gratification, both consumers and marketers look for quicker results from everything they do. Organizations and marketers often end up losing patience in the slow but sure process of SEO, and are sold on the promise of instantaneous results that the paid marketing approach offers.

But once you start seeing results, there is no doubting the efficacy of this strategy.

  • It is not as glamorous as the other stars of digital marketing

There is an industry joke that refers to SEO as a behind-the-scenes performer that pales in comparison to the paid marketing stars on the digital stage. Most brand managers focus on the communication and the UI when it comes to their owned digital assets. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that almost 90% of their attention and efforts are in creating really good digital assets, and SEO is then left to the IT teams or agencies. In the ideal process, marketers need to collaborate with their digital agency to create a robust SEO strategy with a long term view.

In conclusion, you cannot afford to ignore SEO if you are looking for long term growth.

SEO is important for the exact same reasons that a website is important. While a website serves as your online presence, it will not be very helpful if your prospective consumers don’t know who you are or how to find you. Optimizing for search can help solve this problem, and can play an important role in brand building online.

This is not to say that SEO will only benefit online businesses. There are numerous examples and case studies of erstwhile and heritage brands using SEO to drive higher offline footfalls and sales. And these again, are just one Google search away.

Web search, then becomes the most valuable marketing channel that you can use for generating quality leads at a low investment. Not ranking high on search results for your category is akin to losing out prospective business to your competitors. SEO can also offer continuous, incremental growth over a period of time, and an ROI that is way higher than paid marketing.

So if you are a business owner or marketer who is invested in the long term growth of your company, you know what to do.

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SEO

Rich Snippets: SEO Strategy in Times of Disruption

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The global pandemic has triggered a unique type of distress for entrepreneurs looking to begin brand-new companies. Aside from handling the health and social concerns caused by the COVID-19, they have faced the lack of targeted visitors and sales revenue.

Terence Lim, SEO Consultant and the founder of JinMatic is won over that SEO can help organisation during this global pandemic.

Google enhances its search function by arranging the world’s info and making it widely available. In the last 5 years, because of its explosive development, SEO has undergone numerous changes. To name a few, RankBrain, Hummingbird and the Exact Match Domain update are some of the game-changing updates Google has rolled out in the last few years.

These algorithms make the search engine smarter than ever. Although these updates make life much easier for end-users, some Malaysia SEO agencies are forced to stay on their toes to quickly integrate these brand-new strategies into their digital marketing strategy. For example, businesses can use rich snippets to gain more business exposure because practically 55% of all Google searches feature rich snippets.

JSON-LD Structured Data: The Quick Way to Get Google Rich Snippets

The best way to obtain rich snippets is by having proper structured data. It’s a standardized format utilized to identify and arrange the details in your webpages. Google recommends utilizing JSON-LD for structured information because its scripts are relatively simpler to add, upgrade and remove.

Terence pointed out that structured data does not directly increase your search rankings, but it does improve your click-through-rate (CTR) as a result of having more appealing search listings.

This search engine optimization strategy absolutely does the job for Malaysia small-medium enterprises because today’s consumers demand easy-to-find, snackable and valuable content.

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Interview

Leading SEO Expert Justin Davis Shares Valuable SEO Tips and Explains Why Entrepreneurs Should Do it Right to Remain on Top

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Justin Davis is a leading SEO Expert and specializes in Link Building, an important aspect of Search Engine Optimization. SEO or Search Engine Optimization simply means how effective your business is optimized for search engine results. For example, if you provide plumbing services and if someone searches on Google with the keyword ‘Best Plumbers Near Me’ and your business website or your information comes on the top position, you can be said to be search engine optimized.

Given the kind of competition Startups and Businesses have, it is important that they have an optimized search engine presence.

Justin, Thank you for talking with us. Tell us more about the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) for small business owners and startups.

Thank you for having me. SEO only matters for businesses that have customers (or potential customers) that go to Google or other search engines to look for their products and services. One of the benefits to a small business is that SEO will deliver leads that do not directly need to be paid for.

Of course most businesses would enjoy natural, organic traffic to the website from people researching services or products before making a buying decision. But there are costs in getting to this point. The time required depends on how strong the competition is.

At a minimum, small businesses should have a grasp on what keyword phrases are important to their business, how much search volume is behind those queries, where they stand compared to their competitors for those keywords, and approximately how much traffic the competitors are getting from those keywords.

What are some of the biggest mistakes businesses make when planning their seo strategy?

I have seen lots of businesses waste countless hours and thousands of dollars optimizing their on-page SEO, and reoptimizing, redesigning, and on and on. Monthly spending on SEO services should almost be entirely for off-page strategies like backlink building.

Onsite optimizations should generally be a one-time fix and coaching for best practices moving forward. Let’s face it.. Most companies know little to nothing about SEO. That’s why they hire out. So the client needs to at least somewhat educated on the basics in the beginning.

Setting clear expectations by talking about what the deliveries will be, a timeline, KPIs that will track progress throughout the campaign, costs, results – these should all be covered. Properly setting expectations of how much the services are going to cost, how long it’s going to take, and what estimated results will help with transparency and clarification.

Panda update of Google was a big learning curve for seo professionals. What are some of the current trends in seo?

Nowdays I just focus on producing high quality content and getting high quality links to point to that content. I leave the trends and tweaks to the SEO bloggers and every once in a while I incorporate something new into my strategies.

Think about link building as being a timeless SEO activity. Getting links from high-quality websites will always be great for your SEO. Why? Because this is the system that Google search results was based off of. A linking/vouching system is similar to that used by many scholarly medical journals and so on.

Forget trying to figure out the new fads, tips and tricks. Stick to doing a lot of what we already know works. Optimize your site on-page, and then continue adding content to your site while getting links from quality websites in your niche.

Tell us the importance of link building for a website. How do businesses ensure that they have a quality link profile?

Link building is important for a website because Google’s ranking system relies on links heavily to reveal authority. The amount of links from trusted sources are looked at as a vouch, basically voting for the linked site.

Businesses have a quality link profile by setting standards in the beginning. Authority scores, organic search traffic, the number of keywords ranked in Google, rankings/positions for various keywords, Moz spam score, sniff tests, experience, PBNs and IP addresses – are factors used to determine whether a link prospect is qualified.

Lots of businesses try to go cheap when it comes to link building. This is probably because it takes a lot of time and money. I get it! But when taking shortcuts and hiring amateurs, they often end up with spammy links and little to no improvements in keywords and actual website visitors.

Even worse, they could be penalized and completely lose everything in Google search. Bad SEO can also do lots of damage to a brand, because a big part of off-page SEO is outreaching/emailing every other business and organization in your industry on your behalf.

There are many businesses that want to indulge in shady link building programs just because they are in a hurry. As an expert in this field, how do you handle these clients?

I am very clear with possible new clients. I go over the preferred types of links and associated metrics ahead of time.

One of the qualifying factors I look for in clients is that they respect my expertise and take more of a hands-off approach. Micro-managers need not apply! So I just politely smile and reject those clients. PS: I turn down 90% of businesses that reach out to me because they don’t meet all of my qualifying factors. This is multiple businesses per day.

What SEO tips would you like to share with all the entrepreneurs who are reading this?

Hiring the right person for SEO is crucial if your business relies on traffic from search results. In the beginning, talk about what the SEO goals are, what the ideal timeline would be in order to meet those goals, and what budget is available in order to get there.

The SEO person should be able to explain what can be expected according to your goals, timeline and budget. Properly setting and tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) that are specific to SEO and the campaign will show progress.

A proper SEO campaign will result in your website gaining authority. These gains will be shown in higher numbers of organic search visitors (check Google Analytics for this), higher rankings for more keyword phrases (various SEO tools for this), and higher authority scores (various SEO tools).

Justin Davis is the Chief Link Builder for Link-builders.com, an off-page SEO agency specializing in building high-quality backlinks.

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