Read time: 6 minutes
In this issue, I will be talking about the cost of SEO & why is it expensive (but less expensive than other marketing channels)
There are two desired outcomes I want from this issue:
- If you happen to hire someone to do SEO for you, you don’t underprice their efforts
- If you have to do it yourself, you’ll know the exact steps (not in detail)
Knowing how much SEO costs, will help you set a budget accordingly. You will be able to gauge the potential of SEO correctly. Many people (especially those who think SEO is dead) consider SEO as an expense and never take it seriously. To those, I have just one statistic: There are over 6 billion searches every single day, just on Google. It was 5.5 billion in 2020.
Despite this, people either chose to spend on influencer marketing or ads (which is rising by 50% year-on-year for instant results. People don’t ever realize that they’ll only get results for as long as they keep putting money into ads which are getting even more expensive than SEO.
This issue is for you so that you don’t reject getting organic traffic to your pages just because the service seems expensive. In this issue, I will share the typical day of an SEO so that you get what goes behind your money.
Why getting organic traffic getting expensive day by day?
Getting organic traffic isn’t getting expensive, it’s becoming slower. That further equates to getting more expensive.
- Search results pages are a commodity. More people are competing for top ranks.
- Poor quality pages have flooded the internet making crawler busier than ever. Hence the algorithm has gotten even more strict.
- People don’t want to put effort to maintain the top ranks (if attained). There is misinformation about organic traffic that it’s one time job
- People search for other businesses but can’t believe that someone else is also searching for their business
But things will change today. I will share the steps a good SEO performs to get organic traffic for you (which you can DIY as well).
Step 1: Audit the site & look for immediate wins
Begin with auditing the site & finding the areas where you can make required changes & easily win. These can be including sitemaps, creating robots.txt, moving CTAs (The most important CTA will go in the hero section. It should be strictly one CTA), etc. If not already, set up Google Analytics & search console. Once done, run the site URL in the Google search console to see if there are any errors. No page should get a 404 error, no page should be left an orphan. Almost, all of the changes will be on-page.
Step 2: Keyword research
I’m not a big fan of keyword research. I usually do it after I publish the post, however, for you, it might be a deal breaker. So here’s what goes into researching for keywords. If you have a deep pocket, you can get a subscription to fancy tools. If not, use Google search console, Google trends & Google keyword planner. None of these is a benchmark, use these as supplements, not the actual diet.
- List categories you want to touch with your content
- Put those in Google & see the questions under “People also ask”. Click on the relevant ones to discover more questions similar to it.
- Add those questions in a spreadsheet (if required save the URL as well)
- Chronologically, organize these questions & create a blog out of them. Research & find evidence of each point you make in the post.
- Publish & let it get indexed. Don’t worry about the rank yet. We can always optimize it later.
- Once indexed, make a list of keywords that the page is getting impressions for.
- Put those keywords in Google & repeat the above steps.
- Do this for all pages, regularly.
Step 3: Target a specific group of people
If you’re targeting everybody, you’re targeting none.
Create small groups of audience & create a landing page specifically for them. The whole page should target the specific needs of that specific group of audience. These pages are your money pages. The sole purpose of these pages is to make money. You can also try creating location-based pages, i.e targeting search queries that are confined to a specific location.
- Instead of stuffing keywords, find the adjectives that define the keywords “in other words”. For example, instead of using MS. Dhoni, use the Former Indian Cricket Captain.
- Include alt text in all the images. Remember, the alt text should be a description & not the target keyword itself. Imagine a visually impaired person comes across your page & has speech assistance enabled. The assistant will read the alt text to describe the image to that person. Clear?
- Create outcome headlines with keywords in them. For ex: “lose weight this week (without disturbing your daily routine)”
- Include FAQ without fail. You know where to get the questions from (People also asked)
- Create a freebie & build an email list that you own fully. Even if your site is down, social sites block you, you’d still have contact details of your potential customers
Step 3: Optimize for Local Search
If you’re a local business, this applies to you. If you don’t already know, certain keywords result in links from Google maps. So it’s not that you have optimized for Google maps only, you have to be ready for Google search as well. Here’s what to do to win the Local SEO game:
- Include the most important & basic details. Name, Address, phone number & working hours
- Don’t buy fake reviews. It will anchor your growth. The difference between fake & experience reviews is visible. Avoid it.
- Create content with the latest trends & publish it under your local listing. When people search, the fresh one will rise atop
- Incentivize your customers for leaving reviews. Don’t bribe for positive only, incentivize for real ones.
- Don’t worry about competition. This league is different.
Step 4: Do this if you’re impatience & want to break even (at least)
SEO is expensive because it is slow but ROI is rewarding. However, if you want to get some (if not huge) results, put some money in Google Ads. No, it won’t help you with SEO in any way. In fact, Google Ads has SEO of its own & they call it “Ad Quality Score”
Google Ads is in no way as cheap as SEO, here’s where you’ll be convinced that SEO is better to channel. Ads are charged per click and for certain industries such as law, the click costs go as high as $1000 per click, without guarantee of any sale. Now you know why SEO is way more affordable than other channels.
No matter how much you optimize, Google Ads has failed to drive targeted leads, maybe it’s illusion caused because of the money that’s spent on ads. However, if you’re a cafe owner, you can quickly get your brand out by running ads. Get leads or not, people will get to know about your presence.
Another upside I think running ads can help you is the boost in branded search. More branded search means more trust.
Step 5: Guest posting
I know this is a long-time dead strategy, but it still works if done on the right platform. You can always find niche forums on the web, for example, for marketers, Indie hackers are one such forum. Most people confuse guest posting as a practice to write on a blog, technically that’s what it means, but why not improvise it?
Getting active on social sites like Twitter & LinkedIn is also going to help with brand awareness and direct visitors. If internal links are done effectively, direct visitors will turn out to be the one who recognizes your site in search. Ignore other sites & clicking on yours will improve your CTR which will help you rank higher if not already at the top.
For guest posting to work in your favor make your bottom of the SEO funnel very strong. Direct the traffic from guest posts to the pages at the bottom of the funnel. Make the sole purpose of guest posting to get leads/sales/subscribers.
Remember, the bottom of the SEO funnel contains the pages for the hot audience, they’re looking for a solution with a wallet in their hands. Apart from creating internal pages pointing to those pages, create guest posts pointing to those pages as well.
This is an over-simplified version of a typical day of an SEO. It becomes subjective with the demands of clients, the subjectivity of the business itself & several other factors.
If you can DIY SEO these steps (almost daily) while taking care of your business, you don’t need to hire anyone to take care of SEO. If not, hire an SEO who’ll do it for you & never tell them “SEOs charge $5 on Fiverr”.
Whenever you’re ready to win online, here’s how I can help: