There are over half a billion websites active online, a simply staggering statistic that means single company, regardless of their niche or their expertise, is in a constant fight for survival. The only way to get noticed in this saturated marketplace is make sure your SEO is better than your competitor’s SEO, and contrary to what you might think, that doesn’t mean you need to spend thousands of dollars every single month.
It will certainly benefit you to acquire the services of an expert further down the line, but until you have the budget to accommodate such an expense, there are a few simple things you can do to get your business off the ground and to the top of Google without spending a fortune.
1. Write for your Readers, Not Google
The biggest misconception regarding SEO is that you need to be an expert in keywords and the Google algorithm for your content to gain traction. The truth is, while this might have been the case in the old days, that’s not how things work anymore.
Google is constantly updating its algorithm to create a more natural, intuitive system. When a user types in a phrase it wants to provide them with the best and most informative websites, not the websites that have paid the most money, used the most keywords, or purchased the most backlinks.
Every time Google updates its algorithm, it moves closer to this ideal state, which means that content created with the user in mind climbs higher and higher up the search rankings.
Your goal as a blogger or content creator should not be to write for Google, but to write for your visitors. Not only will that improve your bounce rate and page time (factors that can also improve your rankings) but it will also tick many of those algorithm boxes while essentially future-proofing your site.
2. Quality over Quantity
In the early days of SEO acquiring backlinks was a numbers game—the more you had, the better. There are actually still so-called “SEO experts” out there who claim that the quantity of backlinks matters more than the quality, usually right before they try to sell you a thousand backlinks for $5.
The truth is, a single high quality backlink will do infinitely more than a handful of low quality ones. If, for example, you run a financial website then a single backlink on a website like Inc.com or Forbes will be immeasurably better for you than a thousand links on small-time blogs about sport, healthcare, and other unrelated topics.
In fact, getting a mass of low quality links could actually do more harm than good, while it’s highly unlikely that a link on a big online news site like Forbes would ever harm your reputation.
3. If it’s Natural, it’s Fine
It’s easy to overthink and over-plan your SEO to the point that you start fussing about every minor detail, and this is something that many webmasters do. One the most common “issues” comes when they start receiving natural backlinks from low quality websites. They’ve heard that low quality links can adversely affect their SEO, so they try their best to remove these links or to offset them with many more good links.
But Google really doesn’t care. You’re dealing with a very intelligent algorithm that has been honed through years and years of use. It knows how to tell an organic link apart from an unnatural one, and if it spots an organic link that is not relevant, it knows to avoid it.
Unless you receive a deluge of low quality links in a very short space of time—in which case a competitor could be trying to harm your rankings—you don’t need to concern yourself with removing low quality organic links.
4. Be Patient
Great SEO, like effective MLM, doesn’t happen overnight, nor do the rankings that it produces. Ask any SEO company what their biggest bug bear is and they’ll tell you that it’s clients who expect instant results and complain when their site doesn’t top Google within a matter of days or weeks.
Not only can it take months for a site to begin to rank well for niche keywords, but even with good SEO it can take over a year to rank highly for common keywords. The only thing you can do in the meantime is relax, be patient, and don’t try to force it.
Spend the bulk of your time creating great content and posting it on a consistent basis, and spend the rest of your time promoting that content in order to increase links and activity.