SEO for Local Businesses on a Budget

SEO is a great way to broaden your business’s reach. It can also be a pressure on your budget and a source of stress and anxiety.

How do you decide which keywords to target and which strategies to employ? Should you try to do the work yourself or outsource the effort? Who can you trust to do a good job? Are they charging reasonable fees?

Here at Advance Online, we’ve helped local businesses on various budgets improve their SEO. We know how to generate high-quality leads without breaking the bank.

In this article, we share our knowledge and expertise for any local business wanting to improve their SEO on a limited budget.

Does a Local Business Need SEO?

Rather than entering into a homily about the rise of technology, social media killing the video star and the fifth dawn of the digital age, let’s look at some facts:

  1. 98% of consumers use the internet to look up information about a business
  2. Almost half of searches on Google (46%) are directed towards local areas
  3. Only 58% of businesses optimise for local search

To bring that all together, almost all of your potential customers use the internet to find the businesses they need, and half of those internet searches are targeted at a local area. Local search is a hotbed of potential leads. 

46% - the number of Google searches directed locally

And what to make of that third point? To a digital marketing agency that witnesses the benefits of SEO day-in, day-out, 58% seems staggeringly low – why hasn’t every business optimised for local searches?

But to view it in a different light, it also means nearly half of your local competition isn’t performing local SEO. Your business can take a big leap forward with just a few simple SEO strategies.

Still need convincing? Then how about one last stat. 

40% of SEO campaigns have an ROI of over 500%

There aren’t many other marketing disciplines that offer better results.

Does a local business need SEO? We certainly think so.

Is SEO Expensive?

For a major e-commerce business attempting to rank for thousands of different products against the biggest online players in the game, SEO is nothing short of an arms race. It’s usually those with the deepest pockets (and the cutting-edge SEO knowledge) that rise to the top.

Effective SEO costs money, there’s no doubt about it. But that doesn’t mean smaller businesses can’t compete. With a targeted SEO campaign, even a modest budget can make inroads with local SEO. It’s a matter of figuring out how much to spend on SEO, and spending that budget wisely.

Why Does SEO Cost Money?

reasons why SEO costs money

As the saying goes, “time is money”, and SEO takes time. 

The most time-consuming, and therefore costly, SEO activities include:

    • Initial SEO set up and on-page optimisation. SEO setup and on-page optimisation provides the basis of your SEO strategy and require proper time and attention
    • Off-page SEO. This includes link-building and directory maintenance (i.e. updating directory information and responding to reviews). Off-page optimisation is one of the most time-consuming ongoing SEO tasks
    • Monitoring keyword rankings. If you want to stay at the top, you need to regularly monitor your keyword rankings. If your rankings suffer a sudden drop, then you need to figure out why and take action
    • Responding to Google Updates. Google makes regular changes to its algorithm, which can strengthen or weaken your SEO. If the latter, you will need to make changes in line with Google’s latest directive
    • Keeping an eye on Google Search Console. Your pages might drop off the index, or an update to a plugin might play havoc with your mobile formatting. Google Search Console will indicate if something’s wrong. If so, you need to fix it

What SEO Strategies Should You Prioritise as a Local Business on a Budget?

If you’re working with limited means, you can’t afford to employ every SEO strategy in the book. Prioritisation is key. Here are our six key SEO strategies that local businesses on a budget should prioritise.

Target the Low-hanging Fruit

targeting the low hanging fruit in SEO

We can’t say this enough: overambition can kill your SEO.

The more competitive a keyword, the more difficult it will be to rank for, especially if your resources limit the scope of your efforts. 

Lowering your ambitions can be daunting in its own way. By doing so, are you missing out on traffic that could transform your business? In all honesty, probably not. 

The most likely result of aiming too high is that you’ll languish on the fourth or fifth page and receive next to no new leads.

A better tactic is to target narrower service keywords and catchment areas. The search volume might be lower, but you’ll have a better chance of ranking near the top, even with a contained SEO campaign.

Thinking of targeting ‘builder in London’?

How about opting for ‘home extensions in Peckham’ instead? 

Get the Setup Right First Time

Nothing eats into a budget more than having to go back and forth making changes to your website or SEO. 

It might require more resources upfront, but spending the time to get your site structure and keyword targeting right first time will save you stress, heartache and reworking later down the line.

Optimise Your Google Business Profile (including reviews)

Google Business is one of the most important factors for generating online leads for local businesses. It’s crucial for ranking in ‘near me’ searches and allows you to appear in Google Maps searches

With its standard templating, geographical precision and live consumer feedback, it offers a user-friendly and trustworthy view of local providers.

And in some senses, rising to the top isn’t particularly costly.

Making the information on your profile extensive and accurate is largely a one-off exercise, while soliciting reviews from your customers is something you can work into your post-job routine. 

Reached the end of a job well done? Then why not post photos or videos of it to your Google Business profile. Every little helps.

optimisted google business profile

Perform a Free Audit on Your Website

You might be wondering whether your SEO is already match-fit. Why not try out a free SEO audit tool?

Of course, nothing beats a professional eye when determining the nuances of your business in the context of the local search competition, but tools such as ours can give a quick run-down of your SEO vitals. 

Have you got multiple H1s? Is your site loading speed too slow? Does your page become unreadable on a mobile device? By equipping yourself with this basic information for free, you can better understand what changes are required and how much they might cost.

Make Use of Online Business Directories

make use of online business directories

Uploading your information to online business directories is a quick and low-cost way to boost your off-page SEO. 

The list of  directories you should upload to depends on your industry and location, but we recommend using at least some of the following.

Consistency is king here. Google and its users don’t like conflicting information. Make sure the data is accurate and up-to-date too.

Start Small and Grow

This point is the most important of all. 

Remember that statistic, 40% of SEO projects have an ROI of over 500%? By reinvesting that extra income into your SEO, you can improve it further.

That could mean commissioning a blog to increase the topical authority of your website, introducing more advanced link-building techniques or targeting more keywords with new product or service pages.

By continuing to strengthen the SEO of your website, you can increase the rankings of your current keywords (if you’re not at the top already) and broaden your scope to target additional keywords.

Remember the tempting, high-hanging fruit that at first seemed out of reach? With regular reinvestment, you might find you’ve levelled-up enough to tackle more competitive keywords. From tiny acorns…

Should You Pay for SEO?

When implementing SEO on a budget, the question of how is particularly crucial. 

Should you try and save money by attempting to learn the ropes and do it yourself? Or should you pay someone else to do it for you? How much? And who?

As an experienced digital marketing agency, we strongly believe in the value we bring to our clients. We know how to get results, and get results quickly. 

But we understand that paying for SEO can be daunting. How do you know you are getting good value for money?

Whether you decide to engage an SEO agency or a freelancer, here are six benefits of paying for your SEO:

1. Expertise

Sure, someone might have a go at plastering their own walls, but it never turns out flat and they often have to call in a professional to fix what they’ve done. The same goes for SEO. By engaging an SEO specialist, you are paying for their unique technical skill set so that they can get the job done well and with a minimum of fuss.

2. Experience

Most SEO specialists have worked in the industry for years. They know what works and what doesn’t. They’ve learnt from their successes – and their mistakes. It makes sense to lean on their experience rather than doing it the hard way by yourself.

3. Time

As we’ve already established, SEO takes time. While outsourcing your SEO comes at a financial cost, it also frees up you or one of your employees to take on more jobs or to work on the business.

4. Access to Resources

Agencies pay for access to various SEO tools and resources, such as accurate keyword tracking software, improved keyword data and plugins for your website. By working with an agency, these resources will be put to use for the benefit of your business.

5. Forward Planning

Didn’t you see some kind of announcement about a new core update? And what was that about a migration of analytics? SEO is a shifting landscape, and if you’re not already embedded in the SEO news cycle, it can be difficult to keep up. A good SEO specialist keeps tabs on all major developments. They can help you take advantage of opportunities or, more importantly, avert disasters.

6. Excellent Results

Last but by no means least, in our experience, paying someone to do your SEO yields faster, better and longer-lasting results. That means more leads, more quickly and over a sustained period of time. Why not take a look at some of our case studies to find out just how much an agency can help local businesses?

A Warning: The Dangers of ‘Cheap’ SEO

google discovers dodgy seo practices

“Gain 1,000 backlinks for just £50”

“Reach the top of Google in a week for less than £200”

We’ve all been bombarded by such offers, and we’ve all been tempted. After all, the alternative is to spend more and get less without the ‘promise’ of success.

But, of course, there’s a catch.

It’s not going to work. It might even damage your SEO.

Take cheap backlinks as an example. We’ve already said that off-page SEO is time consuming and difficult – so how can it be so cheap? 

The truth is, the backlinks on offer will undoubtedly be auto-generated spam. It won’t be long before Google sees the backlinks for what they are and metes its divine punishment with a downgrade of your rankings or, worse, a penalty.

When it comes to such low-cost schemes, you’re always working with someone who doesn’t care about your business. All they want to do is make a quick buck.

So if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Make sure you partner with the right providers and spend your SEO budget wisely.

SEO for Local Businesses on a Budget: Final Thoughts

SEO is a vital part of any local business’s marketing strategy.

There are various options available for a range of budgets, with a high potential for future growth. It’s certainly possible to start small, grow your revenue through SEO and then further develop your SEO with the increased revenue.

If you have any further questions or would like to find out more about SEO for Local Businesses, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via our contact form. We would love to hear from you.

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