Last Monday night was a sad one in northeast Ohio — but a great one for anyone targeting their keywords around the Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors or the NBA Finals. It’s also a fantastic opportunity for marketers and SEO specialists planning to write about next year’s finals (which I’m sure the Cavs will win). Advance preparation is key to effective and cheap SEO services.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, good SEO is not a cheap investment — and while we all want to be good stewards of our resources, we also want to make sure that what we’re spending is enough to get the job done. Sure, SEO can be pricey, but cheap SEO services can end up even more expensive if the work isn’t done correctly.
Before you get started, put yourself in the best possible position to see SEO success.
Connect Your Content Marketing and SEO
We’ve talked about it before, but search engine optimization and content marketing need each other to survive. Like peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese, or French fries and a Frosty, SEO and content marketing are good on their own, but better together. Ideally, both specialties work in conjunction to bring your business to the top of the search engine results page — but they won’t do that without a concerted effort.
Start by taking a look at your marketing strategy. One of the most valuable tools you can use in this process is a marketing plan, which most pros will say is vital for marketing success. The steps that go into creating your plan force you to think about your goals, your mission, your objectives, and your strategy. Using these areas as your pillars allows you to fill in the steps and schedules to organize your days and your work, building a solid foundation and walls that will cover each and every area of marketing, from social media and content marketing to print ads and, in some cases, public relations. Each gets its own spot. If you’ve never created a marketing plan, a template is a great place to start, but there are a few things to keep in mind first:
- The template is designed to be modified. Make it your own! It should truly encapsulate your brand. Think about who you are, who you want to be and what you need to do to get there. It’s also a good time to look at what sets you apart from your competitors.
- Your plan is only as good as your people — on a variety of levels. Start with your customers, since they’re the ones you’re trying to reach. Learn as much as you can about your target audience and incorporate their realities into your plan. Then, move to your own team. Do you have the employees and partners who can help you accomplish your plan? Do you have people who might be able to serve in more than one area?
- Execution needs preparation. Once you’ve put the team in place, do they have the resources they need? Human resources can only do so much if they don’t have the technology and training needed to implement the plan.
Cheap SEO Services Tip 1: Planning Ahead
Now, do the same thing for your search engine optimization. Take your plan and hone it in a bit more, on your search engine optimization. Look at these who and where you are online already, and then analyze what you’re doing and how to improve, from a search engine optimization eye. Showing just how closely related the two are, the Content Marketing Institute put together a 15-point SEO plan. To truly do your best — and see the best results — each of those steps requires preparation, as well. When you get down to step six, you’ll see the value in choosing the right keyword (nope, keywords are NOT the first step even though it feels like they should be). As you do your research, you’ll be able to plan for the future — which is why companies who can add to the conversation will often jump ahead.
Do you have a topic that is relevant to basketball? Want to see growth during next year’s NBA finals? It doesn’t hurt to take a look to see what people are searching this year — or last, even. Then, as you write your content those weeks, you can keep the keywords and questions in mind. Remember, though, that even though you know the top keywords and search trends, you should still use them wisely. Your words should flow naturally and the subject should make sense and add value to your readers’ lives. Don’t write about the finals just to do so, especially if it has no connection to your company, and don’t just throw those keywords around in the article.This article wouldn’t make sense if I added my own keywords in random spots and sentences, and yours won’t, either. Sure, you’re getting the keywords in there, but causing one example of how cheap SEO services and practices can cost you in the long run: the black-hat technique of randomly throwing your keyword around can leave you facing penalties and drops in your ranking.
Keyword research doesn’t stop there. Read what’s being done by other companies ranking for your keyword and analyze content from the top results. How are they using the keywords? Where are they using them? Most pros follow a guide that includes:
- Header or title
- In the first 100 words
- In the last 100 words
- In link text
Others like to use the keywords in meta description and title tags, in breadcrumbs and embedded file names. Moz wrote an interesting blog that I think is a great tip if you want cheap SEO services — and effective marketing: adding your keywords to your offline marketing pieces, like business cards, brochures, and vehicle wraps (another way marketing, content marketing, and SEO come together).
As you do your research on the top-ranked companies, you’ll see some commonalities between the leaders, but I bet the biggest thing you’ll find is that each company added value to their readers’ lives. The didn’t stop their planning at their day-to-day work. They went above and beyond to find out what their followers wanted to learn, and create articles, blog posts and publications that improved their readers’ lives.
Cheap SEO Services Tip 2: People First
Eight years ago, Search Engine Journal gave bloggers looking to improve their SEO a tip that,if you want cheap SEO services, will help you go far: “Forget about search engine optimization.”
The professional blogger who wrote those words makes a living off of blogging and said, “I have all but ignored SEO and it doesn’t seem to have had a huge negative impact for me. Blogging is a SOCIAL business.”
As a social business, your goal should be to connect with your readers. That happens when you put the interests, likes, questions and experience of your target audience first. When you want to help, teach, motivate and move your target audience. When your priority is on how they will interact with your site and content once they find it, not where in the list they find it. When all of those things come together — they won’t have to look far to find your content.
Write content that puts your readers first and you’ll see your rankings increase
- Readability: Write for your readers. Know your audience and style your voice around their needs. If your audience is made up of engineers looking to improve systems using a machine or tool you fabricate, you can afford to write technical content; if you’re writing about top fashion trends, you’ll use a different voice and, most likely, a lighter style.
- White space: Coming from a print journalism background, I can appreciate the need for and value in white space, even when the writer in me wants to fill it with content. Keep your writers interested and engaged from the first glance: too much copy, too much scrolling and screen filled with images and text can overstimulate a reader, exhaust his or her eyes and send the reader looking for a different, related Web site, even if yours has the better content. Use short paragraphs, spaces between paragraphs, and numbered or bulleted lists to break up blocks of text. Headers and tags (that include your keywords) should be descriptive; think of them as a map guiding your readers toward the piece of content that really interests them.
- Value: The truth is, even if you do all of those things, you still might not rank where you want. If you truly want to write great SEO copy, make sure you’re writing about things people want to read! Be interesting and engaging. Teach your readers something. Explain a process. Give them a behind-the-scenes look at your business. Share company and brand news. Create videos, infographics, and written content that people will want to send to their connections. Books, white papers and how-to guides are favorites.
It’s not enough to make sure a few people on your team understand this, either. People first means that you have employees who understand the technical side but are given the tools and opportunities to use their gifts and talents. If you have someone who understands the ins and outs of your business — and has a way with words — why not let them write blog posts once in awhile? It gives your readers a fresh perspective, gives your regular content creators a bit of a breather, and allows them to develop their own online persona as a leader in the industry. Showing them the trust and confidence that lets them step outside of their regular duties helps you build up your people while building your ranking.
Improving your search engine rank boils down to two words: people first.
Cheap SEO Services Tip 3: Grab an Oar, Jump In and Stay the Course
Cheap SEO services only work if you use them. Trust me, I’m a huge fan of reading and continually learning and growing, but if you never implement what you’ve learned or execute your plan, it didn’t do any good. If you’ve been scared about creating content, feel paralyzed by indecision or lack of experience or hesitate whenever you want to hit publish, stop. Whether you’re scared of the thought of outsourcing your SEO work or you want to DIY but don’t feel ready, today is always the best day to get started.
Creating content takes time. Building an audience takes time. Doing research takes time. Writing a doable plan takes time. SEO growth takes time — months, even — before you see results. If you start today, you can expect to see some growth in every area of your plan. Small actions lead to larger, measurable change.
In a people-first model, it’s important to encourage your people to take new steps and jump right in — but not without the proper equipment. Make sure they have everything they need. You may want to install one of the many SEO plugins so that content creators have tools, right there, to help them improve their SEO copywriting. Help them find tools that spark creative thought; one I love is Answer The Public, where you can see what people are asking about specific keywords. Even if I don’t use the responses the tool generates, it helps me look at tricky keywords in a new light. Give them access to research and reports about your target audience. Let them be involved in the planning stage — they’ll be much more excited when it comes to implementing the plan.
I’m issuing a challenge. Do one SEO thing today that scared you before. Maybe you start researching keywords. Maybe you talk to a team member about helping create content. Maybe you fill out the form below for a free SEO analysis to learn how you can grow. Cheap SEO services are only as good as the planning that goes into them; as my pastor always says, bad decision-bad results; good decisions-good results. Good research and good planning is always a good decision that will lead to good results.