Michael Ryan started working in the SEO industry over 8 years ago, now he has ventured out on his own. He tells us about his experience and how small business can invest in SEO without agency prices.
Having spent over 8 years within the SEO industry, working for both agencies and in-house, I decided to start and invest in my own consultancy/agency late last year. The focus point was to test my skills with a website I created and essentially do some SEO for my own brand rather than someone else’s. As I developed my services and skillsets, I started speaking to businesses with over 100 employees and businesses that were run by one person & had no website. As you would expect the conversations I was having were about SEO were completely contrasting.
However, 90% of businesses I spoke to knew SEO was something they wanted to invest in, but they did not know how & what was the best option for them. On top of that from 30 small businesses that I spoke to 29 mentioned they wanted to do SEO but would no afford prices that come with this channel.
The back end of last year was the first time the UK saw an overall decrease in marketing budgets. This was pre-COVID-19, so I would imagine these figures will suggest further decreases with the current economy. This make is even more vital to make your marketing spend is as efficient as possible.
Throughout the article, I am going to explain the different ways your small business can invest in SEO without paying thousands in agency fees.
1. Invest in people
One way for you to invest in SEO is to invest in people rather than agencies. Local consultants tend to be a much more cost-effective way to explore how SEO can transform your business.
Furthermore, their name is attached to any work completed, so it is well within their interests to provide a reasonable cost & effective service.
Another way of investing in people would be to hire someone to dedicate their time to improve your businesses search visibility. There are so many pros to this including the cost. As employee’s, they will understand a lot more about how the business is run and what services & products are more profitable. This and the fact they can work with any existing marketing personal you may have mean you will get a more aligned marketing strategy across channels.
2. Invest in tools
Since going into the world of consultancy, I have realised most small businesses simply cannot afford to pay my fees or the thousands that agencies charge.
Knowing that I set out to create a tool that would solve this problem. The tool will essentially enable users to create and execute their own SEO strategy, without the need for any prior experience. The tool will enable you to carry our SEO audits, backlink analysis & competitor analysis.
The tool is currently in user testing but set to go live in a couple of weeks. Once ready you’ll be able to find the info here.
Ok so enough about my tool, what other tools are on the market?
- Google analytics
- Google Search Console
- Google My business
- Google Trends
The above 4 is a great place to start. Analytics will help you understand where your traffic comes from & what traffic converts the best, along with a host of other information.
Search console is a very underused tool, this will provide information on what keywords generate impressions and clicks to your website.
Finally, Google my business is a great tool for anyone who owns a small business and wants to feature on the map listing. There are tons of great guides on how to optimise this.
3. Upskill current team
Another option for small business owners is to upskill their current team.
There are many ways you can do this, including a couple I have already mentioned. For example, you might currently have a marketing team, you could empower them to start your SEO growth by giving them a tool to own. It enables them to learn a new skill while helping you grow the business.
You could also invest in an SEO training course or ask your employees to attend free SEO events such as Brighton SEO.
Going to an event is going to be a little tricky with social distancing becoming the new norm but there are plenty of virtual SEO talks going on.
4. Do it yourself
If you are a small business owner who has time to market your website, then this is a fantastic option for you. For example, you might run an affiliate website or a drop shipping eCommerce site. If so, one of your top priorities is going to be generating converting traffic to your website. This will give you more time than most to do SEO yourself.
A lot of people do not realise that most of any SEO cost is time. Anyone can implement all the following with the right guidance and understanding.
- Keyword research
- Page optimisation
- Produce quality content
- Write in an industry publication for links
If you have got some budget, you might want to invest in a consultant to guide you through the process of doing this. Although there are some great guides online that would be worth looking through. This one by Ahrefs is a good place to start.
Time & time again I see LinkedIn posts with people in their respective industries saying ‘now’s the time to spend’ when there is any kind of uncertainty such as a pandemic. I think these opinions come across as quite selfish and vague.
As a business owner, you understand your business the best and what is going to help to grow or consolidate in the current climate. If SEO is an area that you’re having to reduce your spend then try out the above 4 options which will be a cost-effective way to invest and ensure your constantly driving authority, without inflated agency prices.
Michael Ryan is a Freelance SEO Consultant who trades in Essex and surrounding areas.