Finding affordable SEO services for a small business is not an easy task. Since SEO is such a complex field and unknown to many, it’s hard to know what services you need or whether the seo agency will do a good job or not.
That’s why it’s important to us that you at least have an idea of which SEO services are important, which practices are helpful and which are harmful.
We have observed that in our space SEO companies offer their services in the form of standard monthly SEO packages with very specific offerings. While it’s easy for SEO agencies to manage their work this way, and much easier for you to understand what you’re getting for the money, it’s also a great indication of automation, which is usually at the root of SEO penalties.
Hint: Google hates it when companies try to trick it. Get caught and your site will be in for a rough ride.
This will be your guide on what services we know are best for your small business
So read this guide to the end to get the information you need.
Why should small businesses invest in SEO?
So you’ve built your site and it looks great but why choose SEO as a marketing channel?
The main reason small businesses should consider SEO as a marketing channel is that you can invest time or money into it.
That gives you some freedom, in case you don’t have one or the other.
While other channels, such as PPC, may offer faster results, SEO is a long-term game, but it can generate the highest ROI.
The secret sauce is to start it as early as possible, so that you can benefit from it for as long as possible (provided that you tweak the sauce every now and then). Postponing SEO will only allow your competition to advance, making your job more difficult.
But again, even if PPC seems like a more viable option for you now to get customers, you should still start investing in SEO as soon as possible.
Why invest a.s.a.p. you ask?
Because it takes about 6 to 12 months to start seeing results with SEO. But these gains will stay with you for the long term.
Think of it like a snowball rolling down a mountain. At first, it takes time but as the momentum builds up then it becomes unstoppable. Plus you can be more hands-off when things are rolling (excuse the pun).
PPC is the opposite. Visitors stop coming to your site the moment that you stop paying.
What SEO services do small businesses ACTUALLY need?
I hate this question. It is so hard to say what SEO services a business needs because it differs from niche to niche. Some of our small clients are in e-commerce. Some are in financial services. So each requires very different services from us.
Often we have to ask a number of questions:
- Do you have a local store?
- Or an online one?
- Are you a blogger or affiliate or do you offer services, either physical, such as plumbing, or online, such as consulting?
- What are you goals
What we do notice is that small businesses lack two things:
- Quality content
- Organic traffic
Unline website design that is easy to build these days using templates and content management systems (like WordPress or Wix), quality content is not easy to write. And it takes time.
Also, once the website is live and even with high-quality content, the site is only halfway there. You need to know how to promote in the eyes of Google to show that you deserve organic visitors.
Interesting fact: only 9.37% of websites actually receive traffic from Google.
FYI: Organic traffic is visitors from Google who have not clicked on a Google Ad
Types of affordable SEO services that small businesses need
We’ll go through several categories so you can get a better idea of what affordable SEO services for small business you may need, depending on your case.
In the end, you’ll need a little bit of everything, so consider this list as a set of priorities.
1. Technical SEO
The truth about technical SEO is that, in general, it’s a one-size-fits-all solution. As the internet changes, you have to change things from time to time. If you set things up right from the start, they will last.
Here are the top 4 technical SEO issues that we have to fix with small businesses to improve their site’s position:
URL and site structure:
You can do this on your own. But, we recommend asking our SEO guru, Ryan, for advice. The most difficult site to the structure is the e-commerce site. Get it right from the start to avoid problems down the road. This will save both money and time.
Images are probably the biggest headache when it comes to technical SEO and page load times. It can be done for “free” with plugins like Smush for WordPress.
But these are just a bandaid on a festering problem. We want to fix the issues from deep within so that clients NEVER have to worry about them again.
Caching=faster load times.
Like image compressing, caching can be achieved for free with plugins like W3 Total Cache. Some hosting providers have LiteSpeed Caching on their server and they allow your website to cache your content correctly.
But get it wrong and your site’s speed will drop faster than R. Kelly’s music career. So best to consult an expert.
Insider tip: if you site is slower than 3 seconds then you have lost your customer forever.
This should be the last thing you focus on as a small business.
However, in certain cases, it can have an impact. Just make sure you don’t focus on just this technical aspect instead of what’s really important. That being quality content and promotion.
Here are some tools that we use with small businesses that can’t spend too much on technical SEO issues:
The best affordable SEO service for technical SEO when it comes to small businesses is the CMS goliath WordPress.
You need an optimized, mobile-friendly website that you have control over and can maximize the potential without spending too much time or money.
Web designers are quite expensive, so WordPress is the way to go. A variety of templates are available for a nice web design, many even for free.
Sure, there are other SaaS website builders, like Wix or Squarespace (you’ve probably already seen the ads), but they are very limited in terms of what they can do for your company’s SEO. And their site speed performances are diabolical
If you only want to use PPC, SaaS website builders may be a good option, but for search engine optimization, even reputable SEO companies will have a hard time improving site speed and optimising for SEO.
And don’t get me started on Hubspot. That thing is slower than a legless tortoise. And even that is an understatement
Even WordPress has its own SaaS packages, so be sure to compare both the open-source and SaaS versions.
In the open-source one, you’ll need your own hosting, while the SaaS one will have you covered.
In the long run, if you want to get best value for money, the open-source version is the better option, but it will be harder to manage. Hence why you need an SEO guru on board.
GT-Metrix is a great, free service that will tell you about a variety of technical SEO issues facing your site.
The most important things to be sure to fix are large images and caching.
While all of these tips are useful, what you should focus on is the speed at which the website loads, in seconds.
Like GT Metrix, Google offers a similar tool, called PageSpeed Insights.
It shows a variety of technical issues that Google thinks you need to fix
Google is now penalizing sites that do not meet its Core Web Vital metrics.
Think of it like a speed check on your car. If you wheels, exhaust and gear box are all stuffed then say goodbye to entering a drag race
Screaming frog is a freemium tool that crawls your website and identifies missing title tags or 404 errors amongst other things.
You can also use this to quickly map titles to URLs if you are in the process of rewriting your titles to improve OnPage SEO. But a word of warning. It is not very user friendly.
In the tool itself you can also visualize where a page links from internally within your site.
2. Content creation
Keyword research is one of the main ingredients if you want to lay a strong foundation for your OnPage SEO strategy using content marketing. If you don’t know what people are searching for, you don’t know what to optimize your pages for. Its a bit like the blind leading the blind
While good copywriting doesn’t come cheap, it’s worth investing in. Good copy converts and sells, and that’s what you need on your website. This is especially the case if you’re just starting out. Sure, a content marketing strategy is about information, not sales, but what if you could give information that sells? That’s where copywriting comes into play.
Content marketing is a long-term game (and by long, we mean months), so developing a calendar can help you move things forward with ease. It relies primarily on keyword research, but you should map things into silos and decide which ones to prioritize and how they can best facilitate and consolidate your site structure.
Here are some services and tools you can use to find keywords and develop a better content strategy.
Google Keyword Planner and Google Autosuggest:
The Google Autosuggest tool can be really useful for discovering what people are searching for on the web in real time.
Simply start typing an initial keyword and Google will fill in the details.
Also, at the bottom of any results page, you will see a list of related keywords that you can use.
Also, if you’re already using Google Adwords, why not use the keywords you’ve found there for organic search as well?
Reddit is an excellent source for finding new hot topics in your domain. Just look at subreddits relevant to your niche.
Sometimes, it may not be easy to find them, but try to think outside the box. Once you’re close, start following that thread.
Don’t rush to add links to your site, or you’ll get banned fast enough. First, you’ll need to build your profile by replying to threads and even starting popular ones.
If you are a consultant, you can start by replying to threads to some extent and then offer people to help them more in Private Messages.
There you can determine if you are a good fit and offer your services.
Eventually, once you’ve earned enough karma, you can start replying to people partially and add a link to your blog where you expand on the topic to provide those extra nuggets of information.
Surferseo is a great tool that we use to improve content and get some quick Google ranking wins.
First, type in what keyword or keyword phrase that you want to optimize for in the content editor. It will provide a guide on:
- How many words are need
- How many headers are required
- Frequency of keywords
It’s like an Indiana Jones treasure hunting with exact GPS coordinates
3. Link building
Link building is the hardest thing to do these days (harder than climbing Mount Everest in pyjamas). Everyone knows it, no one wants to link to you (for no money) and even Google is at it, penalizing you for it.
Use the link recovery tool
Building high value white hat links and according to Google’s guidelines has been a problem for years now.
Broken pages and the link recovery technique may be familiar to you, as they are fairly old strategies.
We document this technique a lot, so find out much more about the link retrieval technique, when and how to use it to deliver the best results.
Analyze your competitor’s links
Most of the time, your competitors, especially those who rank high in the search results, are doing some things very well. And where somebody is doing something well, you should “copy” it
We use ahrefs, the Rolls-Royce of link analysing tool, to identify what backlinks your competitors are using to rank high. Even more than that, you can use unnatural link detection to filter out bad links and focus only on the quality ones.
You can also use it for competitive analysis, to see where you are ranking compared to your competitors. This can help you identify websites that rank for multiple competitors, which indicates that you might be easier to obtain.
By interacting with relevant bloggers through blog comments, you may get to know a blogger well enough to ask them for guest posting.
In laymans terms guest posting is when you write an article for another website, under their name. You will usually be able to link back to their website.
Extending this is now considered a dangerous practice, but doing it in moderation will not affect your site in any way.
You can also get guest posts or just links through direct outreach.
That’s where our PR expert, Liam, steps in. He is a wizard at getting your company mentioned in hard-to-get news sites or websites. He got us mentioned in Management Today, which is a hard site to pitch to!
And he doesn’t do the typical approach of SEO companies in London, offering money. No no. He builds a relationship with these companies that is 100% genuine and this ensures that our customers get the best possible coverage.
Blogging (with a twist):
Last but not least, content marketing can be really helpful for search engine optimization in the long run. However, it won’t be enough to just write articles to get links.
You will have to write articles that people want to share and that’s not easy.
You can do it the hard way, by identifying an influencer and writing about something you know they will share, or by following another strategy, such as writing case studies or fun stuff.
Either way, even if content marketing and blogging won’t help you get links in the end, it’s still a good way to consolidate and optimize your website structure and boost your site’s topical authority.
4. Keeping an eye on keyword ranking
Measuring an SEO strategy is crucial to determining the success of an SEO campaign. Whether you work with an SEO company or not, it’s a good idea to monitor results on your own.
Here are a few methods you can use to effectively track your rankings and results:
Google itself: the oldest trick in the book. Simply open Google and type in your keyword. Be sure to do this in incognito mode to get rid of personalized search results.
Google Search Console: Google Search Console is a free tool provided by Google that will monitor where your site is getting traffic from, as well as the average positions of the keywords that generated traffic.
Ahrefs Rank Tracker: Not only will it show your SEO rankings, but it can also notify you of drops and provide a graph for each particular keyword. With this tool, you’ll also be able to monitor your competitors’ rankings, if that’s of interest to you.
5. For local SEO
When it comes to local SEO, you can actually completely dominate the entire Google page with multiple positions .
These are the most affordable things you can focus on to improve rankings:
Google Business Profile:
Google Business Profile is the most important SEO service you should focus on as a local small business.
Setting up a GBP listing is not particularly difficult. Just be sure to use your keywords in the name and description and fill in all the information correctly.
However, ranking Google MyBusiness listings high is not so easy, but it can be accomplished by implementing a set of practices in your business, such as soliciting reviews or getting featured in the local newspaper.
Social media posts and accounts:
In local search results, Facebook pages can rank quite high for certain keywords.
Be sure to use that to your advantage by optimizing the title and description on Facebook to also include the keyword you are trying to target.
Also, posting regularly on Facebook and other social media can help you drive some traffic to your website and show Google that real people are talking about your website. Just remember the 80/20 rule, where you only try to sell them 20% of the time.
If your posts are only promotional, people will not interact with them and the reach of all your posts will reduce over time. You have to attract engagement and also interact with your audience yourself.
You may think that small local businesses can’t go viral, but The White Moose Cafe would prove you wrong.
Citates and NAP SEO
Citations are the cousins to backlinks, but they only mention your brand name and don’t necessarily contain a link to your site.
NAP stands for name, address and phone. It is essential that they are consistent throughout the site.
So using a different phone number or address or different hours of operation on different platforms like Google and Facebook can seem confusing to Google, as well as your customers.
In a way, you are bringing all these channels and platforms together to form a stronger union that will rank better overall.
You can also buy advertising in local media, if they are affordable. If you’re in a small town, that works, but in big cities like New York… lucky you though!
Local partnerships in adjacent niches:
A great way to get some traction with local SEO is to partner with other local businesses in your vicinity.
Businesses can promote each other physically in their own areas in their as well as online on their websites and social media profiles.
They don’t have to be direct competitors or partners, but at least somewhat related to your niche.
So, if you sell meat, it’s probably not a good idea to try to partner with a vegan restaurant.
For example, if you sell luxury shoes, why not partner with the luxury suit store across the street – win-win!
6. For video SEO
Video SEO helps to grow your business. People prefer video content over traditional written content.
It’s hard to identify an affordable small business SEO service for video, as you can’t really optimize or update videos the same way you optimize blog posts. Once you’ve published it … it’s done. And videos are also more expensive to make.
Sure, you can still change titles and descriptions to better optimize them, but in general, you should get things right from the start.
Here are some tips you can follow to rank better with video or supplement your content marketing strategy with video SEO.
As with normal SEO, make sure your video targets keyword phrases that people are searching for. Sometimes it’s hard to match a topic or a new idea to a keyword, but do your best to do so. This way you’ll get the best of both worlds.
Optimized titles and descriptions
Use the identified keywords in your title and description but also remember to be grammatically correct. Don’t waste the description on the cheap, even if not many people will read it. Fill it with supplementary information, such as links to sources.
Short product presentation clips
If you sell products online (and boy do I have respect for you if do), make sure you have video presentations of them. People are more busy than ever, so short and precise ones will be best.
While posting a few clips now and then might work if they rank high for your target keyword in a non-competitive niche, if you want to have real success with video, you’ll need to do it on a regular basis to keep the momentum.
Interconnection between videos:
Let’s face it: most video content happens on YouTube (Vimeo is a distant second). And YouTube wants its users (both new and existing) to stay on YouTube. So have several videos that are related to each other. Send people from one video to another so they spend more time on YouTube and YouTube will reward you.
If you’ve already been writting blogs for a while and have followed our advice on creating quality quality, you can use those topics to create video content. Then, simply interconnect the video and the blog post. You can do this in reverse, if you’ve been focusing your time on video content.
7. For e-commerce SEO
Ecommerce SEO services are the hardest to find at affordable prices (fortunately we are affordable). If you have or are considering to start a small ecommerce SEO business, consider investing your own time learning SEO, as the services can be expensive and the cheap ones probably won’t be very effective.
Site structure: structure is the most important thing for e-commerce websites, due to filters and faceted navigation . So make sure you get it right from the start. It can be expensive for large sites, but it is very effective and will save you a lot of time and money in the future.
You can use CognitiveSEO’s site audit tool to analyze your site and ensure proper structure. From URLs, 301 redirects and canonical redirects to internal links, the tool has it all covered.
Too often, people ignore the basics. They focus on “secret” strategies and completely forget that their titles are not optimized. Of course, this is assuming you have already done your keyword research.
e-commerce sites lack quality content. Most products have brief descriptions and the structure itself is only built as a silo between categories and products. However, you can consolidate that structure with interesting articles. They will also make your job easier to bring natural backlinks to your website.
Many ecommerce store owners ignore copywriting. However, every product page is, in fact, a landing page. And landing pages need copy. You need copy to sell. Most copywriters are also good at writing for SEO , which will also benefit your site.
while structured data is the last thing you need to think about (keywords, titles, content, speed are more important), it is very relevant for e-commerce websites, as it can help improve Google results for products.
Top 5 must-have affordable SEO services for small businesses.
If I were to draw the line at the most important ones, in general, for all types of websites and businesses, this would be it:
Keyword research: you can’t have an effective SEO strategy without proper keyword research.
Well-optimized titles: people ignore the basics more often than they think. Make sure your titles are properly optimized.
Google Business Profile: GBP is a very effective tool and also free. Spend some time optimizing it and you will get good results.
Copywriting and blogging: Content is still very important, and copywriting can help you tremendously to increase sales, which is your goal in the end, isn’t it?
Social media posts: Social media can help you promote your website easily, even without paying for it. With a little bit of talent and know-how, you can generate decent traffic.
However, in some cases, many better ones apply. The best thing to do is to contact an independent SEO consultant for some advice.
Some final words of advice
If you’re looking for affordable SEO services, that’s an indication that you’re already looking to invest money, so you’re probably looking for an SEO company.
While I can’t provide a list of companies (there are too many factors to consider, such as language, location, type of website and others), I can provide some tips on how to find a good one.
To be honest, the secret here is not to find the best service at the lowest price, but to avoid bad / destructive cheap services.
HBut ifere are some questions you can ask SEO companies to avoid being cheated.
Cheap and quality is a rare combination, so if you are looking for it, you should be very well prepared with knowledge.
There are many reasons why cheap services can be bad: indirect content or cheap links, for example.
If an SEO company offers affordable SEO packages on a monthly basis, be wary.
It’s not that companies offering packages aren’t good, but it’s a good indication that they’re automating everything, which creates patterns that can generate penalties.
You should talk to one of the company’s SEO experts before signing up.
If you just purchased the package and receive the “SEO audit” email a few days later, make sure it’s automated.
They should be asking questions about your business – how else would they know how to promote you properly if they don’t know anything about you?
First, ask them if their strategies are what most search engine marketers would call “white hat” or safe.
If the answer is no … I think you know what to do.
If the answer is yes, then you should also follow up with these important questions:
Do you use Spam?
Do you use automation tools? If yes, which ones?
If the answers to those questions are yes, you may want to avoid the company. Some automation tools, such as those for email newsletters or for scheduling posts, are fine, but others, such as scraping content or spinning it, are not.
Also, you should ask the SEO company:
How long have you been working in the field?
Can you give me some examples of websites you’ve optimized before? What strategies have you used with them?
Will a real person perform an audit or at least analyze it?
Who will write the content for my website?
How will we measure the performance of the SEO campaign?
Can you tell me exactly what my money will go towards, will you do all the work or will you outsource it?
If you get a clear and competent answer to these questions, it’s a good indication that the people you’ll be working with know what they’re doing and mean well.
Ultimately, it’s up to you who you sign up with, but, hopefully, by now you’ll have a better understanding of how to choose good affordable SEO services for your small business.