As the web grows, search engine optimization (SEO) strategies will get more competitive. Its happening already. As SEOs scramble to keep up with the latest and greatest with Google’s algorithms there are other looming issues to keep in mind. The simple growth of the web and increasing competitive landscape make it more difficult to rank for competitive keywords. The search engines are also delivering better results on the first page and fewer users feel compelled to look any further. One query will get them great web page results, news results, local business results, video results, etc. all on the first page. So what is a company to do?
More and more companies are seeking to get a better return from their smaller marketing budgets. To accomplish this, they are turning to the most cost effective and measurable way to market…Internet marketing. Natually one of the best long term investments in a company’s web growth is in organic search engine optimization (SEO). But then the question remains, how long will it take to get to page one and will it be effective for you?
There are many key elements of course that go into estimating when “success” will be reached. Noone can really predict how long it will take to achieve results but you can look at your online marketing competition to see what they have done right (i.e. how many pages does their site have, how many inbound links do they have, is their website user friendly and does it provide fresh valuable content, etc…). The list goes on and on. When companies make the decision that they do in fact need to make this investment and start down the SEO path, they will need to consider a few fundamental items that will shape their future:
- How much budget is available to put towards SEO in the next 12 months
- How competitive is the industry online (i.e. what is a realistic timeline and budget?)
The bottom line is that companies that decide to higher and SEO company will have to face these questions and make some decisions. These days companies large and small have budget issues. These decisions will be different for every company depending on how large that marketing budget is and how many other marketing channels are being pursued. SEO takes time to show results so the tangible ROI may be 6 months out or more. Therefore, most companies will be using organic SEO combined with Internet marketing strategies that will produce more immediate results. This will leave only a certain amount of money to put towards SEO and companies that are new to SEO may be hesitant to put all their eggs in one basket.
Naturally, Internet marketing companies and SEO firms will make recommendations based on the competitive nature of their keywords. Also, SEO can be a get what you pay for strategy. It is not realistic for companies who only have $500 per month to spend on SEO to go after highly competitive terms but there are ways to get creative and work towards these goals anyway. Before we break down the recommendations for small budget SEO campaigns lets identify the differences in keyword strategies.
Broad Keywords: Broad terms are generally reffered to as the more generic (less specific) keywords and keyword phrases that drive more traffic. An example term would be “shoes”. This type of search is very high level and usually used by a person doing general reseach, surfing the web, etc. But ranking for it will drive high volumes of traffic.
Long Tail Keywords: Long tail terms are more specific keyword phrases that drive less traffic but can be more targeted and have better conversions. An example long tail term would be “women’s Spring shoe sales” or “women’s running shoes Nike”. These terms are very specific. Often they will have a geographic focus as well for people looking for something specific in their area.
From a competitive aspect, broad terms are naturally more competitive and hence usually take more budget to put together and effective SEO campaign. They also take longer to achieve first page results. Long tail terms might be a bit easier to get and have decent conversions, but will that alone be enough? Generally, the recommendation is to develop a keyword list that combines both broad and long tail terms. This gives the company a chance to capture the lower hanging fruit first while tackling the tougher times over time.
So what should you do if you have a very small budget but your terms are highly competitive? Here are some creative recommendations:
- Develop a long tail keyword list and go after the less competitive terms
- Make sure your website has basic SEO coding and a sound strucutre from which to build this effort
- Get involved: set up a blog on your site and start writing content relevant to your users, your indsutry, and your keywords (link keywords to pages relevant to those terms)
- Write on other relevant blogs and send links back to your website
- Try social media as a support element to the SEO effort
- Don’t expect results over night, or in three months for that matter
All companies need to get creative on how they spend money and achieve success. A great online marketing strategy does not have to mean huge budgets. But be careful about the “doing it in-house” route unless you have a qualified team experienced in all aspects of the campaign.
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