You know your business can’t go toe-toe with the like of Amazon, but you also know that getting found in search engines is important. What can you do?
In this guide to low-cost search engine optimization (SEO), we’ll look at how you can compete in search engines without having to spend a small fortune.
Don’t have time to worry about SEO? Then hire a GoDaddy expert to do your SEO for you. Simply fill in this form and one of our experts will be in touch to give you a free 30-minute SEO consultation.
Check the building blocks of SEO
If you don’t get the building blocks of SEO right, then you’re unlikely to rank at all in search engines.
That means you need to check you’ve got the basics right before doing anything else.
Start with site structure
Search engines need to understand a website before they can include it in their results, so if they can’t understand your site then you’ve fallen at the first hurdle.
Fortunately, if your website only has a few pages, it’s easy to get the structure right.
Imagine a website that provides three types of product A, B and C. The ideal structure would be a homepage which links to a page dedicated to each product type.
That gives us a site structure that looks like this:
If needed, we can also add another layer to our site structure. For example, if our imaginary website’s three types of products were sofas, chairs, and cushions we could have a homepage linking to each product category page, which in turn link to each specific product type.
That gives us a site structure which looks like this:
You should aim to keep your website structure as “flat” as possible, which means a page should only ever be one or two levels away from the homepage.
This makes it easier for search engines to understand your website and it’ll also make it easier for people to navigate it.
If your website isn’t already structured like this, consider restructuring. If you do decide to restructure, make sure you use 301 redirects (see below).
You should also consider adding breadcrumbs navigation to your site if you don’t already have it.
Get your URLs right
Your URL structure should be uniform across your website and descriptive. Our example website might have a URLs that look like this: example.com/sofas/bigsofa, example.com/sofas/littlesofa, example.com/chairs/bigchair.
You’ll notice that each URL follows the formula [domain name]/[product category]/[product type] and you also get a good idea of what you’ll see if you visit each URL.
Develop a similar structure for your website’s URLs. Again, this will help both search engines and people understand your website.
If you haven’t organized your URLs like this, consider changing them. If you do change them, make sure you use 301 redirects (see below).
You can learn more about URL structure here.
Check for 404 errors and implement 301 redirects
If your site has been around a while and you’ve deleted pages or changed their URLs, it’s likely that you’ll have a few 404 errors.
404 errors aren’t bad for SEO directly, but they can cause problems both for search engines and users.
For example, if page A is linked to from 20 different pages, both on and off your site, and you decide to change the URL of page A, then those 20 links will no longer work.
This means that anyone who clicks on a link to page A will get a 404 page not found error, and search engines will no longer be able to follow links to page A to help them index its content.
To fix this, you should be sure to use 301 redirects whenever you delete a page or change its URL.
A 301 redirect tells web browsers that a page has moved and automatically redirects them to the new page.
You can check for 404 errors by using Google Search Console (see below). The method you use to implement 301 redirects will depend on how your website was created.
This guide explains more about 301 redirects and how to implement them.
Use Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a very useful SEO tool and it’s free! If you don’t already have it set up for your site, follow this guide.
Once you’ve done that, you should create an XML site map and upload it to GSC. This will help Google understand your site. You can learn how to create an XML site map in this guide.
You can also use the GSC Index Coverage report to see which pages are being indexed by Google and which aren’t. You shouldn’t expect to see every page on your site listed as indexed, as some (such as login pages) you’ll want to keep hidden from search engines. Also, don’t expect new pages to be indexed instantly.
But if important pages aren’t index by Google, you can use the Coverage report to find out why.
This guide explains more about using the Index Coverage report.
You can also use Bing Webmaster Tools to upload a site map and check coverage in that search engine.
Conduct keyword research
Keywords are a vital aspect of SEO. You need to understand the things people are typing into Google in order to find a website like yours.
You can then include the things people are typing (or keywords) on relevant pages of your website.
Keyword research is where a lot of low budget SEO goes wrong. People often focus on irrelevant keywords, keywords that are too competitive or just guess at the keywords they should use.
In order to identify the right keywords, you will need to spend money on a tool to help you.
Fortunately, you don’t need to spend a lot. Although some high-powered SEO tools can cost £100+ a month, if you’re looking for a low-cost SEO tool, then GoDaddy Search Engine Optimization starts at just £5.99 a month.
It will provide keyword suggestions to help ensure you’re targeting the right terms.
Once you’ve found the keywords you want to target, either create new pages focussing on a particular keyword or update existing pages to include relevant keywords.
Group similar keywords together so you can include multiple keywords on each page.
You can learn more about using keywords on your website in this guide.
Track your rankings
Once you know what keywords you want to rank for, it’s important that you track your rankings to see how your SEO efforts are paying off over time.
Although GSC does include some rankings data, it’s usually a good idea to use a dedicated SEO tool that helps track rankings as this will help give you a better idea of how things are changing over time.
GoDaddy Search Engine Optimization includes rank tracking.
Submit your website to relevant online directories
Online directories include everything from Google My Business to Yelp. Adding your business to these websites is especially important if you operate a business people visit (such as a bar or café) or a business that serves a certain area (such as a plumber or locksmith) as they help with local SEO.
If you don’t have time to submit your details to multiple listing sites and keep everything up to date, consider using GoDaddy’s Digital Marketing Suite which allows you to manage your listing from one central dashboard.
Search engines use links to help them decide which pages are authoritative. If you can build links to your website, then you have an increased chance of ranking well in search engines.
There’s a right way and a wrong way to build links (for example, you should never pay for links as this will likely see Google penalize your rankings).
The right way to build links includes creating quality, in depth content that people will want to link to, getting press coverage for your business and more.
Linking building can be one of the most expensive and time-consuming parts of SEO, with companies in competitive niches paying thousands of pounds a month for the creation of high-quality content and the outreach that goes into promoting it.
That said, although links are an important part of SEO, it is possible to rank well in search engines without expending resources on link building.
If you’re targeting low competition keywords and getting your content right, you may not need external websites to link to you to rank well.
That means you can focus on low-cost SEO by targeting low competition keywords when you start out and consider expanding if your success means you can invest more in SEO later.
You can learn more about how to build links for your website in this guide.
Don’t forget, if you’re struggling with any part of SEO, you can get a free 30-minute SEO consultation with a GoDaddy expert.
If you decide to hire us to handle your SEO, we’ll work on both your onsite and offsite SEO, meaning you don’t have to worry about technical tasks, content or linking building.