Ad Technology

SEO On A Budget

By: Martin Cahill

If you don’t know a ton about SEO, then it can certainly seem overwhelming. It can be difficult enough trying to figure out how to optimize your site, but the fact that you may have to do it every few months as search engines and algorithms shift, can seem like a lot, especially if your funds are tight.

What follows are a few SEO-friendly tips to make sure your site is as optimal as it can be, without breaking the bank. While these tips may shift or change, depending on the search engine or the algorithm update, they’re usually steadfast in the face of updates:

  • Avoid Black Hat SEO: One thing you may be tempted to do on a budget is employ Black Hat SEO techniques. According to Wordstream, Black Hat SEO is typically defined as, “a disapproved practice that nevertheless could increase a page’s ranking in a search engine result page . . . These practices are against the search engine’s terms of service and can result in the site being banned from the search engine and affiliate sites.” Some of their tactics include using unrelated keywords, keyword stuffing, and cloaking your site with different content. While it seems that these would be quick ways to rank early in the space, they may not be and, if you’re discovered, the manual penalties you’d be hit with would be severe enough to damage your rankings.
  • HTTPS Protocol: Still have an HTTP protocol? You might want to consider upgrading to the more secure HTTPS. Google has said they’ll be giving top ranking priority to sites with the more secure HTTPS protocol, so the sooner you migrate to HTTPS, the better. HTTPS not only encrypts and secures data for a better user experience, but it also lends your site more authority, which the search engines are always looking for as a ranking signal, it also reinforces protection for your site against corruption. It won’t keep your site free from every kind of cyber-attack, but it will go a long way to securing your site.
  • Relevant Content: Content is king, as the saying goes. Make sure that what you’re trying to rank for is on your page, and up to date, optimized, and relevant. Likewise, you’re going to want a strong Title Tags, Meta Descriptions, Header Tags, and Alt Tags; these key pieces of metadata are crucial to the success of a site, and should be done in tandem with a focus on content.

Find below a good example of this metadata. Best practices generally see the title tag at 50-60 characters (including spaces), and meta descriptions between 150-160 characters:

  • 301 Redirects: Do you have a new site, but still have plenty of people clicking on the old one? Make sure you get your proper 301 redirects in: these are protocols that you can set up that link an older page or site, to its newer counterpart. 301 redirects tell Google that the new page is the one it should be ranking, but without the cost of losing the previous page’s ranking authority. Correctly implementing 301 redirects ensure you won’t lose all your authority, and that new users are directed to the proper link.
  • Mobile Optimization: While Google’s Mobile First Algorithm will be rolled out at a slower, more incremental rate, (sometime in 2018). According to Search Engine Land, nearly 60% of all searches are coming in on mobile. So now more than ever, it’s important to make sure your mobile site is optimized. A good first step is to use the Google Mobile Speed Test site, which can tell you all the little things you can do to make sure your mobile site speed is golden. Likewise, Moz has a great checklist of different aspects of mobile SEO best practices, that take into account your metadata, mobile design, CSS/Javascript, flash, structured data, and much more you can do to make sure your mobile site is as strong as possible.

SEO is an ever-changing system, but these are just some of the things to remain relevant and optimized, especially as we see search engines and algorithms constantly updating without warning. Follow these tips, and it’s a good bet that your site will be protected, prepared, and optimized for any update that comes its way, and in any case, will be well-suited to the SEO you’re looking for.