If you are a small business just entering the industry, or let’s say you have a minimal budget for your Search Engine Optimization, don’t worry – you don’t need to break your piggy bank or give up on SEO completely. Remember, Search Engine Optimization, unlike advertising, is free. Money comes into play when you need to pay for SEO services. But there are simple steps to take for optimizing your website that will not require breaking a bank and will be useful in the process of optimization, even if you have no budget at all.
“I have a very limited budget for my marketing strategy; should I still do SEO?”
Absolutely! If you have created a website, we assume you want your potential clients to see it! If you invested in creating a company, then you are ready to sell your services to your customers. Having a website without SEO is like making a movie and putting it on a shelf without showing it to anyone. SEO is vital to any company, big or small, fresh, or the ones with a high reputation. SEO is crucial because it’s the way for your clients to discover you. Sometimes it’s the primary way of getting customers.
According to statistics, 93% of online experiences start with search engines. Search engines like Google have replaced old Yellow Pages, but instead of gathering information in a book or a website, the data is scattered all around the internet. What Google does is that it simply serves as a bridge between you and your customers. When they search for products and services that you offer, Google guides your clients to your website. But if you don’t invest your energy in SEO, then you might not be discoverable in searches at all. And it is predicted that, soon in the future, all your clients are going to be searching for products and services online. But to know the importance of SEO, we should understand what SEO is in the first place.
What Is SEO?
SEO is a process of optimizing a website so that it can perform better in search results to get more relevant traffic. Google uses special algorithms to organize search results from the most relevant to the least relevant, and that is called Ranking. The higher your page ranks, the more chances you have to get users to land on your website. The exact algorithms are unrevealed to the public, but SEO experts have been studying search engines for years, and some primary factors affect your performance in search engines. Although algorithms keep changing and updating, we can say for sure that high-quality content, keywords, mobile-friendliness, optimized visuals, backlinks, and domain all affect the ranking. To read more about ranking factors, click here.
SEO itself consists of three different strategies, which are On-Page SEO, Off-Page SEO, and Technical SEO. On-Page SEO focuses on taking steps on the pages of your website to improve the visibility in search results. Off-page SEO is aimed towards improving the performance of a page in search results by acquiring backlinks, creating promotions, and using social media. Technical SEO also means taking steps on your pages directly, but unlike On-page SEO, it solely focuses on technical aspects of your website.
Optimizing without Breaking a Bank
Now we are ready to guide you to strategies that are going to help you get your company visible in the search engines.
The most important steps we think you can take without breaking a bank are:
- Keyword Research
- Creating High-Quality Content
- Writing a Blog
- Social Media
- Creating Google My Business Page for Local SEO
Keywords are essential in SEO. Keywords make it possible for users to find your content online by the words and phrases they use for queries. Determining the right keywords for your website is part of the keyword research process, which is normally the first step in SEO. This is important as you have to find out what your clients need and what they are looking for online. The ways people construct their phrases to look for the relevant information differ, but you have to find out what are the essential words and phrases your clients are going to use to find your products.
Let’s say you are a personal injury lawyer. The keywords you need to target might be “tort law,” “personal injury,” “legal services,” “traffic collisions,” “workplace injuries,” and so on. It might seem like a very simple task to do, but it is not as easy as it might look.
First of all, the keywords differ. There are short-tail and long-tail keywords. Short-tail keywords consist of one or two, while long-tail keywords consist of three to five words. “Tort law” is a short-tail keyword, but “how to find a personal injury lawyer who works on a contingency fee” is a long-tail keyword. Short-tail keywords are primarily used for general searches. If someone types “tort law” in Google, Google will define tort law on Wikipedia even if a searcher intended to find a lawyer. Because with short-tail keywords, sometimes Google is unsure about the intention of the search. And it’s more likely for a searcher to use long-tail keywords when they are looking for something specific.
But when a user searches for “how to find a personal injury lawyer who works on a contingency fee,” the intention is very clear – the user is looking for a lawyer who only gets paid in case of a favorable result. Well, if you do provide service on a contingency fee and you are a personal injury lawyer, it would be great to rank for similar queries, right? And it’s not necessarily going to be your main page with your name on it and your phone number, but it can be a page from your blog (we are going to discuss the importance of blogs later in this article) about a contingency fee lawyer in general.
But before you choose the right keywords to target, we should mention that each keyword has its number of searches in a particular time frame, and this is called Keyword Search Volume. It helps us see how a keyword can bring traffic to our sites. “Legal services” is a very obvious keyword to target if you are offering legal services, but before defining what your primary keywords are going to be, we recommend using free tools like SEM Rush. It allows you to see how competitive the keyword is and how many people search for it. Higher Search Volume does mean it has more exposure, but it also means high competition. If you are just entering the industry, it’s better to target keywords with lower competition.
And finally, there are main keywords and LSI – Latent Semantic Indexing keywords. For the best results, your page should not only have the main keywords, but also the words associated with it. We might mention “Chocolate” in this article, but just putting it there isn’t going to help us to rank for “Chocolate.” Google will scan our website not only for the main keyword but also for words like “sweet,” “caramel,” “chocolate box,” “dark chocolate,” or “chocolate bar,” etc. So if your main keyword is “legal services,” then your LSI keywords might be “types of lawyers,” “court,” “mediation,” “commercial law” and others. If you want to generate LSI keywords for free, click here.
Creating High-Quality Content
It might be debatable what we call “high-quality” content, because it can mean anything, right? To make it a little bit more clear, what is Google trying to understand with all its algorithms? Is it the intention of the user in the search as well as the intention of the page? What is it about? Having high-quality content means up to date information, valid data, desired keywords integrated into the content, useful information, and relevancy, among other factors.
Write a Blog
The good news is that writing is free! – but you have to have time, of course. We cannot stress the importance of a blog enough. It is a wonderful tool for bringing more traffic to your website. Before typing “a lawyer near me” in a search engine, most of your customers will type hundreds of sentences starting with “how-to.” Now is the era of “how-to” searches, because the millennials have grown up, and they think with all the information out there, they can solve anything. It’s not a bad thing! And sometimes, they genuinely want to know how the process goes so they are involved in their case once they reach you.
Now, if all you have done is to create a website and have your contact info for customers to reach you, ask this question to yourself: Why are they going to call you? As we have said, most of your clients start with searches that begin with “how-to.” And if you appear in none of these queries, then why will they call you? They will call someone who has shown competence and professionalism in their blogs, where they tried to help their readers. The blog is the place where you start building a relationship with customers, and it’s crucial to write blog posts if you want to get more clients to your website and your office. A blog helps you integrate more keywords in the content, and it keeps your website fresh and updated.
Limited budget or not, social media is a great and powerful marketing tool. The great thing about social media is that you expose your brand to thousands or even millions of users, and it’s completely free! There are different platforms, and the most famous ones are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but there are more options like Reddit, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, and Snapchat. There is no single platform that is right for lawyers. Research your clients, define who they are, and invest your energy in one that is more likely used by your clients. Once you create a profile, make sure to fill in all the information about your business and link to your website. Just like a blog, social media is a place where you can start building a relationship with your prospective clients. Also, if you are active on social media and share valuable content, it might help your ranking.
Google My Business Page
If you have a newly-created law office, we are guessing you want to get more local clients to visit your business. Clients who are in need of finding a lawyer in the local area use words like “near me,” “nearby,” and “the closest”, etc. If you want to rank in similar local searches, the first thing you have to do is to list your business on Google My Business. To begin, hit “start now” and follow the instructions:
- Fill in the name for the business with your address and
- Add directions in Google Maps;
- Input business hours,
- Phone number, and your website;
- Choose a suitable category for your business;
- Add pictures;
- Get reviews from existing clients; and
- Ensure the info about the business is up to date and is the same around the web.
Indicating opening hours for your business is very important to your clients, as nobody wants to walk or drive to your office to look at a closed door. It might result in their frustration, and you will end up getting a bad review, even without delivering any services.
When it comes to reviews, invest your time in responding to each one of them, even the negative ones. When you are active and responsive, people see you care about your clients, and others feel it’s worth investing their time in writing a review because you actually read them. It also gives you trustworthiness in the eyes of others.
When you want to rank locally, it’s very important to show potential clients what your business looks like. Just like reviews, having your photos online increases trustworthiness, and people have a sense of what to expect when visiting you.
Need Help Prioritizing?
If you are planning to approach SEO in-house, it can be challenging knowing when to approach which tactics, what is the lowest hanging fruit, if you are doing it well or if you are hurting your rankings, and so on. Black Fin is here to help – you don’t need to break the bank with a full-on SEO plan. Ask us about our consultation services! You can have an entire agency backing up your plan, helping you prioritize your work, advising you on the next steps and how to correctly optimize a page, or helping you find the best topics for blogging.