Today is one of those days of self-reflection for me. As I finished a team meeting, I was taken back to when our business was just starting out. Just like other startups with low marketing budgets, we were always thinking about how to make the most of our limited cash flow.
Now, often at times, we come across clients that are in the same shoes that we once were. And it got me thinking – how great it would have been for me had I received guidance back in the early days? And how helpful it will be for startups of today?
While I can’t give you a 360-degree solution to your marketing problems, I can surely tell you the best way to leverage the power of SEO without burning a hole in your pocket.
Why should startups with low marketing budgets invest in SEO?
Regardless of the size of your firm, one thing you need to do is have a respectable presence in the online world – most importantly, search engines.
This is because, as per BrightEdge, over 93 percent of all online experiences begin on search engines. This is understandable considering, as reported by Statista, over half of the world’s population has access to the internet.
Merely being on the search engine isn’t enough. Ahrefs reports that almost 91 percent of pages on Google feature almost no organic traffic! This is owing to the fact that the first five organic results for every query end up getting 67.6 percent of the clicks!
Therefore, to get your brand noticed, you must invest in SEO. Since startups have low marketing budgets, SEO is often neglected in favor of other modes of marketing. To make sure that you don’t ignore this important element of marketing, I have taken it upon myself to share tips and tricks for affordable SEO efforts.
5 Hacks for affordable SEO
Here I am NOT at all going to feature how to do DIY SEO or something similar, but instead, I am going to share a few secrets, which startups can adopt in order to increase their online visibility in search engines as well as improve brand reputation. There is nothing rocket science in it, so even if you are not tech-savvy and have a low startup marketing budget, you can use these tips and tricks.
Local Business Submissions
Startups tend to attract local customers more than international consumers. These are the people you must target to increase your profitability. And there is no better way to do so than via local SEO. After all, as per Junto, 72 percent of consumers who perform local searches end up visiting the brand.
One effective local SEO tactic that entrepreneurs can do on their own is getting your business listed in local business directories.
There is a long list of local websites, and every website has different rules and regulations that one has to consider before submitting a business because one wrong step can lead you to the rejection of the business listing.
Two websites that can help your local business are Google Maps and Yelp (the US only). Both websites have easy steps to take in your business information and make it live upon phone verification. Since Yelp generates over 178 million visitors per month, as reported by Review Trackers, it is safe to say that you will be able to attract people by getting listed on the platform.
Just make sure that you provide comprehensive information on your listing. Do so by asking for reviews. See how The House has over 4000 reviews on its Yelp page, making it a helpful directory for all.
Write what you already know!
There is one marketing tactic that won’t take anything out of your marketing budgets – maintaining a company blog. According to HubSpot, businesses that make an effort to blog receive 13 times more ROI than those who don’t!
If you aren’t a seasoned writer, the task might sound crazily difficult, but to be honest, it’s not. There are some really easy ways to write meaningful content and share it with your audience to get their attention and prove you as an expert in your niche.
There are various effective company blogs you can try to emulate. For instance, Whole Foods, popular for its natural foods stores, uses its blog to offer healthy food recipes, industry news as well as company updates. In short, it covers everything that is relevant to its target audience.
The idea is to start a mini-blog on your website where you can share some quick tips that you think are important for your targeted audience. You do not necessarily need to write a lengthy and detailed post like this one but bullet points that contain value can even do well for you!
The consistent you write, the more targeted people will come to your website, and you will surely receive more inquiries than usual.
Write on Guest Blogs
There are certain websites that feature significant traffic. Since startups usually struggle to attract visitors to their site, guest blogging can help in leveraging the traffic of other websites for boosting awareness about your startup and for setting yourself as an expert.
As per Neil Patel, Jon Cooper used this tactic to get over 400 hits via a single guest post on Moz. Currently, his post on link-building tactics ranks number one for the mentioned search query! This is just one example of a brand benefitting from guest blogging.
Writing a guest blog is not very much similar to posting on your own blog, as you can go with tips and tricks and mini blogging kinds of things on your own website, but this might not be possible when it comes to Guest Blogging.
Not to worry, all you must do is write a concept in detail and get a writer to edit things for you; editing and fine-tuning the article doesn’t need a huge budget; you will just need a budget of a coffee and donuts to get your article fixed and back into your inbox.
Get the article, outreach to the blog where you need to publish, and wait for it to go live.
Social Media Interaction
3.5 billion. According to Statista, that is the number of people that use social media. Therefore, to ignore the platform would be a foolish act, regardless of the size and niche of your business.
There are various ways you can use social media to your advantage. For starters, to improve the reach of your website and blog, you can share your blog on your brand’s social media profile. You can also use it to interact with your target audience and address their queries.
Don’t be overly promotional on your social media page. Generally, promotional efforts should be limited to paid solutions and social media ads.
However, since you are a startup with a low marketing budget, it is better for you to leave the ad part of it all for the time you have enough cash flow. Meanwhile, use social media as a medium for highlighting your brand image and content.
You can use it for announcements and customer service purposes. For example, if you have a customer who contacts you for something on Twitter or Facebook, go ahead and reply to them.
No business can exist in isolation. You need to interact with one another at times. For instance, let’s say another individual in your industry wrote a blog about your sector. You can leave a comment about your take on the topic. This will help in building links as well as boosting your reputation.
At other times, pitching in at the right time can help in staying at the top of the mind of your consumers.
I am sure you might have heard of the Weetabix on Heinz Beans tweet that went viral a few days ago. Brands across industries, including Dominos and Ford, pitched in on the hilarious conversation. By doing so, they were able to get a small chunk of the limelight.
All in all, since you are in the industry, you should be aware of the technical details and updated news of what is happening around the corner. The idea is to read different blogs, flip through the news, go over points of view by other people on a regular basis and share your views through comments on different online communities.
Make sure that your comments and perspective are well-versed and meaningful. This will help build the interest of readers. They will perceive you to be an insightful business and will then proceed to dig more about you instead of flagging you as spam.
Parting Advice: Stay Strong
Everyone tells startups that the odds are piled up against them. But, remember this, every company starts small. If you use the right low-cost marketing strategies and have resolute, you will be able to weather through the initial storm and emerge as the winner.
Use these five tips to get your business noticed during your initial days. Once you have enough marketing budget, allocate it effectively between SEO and conventional marketing. While my tips will help you stay afloat initially, investing in SEO and marketing, later on will help you in becoming a leader.