Search engine optimization (SEO) is a set of methods aimed atimproving the ranking of a website in search engine listings. SEOprimarily handles what is known as organic search results, also knownas the results the search engines present users, excluding paidadvertisement.
The main reason people seek high rankings in the organic searchresults is to increase targeted traffic to their websites. SEO offers avery cost effective alternative to obtain that traffic. Other meanssuch as pay per click advertisement or banner advertising canpotentially be expensive, particularly with competitive terms where thecost per click can be several dollars.
Targeting the Right Keywords
As a small business this is particularly important. Traffic foritself is not necessarily the ultimate goal. Targeted traffic is.Selecting common generic search phrases can be a poor marketingstrategy for a small business because it can generate a large volume oflow-quality inquiries that cost money to handle, yet result in littlerevenue.
A small business will probably obtain much better results whentargeting highly specific keywords that indicate a prospective customerwho is ready to buy their product. Moreover, the more specific akeyword is, the lower competition it has, therefore the higher chanceto win that keyword for a relatively low cost.
Result Driven Approach
Lets leave all the marketing pitch aside for a moment and reallyget down to the facts. What really makes an SEO firm affordable? Well,we can start by looking at what is NOT affordable. Paying thousands ofdollars upfront certainly does not make sense for a small business,where every dollar spent has to provide a clear return on investment(ROI), especially since the marketing budget is not too high to beginwith.
That leads us to next big question how should we measure the ROIfor SEO? SEO has one objective that is to generate targeted traffic toyour website, period. The good news is that traffic can easily bemeasured. Every web hosting company provides visual server log filesthat record and analyze the websites traffic across time. So SEOeffectiveness can be easily measured.
Affordable SEO is first and foremost based on a result-drivenapproach, meaning you should only pay when you see results. Results canbe measured in various ways, for instance top page placement in themajor search engines or a certain increase (%) in your website traffic.Think of it as placing an ad in a newspaper, it serves exactly the samepurpose as SEO that is generating targeted traffic to your business. Sowhy should it be any different?
If an SEO firm is as good as they claim to be, let them bite theirown bullet and guarantee your money back if they fail to deliver toppage results within a reasonable time frame (usually 4-6 months). It isonly fair.
How Much Should You Pay?
So things are starting to feel right. Your website finally appearson the first page of Google when you type in your search phrases andyou are starting to experience a significant increase in your websitestraffic. How much should you pay?
This is a tricky question. My belief is that every keyword has aprice tag. It consists of two main factors: keyword popularity andkeyword competitiveness. Obviously, you should strive for keywords withthe highest popularity (number of searches per day or per month) andthe lowest competition (number of web pages competing for the samekeyword, knowingly or unknowingly).
Keyword pricing is not a straightforward task. It takes intoaccount multiple data sources that measure popularity and numerouselements to evaluate the competitiveness in the major search engines.At my company, we have developed a mathematical formula that takes allthe relevant elements into account and set the right price tag perevery chosen keyword. Bottom line, it has to make sense to you, thecustomer, in terms of ROI. For example, if you pay $300 a month for aspecific keyword you want this keyword to generate revenue higher than$300 a month.
As a small business, this method offers you a modular approachthat can be expanded over time. You can start with a single keyword,and pay as low as $100 per month. Then gradually, upon success, addadditional keywords to increase your traffic and your income. This way,you decide what is affordable to your business at every point in time.
To conclude: SEO can genuinely take your business to the nextlevel if done right. Keep it simple, make sure you understand what yourmoney buys and make sure you can measure the results before and after.
Written by Tomer Harel, SEO specialist and founder of Key Scouts,a search engine optimization company providing affordable smallbusiness SEO services and result-driven programs, focusing primarily onthe needs of small businesses.
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