If you read nothing else today, read this: stop buying $100-$300 SEO packages for your small business if you ever want your site to rank. If not, the cleanup effort needed after most companies in that price range are finished will break the bank. That is before you take recovery time into account too.
As Red Adair put it so eloquently, "If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."
Now, if you can't afford $1,000+ per month but you still want to slowly improve visibility, there are some safe ways to do so. To save you time though, you should know that if you are a law firm in NYC, a real estate agent in LA, or a business with similar competition, you won't get far. However, if you are in a less competitive niche and location, even the small things will move the needle.
Today, we are going to cover 3 simple but actionable steps you can take to safely move your small businesses online visibility in the right direction. Let's get to it.
Setup Your GMB and Get Reviews
This is an extremely simple step that small local businesses continue to overlook. If you don't have your GMB listing setup, go to Google My Business and it will walk you through the steps. Make sure you add pictures and get the completion status to 100%. Once created, you will get a verification post card in the mail, after that make sure you reach out to current satisfied customers and ask them to leave you a review on your GMB listing.
Create Citations & Niche Directory Links
Local business citations and niche directories are two inexpensive types of links that can give you a boost. For business citations, one of the easiest ways to find a list of sites is by searching for one (literally just search "list of top citation sites") - here is one good example.
That list will give you 60+ places to go and list your business. Just as you did above, take the time to fill out reach listing completely to maximize the likelihood of it being indexed and counted by Google.
Once you have worked through the full list, head back over to Google and search for a list of niche specific directories. You are looking for high quality sites only, here is an example.
Let's say you are a Vet, go to Google and search "list of top directories for veterinarians" and boom, you will see curated lists of sites you can go out and get listed on. Since you are looking for quality, I would visit 5 or 10 sites and make note of which directories are mentioned on most of the sites. After you have a short list, go to Google and type: site: (then the url of the directory). For example, site:websitemagazine.com
This will tell you how many pages are indexed. If the site has only a few indexed pages or none, cross it off the list. Once you work through the list, you will have at least a handful of niche specific directories that you can list your business on.
Blog for Others
If your site is new, you don't rank, and you don't have an audience, go out and find someone who does. If you are starting a water restoration company, find local plumbers with a blog on their site and contribute content educating people about the restoration process, what to expect after the leak is stopped and so on. This can also be done on niche sites, go to Google and search "write for us" +"kitchen remodeling" (insert your niche in place of kitchen remodeling) and you can easily find sites that are interested in guest posts. If you can't write, hire a freelancer to do it for you or search for a blogger outreach service to handle the full process if you have a bit more money to invest.
It is very easy to get completely overwhelmed whenever you are just getting started. As you learn more about SEO, there are countless tactics, hacks, tricks, and tips that can be applied. The biggest mistake I see people make is never getting started.
The three tips above are meant to be both simple and actionable. If you read this and you haven't completed those items already, set a timeline and get to work.
In the words of Theodore Roosevelt: "In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing."