Bare Bones SEO- How to do SEO When You Don’t Have Money to Invest?
Here on Enstine’s awesome blog, I wanna show you how to do SEO when you don’t have any money to invest. I know the craft well because that’s the situation I was in- once.
My site is on the rise, that’s all I’ll say:)
So, being broke didn’t stop me at all, but instead fueled my creativity and desire to push on no matter what. And I hope this post does the same to you you deserve to have your affiliate blog rank high in Google.
Being Relevant and Authoritative- Google Ranking factors that really matter
Google has the famous 200 ranking factors in their secret algo.
Want to know the real truth?
They have many, MANY more than that. Each ranking factor has dozens of variations that play out in different scenarios, so in reality, Google has more than 10 000 ranking factors.
So it’s impossible for you or anyone else to cover all of them (nor is it really necessary).
So, what to do then?
Well, all those ranking factors are divided into two batches:
Really, that’s it.
If you can make your article hyper-relevant to Google for the keyword you’re targeting, and if you have at least some authority to you site’s name, you will rank for at least some keyword phrases.
And you know what- that’s a great start for you.
Because, once you start getting that initial traffic, Google suddenly starts to rank you much faster, and you finally earn a bit of money from your affiliate links.
And then you invest that money and you’re on your way to success.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Relevance and authority; very easy stuff to boost, and here’s how.
#1- Relevance- Do your on-page perfectly
And by perfectly I mean follow Yoast plugin’s suggestions.
Just to be clear- I don’t think Yoast is perfect and you don’t need to have all green lights to rank.
To be honest, I never pay attention to it, and it hasn’t stopped me one bit.
However, if you’re a newbie it pays to pay attention because their recommendations are solid and following them will make your site more relevant to Google, thus you’ll be ranking much easier.
Now, let’s break it down real quick.
How to optimize an article with Yoast SEO plugin
For this tutorial, We’ll use my Wealthy Affiliate Review.
Enstine is a member so he knows what Wealthy Affiliate is, but in case you don’t know, they’re a training center for newbie affiliates. They can teach you how to start, build and monetize an affiliate site.
Before we begin you need to specify a target key phrase for the article. For my article the target keyword is “Wealthy Affiliate Review”
#1- External and internal links
External followed links help Google see what your article is relevant to. So link out abundantly and always stay on topic.
Internal links send authority and relevance to other parts of the site. Make sure you have a couple in every post.
#2- Keyphrase and meta description length
Keyphrase length is basic stuff- is your keyword something people actively search for?
If it is- you’re set.
Meta description length is whether your meta d. is over 160 characters long. If it is not, good. It won’t be cut off in the SERPS.
Also, have your keyword in the meta description. Because Google will bold it in the search when people search for the exact phrase..
#3- Previously used keyphrase
This is important because of keyword cannibalization You want to have only one article on your site targeting a specific keyword.
If you have two targeting the same phrase, Google will be confused and probably filter both.
#4- Keyphrase in subheading
Each subheading is your way to reinforce the topic of the article. In my case, each subheading has the words “Wealthy Affiliate” in it. That is great as it lets Google know that my post is about WA.
#5- Image alt attributes
The image alt attribute is an easy way for you to sneak in a few extra keywords. Just make sure that you also describe the image; and also that you don’t keyword stuff.
Because Google’s algo is really smart and can see that you’re stuffing keywords.
Then you’ll be penalized.
Yoast recommends above 300 words per post and I agree. Unless the article really requires you to go brief for example “when was Michael Jackson born”?
You should go all out and try to give a definite answer to the searcher’s query.
#7- Keyphrase in the title and SEO title width
Keyword in SEO title is the number one on-page SEO factor. Get it right with a well placed keyword and get an immediate and large boost.
And make sure your SEO title is less than 60 characters long. Then your result will be shown in full and won’t be cut off.
#8- keyphrase in slug
Keyword in URL is a weak ranking signal for Google. Make sure you have it, not so much for the ranking benefits, but because it is a strong relevancy signal. A high-level sign that explicitly tells Google your page is about “X keyword”
In my case the keyword is “Wealthy Affiliate Review”, so my slug is simply wealthy-affiliate-review.
Things I messed up
#1- Keyphrase in the introduction
Keyword in the first 100 words is a strong signal to Google what your page is about. And it makes sense when you think about it.
Still, don’t expect miracles to happen and this mistake won’t cost you dearly.
#2- Keyword density
This is an outdated metric. Keyword density doesn’t matter. What matters is that you don’t stuff keywords, but have them fit naturally throughout your post.
#3- Keypharse in the meta description
Like I mentioned earlier keyword in the meta description is not a ranking factor, but when the searcher looks for something in Google, if you have the keyword in your description it’ll be shown in bold thus increasing your CTR.
That’s what makes meta description valuable to you.
#2- Authority-How to boost you site’s strength for free
The other big part of the ranking equation is funneling authority to a brand new affiliate site.
I want to show you two methods that are insanely easy and newbie-friendly, and most important of all- free.
Why just two?
Because link building is demanding stuff, both mentally and mechanically as you’ll need to send a tonne of emails.
Don’t want you to burn out and feel overwhelmed.
Link to influencers and let them know about it
This one is my favorite. It’s the tactic that got me my first real white hat links and the one that eased me into the exciting, but difficult world of link building.
What is it?
Oh, it’s simple,
You write an article on your site or you guest post somewhere, and then within the article, you link to select choice of influencers.
And then you let them know about it. Simple as that. And effective too.
Why does it work?
It works because professional bloggers know that links are everything when it comes to ranking highly. If you don’t have links, you are not going to rank.
So when they see you linking to them out of the blue, they ARE going to remember you, and they ARE going to return the favor sometimes in the future.
But remember this, and it’s crucial- this is not a tit-for-tat game.
Don’t expect to link to someone, and then immediately get a link in return.
It doesn’t work like that.
Instead, expects to spend several months:
- linking to them
- sharing their stuff; engaging on Twitter and Facebook,
- commenting on their blogs.
Remember– you’re building blogger bonds that’ll serve you far beyond getting a single backlink to your site.
You’re helping others succeed so you can succeed too, and backlinks are a by-product of you co-operating with fellow bloggers
Here’s my patented email template you can use:
How are you doing today?
This is a quick email, just to let you know that I linked to you from a guest post I did over at “siteexample.com”
Here’s the address “link” and the anchor text is “anchor text”
Hope you like it!
And here’s my template in action, working its magic on my buddy Enstine here:
b) Join MyBlogU
MyBlogU is an online community led by famous marketer Ann Smarty. There people post interview suggestions and content ideas all blogger members can collaborate on.
It’s great to get your beak wet into link building because you can score some easy links.
For example, here’s a roundup invitation from Janice Wald about best marketing tactics.
So, you click and respond and you’re rewarded with a a sweet homepage link from a powerful domain.
Easy peasy, and totally white hat.
Note: the one thing you must know about doing SEO with no money
You CAN do SEO with a $0 budget, but you need to realize that your success will come from 3 intertwined factors.
- Article volume. You will need to bulk up your site quite a bit and thus build topical authority in Google
- Article quality– All articles will need to be well written and answer search intent completely
- Link foundation– you don’t need a tonne of links to rank for long tail keywords, but you will need some. So please don’t focus on content only and eschew link building completely. It will bite you in the ass if you do.
And there’s a fourth factor I left for last:
Yes, with the passage of time, as your site and content matures you will see your rankings naturally improve. That’s normal as the longer a site is indexed, the more Google inherently trust it.
(Because spammers tend to fizzle out on their own rather quickly)
Of course, age alone is not enough to rank, but content quality and quantity combined with the smart link building I talked about here will give you the results you want.
And once you start ranking and are earning a steady income, push that money back in your business.
Investing in your business is the best thing you can do early on.
For example, you could get Ahrefs for backlink research. Over time you will be able to build links quicker and better because now you will have a premium tool to work with.
Or you can invest in SEMRush, for proper keyword research. Choosing the right keywords is a prerequisite for any ranking success in Google.
Of course, SemRush is much more that just a simple keyword tool I won’t talk about it here because I know Enstine has a whole guide dedicated to it.
Take a look:
Conclusion- bare bones SEO is better than no SEO at all; and better than waiting around
It really is.
Don’t wait until you have money to invest. It will likely never happen for you and you’re just deluding yourself and finding excuses.
Instead, be proactive and start doing what you can, right now.
And simple and effective steps I’ve shown you today will get you far, that’s a promise.
I wanna thank Enstine for publishing my article and I hope you leave me a comment or two to let me know what you think.