What can be achieved with a small budget in search engine optimization? This article shows which measures you should focus on and which useful tools are available. No expert or agency can replace that. But you can also lay the foundations right for little money.
SEO measures can be implemented in large numbers and diversity. But not all of them make sense, some cause high costs with a comparatively low result. Strictly speaking, if the budget is low, you should look for the following measures:
- Measures that are relatively easy to implement without the help of an agency
- Measures that cause low costs and still have a relatively large leverage
- Measures to ensure that search engines can also download (“crawl”) and index the website content
Most SEO measures are not rocket science, they simply require a plan. Basic SEO knowledge is still helpful because you can get recommendations in many places via tools and then have to evaluate them.
Preparatory work: Establish access to the Google Search Console
Before we go into the further steps of optimizing your website, you should first have access to the Google Search Console (GSC). This tool provided by Google is free of charge and extremely helpful for diagnosis and optimization – also because it can directly access Google data. Some of the information you need can only be obtained in this way.
Those who do not yet have access to the GSC must first log in with a Google account and then verify their website. This is possible, for example, via DNS entries or uploading a file. In any case, it must be proven that the website is your own website.
A tip: If you add a so-called property (= a website) in the Google Search Console, you will be asked what type of property it should be. The “Domain” option is best here since all protocols (Http and https) and domain spellings (with or without www) are automatically covered here!
1. First Things First!
Hopefully, you will never be taken to an emergency room. But if you do, you will find that in emergencies the first thing that is most detrimental to life is tackled. So: If you no longer breathe and have a leg wound at the same time, you will probably be reanimated first. The problem with the leg can be fixed later.
In terms of SEO, this means: You should first check whether the patient (= the website) is breathing. Can Google correctly access, crawl (retrieve) and index (save) the website? Do you already get organic visitors who are not bought through advertising? For which searches is this the case?
The following measures are suitable for this:
- You can simply site:www.domain.com type in the Google search slot. Important pages of your own website should appear here as search results.
- In the GSC report “Performance” you can see – looking back for a maximum of 16 months – for which search queries which pages were clicked in the search results. Relevant search terms should appear here – both your own brand and generic search terms.
- In the GSC report “Coverage” you can check – if you have previously saved an “XML sitemap” – how many of the pages of your own website are available in the index. At the same time, you can see here whether there are any specific problems (e.g. technical failures).
- There is also a “URL check” function in the GSC to test whether specific URLs are in the index. Here you should select a few pages as an example (e.g. the start page, three category pages, three detail pages …) and check whether everything is OK from the perspective of this tool.
There are rare cases in which some or even all content is blocked for search engines. There can also be strange technical problems that prevent all pages from ending up in the index. Admittedly, this is unlikely, but should always be checked at the beginning!
2. Optimize local entries
Anyone who has completed these steps should take care of local entries. This can be very important, especially for local companies. For almost every company there is a local entry that can be administered free of charge via Google My Business (GMB).
First of all, you should search for your own company on Google Maps. If there is already an entry there, you should “claim” it – ie claim for yourself. Then, after validation, it is transferred to your own GMB account. If there is no entry, you can create it in GMB.
As soon as the entries are integrated into the account, you can optimize:
- Company name, contact details, category, pictures, description, products – everything should be set up according to the specifications.
- Ratings are very important for local entries. The generation of or active inquiries for evaluations should, therefore, concern you in any case (eg via a business card that prompts visitors to evaluate after visiting their own practice).
- There is an app for GMB that can be used to react to incoming reviews, among other things. You should install it in any case.
Similar to GMB, Bing also has Bing Maps. You can also use this tool in the same way.
3. Check links
It is still important for Google that websites have as many relevant external links as possible. You can never have enough backlinks like this! This also applies because, after all, they not only exist for Google but at the same time real visitors get to their own website via such links.
So it makes sense to analyze the state of affairs in terms of backlinks in order to derive potential for even more backlinks. Here, too, the GSC can help, because with “Links” it offers a report that shows this:
In the Google Search Console, you will also find useful information on incoming links (backlinks).
A practical example: An online shop for carnival costumes discovered a backlink from a carnival club in the report. This link exists because obviously such clubs want to help their members to buy the ideal costume online.
4. Keyword research
In parallel to building the link – the so-called off-page optimization – investments must also be made in on-page measures. So: It has to be determined which search terms can be relevant. And then you need the right content.
If you want to research keywords, you need access to a keyword database. They are available first-hand from Google ( Keyword Planner ) and Bing ( keyword research ). In addition, there are many tools that are based primarily on Google data, e.g. keywordtool.io (search volumes are only shown in the Pro version) and Ubersuggest.
The determination of search volumes (how often is the search term searched for on average per month?) Is not without controversy since the search volumes are quite imprecise. Basically, you should use this to make decisions between search terms: If search term A is only searched 100 times per month and search term B is displayed with 1,200, you would rather choose B.
SEO tools such as Sistrix, Searchmetrics can also be helpful. So you can use such a (paid) tool efficiently to search the tool database for search terms/rankings of all competitors. Depending on the industry and competitive situation, this often provides relevant impulses for keyword selection:
5. Build content
Of course, if you have your keywords together, you also have to build up content. That doesn’t necessarily have to happen immediately. It is often interesting to create a prioritized list of topics and then, for example, to create a new page each week. So, for example, if you write a new post for the blog every week, your website will be very slow, but at least targeted.
The prioritization of the contributions can be done according to search volume. However, other metrics such as expected sales are better. If you can use data from other channels such as Google Ads, you can select the search terms that promise a high return in this way.
6. Improve existing content
The GSC – and there the report “Performance” – can be used to determine pages/search terms that are already relatively easy to find, but have not yet made it to the important first search results page. To do this, simply filter by position (position> 10) in order to receive such search queries:
You can use the Performance report in Google Search Console to find content where optimization is particularly promising.
Unfortunately, irrelevant search queries find their way into this list – for example, very rarely searched queries for which optimization is not worthwhile. Or those that are simply not relevant for your own company due to the clientele (such as “SEO free” for an SEO agency). The list still has to be filtered manually.
As soon as you have identified relevant search queries, the analysis begins: Why is the ranking so bad? Often there is simply not enough content on the page. Or the content is not tailored to any relevant search term. Depending on the diagnosis, you must then take appropriate measures.
7. Detect problems automatically
If you have a lot of content on the website, you can quickly lose the overview. Some pages may have a title that is too short or no meta description at all. For large websites, in particular, you need a tool that finds and compiles such potential.
There are enough tools for this, such as the “Screaming Frog SEO Spider”. But there are also some free options:
- Beam Us Up
- Site Analyzer
Admittedly, there are some differences between the free and paid tools in terms of functionality and aesthetics. But those who only need such tools occasionally and do not have an extensive website should be able to work with them sufficiently well.
Such “crawling tools” can be used to uncover different potentials and problems:
- Missing or too long/short page titles and meta descriptions
- Broken internal and external links
- Pages without main heading (H1)
- URLs with irrelevant URL parameters
- Pages with excessive click depth
Recommendation and conclusion
As I said at the beginning: “Rocket Science” is all very limited. Even without the help of an agency and with a lot of enthusiasm, you can move forward with little or no budget in terms of SEO. Certainly: With a high budget or with the help of consultants, it is often faster and more targeted, but that does not mean that DIY SEO has no effect.
One last thought: It is important in any case to set up a system that keeps you on the ball. So: Write a blog post every week, search the Google Search Console for errors once a month, “crawl” once a quarter and uncover new potential.
After all, SEO is hard work!