Robert in Philadelphia, PA wants what I can’t give him: cheap SEO. But since he’s on a shoestring budget, I can at least toss him some ideas without busting the bank.

Dear Mr.Gustafson-
If I had the money, I would hire you. But my start-up has very little budget to invest. What does a guy like me do for SEO?


You know what Robert? I  know how it feels to want something yet not have your pockets lined with the cash to deliver. I can’t give you my services free. But what I can do is share what works for my clients and tell you what not to do in your bottom-dollar SEO manhunt.

Spend nothing. Do it yourself. The problem with SEO these days is most firms subscribe to the backlinking dogma. Build ’em, buy ’em, steal ’em and even hope and pray they’ll make a difference.

Everyone and their cousin thinks building backlinks is the magic pill to ranking on Google. Nope, no way no how. Not anymore. You run the risk of getting trounced upon once you go down this road. Think of getting your site de-indexed or just plain blundered by Google Penguin. It was an algorithm launched in 2012 that pounces on sites engaging in the technique.

The problem hiring cheap SEO dopes is they typically don’t have a clue. So why spend  good money going after bad SEO? Kind of sounds dumb to me.

So what should you do? I would start with these little nuggets doing it all yourself (or pay a freelancer to implement these suggestions)…

  • Use an XML sitemap
  • WordPress is the ideal CMS
  • Invest in a good host (not $4.95 a month)
  • I use with a VPS service (about $30 a month)
  • Google loves fast sites
  • Guess what kind of sites they hate
  • Research longtail keywords with a few hundred searches a month
  • Write posts or pages for each keyword
  • Aim to write 400-500 words for each
  • Include your keyword in your title and first sentence
  • Use your keyword (or phrase) as an H2 and H3
  • Include your keyword as anchor text to another page on your site
  • Update your content at least once per week
  • Write two new pages or posts per week

These babies should keep you busy for a while. If you can’t write, hire a freelancer. Tell them you want original text using the format of problem resolution. Don’t go all goofy trying to sell in your content. Instead, share information. Give advice. Help your audience and they will eventually buy your stuff.

I prefer the feel, felt found writing format. Usually based on true stories with a problem resolution ending (kind of like this post). Here’s how the formula works…

“I know you feel. Many people have felt (DESCRIBE THE PROBLEM/ISSUE IN ONE PARAGRAPH). But what they found is (SOLVE THEIR PROBLEM).

Short paragraphs are best. 2-3 sentences max.

Use images and be sure to include your target keyword in the ‘alternative text’ box in your image meta data. Doing so indicates to the search engines your image is relevant to your keyword.

What should you avoid? Schemes, link wheels or anyone who claims a new hot trend will get you ranked. All of these gimmicks are sales pitches.

If you need to go with a hired gun SEO freelancer, ask them for case studies. But make sure they tell you the number of search counts a month of the keyword they helped rank the client.

I see this all of the time…

“I helped get my client ranked #1 for the keyword phrase ‘mortgage broker west philadelphia pa’.”

Guess what? There are ZERO searches a month on Google for the phrase ‘mortgage broker west philadelphia pa’. So it’s kind of easy to rank for a keyword phrase that nobody cares about (well, besides the dopey SEO fraud).

Good luck Robert and remember, never give up.