How Startups Can Leverage SEO on a Budget During an Economic Downturn

One of the fondest memories of my career path began with watching ABC’s “The Bachelor” with my wife. I remember when contestant Andy Baldwin was named the next Bachelor. When I looked him up, I surprisingly found little information about him. That night, I spent two or three hours cataloging anything I could find about the upcoming bachelor: information, pictures, bio… I even made a fan site. Those few hours I spent dabbling in what I knew about SEO so far went on to outrank Andy Baldwin’s own site.

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What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization. Its goal is to help businesses show up higher on Google for words that they can monetize, but without paying for ads.

Entrepreneurs often look at SEO as a “smoke and mirrors” process, with little to no understanding of time and expectations. As a 13-year veteran in this industry, I hope to educate my clients on the processes behind SEO, as well as its value.

Why SEO is an important part of any long-term marketing plan

As Google and other search engines constantly update their search algorithms, some businesses often question if SEO is a necessary marketing strategy. To the naysayers, I will tell you it will always be an important part of your marketing plan.

Related: 5 E-Commerce SEO Best Practices to Boost Store Traffic

SEO has two advantages:

  • It can indirectly help your other sales channels. For example, through the process of optimizing your website, you make sure it’s mobile-friendly and that it loads quickly. Those two things help increase ad relevance and decrease costs-per-click.
  • SEO is a solid safety net providing consistent sales and leads at any given moment, especially in tough economic times.

If you have good online visibility because of SEO, you’re doing well. You don’t have to increase ad spend to get sales, nor do you have to decrease your budget to stay afloat.

SEO tips for new marketers

Novice entrepreneurs and young startups should know that SEO isn’t about stuffing your content with repetitive keywords like it was a decade ago. In fact, taking that approach can do more harm than good.

Take advantage of some free tools, starting with the speed of your page. Customers aren’t fans of slow-loading websites, and neither is Google. I recommend utilizing a free page-speed checker tool like It will tell you exactly what you can improve to make your site load quicker.

When it comes to creating website content, you want to answer customer questions and showcase your knowledge. Google wants to return the best results, and the more authoritative ones make the search engine look good. The more that you show Google that you are an expert at what you do or what you offer, the more Google is going to show your website higher in the rankings.

Not sure where to start? is another free resource. When you type in a word, the site will reply with the “who, what, when, where and why” of that specific word. These are the questions that your customers are already asking search engines, perfectly manicured for you.

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A free marketing strategy you can apply to your own industry

One of the most effective marketing strategies that I’ve implemented is what I call “giving away the farm,” where I give away free SEO advice nearly daily on social media.

The more that you can showcase your expertise, the more people trust you, and this helps you build your audience. People want to buy from someone they trust. Customers may pay a company, but they buy from you, a person. While you may be hesitant to continually give away free advice, it is to your benefit.

In doing so, you’re building trust with a potential future customer. Maybe they don’t buy from you now, but there’s a good chance they buy from you later. Or perhaps they know somebody who does need to buy from you now, and they refer them to you.

Here’s my final advice: be patient, because planting seeds and growing your network takes time. Continue building your expertise, be patient, and you’ll see more consistent results in the long run. Don’t lose sight of your long-term goals and don’t cut corners.

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