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August 11, 2008

Don’t Spend a Fortune on SEO. Be Your Own SEO Guru!

SEO has been around for almost as long as search engines have. And for good reason. Everyone wants free advertising. But a lot has changed over the past thirteen years and with SEO gurus charging upwards of $1,000 per month, to small startups, just for maintenance you really can’t call it “free advertising” anymore.

Why is SEO so expensive? Because it’s worth it. Back in the day, you could get top ranking for just about any search term you wanted just by using tricks like keyword stuffing, invisible text and cloaking. Try any of that today and Google will kick you to the curb.

Another thing that makes optimizing your site tougher than ever is competition. In 1998 when I got into SEO, there were a couple hundred million pages indexed on Google. Now there are billions upon billions! In fact, I can’t remember the last time I ran a search for anything that had less than 300,000 results found. Beating out a few thousand pages by loading your page and META tags with keywords was easy a decade ago. Today you really need to know your stuff, or at least use a tool or service that can guide you.

Even with the killer SEO software products available today, it’s still not easy. The fact that finding the right tool will make the difference between dominating Google, Yahoo and MSN and just so so results puts pressure on you early in the game. And that’s difficult because not only can using the wrong product be a waste of money and time, it can also damage your site in a way that takes years to undue.

So, no matter how you optimize your work just remember this…you are not competing against the search engines or Websites. You’re competing against the search engine ranking of individual Web pages. Too many people focus on beating search engines or whole sites, but that’s not your competition. Search engines rank pages; not sites.

Here are three ways to optimize your own sites on a budget. All three are excellent methods but will vary greatly in time investment, cost and return on investment. For most entrepreneurs however, these are the best ways to put your optimization efforts on the fast track.

1.) Use an SEO How To Book (Average Cost $20 to $40)

If you have some time before you need to see results, his is a great and inexpensive way to go. Even if you use another method, I still recommend getting hold of a good SEO book for reference. Just be sure to check the copyright! I never buy anything that is more than a year old. Here are two of the best I’ve read in 2008 but there are many to choose from, just go to and search for “search engine optimization” in the Books category.

Search Engine Optimization: Your visual blueprint for effective Internet marketing (Visual Blueprint) by Kristopher B. Jones ($30 new or buy used on Amazon)

Search Engine Optimization For Dummies (For Dummies (Computer/Tech)) by Peter Kent ($30 new or buy used on Amazon)

If you have a Barnes and Noble bookstore around, they typically stock both titles.

2.) Use an SEO Software Package (Average Cost $150 to $600)

If you are just starting out you might want to invest a couple hundred dollars in a good Website analysis SEO tool and if you can swing it, get a linking tool too.

A Website analysis tool will check your pages from the inside out, compare exactly what you have to your top competitors and give you detailed instructions on how to beat the competition.

In 1998 I started using WebPosition Gold. It was great at doing ranking reports but their suggestions on how to optimize my pages never yielded very good results. And, of course, now that Google has banned them, I avoid using it.

One tool that has worked really well for me for both Website optimization suggestions and link building can be found at They’ve been around a long time and are used by the big companies like eBay who rely on top ranking for their very existence.

At about $250 it’s on the low end of the cost scale and offers a “Top 10 raking or your money back” guarantee, so they have some incentive to get you results.

3.) Attend an SEO Seminar (Average Cost $400 to $1,500)

The cost is all over the place on this one; quality too. Your best bet here is to contact SEO specialists in your area and see if they hold seminars or if you could do a training consult.

I recommend staying local because their reputation will be important to them and it’s nice to build a relationship with someone close by for when you have questions or something changes in the optimization world (which is pretty often.)

The universal search on for finding local talent in your area is to run a search on “SEO training” followed by your city name or the largest local city.

One of these three options is likely to do the trick. Most SEO experts use all three as much as possible. Best of luck!

With 9 years experience under his belt, Scott Jason started in 2006. Two years later he has helped dozens of client as an SEO copywriter. Among other major search engines he has hundreds of top rankings to his credit on Google, MSN and Yahoo.