Making SEO Services Accessible to Startups on a Limited Budget

If you’re an SEO provider, how do you convince a startup working on a budget that can only be kindly described as “limited” that they can’t afford not to use your services?

It isn’t easy. If you can do it, however, you can create a business relationship that grows in value over time. By making the right moves now, you can help a fledgling company survive its rough, early days.

When that business grows, the bond you’ve created will repay you through client loyalty as the company starts to invest more money back into its SEO — and into you, the provider who helped them in the first place.

Where do you start?

The first thing that you have to do is understand the triple trap startups often find themselves in where SEO is concerned: knowledge, time, and money.

Owners of startups invest a great deal of all three of these things on their product or service, their business plan, and their advertising. They often honestly figure that’s enough to put them on the electronic map, send traffic their way online, and convert prospects into paying customers.

That sets them up for failure in the following ways:

  1. They don’t have an SEO plan because they don’t know its importance. They may also believe that it’s something outside of their control — something that just organically happens if you have a good product or service, instead of seeing it as another form of marketing.
  2. Since they didn’t start with an SEO plan, they haven’t put any thought into how much time it will take them to do the job themselves — much less learn how to do it.
  3. They haven’t included a budget for SEO services in their development or marketing budgets.

These are the hurdles you have to get past in order to gain the startup as a client.

Explain the Value and Process of SEO

First, educate the owner about SEO and how it works. Here are some key questions and facts you can use to explain the purpose and value of SEO in terms that any layperson can follow:

  1. How far down the list do you go when you look for something using a search engine like Google or Bing? The majority of users only look at the first five listings. Fully 95% of web traffic goes to businesses that are on the first page — leaving the other hundreds of businesses on pages 2 and onward fighting for the remaining 5%.
  2. What is your automatic opinion of websites that are further back in the results of an online search? Most people think that the further back a business is listed on the SERPs, the less relevant, respectable, and authentic the business actually is.
  3. How do you think that a business actually gets to the first SERP? What drives some to the top and leaves others on page three? SEO is a type of marketing — and the results you get are directly related to the skill of the person doing the marketing.

Once you have the owner thinking about SEO in a new light, you can work on addressing the other two parts of the trap.

Offer Advice That’s Free and Easy to Follow

You’ve probably heard the old adage that “nobody buys the cow if they’re getting the milk for free.” However, that sort of thinking doesn’t work well in the business world when you’ve got the long-term goal in mind — and SEO is all about long-term goals. You know better than anyone — particularly your client — that there’s no easy way to catapult an SMB to page one of a SERP overnight.

Start out offering SMBs some free advice and tools that they can do themselves for little-to-no cost:

  1. Clean up their website. Some experts think that it’s genuinely the most important thing a company can do before investing actual money into SEO. Make certain that graphics are easy to load, check for broken links, and add contact buttons on every page. A free website analysis tool will help them know where to get started.
  2. Start a blog. Customers love free content. Offering tips and simple problem-solving techniques relevant to the business gives customers something of value and helps cement the SMB as an authority in their field.
  3. Start a Facebook page and get on social media in sites in general. Use these to generate interest in the company, directly engage with customers, and run online contests that will create interest in the SMB and make it more visible in search engine rankings.

Your willingness to offer free advice encourages a positive business relationship for the future, and it establishes you as the SEO expert in your potential client’s mind.

Start With the Minimum Essential Services

Once SBOs finally start to realize the value of SEO, they’re often in a bit of a panic. They realize they’re fighting for the survival of their business — but they don’t have the money to just throw at an expert like you to solve their SEO problems.

However, you can make it easier for them to reorganize their budgets and put some money toward your professional services by emphasizing the essentials — the things that are most time-consuming and furthest over your potential client’s head.

For example, the SEO audit is a must for internet marketing — but it isn’t something the SBO can learn on the fly. It takes a deep understanding of the mechanics of SERP rankings and the ability to do some serious technical analysis.

It also takes a lot of time — something the average SBO doesn’t have tons to spare. What’s important to stress is that you can do the heavy lifting and come back with advice geared to the SBO’s level of skill and understanding.

The long-term goal, naturally, is to have the SBO gradually become willing to invest more in your SEO services. Once he or she realizes the value of SEO and the time it takes to manage a blog, create new and interesting content, keep track of social media posts and more, your services will start to look like a bargain.

About the Author

Kelly Shelton

Kelly has over 20 years marketing, sales and customer service experience. He is a champion for small businesses and prides himself in helping them compete and thrive in a digital world. Kelly is currently the VP of Marketing for Boostability, a company dedicated to helping small businesses grow online. He manages a team that is responsible for demand generation, customer messaging and experience, branding, social media and all things marketing. His expertise includes search engine optimization, social media, content marketing, customer communication, lead generation and conversion optimization, to name a few.

Twitter – @kellyshelton32

Email – [email protected]

Phone – 800-261-1537

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