Ladies and gentlemen, we are now in the year 2014 and search engine optimization (SEO) is already widely known as one of the latest marketing techniques. While many companies are scrambling to be on the top spot of Google (some only just started to be ‘online’), search engine optimization is no ‘walk in the park’. The term search engine marketing is there for a reason and just like any marketing techniques out there, you need top notch planning and strategy to start on the right path. As an SEO consultant, I noticed one of the most common enquiries received from corporate companies are: Looking for first page ranking on Google Short time period Targeting for fast results Of course, I would be lying to you if I said that you could hit the top rank in a very short time period, unless using some serious black hat techniques. On top of that, hiring an SEO agency could cost you hundreds of dollars if not thousands monthly. So, the biggest question is how could you save that amount of money but still be successful in ranking? Important note: This article serves as a guideline for starting any basic SEO campaign. Advance SEO techniques are still needed at some point to further boost your ranking. #1. You need time, a lot of it The first step, above everything, is time. I totally understand if you are wondering how SEO and time are related to each other. I tell this to all my clients; SEO is forever changing. If you are not ready to learn and take the opportunity to understand the concept, you are going to spend a lot of money on SEO consultancy. #2. Don’t be afraid of S-E-O Allow me to share a real life story with you. One my clients is absolutely fanatic about negative SEO and seriously, fanatic could just be an understatement. Regardless the type of SEO planning I had planned for him, he was always worried about Google penalization. And even worst, he even doubted his own SEO planning. Don’t get me wrong as this is a pure example of what some of us are really afraid of. In today’s world, there is a very thin line between the white, black and even grey hat SEO. When it comes to SEO, stick to naturality and the closer you are to the bright side, penalization can be kept at bay. #3. Do you really need an SEO consultant? Thinking of hiring an SEO consultant? Ask yourself the question above. For me, hiring an SEO consultant literally means hiring a virtual assistant to do SEO marketing for you and your business. As a matter of fact, you could probably save more money hiring a full time content writer and a marketer than an SEO consultant. Make sense? Go figure! If you are lacking in time (step 1) or afraid of doing the wrong thing (step 2), then there is a chance that you need assistance from a search engine consultancy. #4. The importance of having a clear picture in mind Disclaimer: This point is discussed on a general basis as each SEO agency works differently. Let’s assume that you are looking for an SEO agency to rank your business site. Even before you make the first call or enquiry, you need to have planning. This means that you know what you want to achieve in the given time period, the budget available and the type of services you are looking for. Some agencies out there offer Pay Per Use basis where it adds up each service that you require. If you are budget conscious, you could save a lot of money by eliminating services you don’t need. If you are planning to save thousands of dollars in SEO, tell your SEO consultant the requirements you are looking for. Of course, bear in mind that the goals given must be achievable and logical, or else you are going to waste both time and money (plus the higher chance of going into the dark side of SEO). #5. Do-It-Yourself, Mr McGuire Feeling adventurous? To be honest, SEO is not tough. In fact, it is extremely straight forward. Take a look at this article (and video) if you are interested to understand what SEO means under 10 minutes. When it comes to search engine optimization, there are several tools you need which are: Keyword research tools Keyword tracking tools Website optimization tools Keyword research is important and this is probably the first step when it comes to planning an SEO campaign. Therefore, here are some easy steps you can follow: Determine the general keywords you are targeting List down a number of related or long tail keywords [Optional] Check the chance of ranking a specific keyword from point #2 Use the keywords found in your upcoming content writing The above four steps are just icing on the cake. Although the whole SEO process would take much longer (and more than the above stated), these are most likely to get you started on the right track. Important note: SEO tools like these can only bring you that far. You would still need to know how to utilize them to your best advantage. #6. Tracking the results Search engine optimization is not an overnight job. In fact, consistency is the keyword here and thus I know some sites only see the ‘growth’ in search traffic after months of hard work. If you are running a small to medium size enterprise with less than 50 targeted keywords, there are tons of free tools which you can use and probably save you some money. The process of tracking is tedious and I usually do it only once a week. The reason behind this is pretty straight forward; Google doesn’t update these rankings immediately. At times, it would take me around a month or so to finally see the results. Over to you With the above steps, you are probably on your way to starting your own SEO campaign and at the same time, saving hundreds (if not thousands of dollars) monthly in consultancy. Do you perform your own SEO campaigns? Share your experience with us and let’s discuss it using the comment form below. Images: “An illustration featuring a laptop computer with SEO concept and a magnifying glass in front of the laptop / Shutterstock.com“ __________________________________________________________________________________ Connect with Tweak Your Biz: Would you like to write for Tweak Your Biz? Tweak Your Biz is an international, business advice community and online publication. Today it is read by over 140,000 business people each month (unique visitors, Google Analytics, December, 2013). See our review of 2013 for more information. An outstanding title can increase tweets, Facebook Likes, and visitor traffic by 50% or more. Generate great titles for your articles and blog posts with the Tweak Your Biz Title Generator. Want to get your business featured on Tweak Your Biz? Check out #TYBspotlight.