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One Month With $3,000 In SEO Budget For A Local Business

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One Month With $3,000 In SEO Budget For A Local Business


There are few things more frustrating for a marketer who specializes in SEO than a client or employer who wants instant results on a tight budget.

After all, SEO is a long-term game.

It requires patience and strategy.

Nonetheless, this scenario happens all the time.

So, as marketers, we have to know how to adapt and produce good results quickly and on a small budget, especially if the client or our boss is only giving us one shot to prove our worth.

Achieving good – no, great SEO – is certainly doable in a short period of time. I’ve done it. My team has done it.

The key is in knowing which SEO tasks to prioritize.

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To illustrate my point, I want to introduce you to my favorite hypothetical client, Voltage: The Salon.

This salon wants to market to the Millennial and Gen Z population by providing upscale, fashion-forward services.

Planning For A $3,000 Initial 1-Month SEO Budget

This salon wanted to work with me because they’re new.

They don’t currently rank well for [salon near me] or any other relevant keywords.

They don’t have a Google Business Profile listing, either.

We’re really starting from scratch.

$3,000 doesn’t feel like a lot, yet it falls squarely into the $1,000 to $5,000 range identified as the most common average budget in SEJ’s State of SEO report.

This is what 26.8% of respondents said they’re working with; another 23% are being asked to produce results with just $500 to $1,000 a month.

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Back to our salon: their business goal is to get more clients and boost revenue.

To do that, they need more conversions, which they’re measuring in two ways:

  • Phone calls.
  • And appointments booked on their site.

They determined that the way to do this is to “show up on Google.”

I convinced them that SEO was the best way to rank well on Google long-term.

They gave me $3,000 and a month-long trial period.

At the end of that month, we’ll see where the website is at and determine how to proceed.

You know as well as I do that I’d better be able to show results or they’re not putting another $3,000 into SEO next month.

Key Details

  • Industry: Beauty.
  • Business: Hair salon.
  • SEO monthly budget: $3,000.
  • My hourly rate: $100.
  • Total hours allocated: 30.
  • Timeline: 1 Month.
  • Location: Kansas City Metro.
  • KPI: Increase in calls or appointments booked using the form on their website.
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SEO Week-By-Week

The best SEO work often begins by running a technical audit, especially in cases like this where it’s a completely new engagement.

We don’t know the site’s history and need to uncover any potential issues that could sabotage our best SEO efforts.

Week One

If you are short on funds and time, don’t use what little you do have trying to optimize a website that won’t perform well due to technical errors. That would be a waste.

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A technically sound website provides a solid foundation for stellar SEO results in the future.

Keeping this in mind, I use my SEO tools to run a comprehensive technical edit on Voltage: The Salon’s website.

It only takes an hour or two to crawl this site as it’s not very robust.

After my SEO tool finishes crawling the site, I check out my error list to find that it’s longer than I expected.

I set out to prioritize which errors are the most important to address. I make a list.

We’re now down three hours.

Next, I divide my list into errors that are easy to solve in a short amount of time and ones that are not. Standard practice is to fix errors marked as ‘critical’ or ‘error’ first, so I start there.

The most pressing errors I notice are:

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  • Pages not passing the mobile-friendly site test.
  • Several pages are blocked for indexing.
  • A redirect loop.
  • Pages with very slow page load times.

I estimate these fixes will take me about five hours of work to address, and I intend on completing them this week.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go as I would have liked.

While I was fixing the errors, I had to put in extra work adjusting server settings and looking in the hosting account to find the easiest and most sustainable areas to improve page speed.

On top of that, some of the admin functionality wasn’t working as expected making normally quick edits turn into research and troubleshooting.

The five hours I anticipated spending on fixing these errors turned into seven.

This leaves me with about 20 hours for the rest of the month.

  • Hours Used This Week: 10.
  • Estimated Amount of Hours Left: 20.

Week Two

I fixed the technical errors, but it took me longer than I expected.

That set me back a bit, but it was necessary to set the site up for success.

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Regardless, my priority for this week is to get my client’s site set up on Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google Business Profiles.

I begin with the low-hanging fruit and set up Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

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I submit the sitemap and move on.

Next up, Google Business Profile.

I set aside more time for this task as I recognize its importance and need to do some work to optimize for “hair salon near me” and “top hair salon near me.”

This takes about an hour.

I thought ahead and asked the owner of Voltage: The Salon to claim their listing and now I need to make sure the information listed is correct.

This includes NAP (name, address, phone number) and the services my client offers.

I will optimize the Google listing after I have completed some keyword and content research.

Setting up these accounts takes about three hours.

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  • Hours Used This Week: 4.
  • Estimated Amount of Hours Left: 16.

Week Three

To make the most of the time I have left, I am going to do keyword, competitor, and content research.

I budget a fair amount of time for each of these tasks but overall, hope to spend no more than 10 hours doing this.

We begin with keyword research.

As expected, there’s a fair amount of competition for this keyword, but the search volume for applicable keywords was high.

I proceed to determine which keywords are the best for this particular website.

I put these keywords in my preferred SEO tool to track them and start my competitor research.

I want to see what their competitors are ranking for and the kind of content they are producing and do this by performing a gap analysis.

As it turns out, well-ranking salons in the area are producing a fair amount of written content.

That goes on the list of things I want my client to work on in the future.

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I was able to regain the hour I lost at the beginning of the month because this task only took 9 hours to complete.

  • Hours Used This Week: 9.
  • Estimated Amount of Hours Left: 7.

Week Four

This week is all about optimizing for the keywords I want Voltage: The Salon to rank well for.

I will do this through both on-page and off-page SEO.

I know that creating content is a priority, but right now I am more concerned about the overall site structure being poorly optimized.

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I fix it in hopes of improving user experience, crawlability, and more.

Next, I optimize the page builder and image sizes to further improve the site speed.

This takes me about three hours to complete.

I add meta tags, headers, and body copy that’s specific and keyword-focused to lead-generating pages.

Then, I index the pages I have worked on.

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This takes me approximately three hours, as well.

Lastly, I spend about an hour adding content to this client’s GMB listing including photos, posts, and more.

At the end of the month, I check to see how the site is performing and create a report detailing:

  • My findings.
  • What the client can expect to see in terms of future results.
  • And my recommendations for continued SEO work.

I did this on my own dime as I saw it as a value add and also for my own benefit to show the opportunity for more work and partnership going forward.

My report details the extent of the work I have done, much in the same way I did here.

My goal is to communicate the value of what I did and showcase the foundation that was built for future SEO success.

My plan for follow-up SEO work is to bolster the content on the site, continue to target keywords pertaining to user intent, and build this client’s local search presence so they rank well organically and in Map Packs.

  • Hours Used This Week: 7.
  • Estimated Amount of Hours Left: 0.

Conclusion

My goal for the first month of this campaign was to lay the groundwork for good SEO in the future and start the client on the path to ranking well for keywords that relate to the services they offer.

Overall, I accomplished this goal.

I resolved technical errors, created a Google Business location, complete the necessary research, and began doing on-page SEO work.

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Voltage the Salon’s website is now in a position to rank better both in organic search results and show up well amongst other Map Pack listings.

If you find yourself in a similar position, with your client expecting the world on a tiny budget, don’t panic.

SEO requires patience and planning, but you can get the results you want and your client expect if you can prioritize what’s most important.

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Featured Image: patpitchaya/Shutterstock

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SEO

Google Launching May 2022 Broad Core Algorithm Update

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Google Launching May 2022 Broad Core Algorithm Update

Google confirms a broad core algorithm update, called the May 2022 core update, is rolling out today.

Core updates are designed to make search results more relevant for users. Though the update is launching today, it will take 1-2 weeks for this update to fully roll out.

Danny Sullivan, Google’s Public Liaison for Search, notes that changes to site performance in search results are to be expected.

“Core updates are changes we make to improve Search overall and keep pace with the changing nature of the web. While nothing in a core update is specific to any particular site, these updates may produce some noticeable changes to how sites perform…”

When a core update rolls out, Google is known for pointing to the same guidance it published in 2019.

Nothing has changed there, as Google references the same document with respect to this update.

To sum it up, Google’s general advice regarding core updates is as follows:

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  • Expect widely noticeable effects, such as spikes or drops in search rankings.
  • Core updates are “broad” in the sense that they don’t target anything specific. Rather, they’re designed to improve Google’s systems overall.
  • Pages that drop in rankings aren’t being penalized; they’re being reassessed against other web content that has been published since the last update.
  • Focusing on providing the best possible content is the top recommended way to deal with the impact of a core algorithm update.
  • Broad core updates happen every few months. Sites might not recover from one update until the next one rolls out.
  • Improvements do not guarantee recovery. However, choosing not to implement any improvements will virtually guarantee no recovery.

It has been six months since the last Google core update, which rolled out in November 2021.

Those who have been working hard on their site during that time may start to see some noticeable improvements to search rankings.

On the other hand, those who have left their site sit idle may begin to see themselves outranked by sites with more relevant content.

It’s too early to start assessing the impact, however, as this update will take a week or longer to roll out.

Your rankings may fluctuate during that time, so don’t be alarmed if you notice changes right away.

Google will confirm when the update is finished rolling out, then it will be time to start doing your analysis.


Featured Image: salarko/Shutterstock

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