Let me put this straight: SEO is really tough in 2019.
Well, it never was easy. Maybe, a lot less competition back in 2009.
But, these days, practically all major niches and keyword clusters are occupied with strong sites, which are super hard to over-rank. Especially, with a small site, with a low budget and when you are trying to bootstrap your SEO.
With bootstrapping your SEO I mean getting the highest ROI with the lowest budget.
Btw, I really recommend installing some free SEO Chrome extensions, which will significantly simplify this journey for you.
In this blog-guide, I will try to go through the main SEO strategies-hacks, which might help you to build an effective SEO engine in 2019.
Don’t overthink brand name and domain
The one thing to keep in mind when bootstrapping your SEO is to not spend a lot of time and money on brand and domain name research.
Don’t even think to spend $5K on some fancy domain name, prior to testing it. Especially, if you are trying to bootstrap your SEO.
In fact, it doesn’t matter that much. There are countless sites, with quite weird names, but amazing content – that is what matters.
How to build your site?
So, there are basically two ways to build your website:
using CMS – content management system – e.g. WordPress, Wix, Hubspot, Shopify, Squarespace, etc.
It depends on your projects, what would be the best choice.
Probably, if all your online business depends on the website, it makes sense to custom build it. Otherwise, if your site is just a marketing platform for your main product or your site is just a blog – CMS is enough.
WordPress – is a most popular, well-supported CMS right now. So, for me, it is a no-brainer.
Technical SEO setup
After you figured out the way to build your site, things are getting a bit more straightforward.
First of all, you need to do a proper technical SEO setup. That is one of the most important elements of bootstrapping your SEO.
In SEO games, one technical mistake can cause countless problems and your site just will never work out.
Take care of things like:
- Good Hosting
- Quality WordPress theme
- SEO plugins
- Mobile view
- Easy website structure
- Page Speed
A lot of technical things depend on choosing a good quality hosting from the beginning.
By choosing a bit more expensive WordPress hosting, you can avoid a lot of headaches.
High-quality hosting will provide you with:
- One-click WordPress install
- Daily backups
- Higher page speed and faster website
- CDN – content delivery network
- Instant customer support
I would recommend choosing between Bluehost, WPEngine & Kinsta.
Bluehost is probably the first option for personal bloggers – as it is the cheapest one.
When you site scales, you can switch to more expensive options, such as WPEngine or Kinsta.
Another small, but very valuable investment – is your WordPress theme.
If you want to save money and go with something free or cheap – you risk damaging your technical SEO. An ok quality WordPress theme will be in the $50-200 range. I really recommend you to pay that amount.
A good theme is much faster, secure, customizable and reliable.
In my experience, if you choose poor theme, you risk spending much more time and money on WordPress developers afterward. And it will be a constant pain.
Recommended SEO plugins
The next step is with SEO plugins.
I recommend these:
- Yoast SEO plugin
- MonsterInsights (for Google Analytics)
- AMP for WP (AMP pages)
- Tinify (image optimization)
- WP Rocket (caching)
- Akismet (anti-spam)
Maybe, there are few other ones, but, that’s about it.
Don’t install too many plugins – they will slow down your site.
Also, constantly update your plugins and deactivate unused ones to avoid security issues.
SEO strategy – 3 SEO whales
Now, after we are done with technical issues, it is time to focus on SEO itself.
Again, bootstrapping your SEO is super hard. In my experience, we achieved success with websites pretty fast, but there was a team of 5 people working on it. So, prepare for hard work and patience.
If you are with limited time and resources, I would really recommend you to focus on three main things in your SEO strategy (I call them 3 SEO whales):
- keywords research
- amazing content
- link building
In my experience, these are three fundamentals of any SEO effort, if you remove one of them – your SEO campaign will be much less powerful or even completely fail.
So, first of all, before clicking a “Publish” button in your WP blog, do proper keywords research.
There are plenty of free keyword research tools. You can even start with the Google autosuggest tool or use Google Ads Keyword Planner.
Other of my favorite keyword tools are:
In my experience, if you write your guest posts, based on keywords and Google search data – they perform much better, than writing blogs, based on your gut feelings.
This approach is really valuable, especially if you are bootstrapping your SEO – you need to be really focused on every blog post. You can’t afford to push dozens of blogs per week and have them not performing well in Google.
Now, it is time to write content – the main component of your SEO strategy.
Content, among with backlinks, one of the main ranking factors in Google algorithm, so you better create something really valuable and high quality.
Let me repeat myself: these days, the competition in most niches is so brutal, that your content needs to be of really outstanding quality to be noticed by Google.
Also, Google really likes comprehensive content, which provides the ultimate answer to a search query. Instead of writing 7 short blogs per week, focus on 2 long forms, with 2-3K words.
There are plenty of bloggers, who only have 50 or so blogs with hundreds of thousands of page views per month.
Create rich, visual content. Not just boring text. Include visuals, infographics, embed elements, videos, podcasts, click to tweets, quizzes, polls – anything, which will make visitors stay on your site a second longer. Google likes long session time and low bounce rate.
Last, but not least – link building should be the core action plan in your bootstrapping strategy.
In my experience, there are plenty of sites, with amazing content, which doesn’t rank – because there aren’t any other websites pointing to them.
Frankly, link building is one of the most complexes and also miscommunicated areas in SEO. Some website owners are just afraid of it, others consider it a spam activity, the third category – go black hat tactics.
Surely, if you go in some muddy waters with link building, you can completely ruin your online business.
But, high-quality link building, participating in your community – is a bread and butter of bootstrapped SEO campaign.
- SEO outreach
- Guest posting
- PR campaigns
- Forums, comments
- Links from customers
- Steal links from competitors
There are plenty of link building ideas you can try.
The bottom line is: only focus on high-quality backlinks (with high domain authority – DA and low Moz Spam score). All these $10 offers to build 1000 backlinks just don’t work. Believe me, I’ve tried. 🙃
That’s about it, folks.
Bootstrapping your SEO is as hard as it gets in 2019. Nevertheless, it is still possible and profitable, as the content provides amazing ROI.
So, I wish you good luck!