This is probably the most unspoken question among potential SEO clients – search engine optimization can be expensive. Sure, the payoff is great, but if you do not have the money to begin with, you simply can not afford it. So what to do? Optimizing your own web site can seem like a daunting task, but is it really all that hard?
The answer is no. As long as you have some time, basic html skills, a little creativity and patience. Assuming you already have a good domain name, decent hosting, and a web site designed, here's how I would approach it.
First, make sure the very first page everyone sees is search-engine friendly. Make sure your primary keyword phrase appears first in your title, and can be found through text on the first page and through the site. Make sure there is text on your first page and not just an introduction page or flash movie. These types of intros and entrance pages look blank to search engines. You want yours to look relevant for your keyword or key phrase. Include few paragraphs about what the site is selling or offering. As well, be sure to include your geographical area if your service or product is geographically specific. Make sure that when people who do not know anything about your industry or product hit that first page, that they have no doubt as to what the web site's purpose is within seconds. If visitors have that experience, chances are, so will search engine robots.
Second, make sure the rest of your site matches the same search engine friendship as your first page. Make sure there is a decent amount of textual information on each page, text that includes your keywords and key phrases. Your web site will never rank well on the search engines for any keyword or key phrase that can not be found on the site itself. You also need to clean up your code. Try to use CSS styles when designing the site, and include the styles in a separate style sheet as opposed to the page's header. Move all scripts in the header into an include file. You also want all of your inter-site links to use the full URL rather than just the file name or directory. These can sometimes count as incoming links.
The next thing you want to do is keep the whole site dynamic. There are a number of ways to do this. You can syndicate a frequently updated RSS feed on your site to keep the content fresh. You may want to have your own blog on-site and post to it frequently. You may accept submissions of content from web site visitors. There are many ways to keep your content fresh and growing. This shows the search engine that the site is not something that is out of date.
The final, and most important thing to do to make sure your site is well optimized, is launching an aggressive link development campaign. This is not quite as simple as it used to be, just merely trading links with relevant sites is not going to do the trick. What you want to do is focus on one-way incoming links. There are plenty of ways to do this. You can offer something in return for a link to your site that is not a link from your site – either a discount on services or products, a mention in your newsletter or custom-written content for their site. Be creative, you've been surprised what people will give you a link for.
Another way to get one-way incoming links is article submission. Write articles, like I am right now, and submit them to good article distribution places. Find out which online periodicals are in your industry and submit your articles to them in hopes of publication. Be sure to include a link back to your site in your author bio. The links from the article distribution sites are not very valuable themselves, but if, from those site, good relevant web sites pick up your article, they must link back to you and those are the links that will fare well for your web site.
You can also ask your friends, colleagues, business contacts, and anyone else you can think of who have web sites, to link to yours.
If you follow all of these, and do not give up, you can see results anywhere from right away to 6 months from now. Be patient, nothing worthwhile is ever instantaneous, and hard work always pays off. Keep at it and you'll be in the top ten and getting more traffic than you ever have before.