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Can a small business owner really fit enough optimisation into their day to make a difference?

I often fall into conversation with ambitious men and women who’ve started their own businesses but can’t yet afford the services of an SEO agency. It’s often very frustrating for them.

They understand exactly what the benefits are and how it might grow their business faster, but they simply don’t have the budget to launch an optimisation campaign. So, I’ve been thinking about how a small-business owner could chop up SEO work so that it fits into their day without undermining their normal work.

I still believe you need a dedicated staff member or agency to run a really powerful SEO effort, but here are some thoughts in the meantime…

Set weekly or monthly goals

Could you fit half an hour of SEO into your day three or four days a week? Even if you could only manage it two days a week, perhaps by coming in 30 minutes early, you could make a real difference.

This kind of dedicated time will allow you to set goals for your website and gradually work towards them without having to set aside an entire couple of days.

For example, you might want to work on the content of your website to ensure it’s written with optimisation in mind; you might want to give your pages unique title tags that contain your chosen keywords; or simply work out how to use Google Analytics.

Decide what SEO projects you need to undertake and then set a structure in place that allows you to work towards them without undermining your day-to-day work.

Staying ahead: lunchtime

Whether you’re a professional or a hardworking amateur, it’s important to stay abreast of industry changes and to keep improving your knowledge. The good news is that there’s loads of useful information online, especially on websites like this one. Yet it can be hard find time to cram up on SEO when it’s not your full-time job.

But I recently read that 87% of office workers eat at their desks. Lots of people aren’t working through their lunches; they’re reading the news, shopping online and updating Facebook.

If you read one article a day during your lunch break, you’d really enhance your understanding and pick up lots of tips to implement on your website.

Blogging: meetings

A blog can make a big difference to a small company’s optimisation. If it’s well written and useful then other industry figures will link to it and Tweet about it. 

That way the search engines can see that your website is publishing regular, popular content that’s naturally filled with your target keywords and other relevant terms.

Of course, writing a blog is a big commitment and there are no shortcuts to the work that it takes. But you can save time on ideas generation. Coming up with ideas for articles can be challenging and take a long time, which is very disheartening for people.

So, when you have a company meeting, try dedicating five minutes each time to brainstorming blog ideas. You may even find different staff members volunteer to write them (which is good for their personal professional reputations), which can obviously save you time.

Working on your paid search: coffee break

Choosing the best keywords to bid on is a fine art and a big pay-per-click campaign needs frequent work to update it and make sure you’re getting the most out of your money.

But, if you don’t have the resources for that, then try considering writing one PPC ad or researching a new keyword a day. By dedicating ten minutes each day, you could gradually build up a decent campaign, which is updated regularly enough.

If you like to mull over a Sudoku puzzle or crossword with your mid-morning latte, then try swapping this for a Google Adwords conundrum. 

Wringing a greater return out of every pound you spend this way can be as fun as a puzzle (if you have the right kind of mindset) and much more satisfying when you succeed. 

A shortage of shortcuts

Unfortunately, there are no real shortcuts in SEO; it’s a time-consuming business. But what you can do is chop up the work into bite-sized chunks that fit into your day, which is what I have tried to show here.

If you can be disciplined enough to fit these optimisation chunks into your day then your website will benefit. 

Once your business has grown large enough to support a dedicated SEO member of staff or an agency, you’ll also benefit as you’ll have a much greater understanding of the tactics they employ.

Kevin Gibbons

Published 11 August, 2011 by Kevin Gibbons

Kevin Gibbons is UK Managing Director at digital marketing agency BlueGlass. He is also known as an SEO speaker and can be found on Twitter and Google+.

102 more posts from this author

Comments (7)

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Guy Redmond

Guy Redmond, Digital Marketing Engineer at Nestle

Cheers Kevin
This is exactly how I started my life in digital marketing.
As an online retailer, it was amazing how much insight I could get from dipping in to analytics.
Before buying meetings, I would do keyword research on the brand and spot trends, ultimately making (some) buying decisions on this data and not on the sales person projections....

about 5 years ago



SEO is not a sprint, it's a long long marathon and a very hard slog to get through. At times its a bit soul destroying, at times it seems pointless, but you just have to keep going. The winners in SEO really are the ones who just keep going, the ones who do what it takes to get it done. That being said, no matter how you go about it, SEO is going to take time, so don't necessarily fill every spare gap in your day with it. Maybe assign an hour before and an hour after work. The quality of your links is better than your quantity of links, so take a calculated approach, don't just start swinging for the SEO fences for 2 hours, takes time to plan and work at your own pace. You'll get there in the end, the best tip anyone can give is to just stick at it. By all my means change your approach, but just keeping going at it and eventually you'll see the results.

about 5 years ago

Malcolm Slade

Malcolm Slade, SEO Project Manager at Epiphany Search

Hi Kevin, I agree that certain SEO 101 activities can be carried out in a bit by bit fashion as you have time but the main issue is that 30 minutes every now and then wouldn't even cover the amount of reading needed to get a grasp of exactly what you need to do to get your SEO off the ground.

If you haven't got time to invest in staying up to date with SEO you are better of investing all your spare time in streamlining your PPC and conversion funnels so you can make money to engage either an agency or an in-house staff member.

Behind you 100% on:

"I still believe you need a dedicated staff member or agency to run a really powerful SEO effort, but here are some thoughts in the meantime…"


"Once your business has grown large enough to support a dedicated SEO member of staff or an agency, you’ll also benefit as you’ll have a much greater understanding of the tactics they employ."

Just my 2 cents

Best regards


about 5 years ago


Nick Stamoulis

I like the idea of taking 5 minutes out of a meeting to brainstorm blog topics. Sometimes bouncing ideas around helps you come up with new ways to present information. You also can get a different point of view if you listen to your employees. They may see a different side of your business and customers that you don't.

about 5 years ago


Michael Smith

Good article. It is hard work to maintain, but if the effort is put in then I think it can actually be far more effective than outsourcing to an agency.

about 5 years ago


Jeff Riddall

Great article and comments to follow. True SEO is a full-time endeavour particularly with the relatively new influence of social media, however, in many cases taking even small steps can have a significant effect if your competitors are not doing likewise. Guy makes a very good point about using analytics to understand what effect any actions you take have on your visibility, your Web site traffic and ultimately your conversions.

about 5 years ago



As a professional SEO I would have to agree with just doing a little bit everyday even every other day. Complete SEO is a lot of work, but if you are just working on your own projects the little efforts you put in on a daily or weekly basis will soon add up. The reason we get hired by most clients is their lack of knowledge(which is fixable with a little research), but most of all we are hired to produce results quickly, because they need them yesterday. If you decide time is not a huge factor at the moment then you are more than capable to out SEO most of your competition, due to them doing work once and forgetting it, over the long run you will get to out rank most of them with persistence.

about 5 years ago

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