Kate Morris, writing for SEOmoz, mentioned the ideas I’ll be discussing here, and several others. It all starts with what you’ve been doing all along: building your business right. Network, make contacts, grow your mailing list, provide amazing customer service, and get the word out. Write an interesting blog, and let everyone know about it. If you keep in mind that the goal is to get people interested in your business, SEO takes its proper place as a means to an end.
That said, what are some of the ways you can get free or inexpensive SEO advice? Well, if your business offers a desirable product or service, you might consider barter or a similar exchange. Morris mentioned getting some wonderful shirts “for free” from a company in exchange for giving them some PPC help. If you’re looking to build links to your site, and not worried about venturing into gray hat territory, you could offer to donate your time and services to another site. “It’s all about the intent and if the new link is useful to the users of the other site. Keep that in mind,” Morris advises.
Also keep in mind that some of the best ideas may not involve a lot of money, but represent a real time investment. For example, a great way to get advice is to look for local search marketing meetups via Meetups.com. You’ll find local professionals at these meetings, often as guest speakers. They stay around to give advice. Don’t focus only on the guest speaker when you go, though; make contacts with the other attendees. And don’t hound the speaker! These meetups will cost you very little money, but in terms of time, you can expect to spend at least an hour each time, and there will typically be a number of meetups throughout the year. That doesn’t count the time you’ll have to spend applying what you learn.
Don’t care to get out much? There are tons of sites with great, free SEO advice. Check out SEO Chat, SEOmoz, Search Engine Land, Google Webmaster Blog, Search Engine Journal, and more. Spend an hour or two a day just reading, and you’ll pick up tons of information. You’ll also have to spend the time to apply what you learn.
If you’d like something a little more interactive, of course, you can look into SEO-related forums. We have a pretty active community here at SEO Chat; you’ll also find communities at Webmaster World, SEOmoz (SEOmoz Q&A), SEOBook and SEODojo, just to name a few. Not all of these are free, so be sure to ask around. Good luck!