We recently launched an online quoting SaaS and are targeting some fairly competitive keywords (e.g. quoting software or quoting system). Because the domain is relatively new (~6 months), I know it will take a while for us to build up some authority in Google. We have a reasonable amount of experience in on-site optimization (link is in my profile if you're interested), but wanted to see what others recommend for off-site SEO. We are a startup and have set an initial 3 month budget of $1000 to get the ball rolling on the off-site SEO front. We are considering spending the money on:
We are most interested in building up our organic rankings, as we see that as the most effective means for marketing our software.
$1,000 budget and a plan:
Basically after you can do keyword research: Poor all your money into content.
Long-tail is awesome. Read SEOmoz like a religion. Also, read HubSpot. If you had a bigger budget - I would tell you to do a couple things differently, but we did this where I work and I jumped from very few keywords to ranking number #1 for 200+ keyword variations in a year.
I don't work in a high linking area, but I would think a well designed infographic might get you a ton of links. Something like the average number of quotes vs sales. Number of mistakes made on a quote. Avg cost of a mistake etc. How long does it take for quotes to be seen...
I would not pay for any of those things you listed. Spend time learning SEO, and maybe go to a conference where you can get ideas for how to do this yourself.
SEOMoz or SEOBook might be the best resources who do some hand-holding.
I have gotten 2 sites to be in the top-10 for their main single-word keyword, and doing it with a 3rd one. All self-taught, and self-done. I wouldn't hire a link-building company to do this.
Everything I learnt about SEO I picked up off the net. There is a lot of information there that will not only save you money but ensure that you follow the steps to do the right thing and not get downgraded by the likes of Google for shady practises.
Another point of doing it this way is that should you wish to pay for SEO in the future then you will know how to tackle it and can direct your funds appropriately.
Get the basics right (on page) and then move onto off page, but start now. Don't delay. It takes time to do this and people promising to get you to the top of Google immediately are lying.
There's a ton you can do. A company of mine is an expert in SEO and has provided SEO services to a number of higher profile cleints. There's a lot I can help you with. Some good advice has been provided above, but there's better ways.
Before doing this I have to ask you one key question: have you bought any google adwords ppc yet, to see if it brought in leads, and even further were you able to "close" these leads?
The most important thing you must do before spending your money on an SEO campaign is ensure that such a form of advertising will deliver an ROI. You can also get an idea of what your ROI will be. What if it costs $100 to get one lead? Would that be worth it? It might make you reconsider the entire endeavor.
Many times I also see companies who would benefit from PPC/SEO but whose website is not properly optimized as a landing page, meaning, they get the clicks but not the conversions. This means you need to tweak the page around, in particular your marketing messages and calls to action. Sadly a lot of these companies just blow off SEO/PPC as a "waste" rather than optimizing the problems on their landing pages.
The web is a funny place. Sometimes it takes a couple tweaks to a web page and all of a sudden the leads just start pouring in.