DIY SEO isn’t scary.
You’re a king / queen 👑 that has started your own new business. You’ve already launched your website. It looks great and the copy is compelling.
It’s time to go to market, and that means marketing.
Your sales guy, Dave, knows of a dynamite marketing agency that has proven results and an impressive client list. He thinks it’s a no-brainer to leave the marketing to the pros.
In accounting, Suraj sees it as an additional expense and suggests you take your marketing in-house.
So, what’s it going to be? Should you hire out search engine optimization services or go the DIY SEO route? Pros and cons. Hmm..
Stop thinking. There’s really no debate here.
Let’s be real with one another. After all, we’re going to be together for the next few minutes.
A good SEO agency can make a serious impact on your bottom line, but good SEO agencies cost real money. Money that you don’t want to spend.
You’re reading an article about budget DIY SEO. Your mind is already made up.
You’re not ready for an agency and, before you break out the cheque book, let’s consider what you can do for free.
DIY SEO can yield seriously juicy results. So why not bite off some ‘low hanging fruit’ before bringing in a sexy and talented agency like us?
Heck, we’ll even get you started!
You’re an SEO virgin. Big deal.
It might be intimidating at first but once you practice a few times, it gets, well, more complicated.
We’re not helping, are we?
Okay, just close your eyes, take a deep breath and relax. There are a couple of things we want to show you. You’ll need access to these basic tools and info before diving into your SEO.
Valid Search Console integration
You might remember the Google Webmaster tool? Search Console is the same thing, it’s just a different name.
It’s first on our list because it’s fundamental to understanding how users engage on your website.
Don’t have a clue what we mean?
Google Webmaster… er sorry, Search Console shows you how much the search engines love (or hate) your content and recommend how you can improve.
You can log into a dashboard and get all the nitty-gritty details in one place: how your site is doing and which pages are killing it -or killing you.
Ready to log in?
Sign into Search Console and see if your site is listed in your account. If it is, great! If not, time to verify ownership. There are two ways to go about it:
Once your site is verified, click a button to import the site data and you’re golden.
Now you’ll see stats that are worth a fist bump and others that make you want to hit something.
Note: You might not really understand what you’re looking at just yet, but that’s okay! It’s good enough that you’re now tracking it. More on this as you master the basics.
Think Bitcoin is valuable? Well, it is.
But keywords are priceless. So is knowing how to perform the research.
First, you need to learn the difference between long-tail and short-tail keywords.
You’re a newbie, so trust us when we say that longer is better 🍆
Long-tail keywords add clarity.
For example, is your product ‘organic milk chocolate’ or ‘homemade dark vegan chocolate’?
Google wants to know and it will thank you for a clear answer. (So will all those dark chocolate-obsessed vegans out there.)
Pro tip: If you really want to be on Page One for ‘dark chocolate,’ stick with an SEO agency that knows Google like you know chocolate. After all, that’s a very competitive short-tail keyword.
Is chocolate really better than sex? Now that you’re thinking looooong, let’s get into intent.
Did they have to say ‘many’ twice?
Intent keywords capture the reason for the search (also known as search intent).
Is the user looking for a certain brand? Do they want to buy? What’s their price point?
Read their minds and then pick keywords that are practically CTAs. For example:
Got your keyword list ready? Great! Now pick the ones that are going to get you the best results.
You’ll want to look at:
The sweet spot is identifying those high-value but low-competition keywords that boost your SEO without killing your budget.
There are A LOT of tools to help you out. Here are some of our faves:
These beauties will show you:
The rest is up to you!
The Ubersuggest tool can help us find ‘value keywords’ as well as additional and relevant alternatives.
Can you log into your website?
If not, contact your hosting company. If they say they can’t help, threaten to take your business elsewhere. That usually works 😆
If you can, great! Keep reading.
Whitehat SEO ethics
A quick word before we get into the fun stuff.
We wear white hats at SociallyInfused. This means that we rank without breaking Google’s policies or SEO guidelines.
Blackhat techniques often refer to those ‘too good to be true’ or ‘quick results’ techniques.
At one time, buying links (blackhat technique) and cloaking (another blackhat technique) made you look edgy and kind of cool. No more.
Now it makes you look desperate. And that’s not you, right?
Google will reward you for being good. Be good. Okay, back to the party.
What are the two types of SEO?
That’s easy. On-page and off-page SEO.
All of your SEO-related tasks should fall into one of two these buckets.
What are the best DIY on-page SEO techniques?
Keyword research done? ✅
Access to Search Console and your site files accomplished? ✅
Now it’s time for some on-page SEO. Here’s where you make your site a search engine magnet!
While some strategies should be left to the pros, there are others that you can do yourself. Let’s take a look at the easy ones that get results.
Title tags are HTML elements (codie coding stuff) that tell the user what your page is about. They are placed in your page header and look something like: <title>Title of Your Page</title>.
Would you buy a book with chapters like “Best Hamilton Shoe Store Selling Cheap Shoes?”
Keywords in content
Use your keywords in content, but don’t overdo it. Nothing turns people off more than obvious keyword spam.
Treat SEO like a dating game: desperation just looks bad.
Use a single keyword in your title, one or two in the meta description, and sprinkle them lightly across your content.
Aim for a 1 to 2% ratio: for example, a 1000-word post should only have 10 to 20 instances of the keyword on the page. Any more and you might as well add ‘Newbie’ for good measure.
Keyword stuffing is easily identified by unnatural high keyword density in content. It’s considered a blackhat SEO technique and is against Google’s quality guidelines—and keyword stuffing can result in removal from SERPs.
Improve your click-through rate
Click-through rate (CTR) is the number of clicks on your link compared to how often people see it. Why does it matter?
If you’re not getting much response each time you appear, Google will dump you for someone more exciting, loser 💔
Now you know that Google uses CTR as a ranking factor. So how do you improve yours?
Think of Search Console as that brutally honest friend.
It will show you which of your pages are getting the cold shoulder. Then it’s up to you to give them a makeover.
Cupid’s hint: power words like ‘best’, ‘discount,’ and ‘delivery’ work wonders. It’s like stuffing your pants for Google.
Think of internal linking as a “yo, what’s up?” When the most popular pages on your site link to those that aren’t as visible, it’s like being invited to join the ‘in crowd.’
Those less popular pages get a boost because now everyone knows- and cares- who they are.
Here’s how you do it:
Optimize your content
You have to write both for search engines and users. Good luck.
It’s not as hard as it sounds but it does take some practice. The golden rule is to act natural, dude; just describe your products and services.
Make it clear how great they are without overdoing it on the adjectives. Don’t look nervous!
Also, big words don’t impress Google. With SEO, the simpler the better.
Use the Hemmingway Editing tool if you’re looking to write clear and concise copy for your audience.
Optimize your images
Yes, images need to be optimized too!
Give each image a real name, not a number. ‘69696969.jpg’ doesn’t tell Google anything (well it might if you use those numbers), but ‘organic-gala-apples.jpg’ does.
While you’re at it, stick with the jpeg format and keep file sizes as small as possible. JPEG optimizer and CompressNow are great tools for reducing your image sizes without tossing image resolution out the window!
How not to mess up your on-page SEO
Some business owners are so eager for results that they’ll pull on-page tricks to try and fool Google.
Repeat after us. Google is too smart for you.
Which is why you should never do any of the following Black Hat tricks below.
If your text reads like you ran it through a word spinner, you’ll lose trust. Sentences like “Looking for the best shoes in Hamilton? We sell Hamilton’s best shoes!” make you look like a (desperate) amateur.
What is this, 2010?
Back then, doorway pages were useless to readers but they were a fast way for low-quality pages to rank well for certain pages. Marketers used them to funnel visitors onto pages that would actually convert.
News flash- this trick doesn’t work anymore. Try it and you’ll be lucky if your site gets indexed at all.
Lazy site owners wailed on the way that Google started penalizing for duplicate content.
Grammarly is a great tool to ensure your content is 100% unique.
Feeling that creating unique content took too much time, they used to scrape other websites, meaning that they copied content and claimed it as theirs. Can’t do it anymore, sorry!
Cloaking is another Black Hat trick whose day is done. It happens when you have one page for site visitors and another just for Google.
Your site content should be designed for your visitors, not Google bots. The way to achieve good rankings is to create content that users will want to visit again and again. Trust us, the bots will come with them.
DIY off page SEO tips
What you do off-page matters too. Getting quality citations and backlinks is an awesome way to get some serious Google love.
Citations list your business details like name, address, and phone number. The really good ones let you add images and a link to your website. Popular (and free!) options include:
A listing in a credible directory can boost your rankings because they’re a vote of confidence from sites trusted by Google. It’s like that whole street cred thing- yeah, it works with search engines too. Bro.
Like citations, you can get free backlinks if you’re willing to do some legwork.
There are two main types of backlinks: DoFollow and NoFollow.
Here are some platforms you can use to create DoFollow backlinks, along with their respective domain authorities (DAs):
Examples of some citation sites for NoFollow backlinks:
Ready to start?
Submit guest posts
Offer to write a guest post for sites your customers care about. You can use the following search operators on Google to find the best options.
“[your keyword]” +”write for us”
“[your keyword]” +”write for me”
“[your keyword]” +”become a contributor”
“[your keyword]” + “guest post”
“[your keyword]” +”blogging guidelines”
“[your keyword]” + “guest post guidelines”
“[your keyword]” +”contribute”
Do you sell the best organic groceries in town? Reach out to other sites where your health-conscious customers frequent, like yoga studios and vegan bakeries, and let them know that you rock. Link juice for everyone!
Publish trending content
Get people talking by creating content they will want to share. As the saying goes, if they’re talking about you, they aren’t talking about anyone else, and that’s kinda the point. How-to guides and breaking news work like a charm.
Ahrefs has a great Content Explorer tool to help identify ‘hot’ content within a specific niche or topic. In the above example, we searched ‘SEO Guide’.
Comments section is one of the oldest techniques but is still a decent source to get high-quality backlinks. Your options include:
Start a YouTube channel
With over 30 million active users daily, YouTube is where you want to get a backlink.
By starting your own channel, you give your brand the ultimate exposure and the search bots will be all over your links like flies on, well, you know. Just make sure the videos don’t look like an after-school project or you’ll look like a hobby instead of a business.
Note: video content is HOT and Google loves it.
Check out the competition
This is the oldest trick in the book- it even predates the Internet. Seriously!
It’s called ‘know thy competitor.’ These free backlink checker tools will show you who’s linking to your competition (and therefore wouldn’t mind linking to you).
The organic results of a comptetitive analysis on the SEMrush tool is an insightful initial look at where you stand in relation to your competition and how you’re percieved relative to them.
Although it’s still not completely clear how much social signals help ranking, we advise that you don’t neglect social media when building your off-page SEO strategy.
Think of it this way. Social media is popular and it’s not going away, right?
So then why would Google and other search engines overlook them? We are now even seeing tweets being displayed in search results.
Set up business social media accounts and start using them. Regularly. Get conversations started about your products, services, company news, and the name of your new mascot. If your followers pass you around to their friends, even better. Give ‘em something to talk about and keep the conversation going!
Remember when you set goals for your business? Now set some for your social media plan.
Here are some good examples:
Goals keep you motivated and on track. Without them, your social media activity will be like a ship without a sail: you could reach land, or you could sink and never be heard from again.
You’ve got lots of choices here and there are no wrong answers. Your options include:
Whatever you go with, keep it engaging. When you deliver content that your audience loves and wants to share, their friends may soon be your customers.
Set up content buckets
You know what type of content your customers will find sexy. Now set up your content buckets. You can also call them content categories, but it doesn’t sound as cool.
If you sell online games, your content buckets might look like this:
Once you identify content buckets for your social media presence, every post you make should relate to at least one of them. Be consistent and be cool!
How much content is too much?
Have we got you hyped up? Are you ready to shoot posts everywhere like, um, bullets?
Or have we got you all stressed out and wanting to hide from what looks like a lot of work?
Don’t do either. While your social media strategies should not be an afterthought, it shouldn’t take time from the business either.
You can save a lot of time by planning your posts in advance and using a scheduler like Hootsuite to automatically post them for you when your audience is most active. (Check your analytics for each platform to see when that is.)
This way, you won’t have to do manual posts unless something REALLY amazing happens.
Here’s how to not mess up your off-page SEO
If you make any of these mistakes, welcome back to Square One (and we’re not talking about the mall).
Seriously. It’s not 2005. Stay away from the following:
Think of Google as being like Santa. It knows when you’re naughty or nice.
Build your links naturally. It’s expensive to buy backlinks and it’s also naughty 🎄
Use variety in your anchor text
If your anchor text is limited to the same word or phrase, it’s going to look spammy. By now, you know that will happen next.
Instead of flooding your content with a ‘Best SEO’ link, try ‘Best Off-Page SEO Practices.’ Like we’ll be doing!
Now You’ve Mastered DIY SEO!
Once you’ve mastered basic SEO, you’ll see gains. But don’t let the journey stop there. Keeping following that yellow brick road!
P.S. search engine optimization can be overwhelming at first, but we’ve all been there. We follow David Sayce religiously on LinkedIn because he simplifies SEO. He’s also wholesome and encouraging. So, we’ll leave you with some wise words from this SEO pro.