Decided to dip your toes into the world of search engine optimization but not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered. SEO doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, there are some simple things you can do right now to start boosting your site in the rankings and driving more traffic.
You don’t need to be an expert or hire an agency to make progress. If you’re a writer, small business owner, or entrepreneur ready to take your website to the next level, read on. We’ll teach you how to do SEO yourself in 10 easy ways and get noticed.
How to Do SEO Yourself: A Step-by-Step Guide for Writers and Business Owners
Doing search engine optimization (SEO) yourself is absolutely possible. As a writer or business owner, optimizing your own content and website is a valuable skill to have. Here are 10 easy ways to get started with DIY SEO:
1. Start Content Creation by Choosing a Seed or Target Keyword
To kick off your DIY SEO plan, you need to start creating valuable content for your site. But don’t just write aimlessly—have a strategy.
The first step is to pick a niche topic or subject area you want to focus on. This could be a specific product you sell, a type of service you offer, or an area of expertise you have.
Choosing a Seed Keyword
Once you have your niche, do some keyword research to find a “seed” keyword or key phrase to build your content around. A seed keyword is the main topic word or phrase you want to rank for in search engines.
Find keywords that are relevant to your niche, have a decent search volume, and are not too competitive. For example, if your niche is custom furniture, a good seed keyword might be “custom furniture design.”
Doing good keyword research is crucial for ranking high in search engines and driving organic traffic. How do you find the best keywords?
Know your target audience and topics. Who do you want to reach? What do you want to rank for? Use these for keywords.
Use keyword tools like Google's Keyword Planner, Ahrefs and SEMrush. Find high search volume keywords you can rank for.
Target long-tail keywords. These are specific 3-5 word phrases for subtopics. They have less competition.
Include synonyms and related terms. Focus on more than just "custom furniture design". Try “custom office furniture design” or something similar.
Rank for question keywords like "how to design a custom furniture". These drive a lot of traffic. Answer these questions in content.
Check competition and difficulty. See how many sites compete for keywords and how authoritative they are. Focus on keywords you can rank on the first page of Google.
For instance, examine the keyword examples. Keywords with difficulty scores between 30-49 have a good chance of ranking higher given that the content is well-structured and well-optimized.
Moreover, this is how SEMrush breaks down keyword difficulty score:
SEMrush Keyword Difficulty Score
- Include keywords in page titles, headers, content, images, and descriptions. Place important keywords as high and as often as possible.
- Keep monitoring and improving keywords. See which keywords drive the most traffic. Drop keywords that don't perform and find new opportunities.
Developing a Content Strategy
With your seed keyword in hand, develop a content strategy. This means mapping out the pages you want to create to rank for that keyword. You’ll want a good mix of content like:
- Blog articles: Aim for 2-3 articles per week, using your seed keyword and related terms in the title, content, image file names, alt text, and meta description. If you can’t find time to create the suggested volume of content, you can use Hypotenuse AI writer to generate SEO-optimized articles.
- Your homepage: Include your seed keyword in the page title, header, and content.
- Product or service pages: Create pages highlighting what you offer, using your seed keyword where appropriate.
- About page: Share your company story and expertise, with mentions of your seed keyword.
- FAQ page: Answer common questions from customers, working in your seed keyword where it makes sense.
Continue creating helpful content around your seed keyword and niche. Link to relevant content within your site. Keep your content fresh by updating old posts and optimizing them for search.
Track how your site ranks for your target terms to see what’s working and make changes to your strategy as needed. With time and consistency, you'll start climbing the search ranks!
2. Track Your Competitors: Gather Insights and Stay Ahead in the SEO Game
To get ahead in SEO, you need to know what your competitors are up to. Monitoring their online activity and rankings will provide valuable insights into their SEO strategies and help you stay one step ahead.
Spy on Their Keywords
See which keywords and phrases your competitors are targeting by checking their page titles, headers, and content. Look for common themes and terms they are optimizing for. Then, work those same keywords into your own content where appropriate.
Check Their Backlinks
The websites that link to your competitors provide them authority and help improve their rankings.
Analyze who is linking to them and why. Reach out to those same websites and provide them with content and resources to link to and promote your own site.
You may even want to replicate some of your competitors' link-building strategies and tactics.
Review Their Content
Regularly read through your competitors' blog posts, guides, and other content. See what topics and subjects they are covering. Note their content formats like lists, how-tos, comparisons, etc. Then create your own versions to attract the same audience. You don't want to copy them outright, but you can model their style and approach.
Track Their Rankings
Use tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Moz Pro to monitor how your competitors rank for target keywords over time. Watch for keywords they are improving in and try to determine why. See if they have secured any new high-ranking placements. Then work to outrank them by improving your own on-page SEO and building more authority.
Stay on Top of SEO Trends
The SEO landscape is constantly changing. Make sure you stay up-to-date with the latest trends, strategies, and algorithm updates. That way, you'll always be one step ahead of your competitors. Follow industry leaders, read SEO blogs like Moz, Yoast and SEMrush, and keep an eye on any announcements from Google about search engine updates.
With diligent monitoring and research, you'll gain valuable insights into your competitors' SEO strategies. Then you can work to replicate their successes and outrank them in the search engines.
Staying ahead of the trends will ensure you have an edge and reach your search engine optimization goals.
3. Optimize On-page SEO Elements: Optimize Meta Tags, Headings, and URL Structures
To do SEO yourself, you need to optimize the on-page elements of your website. This includes things like meta tags, headings, and your URL structure.
Meta tags provide information about your page to search engines. The two most important ones are the title tag and meta description.
Your title tag should be an enticing description of the page content, around 60 characters. The meta description is a short summary of the page, about 155 characters, to display in search results.
Utilizing a meta description generator can help you craft effective meta descriptions that can improve click-through rates from search results.
Use headings (<h1>, <h2>, <h3>, etc.) to structure your content. Your <h1> should be your page title. Use <h2> for main sections, <h3> for subsections, and so on.
Make sure your headings use important keywords and that the content under each heading is relevant. This helps search engines determine what the page is about.
Search engines prefer URLs with words over numbers and symbols. And keep your URLs to less than 100 characters.
- Use keywords in page titles, headings, content, image alt text, and URLs
- Keep content clear, concise, and avoid excessive repetition
- Include internal links to other relevant content on your site
- Have a mobile-friendly website
- Submit your sitemap to search engines to help them discover all your pages
Doing on-page SEO yourself does take some work, but following these tips will help ensure your content is optimized to rank well in search engines and drive more organic traffic to your website. Let me know if you have any other questions!
4. Set Up Google Analytics: Track and Analyze Your Website's Performance
Google Analytics is a free tool that lets you see how people find and use your website. It's easy to set up and provides a wealth of information to help you understand how to improve your site.
To get started, sign up for a free Google Analytics account. You'll get a tracking code that collects visitor data.
Add the tracking code
Log into your website and find where you edit the HTML. This is usually in your theme's header.php or footer.php file. Paste the tracking code just before the closing </head> tag. Save the file and upload it to your site.
Check your dashboard
Give Google Analytics 24 hours to start collecting data. Then log into your account and check the dashboard. You'll see metrics like page views, unique visitors, bounce rate, and time on site.
Set up events and conversions
Events and conversions let you track important user actions and see conversion rates. Events can be actions like page views and add to cart.
Conversions would be the actual goals you’re gunning for, like purchases or subscribes. This will help you determine which channels and pages are helping you bring in customers, and which ones you might want to optimize.
The reports section gives you insight into how people find your site, what content they read, and their technical capabilities. Check the Traffic Acquisition report to see where your visitors come from. Look User Attributes or Tech to optimize for user demographics and devices.
Customize and filter
Apply filters to reports to view subsets of data like a specific time period, country, device, or referral source. Create custom reports with the metrics and dimensions that matter most for your business.
5. Optimize Your Website for Speed: Boost Loading Times and User Experience
A fast-loading website leads to higher rankings in search engines like Google and a better user experience. There are several ways you can optimize your site for speed.
- Compress images. Large image files significantly slow down page loading. Compress images to reduce their file size.
- Use a caching plugin. Caching stores static versions of your web pages, CSS, and JS files to reduce database queries and server loads.
- Reduce redirects. Redirects slow down your site by forcing multiple page loads. Minimize redirects by ensuring your site has a clean URL structure with no duplicate content. Check redirect chains in Google Search Console to find and fix excessive redirects.
- Choose a fast web host. A web host with a slow server, little RAM, and no solid-state drives will significantly impact your site speed. Look for a web host that specializes in optimizing page load times.
- Enable compression. Compression reduces the size of web pages, CSS, JS, and image files by up to 90%. Most content management systems and web hosts offer built-in compression support. If not, you can install a plugin to enable compression.
Making some simple changes can quickly increase how fast your pages load and improve your search rankings. Users will appreciate faster load times and lower bounce rates. Google will likely rank you higher!
6. Optimize Your Website for Mobile: Ensure Mobile-Friendly Design and Functionality
Nowadays, more people use their phones to access websites. If your site is not made for mobile viewing, you could miss a lot of potential traffic and search rankings. Here are tips to make your website mobile-friendly:
- Make a responsive theme. This means your site will look good on phones, tablets, and computers. Many WordPress sites offer free responsive themes.
- Keep it simple. On small screens, less is more. Simplify your layout, remove unneeded things, and use large text and buttons that are easy to tap. Focus on the most important content and features for mobile users.
- Make fast load times. People expect websites to load quickly on their phones. Compress images, reduce redirects, and remove unneeded code to speed up your site.
- Check mobile function. Test how your site actually works on a mobile device. Verify the forms and searches function properly. It should be easy for people to navigate and complete tasks using just their thumbs!
- Submit to Google. Once mobile-friendly, submit your site to Google to be found in mobile search results, which is important since most searches happen on phones.
- Keep optimizing. Mobile search engine optimization (SEO) is an ongoing process. Continue to analyze how people use your mobile site and make improvements to create the best experience for users on the go.
Following these tips will ensure your website looks and works great for the millions accessing the web through mobile devices every day. A mobile-optimized site is essential today, so make it a priority to have a responsive, fast, and easy-to-use design if you want to rank well and engage mobile visitors.
7. Create the Site Map for Your Website: Improve Navigation and Indexing
A site map is an important part of search engine optimization (SEO) for your website. It's a document that lists all pages on your site to help search engines index your content. Creating a site map is one of the easiest ways to get started with DIY SEO.
Why You Need a Site Map
Search engines use site maps to discover all the pages on your site. This helps them index your content so people can find you when searching online.
Without a site map, search engines have to crawl and scrape your entire site to find all your pages - a tedious process that can take a long time. A site map speeds this up and ensures no pages get missed.
How to Create Your Site Map
Creating a site map is straightforward. Here are the basic steps:
- List all pages on your site, including product pages, blog posts, About Us, Contact, etc. Don't forget image pages, PDFs, or other non-HTML files.
- Organize the pages hierarchically, with the homepage at the top, main pages/sections below that, and subpages under those sections. Use indentation to show the page hierarchy.
- Include the page title, URL, publication date (if applicable), and frequency of changes for each page.
- Name the file
sitemap.xmland save it in the root directory of your site.
- Submit your sitemap to Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools so they can find and index all your pages.
- Update your sitemap whenever you add or remove pages from your site. Search engines will re-crawl your sitemap and index the changes.
Creating and maintaining a site map is one of the most impactful things you can do yourself for search engine optimization. It helps search engines fully index your website so you get more traffic and rank higher in results.
Some CMS platforms generate sitemaps automatically; however, you should still review the sitemap.
8. Optimize Off-page Performance by Building Backlinks: Increase Domain Authority and Online Presence Through Link Building
Building quality backlinks to your website is one of the best ways to improve your search ranking and increase traffic.
Backlinks are links from other websites that point to your site. Think of them as votes of confidence and credibility for your site. The more high-quality links you have, the more authority search engines will give to your site.
Find link opportunities
Look for opportunities to get links from authoritative sites in your industry. Comment on blogs, be active in forums, and build relationships with other site owners. When the time is right, ask if they’d be willing to link to your content. You can also do guest blogging to get links back to your site.
Build resource pages
Create useful resource pages on your site like guides, tools, datasets, or case studies. These types of pages naturally attract links because they’re helpful for others. Promote your resource pages on social media to increase visibility.
Improve page-level authority
Focus on optimizing individual pages on your site, not just the homepage. The higher authority a page has, the more likely other sites will link to it. Make sure pages have high-quality, relevant content, descriptive URLs, and internal links from other pages on your site.
Diversify anchor text
Use a mix of anchor text (the clickable text of a link) when getting links to your site. Overly optimized anchor text can seem unnatural.
Monitor new links
It’s important to monitor the links pointing to your site so you can make sure they comply with Google’s guidelines. Make sure any low-quality or spammy links are disavowed so they don’t negatively impact your site.
With some time and effort put into building a quality backlink profile, you'll start to see improved search visibility and more organic traffic to your website. Focus on link quality over quantity to build sustainable rankings over the long run.
9. Claim Your Google My Business Local Listing: Enhance Local SEO and Visibility
Google My Business is Google's local business listing platform. Claiming and optimizing your free listing is one of the easiest ways to improve your local SEO and visibility. Here are some tips to get started:
Verify your business information
Make sure the details about your business are accurate. Double-check your business name, address, phone number, website, and business hours. Correct any errors and verify that the information is up to date.
Upload eye-catching photos of your business, products, and services. Photos make your listing more visually compelling and help customers recognize your business. Aim for photos that are of high quality, high resolution, and showcase what makes your business unique.
Write a description
Craft an engaging description for your business listing. Mention your products, services, mission, and any special offers or events. Keep your description relatively short, around 2 to 3 sentences. Use keywords and phrases that your target customers would search for.
Respond to reviews
Reply to both positive and negative reviews from your customers. Thank customers for their praise and address any concerns from critical reviews. Responding to reviews shows you value customer feedback and are committed to providing great service.
Add your business attributes
Select attributes like casual attire, kid-friendly or LGBT-friendly to give customers a better sense of your business atmosphere and values. The attributes you choose should genuinely reflect what makes your business welcoming and inclusive.
Promote your listing
Encourage customers to leave reviews for your business on Google. Their reviews and ratings will help boost your local ranking and visibility. You can also share a direct link to your Google My Business listing on your website and social media profiles. Promoting your listing helps increase traffic and customer engagement.
Optimizing your Google My Business listing is a simple yet effective way to strengthen your local SEO, connect with customers, and drive more foot traffic to your business. Spending just a few minutes a week keeping your listing up to date can lead to big benefits for your business.
10. Content Production: Generate More Quality Content to Attract and Engage Users
Generating high-quality, engaging content is essential for attracting and keeping readers interested. To improve your search ranking, you need to publish content consistently and frequently. Here are some tips to increase your content production:
Focus on your core content. Stick to the topics you know best in your industry or area of expertise. You'll be able to write about them faster and with more authority.
Reuse and repurpose content. Take one piece of content and rework it into multiple formats, e.g. turn a blog post into a video script, podcast episode, or social media post.
Research and outline once, and write many times. Do your research and create a content outline that can be used as a base for multiple articles or posts. Then you only have to focus on the actual writing part.
Set a regular schedule. Whether it's once a week or a few times a month, set a schedule for publishing content and stick to it. This will make producing content a habit and help avoid writer's block.
Keep a list of content ideas. Whenever an idea pops into your head, jot it down. Keep a running list of content ideas you can turn to when you need inspiration.
Consider guest contributors. Invite industry experts to contribute guest posts to your blog. They get exposure and backlinks, you get more content for your site without having to write it yourself.
Use tools to help. Take advantage of tools like Hypotenuse AI to produce new high-quality content without straining your internal resources. Our AI content generation tools allow you to amplify your content production without overburdening your writers or marketers.
FAQs About Doing SEO Yourself: Answers to Common Questions and Concerns
Doing search engine optimization (SEO) for your website or blog can seem overwhelming, especially if you’re not technically inclined. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about DIY SEO and how you can get started.
How Much Do I Need to Know About SEO to Do It Myself?
You don’t need to be an SEO expert to improve your site’s search rankings. Focus on learning the basics, like how to optimize your page titles, headings, and content.
You’ll also want to get familiar with keywords and how to incorporate them naturally into your writing. Don’t get bogged down in advanced tactics. Start with the essentials and you’ll be well on your way.
How do I start with SEO for my website?
Begin by conducting keyword research to find out what your potential customers are searching for. Use tools like Semrush or Ahrefs to identify relevant keywords.
Then, optimize your website's content by including these keywords in your page titles, headers, and body content. Ensure your website is user-friendly, mobile-responsive, and loads quickly.
How can I track my SEO progress?
You can track your SEO progress using tools like Google Analytics. These tools allow you to see how your website is performing in terms of search traffic, user behavior, and other key metrics. You would want to look at the organic channel specifically.
How Often Do I Need to Make Changes to See Results?
SEO is an ongoing effort, not a set-and-forget tactic. Focus on making incremental improvements over time. Aim for updating and optimizing at least one page or post per week. This could be something as simple as freshening up an older post with some additional keywords and internal links.
Also try to publish new content on a consistent schedule, at least 6 to 8 times per month. Over the course of 6 to 12 months, all these small changes can have a big impact on your search rankings.
The key is to start simple by picking one or two areas to focus on each week. Don’t feel overwhelmed. With regular effort and monitoring of your results, you'll gain more confidence and knowledge to expand your SEO skills over the long run. The more you practice, the easier it will become.
With these 10 easy tips, you're well on your way to optimizing your website for search engines and gaining more visibility and traffic. Start implementing these tips today and stick with it. Before you know it, you'll be climbing the search ranks and connecting with more readers.
And if at any point you feel overwhelmed or have questions, don't hesitate to reach out to an SEO expert. They can help get you back on track so you can keep moving forward with confidence. You've got the knowledge and skills now to do SEO yourself, so go get started!