The principle behind DIY SEO, or doing your own search engine optimization is a bit tricky.
I am a firm believer in allowing professionals who specialize in a certain area of work to do the work that they do.
I would never do my own electrical work.
There are electricians that have a lot more experiential knowledge than me in both of those fields.
With all that said, there most certainly are times when people simply cannot hand off their digital marketing campaigns to a professional.
If you are just getting started and have very little budget for SEO, a DIY SEO campaign can be a feasible option.
Let’s start with the basics.
DIY SEO Step 1: Editing Your Website
In order to pull off a DIY SEO campaign, you are going to have to make changes to the pages of your existing website.
Are you able to edit the content of your website?
Was your website created using a third party content management system?
A DIY SEO campaign is going to be impossible to pull off without the ability to modify existing content and create new content.
If your website is not accessible to you, I recommend converting it to a WordPress website. This will allow you to implement your DIY SEO campaign, along with all of the tips I am going to outline below.
Converting your website to WordPress, an open-source and free system used to manage your website’s content, goes beyond the scope of this post. However, I will be working on a post that covers this topic in the near future.
Need help converting your website to WordPress? Send me an email and I will do it for you for free.
DIY SEO Step 2: Create Great User Experience
Creating a great user experience is a topic of its own with many worthy considerations.
But for the audience of this post, we are going to keep it simple.
Does your website have a logical flow to the pages that you have created?
Do the URLs of your site tell the user where he or she is within it?
A “breadcrumb” is a navigational indicator telling users where they are on your website.
If you have a clothing website, a breadcrumb that reads, “home> clothing > men > shirts > t-shirts” is a great way to improve user experience. If the user wants to switch to another type of apparel, all he has to do is click the links within the breadcrumb.
Make Your Website Mobile Responsive
Most website visitors in today’s world are going to be accessing your web pages from a mobile device.
Is your website mobile responsive?
Can it be viewed on a tablet or phone and still maintain its message and integrity?
Or is the text cut off and difficult to read when viewed on a mobile device?
The best way to find out is to use the Google Mobile Friendly Tester.
If your website is now built using WordPress, you will have no problem finding a mobile-responsive theme that provides a good user experience.
Now that the shell of your website has been created, it’s time to start thinking about content.
DIY SEO Step 3: Do Your Keyword Research
After you have your website in a form that you are able to modify, you will need to start creating your content.
But before you even begin writing, you need to know what keywords each of your pages will be targeting.
This requires keyword research.
Without keyword research you wouldn’t know how successful your campaign is. There would be no yardstick to measure it by.
Too often I find entrepreneurs and DIYers going for the very competitive keywords, like “SEO” or “Car Insurance.”
They think that if they just repeat these words on as many pages of their site as possible, eventually they will rank for them.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
If you are targeting the same keyword on multiple pages of your site, you are practicing what’s known as “keyword cannibalization.”
In cases such as these, Google doesn’t know which page of your site to rank for that keyword, so it doesn’t rank either (or any) of them.
To circumvent this problem, you are going to need a keyword map.
Create a Keyword Map
A keyword map should be made as soon as you finish your keyword research for your DIY SEO campaign.
Without a keyword map, you are just throwing stuff up against the wall to see if anything will stick.
Your keyword map, very simply, should contain a URL, a primary keyword, and any secondary keywords that page is targeting.
Start by Targeting low KD Keywords
Keyword difficulty, or KD, is just what it sounds like. It is the difficulty rating, from 1 to 100, for getting your page to rank using that specific keyword.
For instance, “roofing” has a keyword difficulty of 65. But “Fort Collins roofing” has a KD of only 5.
Ranking for “roofing” is going to be exponentially more difficult than ranking for “Fort Collins roofing.”
You can use free keyword research tools like Ubersuggest, or if you have a higher budget a paid tool like SEMRush or Ahrefs might be worth your while.
Whatever keyword research tool you use, look for keywords with low KD as you begin creating content for your website.
DIY SEO Step 4: Create Great Content
Now that you have your keywords identified and laid out in your keyword map, it’s time for you to start creating content.
But where do you start?
Focus on the End User
First and foremost, focus your energy on creating the best, most helpful solution that relates to your keywords.
Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about the visitors to your site.
So don’t focus on creating sales or revenue for your business.
Instead, focus on how you can help the visitors to your website find and implement the solutions they are seeking.
Not sure what kind of content you want or need to create? Google is your friend. Go to Google and type in your keyword phrase, then start clicking on results. This will give you an idea of what most visitors are looking for.
If you can do that, you are going to be seen as an authority in your business industry.
The more quality content you are able to create and disseminate, the more credibility you are going to get – both from Google and your website visitors.
A big mistake that a lot of startups make is trying to make sales as soon as a visitor reaches their web page. Don’t all into this trap.
Instead of focusing on sales, focus on creating strong and trusting relationships.
Give the visitors to your website something for free, with no strings attached. Brainstorm something that will help them out in some way.
Create the solutions your uses are searching for.
This establishes trust. And trust is imperative in today’s business community.
If all of your pages are nothing more than words with a few static images thrown in, you are missing out.
By including video and audio files on your pages, you are going to hold users’ attention longer. And believe me, Google will notice.
I strongly recommend anyone interested in creating great content start and utilize a YouTube channel.
When it comes to Content, Size Matters
Brian Dean did a major research study regarding first page Google rankings and average word count. What he found is that “the average Google first page result contains 1,447 words.”
The bottom line is this…
In order to create the solutions that your users are in search of, you are going to have to do some work. 500 word blog posts once a week are not going to cut it.
Instead, create quality content that has at least 1,500 words, along with other forms of multimedia, that are of a much higher quality.
Brian Dean calls this type of content “Power Pages.”
Create Power Pages.
DIY SEO Step5: On-Page SEO
With your high quality content created, now it’s time to start implementing some on-page SEO.
As you are creating the content for your pages, remember to use the keywords that you are targeting.
Put your primary keyword phrase in the URL, the title tag, your meta description tag, and the H1 tag. Also, use it in the first paragraph of text, and a few more times throughout the body of your content.
This tells Google what your page is about.
If Google doesn’t know what your page is about, your content will not rank.
If you are using WordPress as a content management system, it’s time for you to install the free version of Yoast.
Now more than ever, an increasing number of people are choosing not to have a brick and mortar office to work from.
Remember Your Favicon
A favicon is the 16×16 graphic image that displays in your browser tab when someone is on a page of your website.
Believe it or not, using a favicon is very important.
It conveys a sense of professionalism and Google even uses it in their ranking algorithm.
Bottom line, it’s very easy to include a favicon, so do it.
DIY SEO Step 6: Keep It Professional
Every visitor that comes to a page of your website is going to leave with an impression of your business – positive, negative, or indifferent.
Your first objective is to make it a positive one for the largest number of web page visitors as possible.
Display your phone number in the header or footer of each page of your site.
Also, make the phone number clickable.
Visitors that are on smartphones will not appreciate having to copy and paste your phone number into their phone, or memorize it and key it in manually.
If you make your phone number clickable, you are going to get more calls.
Again, this conveys a sense of professionalism. It also protects you from being sued by visitors to your website.
Install an SSL
If you do not have an SSL installed on your website, you are opening yourself up to being hacked.
Not only that, but visitors to your website are going to notice and it will not reflect well on your brand.
Without an SSL installed, you are going to have the “not secure” message displayed in the menu bar of your website.
Whether conscious or unconscious, visitors are not going to trust your if you do not have an SSL installed.
Need help installing an SSL? Contact me and I will do it for you for FREE.
DIY SEO Step 7: Technical SEO
Technical SEO is an area of SEO that helps search engines find and index the content of your website’s pages.
There are some technical SEO techniques that I highly recommend.
Don’t be intimidated, this is easier than it looks.
Install GA and GSC
Installing Google Analytics and Google Search Console should be done before you publish your new website.
These tools will give you insight as to what pages of your site are performing optimally and which need more attention.
Create XML Sitemap
An XML sitemap is simply a listing of the pages on your website along with corresponding URLs, using extensible markup language or XML.
The purpose of an XML sitemap is simply to tell the search engines which pages are available and how to access them.
Remember, if the search engines don’t know your pages exist, they cannot be indexed. And if they cannot be indexed, no one can find them.
Without including an XML sitemap on your website you are risking Google not being able to index parts of your site.
Creating an XML sitemap is actually very simple.
You can go to xml-sitemaps.com and enter in the domain of your website.
Let the website do its work and after it’s finished, download the sitemap.xml file.
Now you can upload the file to Google Search Console.
From now on, every time you add or remove pages from your website, Google Search Console will be notified.
Include structured data
Structured data is another form of technical SEO that you can implement in your DIY SEO campaign.
Although I highly recommend it, this is an optional technique for raising your rankings. For this reason, I put structured data at the bottom of the list. Think of this as the icing on the cake.
If you’ve got time and want to get your hands dirty, this technique can pay off for you. But if not, don’t worry.
In essence, structured data is a way of telling Google what your web pages are about.
If Google has a better understanding of the content of your pages, those pages are much more likely to be ranked higher.
Structured data can be used in the code for the physical address of your business. It can also be used for recipes, events, locations, and products.
DIY SEO Step 8: Make Contact Easy
Think of your website visitors as guests at your home.
Each one of them is there for a reason. And each one of them is a potential customer.
If your guests have questions, or wish to initiate contact, make it easy.
Calls to Action
There should be a call to action on every page, sometimes multiple calls to action.
Make contact buttons prominent and easy to spot.
Again, focus on the end user and giving them something for free.
What you don’t want is for users to come to your website, look around for a while, and then leave.
Sure, there will be a fair number of them that do that. But what can you do to incentivize them into contacting you?
If you are a service business, you could offer a free consultation to someone interested in your services.
Remember, when visitors land on your pages, you are not trying to make a sale.
That would be like asking someone to marry you on your first night out.
Your primary objective is to create a sense of trust. And you do that by giving something away.
Are you a roofing company? How about giving your site visitors a free guide on how to select the best shingles.
In exchange for that free piece of information you are going to collect their contact information.
Now you have names and contact information of people you know are interested in the services you sell.
After these visitors leave your site, you can reach back out to them and start cultivating relationships.
This is how successful business is being done in today’s world.
Make Phone Numbers Clickable
Your phone number should be displayed on every page of your site, either in the header, the footer, or both.
But displaying your number is not enough. You need to make them clickable.
A very high number of people visiting your website are going to be using a mobile device, such as a smartphone.
A segment of those people are going to want to make contact with you.
If they see your phone number in the header or footer, they may be compelled to click it and initiate contact.
But all too often, those phone numbers do not do anything. When clicked, they do not link initiate a call.
This can be fixed relatively easily, but you have to make it happen.
Without clickable phone numbers, you are missing out on business.
Make your phone number clickable, and your phone will start ringing.
Don’t know how to make your phone number clickable? Send me an email and I will do it for you for FREE.
DIY SEO Step 9: Create Business Citations
If you have a physical location for your business, creating business citations that include your name, address, and phone number (NAP) will help you rank for your targeted keywords.
The reason for this is simple. Google gives more credibility to businesses that have a physical office space.
Now more than ever, an increasing number of people are choosing not to have a brick and mortar office to work from.
It may not be fair, especially in the world we currently reside in, but it is true.
Businesses with physical locations have more credibility in the eyes of Google.
Anyone can create a business entity, open a bank account, get a TIN or EIN, and start doing business from home.
But to have an office location means you are more credible, in the eyes of Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines.
What if I can’t afford office space yet?
You are reading this post because you don’t have budget for a professional SEO campaign yet.
So it makes sense that you also might not have a physical office space.
Fear not! You will get there. And when you do, you can start creating your business citations.
Automated vs. manual business citations
There are automated services you can use to start building business citations.
What these services do is go out to places like Super Pages, Yellowbook, and Local and enter the name, address, and phone number of your business.
I have used services like Yext and BrightLocal for automated business citations in the past and they work quite well.
The problem is that it can be expensive.
But never fear, there is another way. The alternative is to do them yourself. This will take more time, but you are in DIY mode, so you already understand that.
Use this list of business citation sources to start working.
Some of them will be more appropriate than others, depending on your business industry.
Start at the top and work your way down.
Keep a spreadsheet of your progress.
DIY SEO Step 10: Share Content via Social Media
When it comes to digital marketing and SEO, content is still king.
But creating great content, like you did in Step 4, isn’t enough.
Now you need to disseminate it.
This isn’t rocket science.
Go to Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Telegram, or any other social media platform you use and post a link to your fresh content.
Then rinse and repeat.
Continue to put links to your content on social media on a regular basis.
Are people leaving comments? Are you getting feedback that certain parts of your posts are less than they could be?
If so, go back to your content and modify it. Then repost.
Continue to add as much value as possible to the experience people are having with your brand.
Plan your post, then apply that plan. After your content has been posted, evaluate the response and refine the results.
Then start again.
It’s a simple plan, but certainly not easy.
This process takes time, especially you are implementing it all on your own.
DIY SEO Step 11: Continue to Create Great Content
Many business owners think that SEO is a one-and-done operation.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
After your website is published, continue to create great content on a regular basis.
Help your prospective clients find solutions to their problems with no expectation of compensation.
If you do this, your business will thrive.
In order to continue creating solutions, you have to understand what solutions people are searching for.
So continue to do your keyword research.
Also, ask your clients on social media what problems they are facing.
What would they like to learn more about that you can help them with
It seems counter-intuitive, but helping as many people as you can without expectation of being paid, is going to bring prosperity to your doorstep.
DIY SEO can indeed be performed successfully.
Anyone who tells you it cannot, is either a fool or a liar.
The truth is that if you follow the steps I laid out above, your DIY SEO campaign will be successful and start bringing in more business.
At that point, you have a choice.
You can hand it off to someone who does it for a living, or you can continue to do it yourself.
By delegating your SEO and digital marketing efforts, you are going to have more time to do the work you are passionate about.
And by doing the work you are passionate about, you are going to make the world a better place.
I wish you the best of luck on your campaign.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.
I will help you in whatever way possible.
Good luck and have fun!