How to do SEO Yourself – A Beginners Guide to the Basics
March 19, 2020 / Web Design
If you’re new to SEO then you can be forgiven for finding it overwhelming and confusing. The truth is that SEO is a vast topic and there’s a lot to learn but having a basic understanding can be enough to get you started. With that in mind, I wanted to give you an overview of basic SEO principles and some tips you can implement yourself right now.
What is SEO?
Begin at the beginning! SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s the process of optimizing your website’s set-up and content and then promoting it so that you can be found more easily in search engines like Google and Bing. When people talk about getting to the top of Google, they’re talking about SEO.
Why you need to do SEO
Around 63,000 searches are made on Google every second. That’s a lot of people looking for answers to their problems! Furthermore, 70-80% of all searchers ignore paid ads and focus on organic results – people trust search engines. With an audience that big, SEO can provide very relevant, quality traffic to your site and can be a big part of your strategy to get in front of your ideal clients.
So why aren’t you doing SEO already?
The number one reason people don’t do SEO is that they have no idea where to begin. Secondly, SEO is more of a marathon than a sprint; it takes time to see results and you need to keep doing it to maintain your visibility in search. The good news is that there’s a lot you can do yourself and even a small amount of work can lead to better search engine rankings (getting to the top), depending on your competition.
How to do SEO yourself
1. SEO Keyword Research Anyone can do
Thinking about what your ideal clients might type into Google to find you or your product/service is the first step. Without research you may end up optimizing your site for phrases people aren’t even searching for. Worse still you may choose keywords that have very high competition and your chances of appearing on the first page will be very low. Being as specific as you can will help you get the most targeted and relevant traffic.
For example, you may optimize your website for the keyword ‘photographer’ but this is very general and unlikely to bring you targeted traffic. If you’re based in Minneapolis, you’d be much better to optimize for terms like ‘photographer Minneapolis’ or better yet ‘wedding photographer Minneapolis’. These sound like great ideas but when we see what people are searching for the data shows there’s a better option:
To get started with keyword research brainstorm some ideas and then use a keyword tool to see if anyone is searching for your keyword ideas and how competitive they are.
You’ll want to find searches that have a good number of people searching and competition that isn’t too high.
Top Keyword Research Tools:
2. How to Optimize Your Pages and Posts
Use the keywords to optimize each of your pages and posts. Choose a keyword that matches your page content, use this keyword in your content. Simple!
These are the main places to add your keywords:
- Page title – for blogs this is usually the title of your blog. On pages you’ll be adding this as a Heading 1 or using the <h1> tag to make this your main heading. Only add one Heading 1 to each page.
- URL – if it’s appropriate use the keyword in your URL but don’t be spammy and keep those URLs really relevant and reasonably short. Be careful of changing URLs on existing pages and posts as this can lead to broken links.
- SEO Title and Description – This is the text that shows up in search results on Google. If you’re using WordPress a plugin like Yoast or Rank Math will add an area to the editor for you to add this content.
- Image alt tags – every image on your page should have an alt tag that describes the image. If it’s appropriate you can add keywords here.
- Headings and Content – Your content needs to be properly structured. Not only will headings help with SEO, but it makes your content much easier to read and your visitors will have a better experience. Make sure you include your keyword and synonyms of it in your headings and content but keep it natural.
You don’t want to overuse your keywords, make sure to use synonyms and phrases with a similar meaning to your keyword.
3. Create Great content
Great content is so important, content both on and off your site. This content may be your main pages, product descriptions or blog posts. Publishing content regularly can make you more visible in search. Try to publish on a schedule that you can stick to. If you can publish every week, great, use the scheduling option if there’s one available to make sure you’re posting content consistently. Make sure your content is the best it can be. A good way to tell is to do a quick search on Google and take a look at the top results, is your content better than theirs?
4. Getting links to your website
If you write great content on your site and publish regularly, people will want to link to it and share it. I can’t stress this enough – write GREAT content! To really excel at SEO, you need links from other websites pointing to your site. One of the best ways to do this is to write guest posts for relevant websites and ask them to include a link back to you. For local businesses citations are a great way to increase your visibility. Citations are listings in directories that include your business name, address and postcode (NAP), and usually your website address.
There’s a lot we haven’t covered in this guide, most notably technical SEO which includes making sure your site is accessible to visitors and search engines, ensuring it loads quick enough and creating a great mobile experience (among other things). If you’re interested in learning more about technical SEO there are some helpful guides here – https://backlinko.com/hub/seo/technical.
The great thing about most SEO activities is that they improve your website for your visitors, give you amazing content to share across your social channels and can lead to some great relationships with other providers in your industry.
It’s important to remember that SEO takes time, you shouldn’t expect immediate results and you’ll need to commit to doing SEO activities consistently. But if you put in the work, the benefits are well worth the effort.