How to do SEO – Step by Step DIY Guide
Suppose you can work out how to do SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) for yourself? You would be able to make considerable savings on expensive SEO experts, while benefiting from free traffic from Google and other search engines for free.
SEO is a set of tasks to make your website match the search terms that of people searching for a product service or information relating to your website.
If the search term that a user inputs into the search engine matches with content on one of your pages, then you can appear in the search results and may click through to your website.
The goal is to appear on the first page of the search results. This has traditionally been a complex area for which many SEO specialists can charge a lot of money.
However, many tools are available now that allow someone to undertake their own SEO. While there may be some areas that you may still need to hire help, e.g. Technical help with your website to make it SEO compliant, there is a lot of activity you can do yourself with a bit of understanding and the right tools.
How to do SEO - understanding the basics
Without SEO, it is unlikely that your site will rank well. SEO is a set of tasks and activities designed to help your page content rank on the first page of the search results for your chosen keywords.
Don't underestimate the impact of optimizing your content for search. Search accounts for approximately 49% of website traffic, and it's not just Google.
It's important to understand that search has many dimensions that provide opportunities for your content to be discovered. For example, you can optimize your YouTube content, which may appear in the research result. You can optimize shopping products and images as well.
In addition, if you are a local business, you can also rank in the results based on where your business is located and the location of the person searching.
In addition to Google, you should also consider the broader search engine options, such as Bing, Yahoo and other search engines, such as DuckDuckGo, where there are more niche audiences to be targeted.
Understanding of How Search Engines Work – the How to Do SEO First Step
To understand how to do SEO for yourself, you need to understand how search engines work.
Crawling the internet
Google (and other search engines) sends automated bots to crawl all the websites and collect new or updated information from website pages. This is why you must create links within your website to other pages and seek other websites to link to your website. This makes all of your content more discoverable by the crawling bots!
Important note: The number of links to your website, from other websites, matters. Links to your website are an important factor for Google when considering whether to put your website ahead of another one. The number of other websites that link to your website indicates authority (based on Google's worldview!).
When Google finds your page, it will then analyze page content, images and video to understand what your page is about. Google stores the page address in a huge database.
How Google decides which pages will be on page one
Google will determine the best match from this database when someone performs a search. Google looks to match the keywords from a search to the best-matched content. Using hundreds of factors, Google uses its search algorithm to determine the best result.
Factors will include matching the keywords and the intent behind the search with the best content.
The algorithm will look at the format of the content the searcher prefers based on their browsing history; it will consider how fresh the content is and the quality of the page and its content.
There are other considerations as well, such as the location of the site to where the person is versus where the website is located, the ease of use of the website, such as mobile readiness and the speed of the website to load.
Elements needed to rank on Google (and other search engines) as part of how to do SEO
The key elements required to rank on Google or other search engines are:
- Content that matches the search term on your website page
- A website that is marked up correctly with the keywords on the page
- Metadata for the page, including page description, the title, the page URL headings and all tags for images that include the keyword phrase
- Code that is best practice, including mobile-ready and a speedy website
- Inbound links from other websites
- Ongoing content programme eg blogging based on additional keywords to keep your website fresh with new content
Understanding the intent of searcher
How to do SEO requires an understanding of how your audience will approach the topic they are searching.
For example, if they are shopping for a particular product, are they simply searching for the specific term, or do they need to research what they want, compare and research the market before deciding on the particular brand etc.?
You should do keyword research based on how your potential customer will be searching. So rather than a simple one-keyword phrase, you might consider multiple keywords around the one topic.
How to do keyword research
Keyword research is essential to working out how to do SEO for your business. You need to know which words or phrases to incorporate into your website to match what your potential customer is searching for!
The process is as follows:
- Make a list of words or questions that are relevant to your business (think about the above intent – researching, comparing, buying)
- Using Google's free Keyword planner or another Keyword research tool like Keywords Everywhere, input the keywords and review the volumes and competition.
- Review the list and see what other terms you may have missed that need to be added to your list of focus words.
- Expand your search by using the top-ranking competitor site to see what keywords they rank for
For a list of handy and low-cost tools to help with working out how to do SEO for your own website, visit SEO Tools – Get started with DIY SEO.
- Now organize your keyword list into different 'themes' and match the grouping to pages on your website.
A complete search keyword strategy will have the following:
- Individual pages focused on 'themes' of keywords
- Ongoing keyword strategy for blogging
Understanding your best keywords comes down to the keywords you believe will drive you leads, sales, and conversions. Generally, these are high-volume, high-competition keywords.
You can also include Long-Tail Keyword Variations, which are terms that have more words/ less volume and may sit in a different intent from 'buy.'
Deciding which keywords to use
Once you've developed your list of keywords, the next step in how to do SEO is working out what your "money" keywords are.
These are the ones that are going to drive you leads, sales, and conversions. These are likely the ones that are high volume, high competition keywords, which will make it hard to rank against the competing websites to rank. So you may also consider including low-med competition keywords in the mix!
What do we mean by high or low competition?
SEO competition refers to the number of rival websites vying for visibility and prominence in search engine results for specific keywords and phrases.
By understanding the competition, you will understand how hard or easy it will be to rank.
The higher the competition score, the harder it will be for you, a small business, to appear on the first page. The Score is given out of 100.
What is a good volume?
A good volume to target in SEO refers to the number of monthly searches a specific keyword or phrase receives on search engines like Google. Striking a balance is key – aiming for keywords with a search volume that seems high is logical.
However, high-volume keywords might be fiercely competitive, making it challenging for small businesses to rank on the first page. On the other hand, excessively low-volume keywords may not generate sufficient traffic to justify the effort.
The sweet spot lies in identifying keywords with moderate search volumes, aligning with the business's niche and goals, and where the competition can be managed effectively. Use this handy template to organise and assess your keywords.
Applying Your Keywords to your website page
The next step in your how to do do SEO plan is applying your chosen keyword phrases to your website page.
Key concept: You should apply only one keyword phrase to one page on your website. This is to ensure you don't compete with yourself! But it's also a good strategy to have multiple pages connected on your website on closely related concepts or search terms to help Google understand that your site is a better match than other sites with a single page.
The following is a list of where you need to apply your keyword phrases to your page.
- The keyword phrase
- Be informative and easy to read
- Apply related categories or themes, and if appropriate, make use of subfolders
- Contain 3 to 5 words if possible
Note: You may need a developer to help you apply the proper structure, for example, if your website is on WordPress. If you're on Squarespace or Wix, you will have little control over this element other than the page name (incorporated into the URL).
- Metadata is also called the page description and will appear on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), i.e. the preview of your page that people will scan when looking for the best page fit for their search.
- A well-crafted meta description will help you pop out from the other search results on the page and increase the chance of someone browing clicking through
- Make it about 1-2 sentences (140-160 characters) long.
- Include your target keyword and compelling message of what the content will deliver.
- Add a call-to-action to encourage them to open the link.
- Avoid duplicate meta descriptions.
- Match the content and be descriptive
- Check how it looks with a SERP preview tool.
Content on your page (the body)
- Review the content on your pages to ensure you have incorporated the keywords into the page.
- Write naturally, using synonyms to build up keyword density. Do not over use the keywords on the page, as this can cause Google's algorithm to demote your content in the rankings. You are aiming for a keyword frequency of 1-2% on the page which is once or twice for every 100 words.
- Headings are essential to structure your page around the keyword topic.
Heading tags should be arranged in order from the top starting with H1-H6, with H1 being the most broad heading and H6 being the most specific subheading. See the below example:
<h2>Designer Cupcakes </h2>
<p>Body text related to H2 (designer cupcakes).</p>
<h3>Red Velvet Cupcakes </h3>
<p>Body text related to Red Velvet Cupcakes, a type of cupcake!.</p>
<h3>Baby Shower Cupcakes </h3>
<p>Body text related to Baby Shower Cupcakes, which is another type of cupcake.</p
How to do SEO Writing Tips
- Create a search engine-friendly title
- Include 1-2 keywords related to your topic within the first sentence of the title
- The title should be short
- The keyword phrase should be included in the meta description
- Create a summary
- Place keywords and key information or facts in the first two sentences of your summary
- Only the first two sentences typically display in search engine results
- Repeat your keywords 3-6 times – use natural language
- Use keywords throughout your article
- Include keywords in your title (1-2), summary (2-3), and keyword fields (5-7)
- Use keywords phrases rather than just single words
- The keyword density your should aim for is 1-2% which is 1 to every 100 words.
- Incorporate keywords in your headings
- Headings heptip off search engines to the structure and content of your article, ensuring you use the H1, H2, H3 etc. tags to help with the structure of your page. Google loves this!
- Let keywords flow naturally and in a contextual way – avoid keyword stuffing.
- Build links
- Link within your page to other pages on your website and external websites
- Aim for 3 internal links and 3 external links.
A few additional important how to do SEO considerations
There are a few additional considerations that you need to think about to rank well that are over and above the work you've done with the keywords. These are things that Google and other search engines will assess as part of 'ranking' your site.
- Avoid duplicate content
- Use 301 redirects to one domain, e.g. theonlinefix.com > www.theonlinefix.com
- Check your website is Google ready using the the Google Search Console to submit your sitemap.xml
- This will also show you if you have any
o Broken links
o Not enough internal links
o A no-index tag implemented
Page loading speed
- The speed of how fast pages load on your website is essential to Google.
- A millisecond delay can send your force a user to close your article and go to another website.
- The reasons for slow-loading pages are:
o images with large file sizes
o problems with your server.
o Having a large amount of HTML on the page
o Redirect chains and loops
- You can check your page speed with Google's page speed tool! https://pagespeed.web.dev
- Other tools like Ubersuggest provide you with a low-cost analysis. If you use WordPress for your website, you might consider an SEO plugin like RankMath or AllInOne SEO.
Optimize your images
- Large images will slow down your site speed
- Google provides the following recommended tools to adjust image size:
- Descriptive image file names plus applying ALT tags will mean your images can also be found in the image search results .
- Google puts mobile-friendly first
- Websites should be responsive so that the content and images resize automatically depending on the device that people are using
- If you are connected to the Google Search Console, Google will tell you if your site has a problem.
- Your content should be long enough to give the information you need to
- A study found that the average word count of content on the first page of Google was around 1400.
Mark up schema
- Schema Markup is a way to code your content so that Google surfaces the content in the results such as recipes, nutritional information, FAQ's etc
- It is code used to provide information to search engines more clearly to understand your content.
- You may need a technical person to help you with this. If you have a WordPress website, use a plugin like RankMath or AllInOne SEO to apply these schema types with a few clicks.
- Backlinks or inbound links are important for SEO
- Put the focus on quality, not quantity
- Links must be relevant to your business
- Anchor text should include your main keywords.
Examples of where links might come from:
- Content collaborations
- Relevant directories
- Guest blogging
- Study your competitor sites for ideas
- Look for Resource list pages and do direct outreach
- Pinch broken links from your competitors
- Build above-the-line references (media)
- Provide testimonials
- Supplier links
- Business association/ accreditations
- Do direct outreach to other sites to link to you …
Optimize your Google Business listing
Why do it? It's good for local SEO ranking if this is important to you; reviews can help boost business; it will display on the first page even if your website doesn't and your competitors are on it. Lastly, it can provide GPS directions to your location.
If you still need to sign up, google Google Business and start the process.
- Log into your Google Account (or set one up)
- Click 'Get on Google
- Search for your location on the map
- Add your business
- You must include a physical address to validate your business is real!
- To verify you, Google will send a postcard with a code to input. Once you've done this, your business will be live on the map.
- Your business will then show on Google Places
- Once you've done this, get reviews that will help boost your ranking.
Measuring your How to Do SEO Plan
When measuring your organic search /SEO efforts, the measurements that really matter are:
- Traffic to the site from organic search (not just brand name)
- Conversion rate on-site for leads or sales
- Number of leads or sales
- If you are paying for SEO work, then also consider the following:
Cost per acquisition (Gain from Investment - Cost of Investment) / Cost of Investment)
However, many more metrics are more helpful for optimizing the performance, as follows:
- Search visibility (via Google Search Console)
- Tracking the keywords that you've identified as part of your keyword strategy
- Where do they rank?
- Number of inbound links (and quality)
Tools to help you measure:
- Google's Search Console to monitor for broken links and other errors on your website, as well as keywords that are ranking - https://search.google.com/search-console/welcome
- Google Analytics to check on traffic from organic traffic and referral traffic and understand the content that people are consuming - https://marketingplatform.google.com/about/analytics/
- SEOlyzer is a tool that will monitor and help you track your SEO KPIs - https://seolyzer.io/
- Ubersuggest – cost-effective keyword ranking tracking