SEO Starter Guide: The Basics of DIY SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility and ranking of your website in search engines like Google, Bing, or even DuckDuckGo. When people search for a specific keyword or phrase, search engines use numerous algorithms to determine which websites are most relevant to the query and present results in that order. By optimizing your website for search engines, you can increase your chances of ranking higher in the search results, thereby getting more traffic to your site.

However, learning SEO yourself can seem intimidating at first. Fortunately, with the right knowledge and tools, it is possible to improve your website’s search engine rankings and drive more traffic to your site.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do SEO yourself:

Step 1: Research keywords

The first step in DIY SEO is to research the keywords and phrases your target audience is looking for online. Performing keyword research will help you understand what your customers are looking for and how you can create content that fulfills their needs or interests. This is a critical part of SEO, so don’t skip it no matter how confident you are.

For instance, if you are a plumber you might think “plumbing company” is the only phrase you need to target. That often isn’t the case though, since you’ll want to ensure you answer questions on your website such as, “how expensive is drain cleaning” or “how long does a bathroom remodel take to complete” throughout your service pages. It is important to use a keyword research tool to help guide you in understanding the search volume for different phrases so you don’t spend time writing content that won’t get exposure.

There are a number of tools you can use to research keywords. Let’s talk a little about the two most popular:

  • Ahrefs: This is a paid tool that provides detailed information on keywords, including search volume, competition, and related keywords. This is what our team uses when doing SEO, and we suggest you invest in a tool like this if you are wanting to get good at SEO. They actually have a great article on their website that talks about how to do keyword research.
  • SEMrush: This is another paid tool that provides a range of SEO and marketing features, including keyword research. We don’t have experience with this tool, but they too have a good blog article talking about how to do keyword research with their platform.

Step 2: Optimize your website’s structure and content

Once you have a list of keywords you want to target, the next step is to optimize your website’s structure and content. The goal here is to ensure it is easy for search engines to scan and rank your web pages.

The best suggestion I can provide you is to focus on ranking each web page for only one keyword topic. For instance, if you are an attorney that practices family law, personal injury law, and business law, then create a page for each of those practice areas. This will provide search engines a specific page to direct traffic to based on the query someone enters in search. Don’t just put all of your services on a single page!

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Page title and meta description: The title and meta description of each page on your website should include the keywords you are targeting. This will help search engines understand what your pages are about and can also influence how your pages appear in the search results.
    • Tip: if you are optimizing an ecommerce store with thousands of products, it is often safe to leave the meta description blank while you work on more pressing SEO factors.
  • Heading and subheadings: Use heading tags (H1, H2, etc.) to create a hierarchy of information on your pages. This helps search engines understand the structure of your content and makes it easier for users to scan your pages. You should only have a single H1 tag on a page, but there can be multiple H2 and H3 tags.
  • Images and alt text: Try to mix an image into the content every 500-ish words. This will help break up the content. For alt tags, use descriptive, keyword-rich text to describe the images on your website. This helps search engines understand the image, and improves web accessibility for visitors with visual impairments.
  • Content: Create high-quality, unique content that provides value to visitors. If your content doesn’t provide value, visitors might quickly bounce from your website which may hurt your search rankings. If you are doing your own SEO, take time to get the content right!
    • Pro Tip #1: Write at least as much content as your competitor pages have that rank higher than you for the same search phrase, and make sure it is useful content for the visitor and not just sales jargon.
    • Pro Tip #2: Take a look at SurferSEO to help provide you feedback about the quality of your content!
  • Internal linking: Try to add internal links to help users navigate your website and find more information. This can also help search engines understand the structure of your site and improve the ranking of your pages. You’ll often find internal linking to be highly valuable within content silos, which you can read more about here.

Step 3: Build your backlink profile

Links from other websites to your website are known as backlinks. This can help improve the authority and credibility of your website in the eyes of search engines. When other websites link to your website, it shows that your site is valuable and trustworthy. Building your backlink profile with quality backlinks is critical when doing your own SEO.

Here are some ways to build backlinks, but for a more in-depth explanation with tips please check this blog article:

  • Reciprocal links: You can reach out to other websites to ask if they would mind linking to a blog article on your website. Most community-based, non-profit websites can get backlinks this way from commercial companies. However, commercial websites often can’t get a backlink from a competitor website, so keep that in mind.
  • Guest posting: You can offer to write a guest post for someone’s blog. This allows their website to get a unique post that might be interesting to their readers. In exchange, you get a link back to your own website. Just be sure to avoid any tactics that might be considered spammy or manipulative, as these can have a negative impact on your search engine rankings.
  • Directory listings: You can try getting listed in local business directories, and national directories related to your industry. This can help build links and increase your visibility online. An easy way to control your directory listings is using a third-party service like BrightLocal.
  • Social media: Use social media platforms to share your content. This might get you enough exposure to result in someone seeing your content and sharing a link to it on their own website.

Step 4: Monitor your website’s performance

Once you have started implementing your DIY SEO strategy, it is important to monitor your website’s performance. This will help you get excited by changes that occur in placement, which will motivate you to keep going!

There are a number of tools you can use to do this, including:

  • Ahrefs: We mentioned this tool already, but it is worth mentioning again since it offers rank tracking. You can use their service to manually check ranking of a phrase, or setup automated ranking that will update you once per week on where are ranked in search engine result pages (SERPs).
  • Google Search Console (GSC): This is free tool provided by Google that allows you to monitor your website’s performance in the search results. In terms of monitoring performance, you can use it to see if your impressions in search queries is increasing.
  • Google Analytics (GA): This is another free tool provided by Google that allows you to track your website’s traffic and see how users are interacting with your site. You likely won’t see anything amazing within this tool until you start getting first page placements though.

By monitoring your website’s performance, you can identify areas for improvement and make changes to your SEO strategy as needed.

Related Post: SEO Terms and Meanings

Final Thoughts on DIY SEO

Search engine optimization is a complex and constantly evolving field of study, but by following the steps outlined above, you can improve your website’s search engine rankings and drive more traffic to your site. If you ever feel overwhelmed, just reach out to us for help with your SEO.

Please check back often, as we try to keep our content updated with new SEO tips and tricks. Just remember to keep up to date with the latest best practices and be patient! SEO can take weeks, if not months, before you see any improvement in ranking or traffic. Good luck!


Disclaimer: WebCitz, LLC does not warrant or make any representations concerning the accuracy, likely results, or reliability of the information found on this page or on any web sites linked to from this page. This blog article was written by David W in his or her personal capacity. The opinion(s) expressed in this article are the author's own and may not reflect the opinion(s) of WebCitz, LLC.