B2B Marketing

How To Do SEO Yourself: A Beginner’s Guide

By | 8 min read | Published

Do SEO yourself by following this guide and reading these step-by-step instructions.

When it comes to digital marketing, your strategy is only as strong as your budget. Learning how to do SEO yourself frees up resources for other marketing channels, puts you in control of your organic search initiatives, and gives you valuable insights into your online presence.

Doing your own SEO requires more of your time, but the good news is you don’t have to do everything all at once.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your online content to help it rank in search engine results (aka search engine results pages, or SERPs). The goal of SEO is to increase your content ranking in organic search results to improve visibility, create awareness, and drive traffic to your website.

Why is SEO important?

Successful SEO is important for businesses that want to gain visibility in organic search results. Increased visibility can translate into greater brand awareness and boost organic traffic to your website. As a result, SEO plays a key role in achieving business goals.

The benefits of SEO

While learning to DIY SEO can be demanding, the benefits are worth it:

  • High-quality traffic (and more of it) to your website
  • Increased visibility for your business in organic search results
  • Greater trust and legitimacy for your business (a higher SERP ranking indicates that Google has deemed your site trustworthy)
  • Opportunities throughout the entire marketing funnel
  • Expanded audience reach
  • Measurable results for continuous refinement of SEO

6 steps to doing your own SEO

Now that you understand the meaning, purpose, and benefits of SEO, it’s time to get to work. You can use the following six steps to build and execute your SEO strategy.

A six step checklist for doing your own SEO

1. Conduct keyword research

The first step in any SEO task is to perform keyword research. Keyword research is important for SEO because it tells us what people are searching for online, based on real data. You want your keywords to align with your page content, so consider what your page is about before you research.

For example, you may assume many people are using the search query “awesome red shoes.” A bit of keyword research may reveal there isn’t much search volume for that keyword, but there is a decent amount for “red shoes for parties.” That gives you an alternate keyword to leverage and focus your content.

To start researching keywords, there are several free and paid tools you can use. Once you select a tool, use it to research the monthly search volume (MSV) for each keyword. Next, go to Google and type “allintitle:your keyword” into the search bar. The number of results shown is how competitive the keyword is going to be; the greater the number of results, the more competition you’re up against.

Ideally, you want to use keywords that have a high MSV and low competition, but this isn’t always possible.

If you aren’t having any luck with your initial keywords, try variations of them or see if your tool has a feature to expand on your keywords. For example, with a tool like Google Ads Keyword Planner, you can try the keyword discovery function to find alternatives.

Google Ads Keyword Planner “Discover new keywords” tool (Source)

2. Assign keywords to each piece of content

The next step in the DIY SEO process is to assign keywords to your content. Your keyword research should give you a good idea of what people are searching for online.

You want to choose two or three of those keywords for each piece of content. By targeting these keywords throughout the page, you keep your content focused. This way, it makes sense to search engines and–most importantly–your readers.

It’s important to keep track of which keywords you assign to a page so you don’t use the same keywords in too many pieces of content. This helps you avoid cannibalizing your content in organic search results and monitor your SEO performance over time. You can set up a simple spreadsheet for this purpose.

If you use a keyword tool, you can even add your keywords and let the program track the performance of your content for you. Then, keep a note of that data in your spreadsheet if you want to share it with others.

3. Develop your on-page SEO

On-page SEO is the optimization work you do on your own website, including the metadata, body copy, and links from one page to another. Each piece of content–whether it’s a blog post or a main navigation page–will include these elements.

In terms of metadata, you want to include the following for every page on your site:

  • Meta title tag
  • Meta description tag
  • Page URL
  • Image file name
  • Image alt text

The meta title tag is what people will see in search results, so it’s important to include your primary keyword (and a secondary keyword if possible). Note: Google is choosing to rewrite title tags in some cases by replacing them with the header (H1) tags on the page.

The meta description tag is also displayed in search results, directly under the title tag. It helps users understand what a page is about and helps with clickthrough rate, so craft yours with this and your keywords in mind.

The page URL displays in organic search results and in a user’s browser bar. Be sure to include your primary keyword but avoid the temptation to create a long URL.

The image file name is the name you will give to an image file on your page. As a best practice, use your primary or secondary keyword in your file name.

The image alt text is an accessibility feature that describes an image to users with screen readers. Ideally, you want to incorporate one of your keywords while ensuring the text describes the image.

As for the body copy, it’s important to work in your keywords so they flow naturally on the page. This is where selecting the right keywords helps, because you won’t have to try very hard to include them in your copy. Avoid overdoing it, too, so you don’t make the mistake of keyword stuffing.

Finally, look for opportunities to link from the page you’re optimizing to another page on your website (known as internal links). This not only helps search engines understand relationships between your quality content but also facilitates the user/customer journey by making it easier for them to see where to go and what to do next.

4. Develop your off-page SEO

Off-page SEO is the optimization you do on third-party websites (websites other than your own). You want to do your own SEO work off page because search engines are constantly looking for signals from relevant, high-quality sites to help your content rank better.

There are a few ways you can improve your off-page SEO:

  • Getting links to your page from another site (aka a backlink and/or link building)
  • Obtaining mentions of your brand on another site
  • Having your content shared on another site

Examples of this include creating social media content linking back to your page, answering questions on forums such as Quora or Reddit, and getting listed in business directories.

The number one rule for evaluating which third-party sites are valuable for off-page SEO: check their domain authority. Of course, the sites should be relevant to your industry or niche, but domain authority will go a long way in building credibility for your site. The higher the score, the better.

5. Monitor and maintain SEO performance

Once you have your on-page and off-page optimization efforts in place, you need a way to track the performance of your hard work. Thankfully, there are plenty of user-friendly SEO tools available to help ensure you’re meeting your search goals.

No matter which tools you use, however, it’s important to find ones that make it easier to carry out your own SEO monitoring. As you view the data, you can see what’s working and what’s not—and then adjust.

This step can be one of the most time-consuming, but it’s critical to achieving your goals and improving your ROI.

6. Stay in the loop on SEO trends and updates

While good SEO best practices don’t change too much over time, there are trends and updates that can affect your search engine performance. Here are a few top sites to bookmark and keep a routine eye on:

Get started with your SEO

As you can see, learning how to do SEO on your own is a long-term process that can deliver incredible benefits, including greater awareness, visibility, and traffic for your quality content.

Start with one step of the process, and then take the next step toward SEO success when you’re ready. To do your best work, be sure to check out these top SEO software tools that can make DIY SEO even easier (and more effective).

Are you interested in becoming a guest writer for Capterra? Reach out to guestcontributors@gartner.com for details.
Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.

About the Author

Sheila Hart-O'Connor - Guest Contributor

Sheila Hart-O'Connor - Guest Contributor

Sheila Hart-O'Connor is a word geek who is passionate about all things digital. With nearly 20 years of experience, she specializes in advertising and marketing copywriting, with a lean toward SEO, PPC, and blogging. Sheila regularly works with top-tier organizations, including Adobe and BlueJeans by Verizon.

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