How to do SEO yourself : [23 DIY SEO tips]

Written by Fraser McCulloch.

Home : SEO : How to do SEO yourself : [23 DIY SEO tips]

Actionable SEO tips you can mostly do yourself to boost your organic search traffic.

Key points

  • Use a “map” to find out where you are and where you want to go.
  • There are 4 routes to getting to your SEO destination; keyword research, content creation, link building and technical SEO.

Start with a map

Before you travel anywhere, you need a map of where you are now, where you want to go and what route you are going to take.

SEO is no different.

But first, a refresher, what is SEO?

The basics of SEO (search engine optimisation) is to improve the volume and quality of traffic to your website via organic search results on search engines.

Where are you now?

The easiest way to figure out where you are right now is to look at your organic rankings and traffic using Google Search Console.

GSC is a free tool provided by Google.

I use a tool called Frase.io that pulls in data from Search Console to display my last 30 days traffic and how each page is performing.

In addition, you can use Google Analytics to set up conversions from search and a goal for blog posts or orders.

Where do you want to go?

Let’s say you currently have 500 visits a month and you decide you want to be at 1500 visits a month next month.

That’s probably unrealistic in such a short time frame.

Advertising is the best way to get to your destination quicker.

Studies have shown how long it takes for new pages to rank on page 1.

Download this SEO Guide

What route are you going to take?

There are 4 parts to the route you need to take to get to your destination.

  1. Keyword Research
  2. Content
  3. Links
  4. Technical SEO

Keyword research

Keyword research is the most important part of your route.

Keyword research is the process of identifying keywords that your customers search and click that will be used as the focus of your web pages.

This includes researching popular search terms, industry trends, and doing competitive analysis.

Your keyword research work should result in a report that shows you the best keywords to target that have traffic or click potential.

Here’s an example of a keyword research report I generate for clients.

  1. Keyword to target
  2. Average traffic of the top pages for the keyword
  3. Average traffic displayed as bar chart
  4. Select user intent
  5. Planning option; add to website or not

This report is the first part of your route to your goal or destination.

Over 90% of web pages do not earn any traffic from Google for 2 reasons.

Research has shown that over 90% of pages don’t get traffic because website and business owners are targeting keywords and topics that people aren’t looking for or clicking on.

Another reason is that their pages don’t have links; I’ll cover this later.

A keyword research model

I knew my study of buyer behaviour at university would come in useful one day.

You should do your research using the buyer behaviour model; which looks like this.

One of the main reasons you’re not getting the traffic you want is because you’re only creating content and pages targeting your products and services.

Not everyone who comes to Google is looking to buy your products or to enquire about your services.

Only a small percentage of search terms have commercial intent; ie: those looking for products and services.

People go through a series of buying stages:

  • Search for answers to a problem
  • Search for information about products or services
  • Look for information that compares or reviews products and services
  • They search just before they buy or enquire.

It’s your job as a search practitioner or business owner to generate content ideas based on what your target audience searches for and provide compelling content that matches their intent.

Download this SEO Guide

Searching for answers to a problem

Google is both a question and answer engine where people search basic questions such as “how-to” and “what is“.

Use a keyword research tool such as Ahrefs to start your keyword strategy to generate your initial seed keyword list.

  • Go to Ahrefs keyword explorer
  • Enter a seed keyword eg: sofa and your country and hit return
  • Select phrase match
  • Filter by KD (Keyword difficulty) eg: 0-10
  • Now enter “how” into the Include Any Box and press Apply
  • Enter competitor keywords into the exclude box.

105 ideas are returned.

Find the keyword most relevant.

Click the SERPS and check the traffic.

You can alter the keyword difficulty filter or add a different word in the include any box eg:

How,Issue,For,With,Fix,Improve,Increase,Reduce,Remove,Lower,Grow

Now let’s find people looking for specific information about products and services.

Searches for information about products or services

  • Go to Ahrefs keyword explorer
  • Enter a primary keyword eg: sofa and your country and hit return
  • Select phrase match
  • Filter by KD (Keyword difficulty) eg: 0-10
  • Now enter these words into the Include Any Box and press Apply
Service,Product,Custom,Bespoke,Luxury, Example,Guide,Learn,Tutorial,Video,Calculator,Best,Top

Enter competitor keywords into the exclude box.

There are 300 searches for “bespoke sofa”.

I bet someone making this search isn’t looking for cheap products that you see in the high street.

Click the SERP link to examine the traffic to the top pages.

The traffic to the top pages varies; between 42 and 909 visits per month.

Now you know there’s traffic and this topic isn’t difficult to rank for.

Information that compares or reviews products and services

Creating this type of website content is the biggest missed opportunity in SEO.

When people have found a product or service that may solve their problem, they compare alternatives before deciding to buy.

I’m sure you’ve been torn between which product or service to choose before purchasing.

Should I buy this one or that one?

You’re unsure; you want to make the best choice when you buy.

So you search and compare products or look for reviews for reassurance.

Here’s how to research people looking to compare or review your types of products or services.

  • Go to Ahrefs keyword explorer
  • Enter a seed keyword eg: sofa and your country and hit return
  • Select phrase match
  • Filter by KD (Keyword difficulty) eg: 0-5
  • Now enter these words into the Include Any Box and press Apply
Compare, comparison, vs, versus, alternative, review 

Enter competitor keywords into the exclude box.

Sticking with the same industry and use “sofa” as the seed keyword.

  • Sofa vs couch has 150 searches
  • Nabru sofa review has 300 searches.
  • leather vs fabric sofa has 100 searches

The top pages for leather vs fabric sofa have between 8 and 58 visits per month.

If you sold either type of product you would target those people and help them decide which product is best and direct them to your products on your page.

Download this SEO Guide

Searches just before they buy or enquire.

Here’s how to research people who are just one step from buying and use some keywords within their search query that signals their purchase intent.

  • Go to Ahrefs keyword explorer
  • Enter a seed keyword eg: sofa and your country and hit return
  • Select phrase match
  • Filter by KD (Keyword difficulty) eg: 0-5
  • Now enter these words into the Include Any Box and press Apply
Buy,Discount,Nearest,Offer,Cheap,Sale,Price,Package,Deal,Cost,Hire

Look at the keywords found in your research that are in alignment with the products and services you sell.

For example:

“Cheap sofa” has 3500 searches; with a keyword difficulty of 12.

Now click SERP to check the traffic to the top pages.

The traffic to these top pages ranges from 3000 to 34000 visits per month.

Even the website at position 2 earns nearly 6000 visits per month and it’s not a particularly well known or authoritative company.

Review and improve existing pages and content

Using Search Console, look at the top pages and keyword rankings to see if their positions could be improved.

Google tends to favour maturer, established URLs so improving an existing piece of content can see faster results than creating new content.

Create content outline that matches search intent

With your keyword research report, which I call a click forecast, you and your team can now review and decide which topics to target to help you on your way to your search goal.

Next, you need to understand the user intent around each search query.

Targeting Intent

Think of search intent as “the problem” or query being searched by your customer base.

You get some clues in the page title what the user intent is.

User intent is giving users the website content after they visit to satisfy them; ie: the solution.

Let me demonstrate with one of the earlier examples.

Enter your top keyword into a tool called thruuu eg: bespoke sofa

This was one of our “informational search queries”.

The person knows the type of product they want.

Notice how most of the top 10 search results for this query contain bespoke sofa in the page titles.

That’s fairly obvious with the page titles matching the search queries.

But what does the user want after making that search?

We can look at the most frequent keywords in the title I have an ex-client that’s moving into this business.

I’m fairly sure he would want to target people looking for a bespoke sofa.

Download this SEO Guide

He can write out his page title using the most frequent words found in the title of the top pages.

Then he would Google the search query to see the types of pages ranking on page 1.

It looks like Google is showing “product collection” pages like this one.

So for my client to rank ideally he would need a page with a collection of sofas that then link through to some product pages.

Sounds like hard work, but there’s an estimated 400 visits a month that would cost you about £1600 a month in ad spend if you wanted to people searching for a bespoke sofa.

Now you need to write your content to match the user intent.

Write and optimise content

Now to the content creation process.

Write the introduction to your page, that includes the keyword you’re targeting, along with a reason for the user to read down the page.

Map out the key sections of your page.

Now you can give this page to a writer, someone in your team or start writing your body content from your content outline.

On-Page SEO

Short, descriptive URL that matches the main search query you’re targeting

Research has shown that a short URL and descriptive that matches help to better rank a web page.

So for example, if you are targeting “bespoke sofa” then your URL should be /bespoke-sofa

Try and keep the number of words in your URL to a maximise of 4 and do not under any circumstances use a month or year in the URL.

Page Title and meta description

Start your title tags with the main keyword followed by a benefit.

Use this tool to write and preview your page title before adding it to your page in your content management system.

Or use Yoast for WordPress.

Your meta description should have your main keyword at the start and be fairly persuasive to encourage users to click on your search result.

Page Header

The heading of your web page should be wrapped with an H1 tag.

So ideally if you are targeting “bespoke sofa” your page header will include “Bespoke Sofa”.

First Sentence

Your main keyword should be in the first sentence of your page and will be very similar to your meta description.

This helps to reinforce that the user has landed on the page they intended to visit.

Sub Headings

You should have used h2 and h3 subheadings when you created the draft outline of your page content.

Make it easy for users to read your content

In the Art of Plain Talk, it was recommended you use short words, sentences and paragraphs to communicate.

Use bullet points and lists to keep the readers’ attention.

Use one sentence per paragraph as it’s easier to read words on a web page this way.

Make sure you have spacing between lines and paragraphs as this enhances the user experience of consuming and acting upon your content.

Include an offer and call to action

Depending on your page you want to add a call to action within and at the end of your page.

This can be as simple as “learn more” or as persuasive as click here to order.

Download this SEO Guide

Publish and content promotion

After you have published your page you are not finished.

You need to promote this page.

More links = higher rankings and traffic

Links are like votes for your web pages and are a major ranking factor that boosts your rankings and organic traffic.

Here’s a study I’ve just completed about link intent.

The best way to earn high-quality links is :

  • Target those in your industry
  • With a page about an industry statistic, data, trend or report
  • Publish link assets and graphics
  • Promote your page to the industry

Darn, it ain’t easy but it sure beats paying an industry average of $352 per one link.

If you wanted the 162 links to my website you’d pay $57,024!

Content that aims to earn a link to your website

You need to create unique content that earns links to your website.

Guest posts are saturated tactics so ideally, you want to research topics about statistics, data and trends in your industry because these topics have the highest link intent.

Follow the same process as the example above but use the include keyword filter and enter statistics, data, report to find link intent ideas.

  • Go to Ahrefs keyword explorer
  • Enter a seed keyword eg: sofa and your country and hit return
  • Select phrase match
  • Now enter these words “statistic, stats, statistics, data, study, report, checklist” into the Include Any Box and press Apply
  • Sort by difficulty

These are the topics you want to create.

Or you could try broken link building; my favourite link building strategy.

Add internal links

Ideally, you want to add internal links to other pages on your website.

A Moz study identified the first link in the body of a page passed the most value to other pages on your website You want to link to other pages as it can strengthen the strength of their page.

When you’ve published your page you want to identify other pages that can pass link strength to this newly published page.

Add external link

There are a few reasons to add an external link on your page; the main reason being the power of association.

An external link may help Google better understand your page.

Local Businesses need location authority

There are 5 ways to build local authority ie: be visible and rank higher at a wider radius than your location.

  • Google My Business signals
  • Links
  • Reviews
  • On-Page SEO
  • Citations

And I’ll add a 6th signal – social signals from checking into business location using Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter account.

Google My Business

If you are a small local business with a physical location and local presence you work from and a telephone number then you must have a Google My Business page.

Then when you have the account verified use the Google Post features and post once a week an offer or update on what you are doing or a page on your website.

Citations

Citations are mentions of the business or location on other websites; typically on a UK small business directory.

You need the name, address, postcode and telephone of every single business location.

You can create a free account at brightlocal.com

Download this SEO Guide

Add Location

Click the add locations and you can either bulk import locations from Google My Business (your team) account if you have lots of locations or use the add single location option.

For clients with lots of locations you can with CSV import.

Once you’ve added your locations then click the green location button to check all the business details are correct.

  • Business Info
  • Contact Details
  • Company Details
  • Descriptions and Services
  • Photos – inside and outside the location preferable.
  • Update the location

Took me about 10-15 minutes to update a location; adding photos was the time-consuming part.

Citation Builder

The citation builder will check the existing citations; there may be some incorrect or missing citations.

You can pay a little extra to have citations updated.

You can purchase citations in 2 ways:

  • Manual submissions – where you choose the citations
  • Data Aggregator submission – where BrightLocal will push out your business data to hundreds of citation sites.

The 2nd option takes about a month for citations to materialise but it’s the cheapest and easiest option; especially if you have many client locations.

(if you choose the manual option I recommend that you don’t select Bing and Foursquare; do those separately).

You’ll need your credit or debit card (can use Paypal) to order your citations.

Reviews

Ask your customers for reviews.

Send them a link to your Facebook Page or Google My Business page to leave a review.

Local On-Page SEO

Make sure you add a page to your website that features your address, directions, an embedded Google Map of your location.

This sends a strong signal to Google about your business local.

Download this SEO Guide

Technical SEO

My technical knowledge isn’t the best so I’ll try to make it easy to understand the technical issues related to SEO.

Page Experience

Google want to give searchers a great experience when they land on a page after a search.

No one wants a slow loading page on their phone or an unsecured page if they are intending to purchase online.

According to a study of 20,000 web pages, only 12% of mobile pages passed the page experience test.

Google launched a Page Experience report where any website owners can understand how their website is performing.

Here’s what the page experience report consists of.

To simplify; your pages should : 

  • Load fast
  • No delay in seeing the page content
  • Page content shouldn’t move (be stable)
  • Page is mobile-friendly
  • Page is HTTPS (secure)
  • Have no intrusive adverts displayed

Load Pages Fast

Enter your page URL to PageSpeed Insights to see:

  1. Your score
  2. FCP score
  3. LCP
  4. FID and
  5. CLS

You will probably need a web developer to fix these speed issues or use a cache plugin.

Mobile-friendliness and above the fold

Your website should look great on any device including smartphones, tablets and laptops and your key content should be visible above the fold of the browser.

The fold is the bottom of your phone or computer browser screen.

Here’s how online visitors see my page on an iPhone browser.

You can see the page header, the header image and the first 2 sentences of the page; just enough to encourage you to start reading and scrolling.

You may need technical help to fix fold issues but your readers will thank you in due course.

Duplicate Content

Duplicate content occurs when multiple pages are created with similar or identical content. 

This issue is more likely to arise with e-commerce websites where product pages are displayed in multiple collections or categories and no canonical URL is set.

Ensure Google Index Your Page

Enter the following into Google: site:yourdomain.com

If you can’t see a list of your pages you have an indexation problem and your new page will not be indexed or found in Google.

I recommend that you set up a Google Search Console account, create and submit a sitemap so that Google can discover all your pages.

Summary

Use a map to find out where you are and where you want to go.

Then use keyword research, content creation, link building and technical SEO as your routes to get to your destination.