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

Written by Fraser McCulloch.

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

Use these actionable SEO tips to boost your search traffic.

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Start with keyword research : what are prospective customers searching for ?

To start your own search engine optimisation you have to start with keyword research.

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

The small business owner and smaller start-ups will typically write about topics that very of their target audience are searching for or they don’t have enough links to their pages.

This quick tip will give you a basic understanding of what people are searching for.

Enter a competitor URL into Ubersuggest

Select their top pages

Look at the titles of their page

Check the pages have estimated traffic

These are topics you can write about to earn traffic; knowing with certainty these pages earn traffic from Google search results.

However these topics may not be subjects you want included on your website or they could be simply too difficult to rank for.

If you don’t want to hire an seo freelancer and want to do SEO yourself you need to make a small investment to compete in your digital landscape and be on an even keel with everyone else.

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Look for topics with click volume & low difficulty

Grab yourself an Ahrefs subscription.

Go to Ahrefs keyword explorer

Enter a seed keyword into Ahrefs keyword explorer eg: sofa and your country and hit the search button.

Select phrase match

Now enter the following keywords into the Include Any Box and press Apply

Use the “Include Any Filter” to identify keywords that include:

  • How,Issue,For,With,Fix,Improve,Increase,Reduce,Remove,Lower,Grow
  • Service,Product,Custom,Bespoke
  • Example,Guide,Learn,Tutorial,Video,Calculator,Best,Top
  • Review,Comparison,vs,Versus,Alternative
  • Buy,Discount,Nearest,Offer,Cheap,Sale,Price,Package,Deal,Cost,Hire

Enter competitor keywords into the exclude box.

In this example I know have 14299 keyword ideas.

Now filter by low difficulty; enter 0 to 10 in the KD box

661 keyword ideas

To research click volume, click the SERP button

This will provide you with an estimate of the traffic to the top pages.

For example, best sofa bed

Look at the traffic column

These top pages earn between 314 and 8147 visits per month.

If you sell sofa beds you would want to create content around this topic.

Now repeat this process with another seed keyword.

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6 types of content you can research and create

A little marketing lesson.

Not everyone who comes to Google is looking to buy your products or 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 problem
  • Search for information about products or services
  • Look for information that compares or review products and services
  • They search just before they buy or enquire.
Search Intent Keyword Modifiers

It’s your job as a search practitioner to identify what they search for and provide good content that matches their intent.

Searching for answers to problem

Let’s stick with the sofa example.

  • 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: 


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

Search for information about 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: 0-10
  • 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’s 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.

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

Information that compares or review products and services

Creating this type of website content is the biggest missed opportunities by others teaching and practising 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.

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

Search 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


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 keyword difficulty of 12.

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

The traffic to these top pages range 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.

Content that aims to earn a link to your website

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

Ideally you want to research topics about statistics, data and trends in your industry because these topics have the highest link intent.

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

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Create content outline that matches user intent

So once you’ve created a list of keyword opportunities that you know have low keyword difficulty and good click volume, now you need to understand the user intent around each search query.

Discover User Intent

Think of search intent as “the problem” or query being searched.

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 the top 10 search results for this query all 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’ve an ex client that’s moving into this business.

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

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

Bespoke Luxury Sofa & Settees – Handmade to Measure

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 bespoke sofa.

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Let’s try a different example

Enter the query into Thruuu to examine the top pages eg: Leather vs fabric sofa

Look at the top results.

The most frequent keywords in the page title are :

Here’s how I would write the page title based on the most frequent keywords in the page title.

Google the search query and see what type of pages are ranking.

  • There are adverts
  • Then a featured snippet
  • Then people also ask box
  • Then first page is an article.
  • So is the second page.

First go and look at some of the top pages.

You can clearly see this page is an article.

Look at the headings and subheadings as these give you clues about some of the content you need to include.

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

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Write and optimise content

Remember earlier I wrote a page title : Leather vs Fabric Sofa : Read our buying guide

The user wants a buying guide because they are not sure which type of sofa to buy.

Now you can download the SERP data from Thruuu and analyse the h2 and h3 headers 

The above is a list of all H2 headers featured on the top pages.

In the h3 tab, this is a list of all the h3 headers featured on the top pages.

From here write an outline of your content based on these h2 and h3 headers like so.

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

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

Research has shown that a short url and descriptive that matches helps to better rank a web page.

So for example, if you are targeting leather vs fabric sofa then your url should be /leather-vs-fabric-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 page title with main keyword followed by a benefit.

Use this tool to write and preview your page title before adding it to your page in you 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 cheap sofas your page header will be titled “Leather vs Fabric Sofas”.

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 sub headings when you created the draft outline of your page content.

Make it easy for user 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.

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’s 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.

Add fast loading images

Make sure that you optimise your images before adding them to your web page.

Use file save for the web with Photoshop or upload your image to who will compress your image without losing image quality.

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.

Publish and promote

After you have published your page you are not finished.

You need to promote this page.

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Above the fold

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 clearly 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.

Here’s what you see when you read a page on this website.

Their image header, heading, some links to the date and comments.

Then I have to scroll to see a table of contents and scroll again before landing on the introductory page paragraph.

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

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Ensure Google Index Your Page

Enter the following into Google :

Make sure you see a list of your pages.

If not you probably 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 page.

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Set up a Monthly SEO Report with Google Analytics

Make sure you set up or can access Google Analytics to track your keyword and page performance.

You can easily set up a weekly or monthly report that is set to you by email comparing your latest versus previous period performance.

Set up a goal

I also recommend that you set up a conversion goal.

I have a blog post conversion goal set up in my Google Analytics account that shows me how many people filled in a form on my blog posts.

Revisit those pages in 6 months, review and upgrade them.

Set yourself a 6 month reminder after you publish a page to revisit and potentially upgrade or update it.

For example I have finance clients and some of the rules and regulations for 2019 may be out of date in 2020.

More links = higher rankings and traffic

You can pay for links (not recommended) or you can earn links to boost 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 $352 per one link.

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

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

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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.

  1. Google My Business signals
  2. Links
  3. Reviews
  4. On Page SEO
  5. 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.

Here’s a step by step guide to setting up a GMB account.

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


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

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 you 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 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.


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.

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Get some SEO help

I never learned SEO by myself and I very much doubt you will either.

We all learn from others; here’s a link to my SEO Training Course with affordable, flexible packages that covers more in depth topics with video tutorials, useful guidance and step by step guides including :

  • Content gap analysis
  • How to do a technical and search audit
  • Improve your bounce rate
  • Improve the user experience
  • Link building strategies and much more.