The Most Important Elements for Do It Yourself SEO
A Guide To In-House Small Business SEO
So you’ve got a website but it’s not getting the traffic you want… And you don’t have the money to spend on monthly SEO services! The good news is, that you can do it yourself. In this post, we’ll outline the steps we take when performing SEO on new or existing sites. We’ll take you through some examples and even offer some free resources to help with your SEO.
If you’re still having trouble after this post—or with the technical implementation of it—Contact Us for a free site audit and discounted rate on SEO Services. We’ll also continue to revisit this post and add free resources from time to time.
So the truth is… the #1 biggest obstacle blocking small business owners like you from doing SEO isn’t that the tools are expensive. In fact, using Google and Amazon is basically free and are enormously powerful. What blocks most people from even starting is not knowing where or how. We get it—it’s a lot of time… and time IS money.
So here are the baby steps to get started, and we’ll walk through them together.
- Familiarize yourself with the Important SEO Elements (Titles, Descriptions, Headings, Content, Images, Hyperlinks)
- Perform a site audit (Determine what you need to do)
- Research and outline your keywords (“The Planning”)
- Write your content (Page Titles, Page Descriptions, Headings, Page Content, Image Alt Tags, etc.)
- Implement & Refine
We hope this post helps you overcome any hurdles and starts getting you ranked sooner! Without anything further…
The SEO Basics
#1 | Page Titles
Page titles are perhaps the most important element on this list. Strong keyword selection and engaging content in this small 50–60 character element will pay off for you if you can find your search word niche and your website offers the content it promises. Page titles appear in browser tabs, but more importantly they are read by search engine bots and humans alike. Page titles are what you click on once you’ve performed a search in Google, Bing, Duck Duck, etc. You only have 50-60 characters—so use them wisely and weight your most important keywords towards the front/beginning.
#2 | Page Descriptions
A page description are the supplementary text that accompanies the page title. At this point, Google has de-emphasized descriptions from their search algorithms—so they are intended solely for real human beings (as opposed to fake ones… fake news). They are still parsed by search engines and based on a web surfer’s search terms—they can still provide keyword value.
But don’t overstuff the description area. A surefire way to lose a potential visitor with serious interest is to pack keywords into the description without offering any substance. So, make it readable and make sure it’s engaging. With Google’s more recent algorithm updates, the recommended length of page descriptions has increased from 160 characters to 320 characters. Use your space wisely!
#3 | Headings <h1>
Page Headings (or <h1> tags) are another critically important SEO element and are intended for both humans and robots. These should include your most important (focus) keywords for the page. In a webpage, there should only be one (maybe two) <h1> tags. This tells search engines what the purpose is for the entire page—and in order to score well with search algorithms, it should be related to the rest of the content on your page.
As for the <h1>? These are just HTML formatting tags (i.e. <h1> for Heading 1 styling, <h2> you guessed it Heading 2, and <p> for paragraph text styling, etc.)
#4 | Page Content
Page content refers to all of the other words (paragraph text) that’s included on a webpage. Be sure that you include your important keywords, but don’t overstuff the content with those words. It should read naturally and organically.
#5 | Images & Alt Tags
Image titles and their “Alt Tags”, user provided metadata that helps search engines understand what the image represents, also play a role in helping your pages rank higher in search results. If you’re blogging, adding a few informative images or graphics with the right keywords in the title and alt tag will help your readers—as well as letting search engines know that your content is focused and deliberate. aka “Quality”.
#6 | Hyperlinks
We’ll get back to these.
Let’s not worry about anything else for now. Alright.. away we go.
Perform A Site Audit
Find Your Baseline.
First, write down ALL of the pages on your website so you can keep track when you go to create titles, descriptions, headings, and content for each. Using the spreadsheet provided—log this information for each webpage:
- General (short) name for the page (e.g. “Web Design”)
- The URL extension (slug, e.g. /web-design)
- Any existing page heading your pages might have (e.g. The Best Web Design in Denver)
Next, review your website and see how search engines are reading and displaying your information to potential visitors. We recommend that you do this before you search for your keywords. It will clue you in to all of the pages you need to think about. Record those and you’ll be ready for the next step.
You can use a website crawler tool like Screaming Frog @ https://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/ (FREE forever—up to 500 urls per search).
You can also type the following into Google Search bar: ‘site:www.yoursitename.com’
How to Research SEO Keywords For Your Site.
Find Keywords That Are Critical To Your Site AND That People Are Searching For.
First, we’re going to do some brainstorming. At Cinder, we generally use Google Sheets or our favorite text editor as a starting point. You can create a new sheet or tab in your spreadsheet for your keyword research brainstorming if you’d like. This will help you from creating clutter and is easy to just reference (or throw away entirely) once you start compiling a serious list.
FOR EXAMPLE: If you are a local retailer selling fashion forward shoes and accessories, then you might start off with a list that looks like your store categories (i.e.):
- Women’s footwear
- Men’s footwear
- Kid’s footwear
- Shirts & Jackets
- Handbags & Purses
Continue to refine, and get as specific as possible.
- Women’s footwear > Women’s heels with a buckle
- Men’s footwear > Custom moccasins made from real leather
- Kid’s footwear > Kid’s winter boots
- Shirts & Jackets > 100% cotton t-shirts made in america
- Handbags & Purses > Hand-stitched leather clutch
Now that you’ve got some keywords, it’s time to check them against trends and data in Google Keyword Planner and other tools. You can choose the keywords that make the most sense and get the right type of traffic for you. Maybe that’s because you specialize in a product that isn’t very competitively ranked, or you have the ‘lowest prices’.
There are lots of free (and paid) tools out there for you. Here are just a couple:
- Google Keyword Planner (Free): https://adwords.google.com/home/tools/keyword-planner/
- Google Trends (Free): https://trends.google.com/trends/
- Moz (Starts at $99): https://moz.com/
- SEMRush (Starts at $99/month) https://www.semrush.com/
- SEOMator (Starts at $5/project) https://seomator.com/
If you’re still
Writing and Creating Your SEO Titles, Descritions, & Tags.
Start Writing Your Page Titles, Page Descriptions, Headings, & Outlining A Strategy
If you’ve done this right, you’ve probably spent a couple of hours and found that your initial expectations were way off. The good news is, you now have a much better idea of what keywords are receiving search volume. You’ve also probably gained some insight based on your research—which probably led to—at minimum—some competitor analysis. We’ll use that new found understanding to help inform all of the decisions (SEO and other) that you make for generating content as you move forward.
Now it’s time to do the work. It’s really that simple. You already know what pages you have, what the important keywords are for your site and what your pages are about. Now populate your page titles, descriptions, and headings in the FREE spreadsheet we provided.
If you’re overwhelmed—just focus on the first 3 (Page Titles, Headings, & Descriptions for now. You can continue to refine page content over time—as you continue to learn and pick up more keywords.
Writing high quality just takes time. Keep at it and keep refining! Or hire someone who’s proven that they can help increase organic search results and traffic.
Now that you’ve got your titles, descriptions, and headings—you can see what they look like using an SERP (Search Engine Ranking Page) Snippet Preview Tool. Screaming Frog (as mentioned above) has this capability too. Otherwise use one of these:
- SEOMator: https://seomator.com/
- Snippet Optimizer: http://snippetoptimizer.net/google-serp/
- Technical SEO: https://technicalseo.com/seo-tools/google-serp-simulator/
- SEO Mofo: http://www.seomofo.com/snippet-optimizer.html
- SERP Simulator: http://www.serpsimulator.com/
NOW GO IMPLEMENT YOUR WORK!
That’s It. The First Leg of Your SEO Journey Is Through!
There’s a lot more to SEO, but these are some of the most critical first steps.
If you want to keep going.. when you’re ready—you can check these out too:
Sitemaps, Indexing, & Domain Verification: Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered in our blog. A sitemap, and indexing it, just ensures that Google, Bing, and other search engines know how to read your website and improve your chances of being found online.
Optimize Your Images: #1 Way to increase performance: Image size and alt tag information are both important factors in both your technical SEO score, and your content-based score.
Hope that was easy! Here’s your RECAP!
- Know Your SEO Big 4!
- Perform a Site Audit!
- Research Your Keywords
- Do The BIG 4! (The Work) & IMPLEMENT
We hope you’ve found this helpful! If you did find this useful please give it a like, share it with a friend, or leave a comment. If you are looking for more specific help or consultation and training, Contact us…