Can I do SEO Myself?

Date: June 15, 2018

The value of SEO

SEO mindmap on napkin with cup of coffee

SEO uses a series of strategies and practices including increase the quantity and quality of website content, layout, and user experiences to drive the site’s ranking higher in an online search. SEO creates online exposure, increases brand awareness, and market outreach. When done well, it increases the likelihood that more people using online searches (in Google, Bing, etc.) to find the products or services you offer will find your company.

For a more comprehensive definition of Search Engine Optimization, check out this DIY tutorial.

Limitations (when you’re not a developer)

SEO can get pretty complicated, especially if you’re a newbie or not a developer. Because Google and other search engines update their algorithms regularly, it’s important to make time to keep yourself up to date on the latest changes.

Look at it this way: you might be physically able to repair a car, and do the basic maintenance like changing the oil, rotating tires, or changing brakes. But if you need to replace a motor mount or repair a fuel line, you’ll take it to the mechanic, right?

SEO is similar—you can teach yourself the basics, but a developer’s going to know all the ins and outs to maximize your site’s effectiveness.

Often, the biggest problem that leads to a DIY SEO fail is lack of time and dedication. It can, however, be a great place to start. Ask yourself these questions, when you’re determining whether you’re ready to DIY or ready to hire an expert.

  • Are you comfortable with your SEO knowledge? Have you done it successfully before?
  • Have you researched your competition? How fierce is it? Do you have the SEO knowledge to drive your page to rank higher than the competition?
  • How much time do you have to devote to SEO? It takes quite a lot of time to set it up, and you’ll want to update it regularly.
  • Is it cost effective? You’ll want to crunch the numbers and do the math to see if you have the bandwidth to tackle SEO yourself or whether it makes more financial sense to hire someone else to do it.

Tracking algorithms

So why are algorithms critical to your business? They help you to review, track, and adjust your digital marketing plan. To get the most out of the analytics, you should schedule regular reviews of the most important algorithms and data—reviewing on a weekly/bi-weekly/ monthly/bi-annual/annual basis helps you to identify and track trends over time. The trick, however, is to not get lost in the mounds of data that Google Analytics produces. Also, Google changes and adapts its algorithms constantly—so you need to stay on top of those changes, too.

Website traffic is something that’s useful to track seasonally, quarterly, and annually. Shorter periods may not yield as useful data. If you’ve made changes from 1Q2017 to 1Q2018, evaluating and comparing results for those two quarters, for example, can help you identify the success of your new marketing tools.

Bounce rate identifies the number of people who arrive on your page and continue to click through the site. Initially, experts set the target bounce rate to 40% (so 60% of visitors arrived on your page and stuck around) but that bounce rate isn’t as critical a metric, especially if you don’t have a call to action on each of your site’s pages. If, however, your landing pages have a 90% bounce rate, that’s a problem and worth checking into further.

The acquisition overview report identifies the number of people who visited your site and how they found it. Check out the search traffic rating, which should be 50% or higher, because it indicates the number of visitors who found your website using a search engine (like Google or Bing). It is in this area especially where that SEO becomes your best friend! An effective keyword strategy positions your website on the first page of the search engine. Since 75% of internet users never scroll beyond that first page, it’s critical for your page to appear there!

Here are seven Google algorithm updates that every SEO should know, because not all SEO is equally good. And Google is an expert at telling good sites from bad and measuring their value.

Before you hire an SEO agency or consultant

If you’re ready to give SEO a try yourself, follow these steps.

Know your online market and target customers. If you know your brick-and-mortar customer demographic, great. But your website’s not marketing to them. Google products and services similar to those you offer. Analyze the most prominent websites’ customer reviews, social media presence, and activity. Note what’s working well for them.

Master keyword research. Become Zen in your knowledge of the proper industry keywords and phrases, search terms, and online demand for what your company offers. Identify (and print out) head key phrases that yield high search volume and long-tail keywords, which are more specific key phrases of at least four words. Use free keyword research tools like Übersuggest or Google’s Keyword Planner.

Plan your website. Whether you’ve already got a website or you’re starting from scratch, create a wireframe, which is a flow chart that lists all the top, mid, and low-tier web pages and their corresponding keywords. Assign high and medium priority keywords to a corresponding page on your site, and use long-tail keywords in blog posts, FAQs, and the metadata. You can create a wireframe using a spreadsheet or paper—this resource shows the best wireframe tools for 2018.

Build or revise your site. Work with a professional web designer or agency to build or update your site. Spend time researching the sites of other companies who offer products and similar to yours and note what you like about their sites. Remember to account for people’s browsing habits, too—more people use mobile devices to surf the web, so make sure your site is optimized to ensure a good user experience.

Blog and/or update content regularly. You don’t have to blog every day but publishing your own original content regularly (at least weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or bi-monthly) helps drive your website higher in the Google rankings. Publish content specifically tailored to your industry and consumption habits of your target audience. For example, gardening centers may publish pictures of new plants; real estate agents may publish weekly video bulletin updates of current inventory; bakeries may publish pictures of cake designs.

Grow and cultivate your social media network. Social media provides additional forums to connect with users online. Join Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and/or Instagram to increase your market outreach.

Get up close and personal with Google Analytics. Think of this tool as the equivalent to financial reports in accounting. It allows you to measure the results of your campaigns in real time and analyze the effectiveness of the channels directing traffic to your website, like organic search (SEO), paid search (PPC), social media, referrals/backlinks, and direct traffic. Start with the basics by understanding each of the reports that Analytics covers: audience, acquisition, behavior, conversions, and real time. Here are 10 of the most important metrics to track.

Useful resources before you start

It’s worth it for your and your business’s website to invest some time to really get to know how SEO works. The following websites are a great place to start.

Contact 9Sail today to learn how experts can grow your business!