So, you have a blog and you want some more traffic. You’ve heard SEO is a good way to get traffic to your blog. But, you don’t know how, you don’t have a team, and you don’t have a budget to outsource it. Can you do it yourself? The short answer is yes. Let’s go over how to do SEO yourself, even if you’ve never done it before.
Is it hard to do SEO yourself?
If you haven’t done SEO before and you’re starting at the very beginning, it will be as hard as learning any other skill. You will be able to do it, there is a place to start. Just like any other skill, as you continue to learn about SEO, it will become easier and you will be able to do more and more of the SEO tasks that you once considered to be hard.
SEO has a learning curve just like any other skill. The good news is it isn’t too steep. You don’t have to be scared to start. And you don’t have to be a master to see results. Do what you feel comfortable doing, it will be better than nothing. There’s no reason to overwhelm yourself with advanced SEO tactics until you feel comfortable with the basics.
Here are six steps you can follow to do SEO yourself.
Step 1: Know Your Audience
Creating a persona helps you form a story to better understand your target audience. It allows you to visualize exactly who your website is for.
This will help you create and optimize your content for a specific person. Your SEO will be more effective if you are targeting a particular type of person. Not only does this benefit SEO, it will help the entire process.
Your blogs will resonate with the right people because you are speaking directly to them. Then, that person will sign up for your email list because the lead magnet is exactly what they need. Later, when you have a product or service to sell them, they will buy because it is the exact item they need to solve their original problem that brought them to your site initially.
Having a clear picture of exactly who you’re talking to will help align the content with the goal.
Step 2: Have a Content Plan
Content is going to be an important piece of SEO. You need content in order to optimize it for SEO. You need content pages for search engines to display in the results. And, you need content so your website stays current and continues to help your readers.
You need to post on a regular basis. Posting on a regular basis will help grow your website traffic and make it easier for your readers to know when they can expect a new article.
How often you post depends on your availability and what you can commit to. If you can, add a new post weekly. If that’s too much for your schedule then do every other week or monthly. If you have enough time for daily posts, great!
If you can’t post weekly, that’s okay. It just will take longer to see results. Being consistent is important so choose a schedule that makes sense for you and stick to it.
When you’ve decided on a frequency (weekly, monthly, etc.) choose a specific day of the week and time you will post. You want a specific plan. This is a benefit to your website and readers, and it helps hold you accountable when you have a clear deadline you need to meet.
Perform Keyword Research
When you’re creating your content, don’t just write whatever article comes to mind. Do keyword research to make sure you’re focusing on the ideas that are most likely to see success.
I have an entire article you can read to learn exactly how to do keyword research, so I won’t go into the details here.
Keyword research will help you organize your brainstorm ideas in a productive manner. It provides a system to prioritize existing ideas while gathering new ideas.
Writing content takes time. That’s why you want to make sure you’re writing content on topics people are looking for.
Create a Content Calendar
The last step in creating a plan is a content calendar. So, you know how often you want to post and you have a list of keyword ideas. Create a content calendar to map it all out.
I like to do this with a spreadsheet. You can use a calendar or a text document if you prefer.
I normally create a spreadsheet with my post dates in the left hand column. Then next to that is the keyword or topic for the article and then I add all of the data from my keyword research in the following columns.
I like to plan out through the quarter as a minimum but sometimes I’ll plan it out all the way up to a year. Just add in the dates you are planning for, then map your keyword ideas to the dates that make sense. This lets you adjust for holidays and seasonal articles.
You don’t have to stick to everything in your calendar. Things change and it’s good to be flexible. But having a content calendar gives you a great place to start and speeds up your process. It allows you to get started on the next article as soon as you’re ready.
Step 3: On-Page Optimizations
You want to have a basic understanding of the on-page optimizations that improve SEO. That way, when you’re writing your blog posts you can add these optimizations as part of your original post.
It will save you time so you aren’t later reviewing your articles to determine how to improve them for SEO. And once you’ve done it a few times, it becomes a very natural process and the SEO updates can appear as natural and authentic additions to your article. And that is exactly how you want them to be for long-term SEO success.
Here are the on-page optimizations you want to be aware of.
Make sure you have your keyword in the title tag. The closer to the beginning of the title the better.
If you’re using WordPress, this will probably be the post title field.
To confirm what text you have in your title tag:
- View the page on your website
- Right click and select View page source
- Use Find (ctrl+F) to search for
- The text directly after that tag is your title
<title>This is Your Title</title>
You want to add your keyword to the meta description as well. For information on how to do this view the full article on meta descriptions.
You also want to add the keyword within the body of the article. Specifically you want it to be in the H1 tag, first paragraph and subheadings.
The H1 tag is the primary header on the page. You can check to see what text is in your H1 tag the same way you checked to see what text was in your title tag. But instead of searching for
<title>, you search for
<h1>. The text between
</h1> is your H1 tag.
You can also view this by looking at the code for your post in your admin panel. In the interface where you add your blog articles, if you view the post code, you should be able to see what text is in the H1 tag.
You want to include your keyword somewhere in the first paragraph of your article. If this isn’t possible, then include it as close to the top as you can. You want the article to make sense for the readers. Don’t add a keyword for SEO purposes if it doesn’t also make sense for the readers.
Try and include the keyword in at least one subheading. The subheadings are in H2, H3, and H4 tags. You can find them the same way you found the H1 tag. And remember, keep the user in mind. Only add the keyword to subheadings when it makes sense for the reader.
If you can include the keyword in the URL, do it. If the article already has a different URL, or this is not easy to do with your system, then don’t worry about it.
For an easy reference with these on-page optimization tips, download the SEO Cheatsheet for bloggers.
Step 4: Add Internal Links
After you’ve published your article, make sure you add internal links. If you have any questions about how or why to do this you can view the complete guide on internal links.
You want to add internal links on your new article to any older relevant articles within the text of the post. And you also want to do the opposite. Add links to your new article on any older relevant articles.
You are using internal links to create a web. You are making it easier for readers and search engine spiders to navigate through your website. You always want to think of people first, if a link would benefit a reader, add it.
Step 5: Gather Data
Even if you don’t understand analytics yet, start collecting data. You’ll figure out what it all means soon enough.
You can set up Google Analytics on your website. It’s easy and free.
The data in Google Analytics will start being collected when you install the tracking tag. You will not have any data from before that tag was set up on your website. So start collecting now and worry about what it all means later.
It will be better to have the data so you can make informed decisions when you’re ready.
Step 6: Keep up with Industry News
Things change all the time with SEO. You need to have a plan to stay up to date with the SEO industry.
Whether you subscribe to an email digest, listen to a podcast, or follow some SEO related blogs, you need to have a plan to make sure you’re aware of any big upcoming changes. Here are my favorite marketing resources to stay up to date.
Bonus: Use ClearPath Online
This is a bit of a shameless brag, but another great way to do SEO yourself is to use ClearPath Online. Full disclosure, this is our product and normally our blogs offer free support and advice with no selling. This felt like an important message to add though since it could be a big benefit.
If you want to do SEO yourself, but you need a task list that tells you what to do, when, and how; that is exactly what ClearPath Online does. It breaks down SEO tasks into manageable action items with step-by-step directions.
Instead of staying updated with SEO changes yourself and juggling which tasks you did last and what you need to do next, it takes care of all of that. The system is preloaded with everything you need to do.
The most important part about doing SEO yourself is to start now! It’s a process that takes time. No matter which route you decide to take to get started, do it and it will become easier and more beneficial as time goes on.
Are you ready to start doing SEO yourself? If not, what’s stopping you? Let us know in the comments!
Do you want to listen to this article? Here’s the podcast episode: