Top 8 Tips for DIY Website SEO
DIY website SEO was once the norm, and it required little time or effort to rank your website for multiple keywords. But today’s competitive landscape makes it difficult to rank on the first page of Google and stay there. Unfortunately, simply hiring an SEO agency to deal with it for you isn’t always a realistic option.
According to The Agency Pricing and Financials Report from HubSpot, 17% of 750 SEO agencies surveyed said their average monthly retainer was $500 to $1,000 a month. Meanwhile, 28% quoted $2,500 to $5,000 a month for retainer services. A select 3% even charged $20,000 or more as an average rate for SEO work.
If you’re not looking to spend a bundle on SEO, you can do it yourself for free. Of course, it takes lots of manpower to get the prime search results you’re looking for and win the SEO game. Not sure where to get started? Here are 8 tips for DIY website SEO to stand out and get ranked.
1. Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly
Today’s SEO landscape requires mobile optimization with fast-loading pages to stay competitive. Google offers a handy tool to test if sites are mobile-friendly. Just type in your url, or the url of your competitors to analyze whether or not your website passes the test for mobile friendliness. You’ll also see if your website has page loading issues, which can also impact your SEO. Slow-loading sites are penalized by Google, and make your users want to leave before they really get started.
If your site isn’t mobile-friendly or loads slowly, you can still make some adjustments to quickly get back on track. Use a responsive website design that loads properly on both desktops and mobile. Content management systems like WordPress already have built-in mobile-ready themes for your business. You should also trim heavy graphics and plugins that slow down your site. Otherwise, you’ll risk losing both mobile and desktop users who move on after just two seconds of waiting for pages to load.
2. Create Quality Outgoing and Incoming Links
You may already know about the need for incoming links to build backlinks and credibility online, but outgoing links are also important. Search engines like to see that your site is helpful and informative and is interacting with other websites through links. But the quality of incoming and outgoing links matters.
Focus on building backlinks through credible like-minded sites and resources. For example, an ecommerce store selling gadgets could offer to write guest posts for websites geared towards tech readers. Try to find websites with high page rankings before offering to guest post. PR Checker offers an easy way to check the pagerank of any site.
In tandem with guest posting to build backlinks, look for broken links on sites. A gadget review site with a broken link leading to a company similar to yours may be interested to hear that you offer a similar product. Introduce yourself over email and send them your link with a brief description and ask if they’re interested in replacing the link.
3. Beef Up Your Security
Google takes its security so seriously that its bug bounty program paid out $3 million for developers to help hunt down Android and Chrome exploits. The search engine also rewards sites that take their own security seriously. After all, no one wants to click on a site where Google warns “this site may harm your computer” or “This site may be hacked.”
As of January 2017, Google started marking HTTP pages that collect credit cards and passwords as non-secure, which consequently can devalue your ranking. That means your site should be using HTTPS, where the ‘S’ stands for secure and requires an SSL certificate, or Secure Socket Layer. The certificate ultimately creates an encrypted link between your website and another browser so everything stays secure and helps keep malware and hackers at bay.
There are a few ways to snag an SSL certificate, but the easiest way is to look for a website theme that already comes encrypted. WordPress users can download the Really Simple SSL plugin to handle the process and make the necessary changes. You can also add one to the cPanel dashboard in your web browser through a ‘Let’s Encrypt‘ or similar option. Contact your hosting provider to find out what to do if you’re not sure what method or tool to use.
4. Do Your Keyword Research
You probably already know that SEO considers what types of keywords you’re using to determine what your site is about and rank it accordingly. Use Google’s free keyword planning tool to see what types of keywords are available, the volume of people looking for those searches, and how competitive they are.
It’s easy to get discouraged when realizing you can’t outrank your competition for major keywords like “travel.” But SEO is still within your reach even if you’re trying to rank for competitive keywords. Try long-tail keywords instead, like, “Travel to Dubai in the Fall” to rank for more specific terms and search results. Long-tail keywords can also attract a more specific and focused audience than generic stand-alone keywords.
5. Work on Your Meta Descriptions
Nailing down your meta description can make a big impact on your SEO. These 160-character snippets help summarize your content and are what people see initially in the search results. Instead of digging into your meta tags to do this yourself, use a plugin like Yoast to easily change your descriptions on every page or blog post. Yoast will also help refine your primary keyword and give you a look at your site’s overall SEO friendliness.
However, not all meta descriptions are created equal. With such a small amount of space to compete, make those 160 characters count. Use an actionable description that gets straight to the point and provides a call to action. Trying to be clever or shocking is unlikely to earn the results you’re looking for, and could actually devalue your SEO efforts.
6. Optimize Your Images
Most people don’t realize search engines crawl for keywords inside your image file names, not just the content of your website. The good news is that optimizing your images for SEO can make an impact on your search results without much extra effort.
After uploading your images, use keyword-rich phrases or descriptions. For example, a website selling business consulting services should get more specific and niche down. You could use image keywords related to consulting for non-profits, for instance. Your next step is to optimize your alt tags. If your audience can’t see the image, they can hover over it with their mouse and see the text you created for it. However, it’s bad practice to keyword-stuff your images or the overall content of your website. Stick to necessary, specific keyword-rich descriptions.
7. Create a Site Map
Your website can still get seen and ranked by search engines without a sitemap, but Google crawls through sitemaps as a guide to your website’s pages and provides information about when they were created and modified, and how important they are in comparison to your other pages.
While you don’t have to have a sitemap to rank in Google, it helps speed up the process of indexing your pages and is good SEO practice if you’re trying to stay competitive. This is especially important for large or new websites, or those with a lot of media and graphics. Sitemaps can be done pretty easily by entering your url at a site like XML-Sitemaps to generate a sitemap details page that you can download. From there, simply add it to your Google Webmaster account so Google knows it’s ready to go.
8. Stay Incredibly Persistent
One of the hardest yet simplest parts of DIY website SEO is staying persistent and laser-focused. It takes consistency and time to build quality, long-form content that ranks well in Google. According to Ahrefs, only 5.7% of all newly-published pages will get to the Google Top 10 within a year. However, it is possible to earn a Top 10 ranking in 2-6 months depending on your SEO efforts, the types of keywords you’re trying to rank for, and how consistently you work at it. You won’t succeed at SEO if you burn out after a few months of relentless work, and then grind to a halt.
But there are upsides to the kind of patience required for DIY SEO. For starters, doing it yourself is free and only requires time and hard work to see results. You can also beat your competition at the SEO game by sticking with it and remaining incredibly persistent. They’re likely to burn out and fade away before their SEO efforts really take off, leaving you to reap the rewards.
Do you have any helpful tips on DIY website SEO? Let us know by leaving a comment below: