Ways To Do SEO Yourself
Are you looking for ways to do SEO yourself rather than pay others to do it for you? I get it. This is how I started out in 2014. I felt there must be a way to get a better understanding of it, not just to do it myself but to have the knowledge of SEO then meant I had the choice on whether to do SEO aka Search Engine Optimisation myself or not. Discovering and using SEO for business I still believe is one of the best investments of my time and money.
In 2014 when I made this decision, I was working as a Marketing Specialist for a company. The business owner handed me a report supplied by the SEO Company working for us at the time. As he handed me the report he said ‘Is this good?’
I immediately responded to him ‘What do you think?’
He responded ‘I don’t know.’
I immediately thought, hey, he was paying for the report and had been doing so, well before I started at the company, and yet he didn’t know what he was paying for. This was fundamentally wrong. It was the moment where I decided to lead with an education approach to digital marketing. I wanted all people in business to make informed decisions about their digital marketing activities.
In 2014 I started my blog as Serena Dot Ryan. I blogged every day for 239 days straight. Incredibly within 6 weeks I was on page 1 for DIY Digital and for Serena Dot Ryan. What this did for me was give me the confidence to share what I did to enable this and help other businesses grow. My blog became my first business, Serena Dot Ryan.
It wasn’t all roses. While on the surface it looked simple enough, blog every day and you would rank on page one. In simple terms, ranking well on Google and Search engines is a moving target. It became a great learning process for myself and eventually clients to see that sure you can rank well for virtually any term, but if it’s not connected to your business and what you do, it won’t translate to business growth, and why would you do something that wouldn’t translate to enabling you to either stay in business or grow your business.
If you’re new to digital marketing, here is a beginners guide for ways to do SEO yourself. Keep in mind that much like DIY around the house and qualified tradespeople to do renovations, results may vary, but if you are dedicated to learning, there is the opportunity to do well or at the very least with some basic SEO knowledge you can be informed and hold the experts you hire to assist you accountable for the work they do for you.
What is SEO
Search engine optimisation is the process of being easy to find when someone uses a search engine aka Google to search for a solution to their problem.
Think of Search Engines like matchmakers. They want to find the perfect match for the problem and then deliver it in the search results to the person searching. If they deliver the best possible solution to the person searching, the next time the person has a problem, that person will come back to the Search Engine to use them again to find a solution for their next problem. There’s no mistake in the common phrase ‘Just Google it’ relating to Google being the number one search engine.
There are 2 aspects to SEO, structural and content. Structural SEO is established through how a website is built. Think of it as Google wants to easily find and access the information on your website so it knows more about you. Making your website easy to navigate, not cluttered with unnecessary code (this is often not seen if you’re not technical, code sits behind the images and text). It’s a dual benefit to have the structure of your website clean and uncluttered, it enables the site to run faster and it also means that the end user aka your potential customer has a better experience on your website.
There are 2 ways to go about website building if you are not technical yourself. You can spend hours learning how to do it and using a platform like Shopify that helps support you because they have done a lot of the heavy lifting with getting the website structure done for you.
Alternatively, to save you time, you can get a web developer to build your website for you. Bear in mind that web developers who say they will optimise your website for SEO clarify with them what kind of SEO they will be doing. It is common they put in quotes for work to be done that the website will be SEO optimised and they don’t specify that they are referring only to structural SEO. If they are only doing structural SEO (which is perfectly common and okay) then it’s important for you as a business owner to understand and take ownership of enabling content SEO.
How do you do Content SEO
Define what you want to be known for
Think of every word you use on your website as a signal to the search engines for what you want to be known for. The clearer you are on what you want to be known for and mention this on your site you increase your chances of being found and matched with someone looking for your product or service.
Research Keywords and relevant search queries
As you can imagine, it is likely that you are not the only one who also wants to be known to solve the problem you also solve. There is competition. The way you phrase what you want to be known for makes a difference. There are some amazing free and paid research tools available to help you understand the competition and find opportunities to add phrases to your website that help you to be found for phrases that are highly searched with low competition.
Uber Suggest is a great budget friendly tool to make the most of for SEO Keyword Research to help you with the content for your website.
Publish Optimised Content
How many blogs should you publish?
When I first started my blog in 2014, I set a lofty goal of publishing daily. I didn’t focus on the quality of what I was publishing, I was going with the approach of done was better than perfect. At the time quantity enabled ‘freshness’ to increase my chances of showing up in Google rankings.
Quality Vs Quantity
After 239 blogs for 239 days straight, running around after 2 kids under 2, plus balancing a growing business, I was on the verge of burnout. Then, Google came to my rescue. There was an algorithm update. Whilst Google doesn’t publish their full algorithm (aka their secret sauce) that evaluates all content and gives it ranking, Google does give an indication of what they are looking for. The publicly came out and said they were going to focus on useful content. Content that has quality and is deemed useful rather than those who simply churn out content for content’s sake. Based on this I shifted to monthly blogging with a more focused topic approach.
Understand and use backlinks
Ever wonder how blog post are found online? Think world wide web. The web is interconnected links between you and other sites. When you link to another site, it’s a virtual road map for a reader (aka user) on your website to link and travel to another website. It is also an indicator to Google (Search Engine) that you value the information on the other website. When you link to another website, it is an outbound link.
When they link back to you, this is a reciprocal link otherwise known as a backlink.
The more links you have over time demonstrating your connectedness, this is a strong indicator to Google on you usefulness and the value you can bring to others.
Understand and monitor tech issues
Thanks to algorithm updates, technology changes, platform updates and businesses updating what they do and offer on their websites, things can break.
Google Search Console
If you website has broken links it’s important to keep in top of this as your ranking on Google will suffer. After all Google is not going to want to send traffic your way if your website is not going to give a good experience.
Thankfully installing Google Search Console is a great and free way to keep on top of any changes that may happen and if there are any issues with your website.
One of the most common errors I see is 404 error links. Google Search Console will help you keep in top of these, however a good thing to make note of, if you change the name of a page or blog after it is live, make sure you add a 301 redirect so you don’t get a 404 error.
Thankfully Shopify have the functionality in their search engine listing preview to automatically have a 301 redirect added. But be mindful that this is not always the case on other pages. You may need to do a 301 redirect manually.
This is still an easy process.
- Go to your Shopify Dashboard and in the search bar type ‘URL redirect’
- Click on ‘URL redirect’ in the options that come up.
- Click the green ‘Create URL Re-direct’ button in top right.
- Add in the original URL and then new one in the box below.
- Click Save redirect.
The biggest outtake of all of this regarding SEO is, SEO is not static. Think of it as a living thing that will adapt to search and technology trends to stay relevant. The most important thing you can do is take time regularly to stay up to date and apply your learning to your marketing strategy.
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