DIY SEO: Can I Do SEO Myself?
Thinking of taking an DIY SEO approach for your company’s website? This in-depth guide covers the promise and peril of managing SEO yourself without an agency.
We’ve all seen those ads – “Learn SEO in 30 days!” “Master search engine optimization with my online course!”
As tempting as it is, should you really try to do your own SEO? Can you get real results without hiring an agency or expert consultant?
What is DIY SEO?
Before we roll up our sleeves and get our hands digitally dirty, let’s take a moment to demystify the term ‘DIY SEO’. It’s like home improvement for the internet, but instead of hammers and nails, we’re wielding organic keywords and backlinks.
DIY SEO, or Do-It-Yourself Search Engine Optimization, is the process of taking charge of your online presence by applying best practices to improve your website’s ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) without the direct help of SEO professionals or agencies. It’s for the brave, the bold, and the budget-conscious.
Imagine you’re the captain of a ship called ‘The S.S. Web Presence’. Your mission is to navigate the choppy waters of Google’s algorithm and sail towards the paradise island of Page One. DIY SEO is your map and compass in this vast ocean of online competition.
It’s not just about tweaking meta tags or stuffing keywords like a Thanksgiving turkey. It’s a holistic approach to making your website more attractive to search engines and humans alike. From the quality of your content to the user experience on your site, every detail counts.
The Promise of Doing SEO Yourself
There’s no doubt that DIY SEO appeals to the entrepreneurial spirit. You get to be in control, move at your own pace, and save money by not outsourcing. With a little bit of effort, it seems like you could get a decent handle on best practices for optimizing web pages and content.
How hard could it be?
And sure enough, when you start googling around, there is no shortage of advice out there – from blog posts to video tutorials to SEO “gurus” with courses to sell.
For many small business owners and solopreneurs, taking the DIY approach just feels more achievable than shelling out cash to an agency.
The Peril of Doing SEO Yourself
While the promise of DIY SEO is real, so too is the peril. The truth is, SEO changes rapidly, with Google and other search engines constantly evolving their ranking algorithms.
What worked 6 months ago may be outdated or even penalized today. Unless you are immersed in SEO on a daily basis, you’ll likely struggle to keep up.
And while anyone can learn SEO basics in a relatively short period of time, mastering enterprise-level SEO at a professional grade takes years of experience.
There’s a steep learning curve between “on page optimization 101” and actually moving the needle when it comes to organic visibility and traffic.
So You’re Set on DIY SEO – Where Do You Start?
If you’ve weighed the pros and cons and decided to tackle SEO yourself, roll up those sleeves and get ready to dive in. While professional help may be better, with some diligent effort you can make progress on your own.
Here are 6 key areas to focus your DIY efforts:
1. Set an organic traffic baseline using Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
- Connect your Google Analytics and Search Console accounts to get a holistic view of your current organic traffic and the keywords driving that traffic. Look at traffic for the past 3-6 months.
- Pay attention to total organic sessions, new users from organic search, pages per session, bounce rate and other key metrics.
- Note which landing pages and blog content gets the most organic love. This is your baseline to measure against.
2. Research keywords and relevant search queries
- Start by looking at existing organic traffic – what search queries is that coming from? Go deeper on those topics.
- Use open Keyword Planner and other tools to find additional relevant keywords and questions to answer.
- Organize keywords into groups or categories to guide your content creation.
- Prioritize keywords by volume and difficulty to determine which ones to focus on first. Steer towards more low hanging fruit.
3. Create and publish SEO optimized content
- Use your keyword research to create blog posts, videos, and other content that answers the questions your ideal customers are asking.
- Follow on-page SEO best practices when publishing new content – optimize page titles and meta descriptions, use keywords in headers and body copy, add alt text to images, etc.
- Interlink your content to reinforce relevancy for focused keyword groups. This improves dwell time and signals topical authority.
4. Build high quality backlinks
- Start by identifying who already links to your site – analyze the anchor text and quality of existing backlinks using Ahrefs or SEMrush.
- Reach out to high-authority sites in your industry to see if they would be willing to link to your content when relevant – build relationships.
- Guest post on reputable, high-traffic sites that align with your brand and keywords. Require a dofollow link.
- Promote your best content on social channels to increase external shares and potential links.
5. Fix technical SEO issues
- Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights and Search Console to catch technical problems like site speed, broken links, metadata errors, etc.
- Make sure your site architecture and internal link structure facilitate SEO goals, not hinder them.
- Leverage XML sitemaps and robots.txt to optimize crawling and indexing.
- Resolve any security issues or warnings – get an SSL certificate to use HTTPS.
6. Track and iterate
- Use Google Analytics goals to quantify the business impact of organic traffic. Connect Search Console data.
- Monitor your keyword rankings regularly and traffic to landing pages.
- Experiment with new keywords, content formats and outreach methods. Agility matters.
- Set milestones and benchmarks for organic KPIs you want to achieve in the next 3-6-12 months.
The more time and focus you can dedicate to each of these areas, the better results you will see. But know that SEO is always evolving – so you must keep working at it week after week. The DIY road takes commitment but it can pay off over time through increased organic visibility.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, deciding whether to DIY SEO or work with a professional depends greatly on your business and specific situation. If you sell handmade crafts on Etsy to a small local audience, dipping your toes into SEO yourself may suffice. But if you are leading a funded startup trying to compete at scale, hiring an expert is probably wise.
As with most things in business, there is no one “right” choice when it comes to SEO. You have to honestly assess your internal capabilities and bandwidth, figure out what your goals are, and determine the level of visibility you really need to achieve them. If you decide to take the DIY road (at least at first), be sure you have a way of measuring results so you know if and when it makes sense to get professional help.
Boost local SEO by learning how to geotag photos effectively, enhancing visibility and driving targeted traffic to your site with our guide.
Learn what local SEO is, why it’s vital for local businesses, and get 5 tips to improve your local SEO to get found by your customers.
Discover the key differences between generative engine optimization (GEO) and search engine optimization (SEO) in our latest guide.