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DIY SEO: A Complete Guide for Business Owners

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When your budget doesn’t allow you to hire a freelancer or an agency to help your business with SEO, doing it yourself 🔨 might be your only option. In fact, one could argue that it is necessary for a business to do it’s own SEO at some level, in order to make sure their customers can find them.
This post is designed to offer the entrepreneur (not the SEO expert) a complete guide on optimizing your business website.
Doing it yourself is really a misnomer because you will need help. That’s why we compiled this list of low-cost optimization methods that you can do without hiring an agency.

Please keep in mind that there are a lot of factors to consider when doing your own optimization. Your audience, your location, and your competition, just to name of a few.

TIP: Don’t try to do everything in this post at once. Pick one area, spend a week or two addressing it. Once complete, move on to the next area.

Table of Contents

  • Use DIY SEO Software
  • Claim your GMB listing
  • Use Data Aggregators
  • Start a Blog
  • Create localized content
  • Leverage Social Media
  • Conclusion

A word of warning!

Be careful of shortcuts, tricks and secrets when it comes to optimizing your website. Claims of instant traffic, purchase of backlinks or reviews are black-hat techniques that you MUST AVOID. You will most definitely be penalized if you take those shortcuts to grow your traffic.

When it comes to SEO, exercising patience, being consistent, keeping track of your work and most importantly adding value to your visitors, will result in (over time) more traffic and hopefully more business.
Let’s get started!

Use DIY SEO software

SEO on your Website

There are a myriad of Do-It-Yourself SEO software on the market. Most of these tools are designed for marketing agencies and consultants. However, there are a few tools that are geared towards business owners who are willing to get their hands dirty.
Below is a list of DIY SEO tools that are categorized based on how difficult they are to use. Most will have a cost to them but some will have a free trial period.
REMEMBER: These tools are designed to help you fix SEO errors on your website.
Easy to Use More Complex
These tools are made up of products that have the business owner in mind, and use terminology and documentation that assumes you are not a web developer. These tools cater to someone who knows more about web design and is familiar with terms like; HTML, Robots.txt, Alt Tags, etc.

Level of Difficulty: Easy to Use 🙂

Level of Difficulty: More Complex 😓

Each one of these tools will audit your website and find issues that need to be addressed. Many of the fixes are fairly simple, like fixing duplicate page titles or missing descriptions. Remember, taking your time and fixing one item each day or each week will have an impact.
Be encouraged, slow and steady wins the race. 🐢

Claim your Google My Business Listing

Claiming your GMB listing is key to getting local searchers to find your business. You can find instructions on how to claim it on Google’s help page. However, the steps are quite simple.
  1. On your computer, go to Google My Business.
  2. Sign in with your Google Account, or create one.
  3. Enter your business’ or location’s address. You may also be asked to position a marker on the location of your chain’s branch on a map. If your business doesn’t have a physical location but works in a service area, you can list the area instead.
  4. Choose if you want your business location to appear on Google Maps.
  5. If you don’t serve customers at your business address, click I deliver goods and services to my customers and then Next.
  6. Search for and select a business category. You can also choose a more specific category as appropriate.
  7. Verify your business over the phone or through a postcard. You can also click Verify later. If you’re not authorized to manage the Business Profile for the chain, find the person in your organization who’s authorized and continue the process.

Use Data Aggregators

There are four major data providers: Factual, Acxiom, Infogroup and Localeze. These data aggregators contain business information that search engines display for consumers. This information is where many online citations come from.
What exactly is a citation? Citations are when a business is mentioned online, and the more citations a business has generated, the more likely their business is to appear in search results.
Providing these aggregators or data providers with your Business Name, Address, Phone and Website (NAP+W) will immediately give search engines your information to index. Once they index your information and it matches with your GMB listing and website, you strengthen your business profile online and add legitimacy and trust to your brand.
You can update your information with these aggregators by visiting them, creating a profile and verifying your business information. Their products do have a fee, and they will try to up-sell you, however, just ask to be added to their business listings.

Start a Blog

We covered reasons why you should love blogging in an earlier post, and one of the main reasons to blog is for Search Engine Optimization. However, before you think that starting a blog will instantly increase your traffic, you should better understand what SEO is for, the purpose of your blog, and who your audience is.
According to Google, the purpose of SEO is to “…make it easier for search engines to crawl, index and understand your content… you should base your optimization decisions first and foremost on what’s best for the visitors of your site.” – Google (SEO Starter Guide)
In other words, when you write a blog post, make sure to focus on ‘what’s best for the visitors of your site‘. Remember your audience first and make sure your blog post adds value, answers questions, provides information and is an authority on what the searcher is looking for.
If you stay laser focused on addressing what your visitor is looking for, Google and other search engines will rank your site for those looking for answers.

Build Links

Just a quick note about building backlinks to your site. What are backlinks you ask? Backlinks are hyperlinks back to a page on your website from another website.
Backlinks are like votes of confidence in your website that another website gives you. Think of a web of inter-connected websites that link to each other (world wide web). Every time a website links to your website, it affirms to search engines that your site is a good resource.
A lot more could be said, but building links should happen naturally by sharing your content on social media and when others find it helpful they will share it on their blogs and business websites. Like this backlink to a helpful resource on backlinks.
DO NOT PAY FOR BACKLINKS! (I don’t mean to scream, just emphasize)

Create Localized Content

Here are two technical terms to remember. The first term is, “long-tail keywords” and the second is “localization”. Localization is simply, “the process of making a product or service more suitable for a particular country, area, etc.” (Cambridge Dictionary)
In the context of SEO, localization is to use a one, two or three word phrase that includes a local area, naturally within your content. For example, “We offer circuit training for women in the North Shore, Boston area.“
What exactly are long-tail keywords? In short, “a long-tail keyword is a keyword phrase that aims to capture search traffic from a specific, often 3+ word search query.” (HubSpot) And using these “Long-tail keywords“ have two advantages.
  1. It provides relevant content to your local visitors. They will know exactly what that location is.
    1. Bay Area, San Fransisco
    2. North Shore, Boston
    1. Upper East Side, New York
    1. Hampshire County, Massachusetts
  2. These types of keywords (long-tail) are easier to rank for and can drive just as much traffic, especially if your website ranks for several of these long-tail type keywords.

Localized Pages

Localizing content can also mean creating web pages or blog posts that are specifically geared towards a geographic location. A service-based company, may want to communicate to customers in a town that’s 20 miles away that they service their community.

Start by creating a page that specifically mentions that you will drive that distance, mentions customers you already service in that area, and talks about how you enjoy visiting the local lunch spot when you have jobs there.

As an example, you can see my location pages for Springfield, MA and Worcester, MA. Even though I am located in Ware, MA, I will work with customers anywhere

Okay, you’ve done a fair amount of DIY SEO by building up your website with helpful, locally relevant content directed at your target audience. Now it’s time to promote that content.

Leverage Social Media

You probably have heard this a millions times. Use social media to grow your business. It’s a lot easier said than done.
To keep this short, I will give you two things to do on social media. Yup, that’s it. Here is a great resource you can read which goes much deeper, if you want to read it. But for now, here are 2 things to do on social media.
  1. Share your blog posts.
    1. Since you are already writing a blog and want to share it with the world, why not provide the resource on social media.
  2. Follow your customers.
    1. This takes time and effort and requires your engagement, not just theirs. This includes liking and sharing their posts as your business.
Keeping it simple is part of doing-it-yourself. 😉

In Conclusion: Patience, Persistence and Purpose

Optimizing your business website takes time. Results will come to those who are consistent about investing resources into the process. If you have researched and read about an SEO magic bullet, be careful, there is a chance that it could be a scam.
Keep in mind the purpose of what you are doing. Tell the story of why you are in business and who you are serving.
DIY SEO is not easy and will take patience and persistence, so as long as you keep your purpose in focus, you will find the time and energy to do it.
What do you think about DIY SEO? Are you having trouble getting started? Let us know in the comments below.

More to come?

SEO is an ever-changing arena and as the landscape changes, there will be more opportunities for small business owners to increase their visibility themselves.
Subscribe or come back soon as we add more DIY SEO info in the future.
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