Organic Traffic. What’s not to love?
You have a user searching for a product, service, or piece of information. Fortunately for them, you have the solution! They find your website after a quick Google search, and bonus- you didn’t have to pay high premiums for interruptive marketing alternatives like social media to funnel your customer base.
At least, this is what you thought was going to happen.
Then a few months after hours of optimizing your product landing pages or dozens of article publications, you hit some harsh reality: your article or landing page isn’t ranking or bringing in traffic. After a quick investigation, you quickly realize the amount of work involved to get your content to rank in the top search engine result pages (SERPs). And the only way to achieve this is with a winning search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
Maybe you’re a solo entrepreneur or a small company just starting off, but you don’t have the budget to hire an SEO expert or agency, leaving you only one choice- to do it yourself.
But no worries. If you’re looking for a way to effectively manage your own SEO for your site, here are the top nine DIY tips for implementing effective SEO yourself in 2023.
What Are the Best SEO DIY Tips for 2023?
After spending years of ranking articles, I’ve learned the hard way about what works and what doesn’t. While there’s not a “one hat fits all” strategy, here are a few tips that tend to be universal across all niches and industries.
1. Become an Expert in SEO
Like it or not, you’re competing with other companies that either hired experts or have become an expert themselves to get their site ranked. So you need to learn everything there is to know about SEO yourself if you even want a chance to compete.
Start with the basics, and read up on blog posts, articles, podcasts, and whatever else it takes to become knowledgeable about SEO. You’ll likely find a ton of competing information, so stick to the experts.
Here are some basics to help you get started:
- Learn the Lingo: It’s important to understand all of the terms, acronyms, and metrics you’ll need to know before getting started.
- Follow the Experts & Journals: There are many SEO experts in the space, be sure to read up on all their content. You’ve made it to this page, so I highly recommend checking out all the other resources I have on my site. To stay up to date on the latest search engine algorithm and market changes, subscribe to popular journals.
- Create a Winning Article Checklist: Writing an article is just the first part of the story. As you learn, be sure to create a strategic SEO checklist (or you can use the one I already created for you as well).
2. Choose Your Target Keywords Intelligently
This may seem like a no-brainer, but selecting relevant keywords and phrases is essential when it comes to organic traffic. Each industry has its own competitiveness that will influence the ease of ranking. Ranking for the finance industry will be much more difficult than say, the best yarn for crocheting.
Here are some specific metrics you should be looking at when selecting which keyword to target:
- Keyword Volume: This tells you how many people are searching for that specific term per month. The higher the volume, the more traffic you can drive.
- Competition: How competitive is the keyword you’re targeting? You’ll want to make sure that your chances of ranking are high, so pick something with lower competition if you’re just starting off.
- Long-Tail Keywords: Long-tail keywords are typically more specific than the average keyword and often have less competition. A parent keyword would be “best credit card”, but a long-term would be “best credit card for travelers”. These can be a great way to target a smaller, more engaged audience that’s more associated with the information or product you’re discussing.
There are tons of tools to help you find these metrics like SEMRush or Ahrefs.
As mentioned before, if you’re a newer website, you’ll want to start out trying to rank for lower competition keywords with decent enough volume.
Let’s say, for instance, you’re opening up a new bike shop. Taking a quick look at keywords with the words “how to” and “bike,” you can see there is some decent search volumes. But what’s more important is the keyword difficulty (KD= keyword difficulty) is low, meaning that you actually have a chance at ranking.
By ranking for these topics, you can increase your brand awareness among your target audience. And easier keywords will be your best bet in the beginning until you’ve gained domain and topical authority. This leads us to my next tip.
3. Demonstrate Your Authority
Whatever your niche, it’s critical that you demonstrate to both your audience and search engines that you are an SME (subject matter expert) in your field. For instance, we don’t necessarily want to be taking financial advice from someone who doesn’t have the experience or credentials.
There are two different types of authorities you should try to achieve: topical and domain.
- Topical Authority: This is demonstrated by providing quality, relevant content to your audience. This includes producing blog articles, videos, podcasts, and any other form of media that adds value to the user.
- Domain Authority: Think of this like your Google “credibility”. This happens slowly over time as you make a name for yourself through articles and backlinking. If you’re a new site, search engines won’t rank you right away until you’ve proven yourself. The higher your DA score is, the more likely you are to rank for competitive keywords.
We’ll get more into domain authority in a bit, but let’s first focus on how to achieve topical authority. Quite simply, it’s encompassing an entire topic. Think about all of the questions someone may ask about your topic and provide all the information to completely answer their questions. Here’s how to go about it:
- High-Quality Content First: This may seem obvious, but your content needs to be the best. If someone is searching for information, you need to answer all the questions they may possibly have so that you are the end to their search journey. To reduce bounce rates, you need to have the absolute best information about your topic and write that in a clear, concise way.
- Internal Linking: Some topics are just too large for one article. While you may have a “pillar” piece, it’s important to write many articles all linking back to the parent topic. Going back to our bike example, don’t just write about the “best bike.” Answer all of the user’s questions like what to look for when buying a bike, what’s a bike frame, etc. Linking all these articles together demonstrates to search engines that you’re very knowledgeable in a particular topic.
When you’re brainstorming your article to build your topical authority, move on to my next tip.
Further Reading: 7 SEO Copywriting Tips for 2023
4. Keep Yourself Organized with a Content Map
As we’ve just discussed building topical authority, I highly recommend keeping yourself organized with a content map.
A content map is simply some type of diagram that visually represents all of your articles and how they relate back to each other. You can start off with a simple pen and paper or Google doc, but eventually, you can switch over to an online tool when your article numbers start to increase.
Here’s an idea of what they can look like:
At first, you may feel you don’t need this as you can keep it well enough organized in your head.
But trust me, it can be difficult to keep track when you start hitting hundreds of articles that all interlink. A content map will easily show you topic areas that you should build more supporting content around and give you ideas for new articles.
5. On-Page SEO
Now that you have a list of the best target keywords for your niche, the articles are written, it’s now time to make sure your article is run through an SEO software.
In short, the top articles on a SERP have a group of keywords they have in common. This helps search engines correctly match the user’s search intent to the appropriate information. Previously, people would manually read the top-ranking articles and write down a list of these keywords that they should also include in their articles.
Thankfully, there are now plenty of SEO softwares that can do this for you in a manner of seconds. Be sure to use these as a guide. Getting a high score on software is not a guarantee you’ll rank high, but it definitely helps.
6. Systematize Your Backlinking Process
Backlinking. Probably one of the most nuanced and difficult components of the entire SEO process. While I could write an entire book on this process, the truth of the matter is that if you are DIY’ing your SEO, your time is limited.
First, what is backlinking? Backlinking is when another website links to yours. The more high-quality sites that link to your site, the more credible you become. While I won’t get into all the nitty gritty of backlinks, it’s important to get do-follow links from credible sites.
Here are a few ways you can establish a backlinking strategy yourself:
- Guest Posting: This is a great way to get a link to your site while adding value to the readers. Make sure you are writing from a credible website and that it’s relevant to your industry.
- HARO Requests: HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out. It’s a site where reporters are looking for comments or quotes from credible sources, and in return, you will often see a link back to your site. This is a great way to get started.
Now, these are great ways to set up a backlinking strategy, but they take quite a bit of time and effort. If you have a small budget, you can hire a virtual assistant to compile a list of websites and contact information to minimize the time and effort.
Over time, you can even eventually hire outreach specialists to help you draft the emails, allowing you to simply personalize, finalize, and send the final outreach email.
7. Automate Automate Automate
At a certain point, you may have created an effective DIY SEO strategy and realized how gaining organic traffic can certainly become a full-time job in itself.
After doing it for a short amount of time, if you have a budget to spare, you can begin to automate some of this process to minimize the time spend while achieving the same results.
Here are a few ways to automate the process:
- SEO Software: There are many services available out there that can help you track, benchmark, and generate article ideas to help you become a topic expert. If you can afford the subscription fee, they usually are worth the extra investment.
- Automate Email Outreach: I recommend personalizing each and every outreach for the best response and doing your homework. However, follow-ups can be automated with lots of email marketing software on the market.
- Content Creation: Writing high-quality articles can become tedious and very time-consuming. There are plenty of writer and image generators to help you speed up this process.
Further Reading: The 13 Best Social Media Automation Tools in 2023
8. Don’t Forget Technicalities
Everything we’ve discussed this far is primarily focused on optimizing your content. But don’t forget about the “technical” SEO aspect which includes things like compressing photos and site speed.
Ever clicked on a website before and after two or three seconds you lost patience and went back to try another site? Mobile and web speed greatly influence your rankings and bounce rates, so here are some things to monitor.
- Monitor Your Site and Mobile Speeds: There are tons of tools to keep track of your speeds, such as Google Lighthouse (which is free). There are a ton of paid tools out there too that can help alert you to slow areas on your site.
- Compress Your Photos: While text doesn’t greatly affect your site upload time, photos and graphics most certainly do. Investigate the compression size you need, and look into plugins if you’re utilizing WordPress which will automatically do this for yu.
- Choose a Great Host: The host you using can directly influence your site speed, it may be worth investigating if you’re using one that performs at top speeds. Spend the extra money to get a top preforming host.
9. Always Remember the Three P’s
Like everything else in life, you should always take time to reassess your SEO strategy. I recommend at least once a quarter sitting down and looking at which articles are driving traffic and which aren’t. You may be surprised to see which ones perform the best.
If you’re DIYing your SEO strategy, never underestimate the three P’s:
- Prioritize: While you may have a lot of topics you would like to cover, prioritize them in terms of rankability, traffic potential, and more importantly, conversion potential.
- Pivot: Be quick to spot which articles are ranking and those that aren’t performing to your expectation. Double down on content pieces that do.
- Patience: SEO is not an overnight success story. It takes time for search engines to rank your pages, and almost as much time for them to start showing your content. With the right strategy and patience, you can rank for some of the most competitive keywords in your industry.
While crafting the perfect SEO strategy, it’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to increase your domain rating or increase your site’s organic traffic.
While those metrics are important, remember the true goal: to provide a solution or answer to your targeted audience. That may be in the form of a product or service that you are selling, but remember to always make content user-centric, no SEO-centric.
With the right strategy, tools, and patience, you can achieve success with a DIY approach by keeping these tips above in mind.
Samantha Brandon is a pharmacist turned online entrepreneur, passionate about simplifying digital and AI integration into businesses so they can scale and compete in today’s global market at SamanthaBrandon.com.
Hero photo by Roselyn Tirado on Unsplash
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