Working with an SEO agency can be expensive and out of reach for the average small business owner.
The good news? Even if you don’t consider yourself as an SEO expert (or even a novice!), there are several DIY SEO fixes you can make on your own—without paying an expensive SEO agency’s hefty retainer.
With just a basic understanding of how to navigate your company’s WordPress website, here are six tips for DIY SEO that you can get started on today.
1. Brush up on your knowledge of Onsite SEO
Onsite SEO involves the specific elements that can be optimized within a given page or post. Although it tends to revolve around the choice/use of a specific target keyword, onsite SEO is also concerned with page structure, taking into account ranking signals that include content length and internal/external linking.
If you’re new to the concept of onsite SEO, this SEMRush article goes through the most important onsite SEO factors that you should be aware of (and optimize for!). But there’s no need to try to memorize them—that’s where an SEO plugin like Yoast comes in.
If you learn best with more in-depth explanations and walkthroughs, check out my Skillshare class: SEO for Bloggers & Solopreneurs.
2. Spend some time getting to know the Yoast SEO plugin
The free Yoast SEO plugin provides users with an entry level education in onsite SEO.
Yoast analyzes content for onsite SEO factors and readability. Simply write your content on WordPress and plug your target keyword into Yoast.
From there, Yoast will give you a red, yellow, or green light to indicate the SEO-readiness of your content. If you’re stuck in red, it means that there are still improvements to be made! Luckily, Yoast guides users down the right path in an easy to understand way.
Note that Yoast can’t tell you whether or not your keyword is actually any good—it can only tell you if you’re optimizing a page correctly with regards to what you’ve keyed in.
3. Invest in Speed Optimization
Page speed is a major factor when it comes to usability and conversions. In 2010, Google announced that it was a ranking factor in desktop search and as of July 2018, the same will be true of mobile search.
To provide the best user experience (and to avoid a Google penalty), you’ll want to focus at least some of your DIY SEO efforts on WordPress speed optimization.
Don’t worry—it’s a lot less technical than you’d expect. You can make a world of difference with regards to page load through the configuration of two major types of plugins:
WP Rocket (paid) or WP Super Cache (free) are some of the best on the market.
A caching plugin enables faster page load by storing files after a website loads for the first time, to speed up page load during subsequent visits. This is the one DIY SEO tip that may require calling in the help of a web developer if you don’t understand your website’s backend processes—installing a caching plugin can sometimes break your website’s code/design.
If you don’t have a go-to person for the job, you can keep it affordable by browsing WordPress gigs on Fiverr. Regardless of how you proceed, make sure to have a backup solution in place, whether by using a plugin like UpdraftPlus or a solution offered by your web host.
Image optimization plugin
Images are some of the largest files that make up your WordPress website. Most caching plugins offer features that include GZIP compression and minification—both of which are designed to reduce space taken up by your website’s files.
4. Create an editorial content calendar (and stick to it)
The more you can plan ahead of time, the more likely you are to actually execute a content strategy on behalf of your business.
Content marketing and SEO are inextricably linked. Specifically, having a blog provides you with the opportunity to constantly be ranking for increasingly more keywords.
Using a content calendar will help you to organize and align marketing efforts across channels: email, social media, and your company’s blog. It doesn’t have to be complicated—I’m partial to Hubspot’s free social media calendar template (which can easily incorporate multi-channel content efforts).
Committing to just one blog post per month is enough to be effective. Consistency is key to success—not quantity.
5. Set up Google Analytics
Whether you’re just getting started with DIY SEO, or have just launched a new website, setting up Google Analytics tracking code should be one of the first things you do. Google Analytics is a free tool that offers a wealth of website data, categorized in terms of Audience, Behavior, and Acquisition.
It’s important to do this ASAP, as Google Analytics can only track data for as long as the tracking code is installed on your WordPress website.
Setting up Google Analytics is fairly easy to do, even without much of a technical understanding:
- Create a free Google/Google Analytics account if you don’t have one.
- Create a property for your website on Google Analytics (essentially, entering in the name and URL of your website).
- Install the tracking code between the <head></head> tags on your website—usually in the header.php file in the WordPress editor. It should be on every page, which will happen automatically if inserted into the WordPress header code.
And that’s it! Once installed, you can allow data to accumulate until you have time to make sense of it. If you’ll be the one interacting with Google Analytics most, consider taking the free Google Analytics Certification, complete with hours of useful study materials.
If you never plan on looking at Google Analytics again, you can easily add other users to grant access to people more interested and able in interpreting this insightful data.
If you’re especially interested in understanding your user's past data in a static user interface, Inspectlet offers a limited free plan that records screencasts of actual users on your website.
6. Local business? Setup a Google My Business profile
Though not totally relevant to all businesses, all local businesses with a brick and mortar store, or service professionals serving a specific geographic location, should take the time to set up and optimize a Google My Business profile.
It’s easy and free to do. It’s possible that your business already has a listing, so you might just have to claim it. Once your business is verified, make sure to add complete and accurate information: the more, the better. Google likes when you make use of their products, so this is an easy win for DIY SEO.
6 DIY SEO tips for small business owners
If you’ve followed all six DIY SEO steps listed out here, you’re well on your way to small business SEO success.
And while an agency may or may not be out of your reach, there are other affordable solutions that offer guidance and strategy as you navigate the intersection of WordPress and SEO.
Check out Pathfinder's guided approach to SEO. $99/month for an SEO map, monthly coaching session and SEO tools.
Maddy Osman creates engaging content with SEO best practices for marketing thought leaders and agencies that have their hands full with clients and projects. Learn more about her process and experience on her website, www.The-Blogsmith.com and read her latest articles on Twitter: @MaddyOsman.