Let’s start off with a basic truth. Running your own business is HARD.
There’s an absolute crap load to do and if you’re a small business owner, you’re either doing it all yourself and/or wondering if you can really trust anyone else to do some of it for you.
SEO definitely falls into that particular basket. You know it’s important and you should be doing something about it but where do you start when you’re limited by time and money?
Simple! You start with my Beginner’s Guide to DIY SEO!
If you’re really new to the game I’d suggest reading this post first and then popping back here for more detailed information.
Right, let’s get started!
Know who you are (& what you want to be)
The main purpose of SEO is to make yourself as visible as possible to the highest number of potential customers and clients. It’s all about making yourself easily findable.
But if you’re unable to clearly articulate who you are, what you do, and who you do it for, you don’t stand an ice cube’s chance in hell of making that happen. So:
Step 1 – Define yourself. Or more accurately, define your business.
Clearly and specifically.
Approach it by thinking like a prospective client. What are you looking for, what kind of help do you need and can this business (i.e. your business) provide it?
Then take it a step further and think about it like a business owner.
How does your business do those things differently to everyone else – what’s your unique selling point? Do you have one? Could you develop one? Do your customers know about it?
Set it all out in clear and easily understood terms and move onto step 2.
Step 2 – Identify your target market
Once your identity’s clearly established (who you are and what you do) you can move onto who you need to pitch to.
Think about your perfect client.
- Who are they?
- Where are they? (Geographically and virtually)
- What do they do?
- What are their problems/needs?
- Why would they turn to YOU specifically to solve their problems?
This one can take a little bit of time so be patient.
If you get stuck, have look at your existing client base and see if there are any similarities. Are they all from the same places geographically, do they have the same problems/needs or do they come from the same industry? Is there a previously unidentified niche you can slip yourself into?
Once that’s sorted it’s onto step 3.
Step 3 – Find your keywords & phrases
Now we’re into the nitty gritty. Working out what words and phrases people might use to find you.
Start with a broad brainstorm and jot down all the words and phrases you can think of that’re associated with your business and industry.
Then work on refining them.
Are there specific terms or phrases people use when talking about your industry or services?
Do you use a particular method to do what you do? Is it referred to by a particular name or phrase?
Don’t just focus on single words; focus on phrases people might use when searching for someone offering the same services as you, as well as people searching for you specifically.
Before we skip merrily along to step 4, let’s pause for a second or two to think about how keywords should be used…
Keyword density vs keyword frequency
Keyword density’s the number of times a keyword or phrase is used in website copy to achieve a certain percentage of the word count.
It’s keyword stuffing.
Don’t do it.
Instead, focus on keyword frequency. This means using your keyword or phrase frequently enough in your copy for search engines to recognise it and pick it up as a key word or phrase.
As a really rough guide, you should use a keyword or phrase 4 to 5 times in a 200 word piece for SEO benefit. If your total word count is less, use the keyword or phrase less. If your word count is more, use them more. Just remember, this isn’t a formula and you may have to experiment a little bit before you get it right.
Right, let’s get onto step 4.
Step 4 – Insertion (sounds a bit nasty doesn’t it?)
Keywords and phrases need to be spread out and used consistently to be effective. So consider putting them in your headings, subheadings, first sentence and closing paragraph.
You’ll notice I said CONSIDER putting them in those places. That’s because there’re no hard and fast rules about where keywords and phrases should go. Use your noodle and think hard about whether a keyword or phrase fits naturally in each of those places, don’t shove it in because you think you have to.
If you want more bang for your buck you should also think about including keywords and phrases in your metatags and image descriptions. Again, only do it if it adds value.
A word to the wise…
Seamlessly inserting your keywords and phrases into your website copy is probably the hardest part of the process.
Your primary focus should be on creating web copy that’s attractive, alluring and informative. Showcase your business’ personality and do your darndest to convince potential buyers you’re the best man (or woman) for the job.
THEN think about how your keywords and phrases could be used within that copy to make it more SEO friendly.
It can be a difficult mix to master (with or without the added pressure of keywords and phrases) so don’t expect to get it without some discomfort. Keep going back to your target market – what do they want and what do they best respond to?
If you’re really stuck, hire a copywriter to help (ahem).
Step 5 – Wait
Once you’ve done all of the above, it’s a matter of waiting to see if you’ve identified the right keywords and phrases (if you start climbing those Google rankings you’ll know you got something right).
If nothing happens after a few months, go back and revisit your target market. Revise your keywords and phrases and keep experimenting.
The main thing to remember is that SEO growth doesn’t happen overnight. It can take months to see results, particularly if you’re working in a particularly crowded industry.
And it’s onto you….
Have you DIY’ed your SEO? How did you go about it? Was it successful?
Any tips for young players you can share?
All thoughts, tips, tricks and hints welcome in the comments section below!