6 DIY SEO Tips You Need Before Hiring A Pro [Steps + Examples]
Can you DIY SEO for your small business? The short answer is: YES, you can and you probably should.
In fact, there are so many resources out there that’ll teach you how to do your own search engine optimization and many of these resources are completely free!
So why then, am I writing this?
Because as of late, every “resource” I found on the first page of Google is either:
- Heavily jargoned with technical terms
- Gives you vague instructions (it “tells” you what to do but not “show” you how to do it)
- Always ends with “If you’re still having problems, hire a professional.” (Hint: them)
In fact, these resources make SEO look and sound so difficult to do that you’d rather hire someone else to do it - and that’s exactly what they want you to do.
Because I’ve been in your shoes myself - just a small business owner trying to save some cash and do things myself - I know how hard it is to get honest help.
So I’m going to do something no other SEO company will do:
I’ll show you how to do SEO yourself - step-by-step with examples - that’s so easy to follow, even your five-year-old nephew can do it.
here are six simple DIY SEO tips you can do yourself for free:
1. Set up Search Console
What it is:
The Search Console is the SEO dashboard to your website(s), and it contains vital information like page speed, mobile responsiveness, and basic search data tools.
That’s why BEFORE you optimize your site, set up your Search Console first:
- Go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/.
- Sign up or log in.
- Go to ‘Messages’ and read the first message you receive. Subject: “Improve the search presence of [your site]”.
In the message, you’ll find a list of things to do to get started.
You should be able to check off number 1 to 5 on your own fairly easily but in case you’re not sure, let’s go through the essential settings:
a. Add all your website versions.
You’ll need to add ALL the possible URL versions of your website.
- With www and without www; and
- Both http and https versions
This means there would be up to four versions of your URL in the console that would look like this:
b. Select your preferred version
You can tell Google which domain URL you prefer: yoursite.com or www.yoursite.com.
Choosing a preferred domain version will not affect your SEO score or rankings whatsoever - it is purely for aesthetics - so this is completely up to you. However, it is useful to standardize your URLs to one version.
c. Select target country
We recommend that you select your company’s base country or target countries.
d. Submit a sitemap file
You can create a sitemap easily using free tools like XML Sitemaps.
Go back into Search Console and submit your sitemap here:
Simply setting up your Search Console can increase your site’s SEO score by up to 10% - and you did it all by yourself!
2. Maintain High Site Speed
Yes, one of the most important SEO ranking signals can actually be assessed for free!
You can monitor your site’s speed using:
A decent site speed should have a score of 80 or above.
However, if your score is lower, the only way to increase it is by asking your programmer to make several checks and upgrades.
The good thing is that these tools not only offer scores but also suggestions on how to increase your site’s speed.
So whenever your score takes a tumble, just download the suggestions in a PDF and shoot it to your programmer.
Regularly maintaining a high site speed can increase your site’s SEO score by up to 5%.
3. Ensure Your Site is Mobile-Friendly
More and more people are viewing your site on mobile than desktop.
So how do you ensure your site’s user experience caters to your mobile visitors?
It’s as easy as running a quick mobile-friendliness check.
Google has their own mobile-friendliness test tool that’s free to use. Input your website URL and it’ll return a yes or no assessment.
If the result says “Page is mobile-friendly”, you can immediately submit the test results to Google by clicking on the “Submit to Google” button.
4. Get a Free SEO Audit
SEO companies charge hundreds - maybe even thousands - of dollars to do an SEO audit.
What they don’t tell you is that audits are done automatically using a software. So when you see ‘SEO Audit’ in their plans and pricing, they’re really just charging you for the “service” of using the software.
Before spending your money on an SEO audit - take advantage of our free SEO auditor to analyze your website.
It returns a full SEO report, just like what you’d get through an agency:
- On-Page Insights: HTML tags, internal links, content quality, mobile usability, structured data, text statistics, page speed, site structure
- Off-Page Insights: Social media, backlinks, organic presence
Again, it’s totally free. You lose nothing by using it:
5. DIY Keyword Research
Most SEOs are going to tell you to use the Google Keyword Planner for this, and they’re right - you should.
But when you’re not an SEO, you probably wouldn’t know what to do with all the data that comes with it.
So I’m going to give you a ‘dummies’ approach to keyword research and despite the name, it actually works like a charm.
a. Pick and choose your best keywords
The first rule of thumb is to NOT go overboard with keywords. Only choose ones that describe:
- WHAT you are
- WHAT you do
- WHERE your business operates/targets
That’s it. DO NOT collect 50 keywords that you think might work for you.
Gather 3 to 5 main keywords and STOP.
b. Plug your chosen keywords into a keyword research tool
To illustrate my next point, I’m going to pretend to be the owner of an organic dog food business in Malaysia.
Go to any free keyword research tool and enter your keywords. In this example, I used “organic dog food”.
When it serves you the results, here’s what to do:
- Click on ‘Volume’ column to sort it from highest to lowest. Choose the most relevant keywords from the top five results.
- Now, do the same for the ‘CPC’ column.
- Lastly, do the same for ‘Value’ column.
Now, you have a list of keywords that you can use to fill up your sitemap, which is what you’ll learn to do next.
Make sure your keywords describe your business exactly! If you’re still a small business, target your local region. Don’t shoot for high-level keywords early on, tempting as it may be.
6. Build Visual Site Structure/Sitemap
The next step would be to create a visual site structure. This isn’t any different than creating a mind map or a family tree.
The objective is to have a clear map of all your top pages and its locations.
Here’s what to do:
a. Create a site structure spreadsheet
Similar to a sitemap, a site structure is a visual representation of the tiers of your website. Here's one we use for one of our clients:
Note the URL patterns - it goes from the top working its way down:
Tier 1: www.yoururl.com/
Tier 2: www.yoururl.com/products
Tier 3: www.yoururl.com/products/best-organic-dog-food
All the keywords in red are core keywords taken from the keyword research we did in Step 2.
b. Fill up the spreadsheet with your site’s pages and target keywords
Using the keywords you gathered during your DIY keyword research above, start filling up the spreadsheet with pages and its corresponding keywords.
Congratulations! You’ve just completed all six DIY SEO tips you should look into before hiring the pros.
Now that you’ve completed your solo SEO review, what do you do with all this new data?
First of all, gather all the data you get from your DIY SEO check above. Namely:
- The SEO audit report you received from “Get a Free SEO Audit”
- Your chosen keywords list from “DIY Keyword Research”
- The visual site structure/sitemap you built in “Build a Visual Site Structure/Sitemap”
When you’re ready to hire an agency or professional for SEO, hand them the above three files.
This gives them a head start on how your site is already performing but more importantly, it shows that you already understand how SEO works. It’s now less likely for anyone to try to cheat you or worse, charge you for things you don’t need (like a new audit).
With the data you’ve collected, they can also do things like:
- Run a new site crawl for lost keyword opportunities
- Do a competitor analysis to compare performance with others
- Uncover new content or sales & marketing opportunities
Hiring a professional or an agency allows you to expand your SEO further so it’s not a bad idea to engage one once your business has started growing.
If you’re ready to hire, I recommend reading my advice on how to hire an SEO agency.
Best of luck and let us know in the comments if this article has been helpful to you!