Practical Ecommerce

10 Do-it-yourself SEO Tips to Save Money

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Web Marketing Today. Practical Ecommerce acquired Web Marketing Today in 2012. In 2016, we merged the two sites, leaving Practical Ecommerce as the successor.

My first car was a battered 12-year-old Volkswagen Passat. It broke down countless times and each repair was expensive for the poor student that I was. In a bid to reduce the escalating repair bills, I started to learn how cars worked by reading, researching, and asking others to teach me a thing or two. After a few months, I knew about carburetors, fuse boxes, alternators, and even how to replace a car’s kick-starter. It saved me a fortune. I then only used mechanics for major engine issues beyond my basic scope.

As a small or mid-sized business, hiring a quality search-engine-optimization consultant or agency can be expensive and a painstakingly tricky terrain to navigate. Guiding and effectively managing SEO consultants is equally challenging. What questions do you ask them? What tactics are working? How were results achieved?

Here are 10 do-it-yourself SEO tips that business owners or marketing managers can try before hiring an SEO agency or consultant.

1. Understand your Online Market and Target Customers

Having an offline, real-world understanding of your market and target customers is only half the story. Habits and behavior often differ online in comparison to the offline world. A prominent offline presence does not equate to a dominant online presence. A leading national store that stocks and sells curtains and blinds, for instance, might have much tougher competition from online-only curtain and blind retailers.

Search online for products and services you offer and take note of the most prominent websites. Study their customer reviews and benchmark their social media presence and activity. You will likely find businesses you have not come across.

2. Master Keyword Research

You probably understand your industry jargon and are aware that your customers might use different terms than your trade colleagues to refer to your services or goods. The process of keyword research provides a rounded understanding of key phrases, search terms, and also online demand for products or services.

All business owners and managers intending to market online should know how to run keyword research.

I suggest free keyword research tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, which requires that you have an AdWords account, and Übersuggest, a Google suggest scraper tool.

If you have the funds, then the paid keywords research tools worth trying are SEMRush and Wordtracker.

Also understand your industry’s head key-phrases (general and highest search volume) and long-tail key-phrases (varied and more specific key phrases usually over four words).

Consider printing out and sticking your keyword research on a notice board as a constant reminder of your online focus.

3. Plan your Site

Now that you have an understanding of the most searched keywords and the most relevant long-tail words, you should have an idea of what pages on your website address those search queries.

Having a list on paper or a spreadsheet of all top, mid, and low-tier web pages and their corresponding keyword focus forms the basis of your website’s architecture. Each high and medium priority keyword from your keyword research should have a corresponding page on your site.

Long-tail keywords should be used in blog posts and FAQs.

4. Build your Site

Now that you have an idea of the pages that should be on your site, the next step is to build the best site in your industry with the help of a professional web designer or agency and with user-testing focus groups.

Google’s head of web spam, Matt Cutts, advises site owners to build great websites that users love and want to tell their friends about — sites that users visit over and over again. Any website built in 2013 should be mobile responsive to cater for smart phone browsers. WordPress is terrific for most small and mid-sized businesses due to its simplicity, flexibility, support, in-built SEO features, and access to a vast library of free and premium plugins.

5. Start Blogging or Producing Regular Content

You don’t have to start a blog, but start publishing your own content on a scheduled basis. I am not advocating turning your business into a publishing company by posting content every day. Scheduling weekly, bi-weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly updates is my recommendation — consistency is key. Also bear in mind that content does not necessarily need to be text — for example, an architectural firm could publish professionally taken photographs of its projects or Realtors could publish weekly video bulletins. Publishing content that is tailored to the content consumption habits of your target audience is the goal.

6. Build your Social Media Network

Join Google+ and then figure out one or two other social media platforms to hone in on. You have lots of options to choose from, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and more. Social media enables you connect with your customers, publishers, and an audience for the content that you produce. Understanding and nurturing these relationships would swiftly produce results and help your SEO in the long run.

7. DIY Public Relations

Public relations plays a key role in off-page SEO. You should know how to:

  • Establish and tell a compelling story about your brand;
  • Get media attention;
  • Pitch not just to journalists but also bloggers and social media influencers;
  • Use social media to establish relationships and promote your brand.

8. Understand Google Analytics

Have a basic understanding of Google Analytics. Understand the type of reports each Google Analytics tab covers — Audience, Acquisition, Behavior, Conversions, and Real-Time.

This will help you appreciate the concept of traffic and its sources as well as let you read monthly or weekly reports provided to you by your SEO or web design agency.

The importance of analytics in digital marketing is akin to financial reports in accounting.

9. Read at Least One SEO Blog

Familiarize yourself with SEO by reading a factual SEO guide and then subscribing to an SEO blog — time permitting. Here are my key recommendations.

10. Ask Questions

Anytime you are stuck or need answers, jump into SEO communities to ask questions. Google’s Webmaster Forum offers the largest SEO community on the web. Another good community is the Webmaster World Forum. Others I recommend are Moz’s Q&A Forum, SEOChat — which is where I started learning about SEO, SEO Round Table, and Search Engine Watch Forum.

These communities are also good places for hiring SEO consultants or agencies.

I hope these 10 steps help you save money, get better rankings, and avoid being ripped off. They could also help you become a better SEO client by asking the right questions and utilizing the agency or consultant you hire to its fullest potential.

Kunle Campbell

Kunle Campbell

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  1. Ashley F November 14, 2013 Reply

    Nice summary here, appreciate the tips.
    I am not a guru, and have a lot to learn, so it is great to see such posts
    thanks
    ashley

  2. Louise November 21, 2013 Reply

    Great insight into the world of SEO here. I really think you have worked hard to put these tips in the correct order. So many people think, ‘ok let’s create a website’, without really thinking about who their audience is and what they really want to say. It is almost like a step by step guide. Brilliant.

  3. jharaphula June 25, 2014 Reply

    Helpful SEO Tricks. I implemented this SEO tips in my website. Thanks, I got a very good result to improve organic search. The practical experiences I achieved during the stage on-page SEO is sharing here http://jharaphula.com/tested-on-page-seo-tips

  4. alex July 16, 2014 Reply

    For SEO diy-ers in case you are interested, you can get 30 days of free MOZ plus another 30 via http://goo.gl/IMG8pf

  5. Ann August 2, 2014 Reply

    Thank you … Thank you … Thank you. Wonderful, nice summary for a total beginner like me. A great start for freaked out small businesses dealing with SEO companies wanting to charge between $500 and $1,000 per month!!

  6. Gracey Spurek September 24, 2014 Reply

    Worth reading Kunle. Your post contains great points for businesses looking to reach a wider audience. I’ve been wanting a solution from a very long time. I have also stumbled upon an e-guide which was pretty informative on online marketing tips & techniques for beginners. With your permission I would like to share the URL of the link: http://goo.gl/S3ooK5. Hope others would benefit from this guide.

  7. Dirk December 4, 2014 Reply

    My company invested a lot of money for SEO campaign since we started and now we’re thinking of alternative that won’t cost us a big sum. Thanks for the tips! That helps my company a lot!
    Dirk, http://www.serpshake.com

  8. arafat June 17, 2015 Reply

    finally something worth reading
    i was doing my site seo as i was not in mood to spend a fortune on my small blog
    thanks

  9. Tarun Kaushik July 29, 2015 Reply

    Nice blog.

    But, non-SEO people can not do that things which a professional can do. I appreciate your post but after all if someone is looking for a seo for his website he will have to get done his seo work from seo professional.

    Website owners always try to find his local seo company, they pay $1000 for seo but what these companies do? They pass this seo work to INDIAN companies and pay them $600. So, why you guys are paying $1000 you can save your money. Just find an Indian Company, and get your work done.
    I experienced this when i was working as Sr. Digital Marketer in an Indian Company. I used to handle many projects.

  10. Drew October 7, 2015 Reply

    Excellent article! I’ve learned quite a bit especially using keyword tools to target specific audience as well as being search engine friendly.

  11. Anand October 15, 2015 Reply

    Don’t always go for long tail keywords for blog posts

  12. Fez October 20, 2015 Reply

    Thanks Kunle, some great tips here. Like you car analogy, its great to get in there and do it yourself.

  13. Matt November 21, 2015 Reply

    I have invested a lot of money for SEO campaign since I started and now I am thinking of alternative that won’t cost as much. Thanks for the tips! That helps to me a lot!

  14. Billy December 15, 2015 Reply

    I took particular interest to your comments about Keyword Research as to me this is the most important aspect of SEO and SEMrush is in my opinion the best.

    I’ve been using a new SEO tool that shows you over 30 important metrics in Google SERP’s including SEMrush and I highly recommend it. http://www.serpworx.com

  15. Vijay Hapani June 25, 2016 Reply

    Nice Guidance

  16. Richard August 11, 2016 Reply

    Nice post. Creating valuable content and promoting your web page is very important. Also, having a fast site speed is important to SEO. Google ranks this pretty high in the search engine ranking factor.

  17. Dino December 8, 2016 Reply

    Great article, Im just a beginner and there are many things i have to learn. This article will help me a lot in SEO section. Thanks to you.

  18. Andy February 3, 2017 Reply

    This is too general, and appears to be a copy and paste of advice from a similar page. How about specific advice on where and how to edit my webpage so the search engines show it?

    • Louie May 16, 2017 Reply

      I think its just practical.
      They didn’t mention anything on buying ads

  19. Kanika July 17, 2017 Reply

    Nicely said. Nowadays, social media is one of the best techniques to receive targeted traffic instantly. And yes, you can get a lot of shares as well. Blog Commenting is also one of the good ideas to target real traffic. I wrote an article on this. Check it here: https://www.usefultechtips.com/get-powerful-backlinks-blog-commenting/