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Can You Do SEO Yourself? Yes! Learn DIY SEO Now

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Can you do SEO yourself?

Yes, you can do SEO yourself! DIY SEO involves managing all aspects of SEO in-house, including tasks like researching keywords, optimizing your site, monitoring rankings, setting up analytics, and more.

Search engine optimization (SEO) doesn’t always require help from an specialist. Anyone can study SEO best practices and use SEO tools to optimize your website in-house.

In fact, most SEO experts got their start with do-it-yourself (DIY) SEO. And with some time, a few free SEO tools, and this guide on how to do SEO yourself, you too can become an SEO expert.

So, if you’re asking yourself, “Can I do SEO on my own,” you’re in the right place.

Keep reading to learn how to do SEO on your own! If you’re looking to get started faster, enter your website’s URL here, and you’ll receive an instant SEO audit with recommendations (and explanations) on how to improve your site’s SEO.

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How to do SEO yourself

Ready to learn how to do SEO on your own? Check out these eight steps to learn how to do SEO yourself:

  1. Set up analytics: Get must-have tools set up for your site, like Google Analytics 4, Google Search Console, and Google Tag Manager, to track your website’s visibility, traffic, and engagement over time.
  2. Complete an SEO audit: Use a free tool like Screaming Frog to audit your website’s SEO and discover critical issues related to crawling, indexing, on-page optimization, and more. Set up a recurring process for auditing your site to maximize (and maintain) its rankings.
  3. Research keywords: Find and target long-tail keywords relevant to your audience that generate conversions. Free tools like SEO.com, Google Search, Google Keyword Planner, and FAQ Fox can help you master this essential step in DIY SEO.
  4. Optimize website content: Help your website content dominate search results with on-page optimizations, like adding keywords, creating new content, writing compelling title tags, and designing shareable multimedia. SEO.com can help with this step, too!
  5. Improve internal linking: Use the power of internal linking to improve website crawling, user journeys, and rankings. Practices like adding three to five internal links to content and using descriptive anchor text can help you maximize the impact of internal linking.
  6. Attract backlinks: Tackle one of the most challenging parts of DIY SEO with diverse tactics, like social media sharing, email outreach, and viral content. Tools like Google Trends, Quora, and FAQ Fox can help you with this stage.
  7. Track SEO rankings, conversions, and more: Close the gap between marketing and sales with platforms like Marketo and MarketingCloudFX, which will help you measure the real return on investment from doing SEO on your own.
  8. Continue learning SEO: Use podcasts, blogs, and YouTube channels to grow your SEO knowledge and improve your results. If you’re doing SEO yourself, you need to commit to learning and evolving with search engine optimization.

Let’s dive into these DIY SEO tips in more detail!

1.     Set up analytics

Rankings. Traffic. Conversions.

You need analytics tools to measure all these SEO metrics, which is why DIY SEO starts with setting up your analytics platforms. Even if your business already has website analytics platforms like Google Analytics set up, you’ll want to double-check the setup before getting started with SEO.

For the best results, start with these platforms:

With Google Analytics 4, you’ll get access to the following:

  • Pageviews
  • Conversions
  • Engagement metrics, like bounce rate
  • Website events, like scroll percentage
  • And more

With Google Search Console, you’ll get access to the following:

  • Your average position in search results
  • Your impressions and click-through rate for queries
  • Your indexing status
  • Your Core Web Vitals performance
  • And more

With Google Tag Manager, you’ll get access to the following:

  • Event tracking
  • Analytics tracking
  • And more

Review each platform’s installation guides to get your site set up:

If your website already has these platforms set up, review the setups.

For example, use Google Tag Manager’s preview mode to confirm your Google Analytics: GA4 Configuration tag fires — this tag is critical because it powers your Google Analytics 4 account! You’ll also want to check Google Search Console for any errors, especially those related to indexing.

The next step in our do-it-yourself SEO checklist will also help you catch issues, so keep reading!

2.     Complete an SEO audit

The second step in how to do SEO on your own is to use a free SEO tool like Screaming Frog to audit your website’s SEO and find the following:

  • On-page SEO issues, like missing title tags
  • Technical SEO issues, like canonicalized URLs
  • Branding issues, like outdated brand mentions

Use Screaming Frog’s installation guide to run your first site crawl. Once your crawl finishes — which can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours depending on your crawl settings — you can review your audit.

Screaming Frog crawl for DIY SEO

Since you’re doing SEO DIY, you’ll need to pick and choose which SEO issues get your attention.

The following questions can help you prioritize:

  1. Is the issue preventing the site or URL(s) from appearing in search results?
  2. Is the issue site-wide or affecting a large number of URLs?
  3. Is the issue affecting a bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) URL?
  4. How much time will the issue require to fix?
  5. Who is needed to fix the issue?

XML SITEMAP

As an example, say you have the following SEO issues:

  • A new folder on the site is blocked from indexing
  • A few URLs have title tags over 60 characters
  • A 404 error is appearing for one of your best-selling products

Based on the earlier questions, you can prioritize the issues as follows:

  1. A 404 error is appearing for one of your best-selling products: One of your pipelines for driving revenue is shut off. Fixing the 404 error will allow you to re-open the pipeline and resume product sales.
  2. A new folder on the site is blocked from indexing: Since this issue affects multiple URLs, you’ll want to prioritize updating your robots.txt file. Once your update goes live, search engines can start crawling and indexing that folder’s content.
  3. A few URLs have title tags over 60 characters: While important, this update will likely have a lower impact than the changes above. Decreasing your title tag length (in this instance) could help click-through rate (CTR).

How many issues your audit uncovers will depend on your site. The good news is you don’t have to fix all your SEO issues at once to improve your SEO. Instead, prioritize the most impactful fixes and work leftover issues into the upcoming months.

For the best results, audit your site at least once every three months.

If you want to learn more about how to do SEO DIY audits, check out these related resources:

3.     Research keywords

Keywords are your gateway to reaching users via search engines.

You can get started with keyword research by using these best practices to guide your research:

  • Focus on long-tail keywords: At three to four words, long-tail keywords bring more qualified traffic to your site. While long-tail keywords get fewer searches, they’re less competitive, making them easier to rank than short-tail keywords.
  • Target relevant keywords: Just because you can rank for a keyword doesn’t mean you should target it. If you want to drive impactful results from SEO, like a new sale, focus your efforts on keywords relevant to your audience and business’s offerings.
  • Get keywords that convert: You’ll also want to focus on a keyword’s intent. A keyword can reveal someone’s preferred price range for a product or service, like “cheap plastic cups” or “gourmet coffee.” Use this information to target keywords that will convert for your business.
  • Use keywords in key places: Whenever you write content for your site, whether on your blog or on your homepage, you should use keywords naturally throughout that content. This best practice also includes any title tags or meta descriptions you create.

If you want to learn more about the basics of keyword research, check out these resources:

Now that you know keyword research best practices, let’s explore how to do your own SEO keyword research.

Researching keywords isn’t as hard as it may seem! There are a lot of SEO software options, like SEO.com, out there that offer keyword suggestions for your content and information about how hard it is to rank for those keywords.

A few tools that can help you get started with keyword research include:

  • Sales team, which can share common questions and concerns from leads.
  • Customer support team, which can share common client questions and issues.
  • Competitor sites, which can highlight relevant topics to discuss.
  • Google Search, which showcases related searches to a topic.
  • Google Keywords Planner, which provides search volume data.
  • SEO.com, which generates keyword ideas from existing rankings (or competitor rankings.
  • FAQ Fox, which compiles online threads related to your keyword or topic.

Let’s say your business is an automotive shop. From speaking with your co-workers, you know flat tires drive new sales and lead to long-term clients. So, you investigate flat tires as a potential content topic and start with “fix flat tires.”

First, you search “fix flat tire” on Google Search. Here is what you see:

Google Search example for DIY SEO

You notice a few things:

  1. The suggested searches relate to fixing a flat tire yourself temporarily
  2. The suggested searches relate to getting a professional to fix the tire
  3. The suggested searches include a branded element with Fix-a-Flat, Pep Boys, and Canadian Tire

If you view the search results, you see the following:

Google search results example for DIY SEO

Here, Google provides transactional and informational results, listing products and guides for fixing tires. You also see some bigger sites in the results.

Based on this information, you have some concerns about the keyword, like:

  • It’s too transactional, with a focus on buying ecommerce products vs. in-person services
  • It’s too competitive, with well-known businesses ranking in the top spot
  • It’s too localized, with a user’s location influencing the search results

With Google Keyword Planner, you can confirm your suspicions:

Google Keyword Planner results for DIY SEO

The keyword receives up to 10,000 searches per month and boasts a “High” rating for competition.

So, what do you do? You use a free keyword research tool, SEO.com, to find longer-tail keywords:

SEO.com results while doing SEO

From SEO.com, you can research a competitor’s keyword rankings and filter them. In the example above, we’ve used “flat” as a filter, but we have the option to filter by URL, which can help us find more informational topics like:

  • “flat tire bmw”
  • “how do you replace a flat tire”

If you want to proceed with any of these keywords, you can:

  • Return to Google Search to evaluate the search
  • Check the keywords’ search volume and ad popularity with Google Keyword Planner

Once you find a keyword that fits your business well, you can use FAQ Fox for content research.

FAQ Fox results for DIY SEO

FAQ Fox works by compiling online threads relevant to your content topic. You can use these threads to:

  • Research user expectations for this search
  • Compile common phrases people use to describe the problem
  • Gather potential solutions to include in your content

FAQ Fox results

When it comes to keyword research, you’ll want to have one core keyword and three to five related keywords. These keywords will feature in key places throughout your content, like your title tag, paragraphs, and headings.

Keep reading to learn how to optimize your content with your researched keywords!

4.     Optimize website content

If your website is a rocket, your website content is its fuel.

TITLE AND META

Fueling your website for higher rankings, traffic, and revenue numbers starts with these best practices:

  • Prioritize users: Search engines like Google want to deliver relevant, easy-to-use content. Commit to creating a website that’s easy to use, read, and understand. For example, use headings, lists, and images to make content skimmable when writing content.
  • Incorporate keywords: One of the most common mistakes with DIY SEO is keyword stuffing. Focus on incorporating keywords naturally in your content — forcing a keyword will affect the user experience and appear spammy.
  • Use multimedia: Who gets excited about reading a wall of text? No one. So, invest the time to create multimedia for your content, whether it’s screenshots, custom graphics, or video filmed on your smartphone.
  • Establish a style guide: A style guide provides quick answers to common questions, like “What’s our preferred case for title tags?” or “Should all headings include the target keyword?” If you already have a style guide, work with its point of contact to add SEO guidelines.

Some common DIY search engine optimization action items for optimizing website content include:

With these best practices, you can bring structure (and success) to doing SEO on your own.

5.     Improve internal linking

Internal links are like the roadways throughout a city — they help people (and Google) explore your site.

No matter the site size, do-it-yourself search engine optimization should include internal linking. When you invest the time in internal linking, you help Google crawl your site and understand your content, which can lead to higher rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Internal backlink example for DIY SEO

Some additional benefits of internal links include:

  • Improving time on site by providing users with other relevant information to explore
  • Helping users continue their buyer journey by sharing timely information
  • Offering search engine crawlers a direct route to content deeper in your site architecture
  • Passing authority from one URL to another, which can contribute to higher rankings

You can get started with internal linking by following these best practices:

  • Use descriptive anchor text, like “greenhouse tips” for linking to a URL about greenhouse tips
  • Ensure every URL has three to five internal backlinks
  • Use the navigation and footer to link to URLs targeting competitive keywords

When you audit your site’s SEO (see step two in this DIY SEO guide), you can use Screaming Frog to view the following:

  • Number of internal backlinks
  • Internal backlink anchor text
  • Internal backlink location, like the footer or navigation
  • And more

Screaming Frog internal backlink view

If you’d like to learn more about how to do internal linking yourself, check out these resources:

6.     Attract backlinks

Next on our list of DIY SEO tips is to get people to link to your content. Links from reputable sites make your site look wonderful to search engines, giving you a much needed boost in the rankings. But earning links isn’t easy.

That’s why many DIY SEOs buy links, but I’ll just say this now. Don’t. Buy. Links.

Purchasing links will get you penalized in the SERPs, as demonstrated by Google’s SpamBrain update, basically negating any of the hard work you’ve put into your site’s SEO. Getting people to link to your site requires time and dedication.

Here are some tips for how to attract backlinks to your website:

  • Make great content that people want to share: If you write educational blog posts or make some really cool videos, you’re on the right path.  If you need content ideas that people want, take some time to scour the internet.
  • Look up trending topics on Google Trends: Read some of your competitors’ content, if they have any, see what people are talking about on social media and in forums like Quora and Reddit, and try our content idea generator, FAQ Fox.
  • Promote content on social media: Promoting your content on social media is also a good start. The more people are exposed to your site, the greater your chance of getting them to link to it.
  • Conduct email outreach: Look up professionals in your industry. Maybe a trade publication would benefit from an article you wrote, or a blogger might share your infographic in their related content.

GOOGLE TRENDS

If you’d like to learn more about this element of off-page SEO, check out these resources:

7.     Track SEO rankings, conversions, and more

When it comes to how to do SEO on your own, it’s more than optimizing your website — it’s also tracking your performance. How do you know if what you’re doing is working and if it’s contributing to your organization’s bigger objectives?

A website analytics platform like GA4 can help you answer this question because it’ll track the following:

  • Organic visits
  • Organic conversions

Similarly, Google Search Console will help you track the following:

  • Organic search result rankings
  • Organic search result impressions
  • Organic search result clicks

What if you’re looking for more, though?

For example, if you’re a lead-based business, how do you know if a website conversion became a sale? For that, you’ll need a platform that can sync your marketing data (like a GA4 conversion) with your sales data (like a CRM lead status update).

The good news is these platforms already exist! One example is MarketingCloudFX.

With a platform like MarketingCloudFX, you can:

  • Attribute SEO-driven conversions to sales
  • Re-purpose organic traffic for email marketing and pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns
  • Get a customer relationship management (CRM) software, Nutshell, for free
  • Determine which SEO content has delivered the highest return on investment (ROI)
  • And more

For small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs), MarketingCloudFX is a fantastic fit. In comparison, larger companies will benefit from a marketing automation platform like Marketo, and startups will benefit from growing their traffic (and business) first.

If you’d like to learn more about tracking SEO’s bottom-line performance, check out these resources:

8.     Continue learning SEO

Can you do SEO yourself? Yes — but you need to commit to ongoing learning.

Search engine optimization is evolving, with search results and search algorithms changing every year. While some changes are more subtle, others have a massive impact, like Google’s Medic Update on the health care sector.

That’s why it’s critical to continue growing your SEO knowledge. Some great resources include:

If you’re wondering, yes, WebFX also has some SEO resources our clients’ love, including:

And that’s how to do your own search engine optimization. Now, you’re ready to take on the SERPs!

Independent research from Clutch has named WebFX the

top SEO company in the United States.

Clutch has personally interviewed more than 250 WebFX clients to discuss their experience partnering with us.

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FAQs about DIY SEO

Now you know the answer to the question, “can I do SEO on my own?”

If you’re looking to learn more about DIY SEO, check out our FAQs:

What is SEO?

SEO in digital marketing stands for search engine optimization. Search engine optimization is the practice of optimizing your website to appear in relevant search results, like on Google or Bing. When you do SEO yourself, you use multiple skills, like research, writing, coding, and even collaboration.

If you want to learn more about the basics of SEO, check out our SEO playlist on our YouTube channel.

What are the types of SEO?

There are three core types of SEO:

  1. On-page SEO: On-page SEOinvolves elements on your site you control, like the title tag and meta description that show up in the search results and the text and multimedia content throughout your site.
  2. Off-page SEO: Off-page SEO involves your website’s reputation on the web. Attracting backlinks from other reputable sites (especially reputable sites in your industry) signals to search engines that people trust your website, which can improve your rankings in search results.
  3. Technical SEO: Technical SEO involves elements on your site you control, but that might require collaboration with your development team. Common technical SEO elements include page speed, XML sitemaps, a robots.txt file, and structured data.

Besides these three types of SEO, there are a few specialized SEO types:

  1. Local SEO: Local SEO focuses on your presence in localized search results, like “pizza near me.” If you do SEO yourself, you’ll concentrate on claiming and optimizing local listings, like Google Business Profile and Bing Local, and creating localized content for your site.
  2. Ecommerce SEO: Ecommerce SEO focuses on your product listings, helping them reach (and convert) more shoppers online. Some ecommerce SEO tactics include optimizing site architecture, eliminating duplicate content, and improving product multimedia.
  3. Voice SEO: Voice SEO focuses on attracting more voice search traffic to your site. If you optimize your site for voice searches, you’ll often optimize existing content to better answer questions concisely.

What are the best SEO tools for beginners?

The best SEO tools for beginners are often free and include:

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SEO Tools

When it comes to do-it-yourself SEO, these tools provide the SEO toolkit you need to succeed.

Is it difficult to do SEO on your own?

How difficult SEO is to do on your own depends on multiple factors, including:

  • Your website’s size
  • Your website’s existing SEO
  • Your SEO experience
  • Your SEO budget
  • Your available time for SEO
  • And more

If you have a large website and multiple responsibilities, SEO can become difficult to do on your own — not because you don’t have the skills, but because you don’t have the time to optimize, maintain, and grow your site.

In comparison, if you have a small website and an SEO-focused role, SEO can become easy to do on your own because you have the time and skills to optimize your site’s off-page, on-page, and technical search engine optimization.

When should I hire someone vs. do SEO on my own?

When deciding whether it’s time to partner with an SEO agency or continue doing it on your own, think about your business and it’s online performance — based on your current results, do you think an agency would be able to increase your success significantly?

Expert insights from webfx logo

Trevin
Trevin Shirey WebFX VP of Marketing

Hiring an SEO agency depends a lot on the business size and how dependent your business is on revenue. You can look at how much revenue your business is generating now from organic search. Do you think an agency could improve that by 5%? 10%? 25%? If they did, how much additional revenue are you looking at? You can start to get a feel for the value of investing more into growing your search presence with those calculations.

 

For some businesses, you might be at a point that you should be investing heavily into an agency partner for SEO. For others, you may need to figure out product/market fit, build out infrastructure and other core business functions first. Nail those things first and then you can lean into SEO more and more as a long term marketing channel.

Who do I hire for SEO services?

There are a few different routes you can take when deciding to hire someone for SEO — you can hire an agency, or you can hire a freelance SEO. Both have their pros and cons, but the biggest difference between the two is their capabilities.

A freelance SEO is usually one person, while an agency gives you the backing of a whole team of SEO professionals. In the end, it’s all about choosing which option is right for your business.

Want to learn more about in-house vs. freelance vs. agency SEO? Check out the table below!

DIY SEO FREELANCER AGENCY
Skills & Expertise Skills and expertise are limited to your own knowledge or that of your internal SEO team. One well-rounded individual with expertise in one or more aspects of SEO. A team of experienced marketers with various skills and in-depth knowledge of SEO best practices and strategies.
Flexibility Flexibility is extremely limited — as the master of your own SEO, you can choose to work on it outside of normal business hours, but you’re doing this on top of running your own business. Have some flexibility in terms of when they can help you beyond usual office hours. May not have established processes since they work alone and can sometimes not be as organized (compared to agencies). Operate during specific working hours, so not entirely flexible in terms of helping outside of working hours, but extremely reliable during normal business hours. Have established processes in place and can streamline various tasks for efficiency.
Resources & Technology Resources are limited to your team’s network, which is likely smaller than that of a freelancer or agency. Technology is limited to what your team invests in and ultimately, what your budget can afford. Since they work independently, freelancers often have fewer resources or marketing tech than digital agencies, though they have a vast network since they’ve worked for various other businesses. Regularly invest in SEO  tools and technology to help their clients. As marketing professionals, they also have a vast network and are consistently staying on top of the latest SEO and marketing trends.
Communication Communication is based on however you normally touch base with your team. If you’re doing SEO solely by yourself, communication issues are virtually nonexistent. Businesses can communicate directly with freelancers, and any feedback can be given right to them as opposed to speaking to a team through a project manager. Communication with your digital marketing agency team is streamlined through project management tools, and having a dedicated project manager.

Is it worth paying for SEO?

For many businesses, it’s worth paying for SEO because SEO services:

  • Help your website grow its rankings, traffic, and conversions
  • Give your business a dedicated SEO expert — without the in-house costs
  • Let your company adopt and implement the latest SEO strategies
  • Allow your business to focus on other areas of marketing in-house
  • And more

Working with an SEO agency saves you time, and you get to work with a team of people who have already tackled whatever digital challenges you’re facing many times. Whether you’re looking to increase traffic, improve your conversion rate, or recover from a Google algorithm change, a good agency has already done all of those things hundreds of times. They’ve seen what works, what doesn’t, and know exactly what to expect as opposed to DIYing your SEO and trying to figure all of that stuff out for the first time. The access to expertise in a lot of specific areas is a huge advantage of working with an SEO agency.

Trevin Shirey, WebFX VP of Marketing

If you decide to pay for SEO instead of doing SEO yourself, use these tips to find the perfect provider:

  • Determine your budget
  • Draft your goals and expectations
  • Research your candidates’ plans, past work, and ratings

Learn more about outsourcing SEO by checking out our guide on how to hire SEO experts!

How long does DIY SEO take?

When it comes to day-to-day tasks, these are some estimates for DIY SEO projects:

  • SEO audit: Four hours
  • Keyword research: Two hours
  • New content: Six hours
  • Link building: Four hours

If you’re just getting started with doing SEO on your own, you’ll likely require more time to complete SEO tasks. That’s okay! As you get more experience, you’ll complete these SEO projects faster for your site.

When will I see results from DIY search engine optimization?

Whether you pay for SEO or embrace DIY SEO, results from search engine optimization will take several months. Expect to invest in SEO for six months (or more) before seeing your rankings, traffic, and conversions increase.

How can I learn SEO?

Ongoing learning is DIY SEO’s best friend. Below, you’ll find resources for learning more about SEO:

These are real SEO results driven for a WebFX client.

You’re next.

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260%

increase in organic revenue
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198%

increase in organic transactions
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150%

increase in organic traffic
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3872%

increase in sessions from SEO

Get started with DIY SEO (or get some help!)

Now that you know how to do SEO yourself, you’re ready to become an SEO expert!

If DIY SEO isn’t doable, though, WebFX can help! With our do-it-for-me SEO solutions, you’ll receive everything you need to capture more rankings, traffic, and revenue from the web. Contact us online or call us at 888-601-5359 for an SEO proposal that includes pricing, strategy, and flight plan!

Try our new free SEO checker at SEO.com

Boost your site’s search performance with our free SEO Checker. Analyze your website for optimization tips on titles, headers, content, speed, and more.

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