About 5 years ago, I purchased my first house. I really didn’t know what I was doing, so I relied on the experience of my real estate agent.
I am a veteran, so of course, I decided to take advantage of a VA loan since VA loans don’t require money down on home loans. The home buying process for me really sucked – mostly because I didn’t know much of what to expect and costs kept piling up.
I had to pay fee after fee including radon tests, mold inspection, and something else to have the ridge vent carefully examined. Something was telling me not to buy the house, but since I already invested a bunch of cash on all of these inspections and checkups, I decided to stick it out and buy the house anyway.
Fortunately, my house turned out to be okay, but I hated not having a clue about whether or not the deal was truly a good deal. I feel as though I put too much trust in my real estate agent and I probably shouldn’t have (being that they get paid on commission.)
Since then I’ve encountered some plumbing issues, heat pump issues, and I’ve learned something extremely valuable. Knowing how to do something yourself can save you a ton of money in the long run.
Because I’m a notorious do-it-yourselfer, I learned a bit about plumbing, heating ventilation, and air conditioning, how to use a hammer and pretty much everything a homeowner needs to know if they don’t want to spend all of their money everytime something happens with their house.
Hiring a reputable SEO company or an experienced SEO consultant can be extremely beneficial to your business. However, not every small to medium-sized business can afford SEO services, especially without a clear understanding of what they’re buying. A major problem with the SEO industry is that business owners tend to be like I was with my real estate agent and put too much trust in their SEO company.
Many (not all) SEO companies that I’ve come across, like to flood their services with jargon with the intent to scare you into handing them thousands of dollars and don’t perform a single task. They like to scare you with words like algorithm changes, Google penalties, and much other nonsense that doesn’t apply to them.
To be honest, SEO isn’t all that hard, but awesome search engine rankings require effort, commitment, and testing. To make the most out of your SEO, I like to train small businesses how to conduct proper SEO on their own, or at least enough SEO training to keep them from losing money with bad SEO companies.
Without further a due, here’s what I found to be the best do-it-yourself techniques to increase traffic to your website.
1. Learn How Search Engines Work
The first and most important do-it-yourself SEO tip learn for yourself, what happens when a user performs a search.
I haven’t seen a better explanation than his, so I’ve included it below.
Basically, Mr. Cutts explains how Google is able to add websites to its index and decide which websites to display first in its results.
After you understand how Google decides which results to return first, go back and look at the content on your and ask yourself whether or not, the content on your site (for that search term) is more valuable than any other website who is also trying to rank for that search term.
2. Keyword Research (Long-tail Keywords)
It’s one thing to go after search terms like “personal injury attorney in Baltimore” if you happen to be a personal injury lawyer. It’s another thing to understand what other (more winnable) keywords your clients/customers use to find information related to your services.
For example, instead of only targeting the “personal injury attorney” keyword, you should research other key terms that people search for. For example, a personal injury attorney should have content on their site that explains “how much money you can expect from a car accident settlement.”
Having information on your website in the form of case studies can explain to potential clients the details of the lawsuit, the type of injuries the client sustained, location of the incident (Baltimore, Maryland), and how much money was awarded to the client.
The details of a case study can be extremely valuable to a person looking to hire a “personal injury attorney in Baltimore.” Since this type of content is valuable, it has a much better potential to land on Google’s first page rather than simply repeating the same keyword over and over again within the content.
Many SEO companies have different approaches to long-tail keyword research. Mine is simple, I:
- Type my main search term in Google search
- Pay close attention to the language in the paid ads (for the personal injury example, I noticed the ads were focused on financial recovery and high payout settlements.
- Google also shows “searches related to…” And also answers questions related to common searches.
- Search these key terms in Reddit and Quora.com
I keep a list of potential ideas and search these terms to get more ideas. Eventually, I’m able to find long-tail keywords and valuable content to add to my site.
3. Competitor Research
Create a spreadsheet and list out ALL of your competitors. Also, include the web pages who outrank you in Google SERPs.
Visit these pages and take notes:
- How often do they post?
- What key terms are they targeting?
- Who are they targeting?
- Type of content (blog, case studies, reviews, video, podcasts, etc.)
The only way to beat the competition is to provide more valuable content than the competitions. If your competitors post new content two times per week, then you need to be posting three or four.
In the world of search engines, you need great content and to add new stuff to your site often. New content creation is an SEO must and it must be not only more valuable, but it has to be more often.
How many followers do your competitors have on Facebook and other social media outlets? Yes, social signals are a major part of how search engines value content.
If you have a large following on Facebook and can get said followers to engage in your content, it will benefit your search engine rankings.
Are your competitors on YouTube? Get on YouTube and start adding content there as well. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world and it’s owned by Google, so skip
I’ve written another article about do-it-yourself SEO for small business and I go a bit more in-depth about competitor analysis.
4. Create a YouTube Channel
Adding content to YouTube could be the most difficult on this list. Video content is valuable and is growing in popularity, especially among millennials.
Video content is time-consuming and difficult to get off the ground, but the return on investment is worth it over time. Whether your competitors are invested in video content or not, you need to be.
If competitors have an active channel, you need to outpost them. However, if your competitors are not producing video content, it will give you an opportunity to get ahead quicker.
While completing your YouTube channel, be sure to use keyword rich titles and descriptions. Always link to your website and create playlists around keyword rich categories and subcategories of your service offerings.
To get started on YouTube, check out Google’s “How to create a new YouTube channel” page.
5. Ask for Reviews
A few days ago, my fiance and I enjoyed a date night. During our date, we visited a local Irish restaurant called Brian Boru in Severna Park, Maryland – a must go if you live or are visiting the Annapolis area.
We had a great time, the host was talkative and a good storyteller, the server was polite and courteous and the food was amazing.
Like most, we don’t normally do this, but we decided to ask our server if she could go get her manager. Shortly after, the manager walked up to our table (fully expecting to hear a complaint.)
Instead, we complimented the manager and the entire staff and were amazed at the level of service we encountered. The manager was so taken back by our positive review that she gave us a complimentary dessert and the host bought us a round of shots.
Positive reviews are extremely important especially online.
Review sites such as Google My Business and Yelp are huge. Make sure your listings are up-to-date and ask your happiest customers to leave positive reviews. Or like the manager at the restaurant, expect to hear only complaints and bad reviews.
Google allows you to create a link that will take your customers directly to your review page. If you eliminate a barrier to entry, it will make it much easier for the customer to leave you a review.
In another do-it-yourself SEO post, I talk about how a client of mine offer gift cards in exchange for reviews and it completely changed their business.
While there are many do-it-yourself SEO techniques, I feel the five mentioned in the post works wonders and therefore are the best. Go ahead and give them a try.
Start with learning how Google search works by watching the video from Matt Cutts. Next, find some long-tail keyword opportunities and make sure you use them often in your content creation. Analyze your competitors. Pay close attention to what they’re saying and the channels in which they use (social, video, etc.) Get on YouTube, and ask for reviews.
Let me know which do-it-yourself SEO tips work best for you and feel free to ask me if you encounter any issues.