DIY SEO: Try These 10 Strategies Before You Hire

DIY SEO: Try These 10 Strategies Before You Hire

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an invaluable tool for increasing your organic website traffic. SEO is a necessity, especially for businesses looking to acquire clients or customers from Google Search. Unfortunately, many marketers would have you believe that SEO is expensive, confusing, and requires hiring an SEO expert.

In reality, you can DIY your SEO. Yes, that means there are strategies you can use to rank your own website without ever having to hire an agency. In this guide, we cover DIY SEO 10 tactics you can follow to start seeing results.

  • 1. Run an SEO Audit on Your Website
  • 2. Enable Google Analytics
  • 3. Validate Your Website in Google Search Console
  • 4. Set a Baseline for Your Website’s SEO
  • 5. Research Keywords for Your Service, Products, or Niche
  • 6. Publish Search Engine Optimized Content
  • 7. Conduct a Backlink Analysis
  • 8. Address Technical Issues and Blockers
  • 9. Optimize Your Page Titles and Headings
  • 10. Build Out More Backlinks and Listings

"Can I learn SEO on my own?"

The short answer is Yes, you can learn and implement SEO on your own, even without any previous experience. From keyword research to meta descriptions to link building, there are many SEO tasks that are accessible to beginners. What's most important is that you are focused on your target audience and conduct a strong SEO campaign that provides great content to this audience.

At the same time, there are some technical issues that might require additional support, unless you fancy yourself a web developer pro. The surest way to get more visitors and more traffic is to have a strong technical foundation from the get-go. Then, you can begin building out quality content, ranking in organic search, and using valuable keywords throughout your website.

1. Run an SEO Audit on Your Website

The first step you should take before launching your SEO strategy is to conduct a comprehensive SEO audit to assess your site’s existing health, SEO, and performance. An audit will identify on-page, technical, and content issues that may be impacting your website’s search rankings.

Surfer’s SEO Audit Tool provides a step-by-step report of your website’s current SEO. You’ll also have a prioritized list of issues to fix or optimize in order to improve your rankings. 

An SEO audit will reveal:

  • How to refresh old content
  • Existing SEO errors that are affecting your website
  • On page SEO and content factors, including content length, keyword density, and more
  • Page speed insights for mobile and desktop
  • Unlinked mentions (“missing” backlinks)
  • Number of referring domains
  • Meta tags structure
  • Number and optimization of page headings
  • Broken (404) URLs
  • Internal links
  • Meta description length
  • Thin website content

2. Address Technical Issues and Blockers

As you can probably imagine, the next step is to fix the technical issues identified during your SEO audit. We highly recommend addressing these issues before adding any new content to your website. That way, you can be confident that nothing on your site is slowing your content down or preventing it from being indexed in search engines.

Some of the most common technical SEO issues websites experience are:

  • Duplicate content
  • Poor mobile optimization
  • Poor navigation and/or user experience
  • Missing image alt text
  • Missing or incorrect sitemap
  • Missing SSL certificate
  • Improper URL redirects
  • Slow page load

Many of these issues you’ll be able to fix on your own by updating content or following the directions outlined in the SEO audit. Others may require the help of a web developer to address more complex technical issues.

3. Enable Google Analytics

The phrase, “Whatever gets measured, gets managed” applies here. Google Analytics (GA) provides the best view into how your website is performing in terms of traffic volume, source, and user behavior.

Getting set up in Google Analytics is free and simple. Here are the steps:

Once GA is set up, let it run for at least a few weeks so you are able to gather some historical data. Then you will be able to see how many users have visited your website from which channel (organic, social, etc.). 

Later on, you can even create custom Dashboards to report on the metrics you really want to see and create Goals to track actions on your website. 

It’s crucial to have GA enabled because you’ll be able to see how your site is currently performing and measure progress over time. This is the best way to know whether your search engine optimization efforts are paying off. 

4. Validate Your Website in Google Search Console

Similar to GA, Google Search Console (GSC) is another free, Google-owned analytics platform that provides insight into how your website is performing in Search. In GSC, however, you get more details as to what keywords your site is ranking for, at which position, and the click-through rate (CTR) on your web pages.

While GA tells you how much organic traffic your website is getting, GSC offers much more in terms of supporting your keyword strategy. So, if you aim to DIY your SEO, you’ll want to use GSC to see which keywords you are ranking best for and which ones need improvement.

GSC also offers additional site health tools that can uncover technical and user experience (UX) issues on your website. In combination with your site audit, these free tools will help you piece together a great go-forward optimization strategy.

5. Set a Baseline for Your Website’s SEO

We start this guide with analytics because without them you won’t know how your website is doing or whether your SEO work is paying off. Don’t go into your search engine optimization strategy blind; use analytics to set a baseline for where your site is now and set goals for where you want it to be.

You can set a baseline however you want - write your current number of monthly organic users down or drop a pin in GA - but what’s important is that you know how much organic traffic your site is currently getting. Make a note of when you first initiate SEO work on your site.

GA and GSC both allow you to download reports (in a variety of formats) so you can save them in your files. Refer to these to see how your SEO improves over time. You can also use additional free SEO tools, like keyword trackers, to monitor keyword rankings.

6. Research Keywords for Your Service, Products, or Niche

By this step, you have an idea of how your site is currently performing (if at all) and maybe some keywords you are ranking for. Take note of the keywords ranking at position 6 or beyond, prioritizing these as areas for improvement.

GSC won’t report on your “untapped” opportunities, though. You will want to use additional keyword research tools to find new, relevant keywords to target. These should be keywords related to your services, products, and information offered on your website.

The Keyword Research Tool allows you to uncover new keyword opportunities relevant to your website. You can start with a “seed” keyword to reveal secondary keywords or spy on the primary keywords your competitors are ranking for.

These keywords can then become topics for new website's pages or blog posts on your website. Cluster like-terms together to optimize each new piece of content for closely related (e.g. “digital marketing tactics” and “digital marketing tips”) keywords in that category. Unique keywords/keyword sets (e.g. “digital marketing services”) warrant their own page or post. 

7. Publish Search Engine Optimized Content

Once you have your focus keywords in mind, you can begin to create search engine optimized content; this is content that’s written with both users and your target keywords term in mind.

The Surfer Content Editor tool makes it easy to write content that checks all the boxes in terms of SEO best practices. Simply enter your target keyword into the Content Editor and the tool will provide you with secondary keyword recommendations, suggested word count, recommended headings, and more.

You can even use the Content Editor to re-optimize your existing content with target keywords in mind. Just copy and paste your content into the document, then follow Surfer’s recommendations.  

8. Conduct a Backlink Analysis

The number and quality of the backlinks pointing to your website is very important for SEO. Think of backlinks as essentially votes of confidence from other websites that your site is valuable, authoritative, and helpful.

To DIY your site's SEO, take a look at your current backlink profile. You can use tools like or to run a backlink analysis. Chances are, if you are new to SEO, you’ll have very few high-quality links. This is okay!

Your goal going forward should be to take a data-driven approach to link building. This means looking at your competitors’ backlink profiles (you can use the same tools) and finding opportunities for outreach. You can also reach out to publishers to get blog or guest posts featured under your name and link back to your website. 

It’s best to try and earn these links organically through content marketing and manual outreach. Paying for backlinks comes at a significant risk of penalties or attracting spam traffic to your website. Focus on acquiring links from strong domains and/or through thematically related links on relevant websites.

9. Optimize Your Page Title Tags and Headings

Perhaps the easiest task in DIY SEO is updating your title tags and headings. This becomes very simple once you know what keyword(s) you are targeting on each landing page.

The title (“title tag”) is the title that’s displayed in the actual search results and is important for both optimization and clicks. Each page should 1) have a unique title, 2) effectively describe what the landing page is about, 3) include the primary keyword for the page, 4) be written to entice clicks, and 5) be under 65 characters so it is not cut short in the search results.

Your H1 Heading, on the other hand, is essentially the title that users get to see on the actual page. It should also include a primary keyword or related keyword, but doesn’t necessarily have to be an exact match of the title tag. Each page should have only one H1.

The remaining headings (H2, H3, etc.) are used to outline the various sections throughout the page or post. They are additional real estate for your keywords, but they should be written to describe what the following section is about. Much like a high school essay, see headings like the high-level outline of your page or post. 

10. Build Out More Backlinks and Listings

Link building should be part of your ongoing SEO strategy in order to improve your site’s authority over time. Some of these links will come naturally; others will require a bit more effort on your end. Here are a few ideas that can help:

  • Look at your competitors’ backlinks to find possible referral sources
  • Publish engaging, “link-worthy” content other websites would like to link to
  • Find broken links or “unlinked mentions” via a site audit to find link opportunities
  • Publish “skyscraper” content that offers immense value to readers
  • Submit your local or small business to online, niche directories

Link building can feel a bit disheartening because it’s hard to guarantee a link, but the impact is definitely worth the effort. Search engines pay close attention to your backlinks when determining the value of your website.

You Can DIY Your Site's SEO Like a Pro

You don’t need to hire an SEO agency or consultant in order to rank your website. In reality, there are plenty of strategies you can use to start moving the needle in terms of your site’s optimization and rankings. All it takes is determination and a desire to learn the basics of SEO.

Remember, analytics will tell you where your site is now and give you a hint at where you want to be in the future. An SEO audit will reveal technical issues you can fix right away. Keyword research and content is at the foundation of your go-forward SEO plan.

We believe you can do it, too! Start with DIY SEO and start ranking your own website like a pro. 

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