The DIY ethic, a necessity for the first few thousands of years of human existence and reclaimed by punk rock in the late 70s, is making a comeback as the world wide web grows bigger and gets faster. Wondering if the non-working turn signals and non-working backup lights in your 2002 Chevy Cavalier are related? Well, I was yesterday, Googled it, and fixed the fuse myself. Search engine-enhanced DIY is all around us.
DIY SEO can help your website get a jump start on getting found, but there are many nuances to SEO. It’s a good idea to work with a professional SEO to take you to the next level after you get a good grounding yourself of how it works. First, I’d take a good look at respected online sources. Here are some good ones: seobook.com, searchengineland.com, and of course (straight from the horse’s mouth), Google’s SEO Starter Guide.
Keyword Research – Figure out how your target audience searches for your site.
- Brainstorm a list of 10-20 search terms that you think people would use to find you. Enter each one in Google and/or bing to see if your website would be a reasonable fit with the other sites showing up for these terms.
- Look at competitors’ sites that are showing up for your target terms. Are they using any other keywords that you haven’t thought of? Add these to your list.
- Use a free keyword tool like The Google Keyword Tool to get even more ideas and to see the level of interest and competition for each term you’re considering.
- Narrow your list to those keywords you think will produce the most relevant search traffic.
Incorporate Keywords – Strategically use keywords in your site meta data and content.
- Match each keyword on your list to pages on your site with corresponding content. (spreadsheets are good for this). Don’t force the issue, though. If you have “orphan” keywords in your list that don’t match up with any pages, keep them in a holding area to use for future relevant content.
- Use the target keyword for each page in the page’s title (keep it under 60 characters), in the meta description (should describe the page in under 145 characters), in the url if possible, and within the page content (several times, naturally, and in Headings, if possible).
Optimize Site Structure – Make sure your site is easy to navigate for humans and bots.
- Google hearts html. Don’t mess around with too much flash and don’t have your text tied up in images. This happens all the time! Engine bots can’t read it.
- If your navigation structure is logical to humans and is text based, you’re head and shoulders against many other (even very expensive) sites out there.
- Make sure your robots.txt files are in order. This is not as intimidating as it sounds. They basically tell engines which pages to crawl, index, not crawl, etc. Here’s a brief primer: http://www.robotstxt.org/
Get Links – Getting links back to your site is an ongoing process, but well worth your time. Note: Don’t overdo it because your site could be penalized and disappear from search results if it appears like you’re trying to dupe the engines.
- Make sure you are getting links from sites that should be linking to you (associations you belong to, Chambers of Commerce, BBB, etc.)
- Anytime you give a presentation, a quote in an article, a testimonial or any activity that may be mentioned online, ask if the author could send a link back to your site.
- Write informational articles about your industry and submit them to articles directories like ezinearticles.com
- If possible, try to include your target keywords in the links back to your site. This instructs search engines to associate your site with those words.
Finally, to measure your results, use a free Analytics program like Google Analytics. It’s very easy to set up and there are tons of user resources on the site. See what’s working and what’s not and adjust your strategy. Most DIY’ers need help sometimes. When my Chevy’s muffler falls off (which I’m anticipating will happen soon), I probably won’t try to figure out how to fix it myself – I’ll go to the garage. If you hit a snag, get in touch with a professional SEO who can help you trouble-shoot, strategize, and basically rock with your search marketing.