Keys To Do-It-Yourself SEO And Why Your Strategies Aren’t Working

As much as we feel that every company needs a great SEO consultant to help guide its search engine optimization strategy, we have also become realists, knowing that not all companies have the passion/belief in the strategy—as we do.

That said, some try to do SEO themselves by taking the DIY SEO route. As much as we feel they should seek professional help, our goals and beliefs are rooted in helping businesses succeed online—even if they don’t use our team.

If you try SEO yourself, you’ll need to understand some basic principles that Google likes to reward and users love.

Nine Core Principles of Do-It-Yourself SEO

DIY SEO Principle #1: Understand Your Competition

When we consider the competitive nature of SEO, it’s hard to ignore that each site competes against the value of others—not against the algorithm. Because of this, understanding your competitive set and what strategies they are using to increase traffic is key to competing within the search results.

If you’re going to do SEO yourself, you need to analyze the competitive tactics behind the website’s ranking for your target keywords. This includes exploring competitive keyword targeting strategies, content creation strategies, and link-building strategies.

DIY SEO Principle #2: Understand Your Users

Any website should strive to provide value to its users. Value comes in many forms but for SEO, understanding the content, functionality, design elements, and information architecture that your user’s value will go a long way toward providing value.

Gaining user insights is easier than you may think. You can accomplish this by engaging with your website visitors and asking them questions—or, for those with a physical location, just talking with your customers when they come into your store.

DIY SEO Principle #3: Great Design

This is probably one of the most difficult strategies to define since “great” is a subjective term. However, to create a truly great website design, it must also be evaluated objectively based on data and user needs.

There are core components and a process for creating a website that looks great and functions well. These include design consistency, well-thought-out architecture, well-planned content, and integrated SEO strategy.

Check out our website evaluation guide to view more of these core components.

DIY SEO Principle #4: Site Architecture

A website’s architecture, in its basic form, is defined as how the information is organized and navigation elements are built.

Website architecture strategy includes; understanding your users well enough to know what they expect, how they navigate websites, the nomenclature they use, and their mental model for making decisions.

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to find a piece of content or a product on a website with a poorly designed IA.

DIY SEO Principle #5: Keyword Research

For DIY SEO to benefit a business, the correct keywords must be targeted. Targeting a keyword based on search volume alone is not always the correct strategy.

To correctly target a keyword, a business needs to understand why it is optimizing its website to rank for that keyword.

There are two types of keywords: vanity and data-driven.

  • Vanity keywords are usually chosen because the business owner or marketing executive wants to rank for them. Still, there is little data to support the value of ranking for them – these are usually generic head terms with low conversion rates.
  • Data-driven keywords are backed by quantitative and qualitative data points, such as paid search conversion rates, user insights, search volume, and contextual value.

DIY SEO Principle #6: Blog Regularly

Just because you have a blog does not mean it will instantly benefit your business. Blogs are simply publishing platforms—meaning garbage in, garbage out.

The key is to understand what content your users will find valuable and in what form, choose the correct keywords to target within each blog post, and then consistently create valuable content—quality over quantity.

DIY SEO Principle #7: Internal Linking

Internal linking is not related to primary navigation, as mentioned in the information architecture section of this article. Internal linking strategies include choosing the best keywords within articles to link to other pages on your website.

Internal links have many benefits including; increasing page views, giving users additional contextually relevant navigation options, and helping distribute ranking metrics throughout your website.

Remember, if you plan on embarking on DIY SEO and working on your internal linking strategy, context is key – so don’t just link any random word.

DIY SEO Principle #8: Market Your Website

Marketing your website is key to earning links that help pages on your website rank well in the search results. I am sure you have heard the adage “if you build it they will come.”, well this could not be more incorrect for websites.

Earning links starts with creating great content for your website – the better the content, the less you need to market it; the worse the content the more you’ll need to market it and the less likely someone will be to link to it or share it on social media.

DIY SEO Principle #9: Tracking and Analytics

Finally, and maybe the most important part of doing SEO yourself, is tracking your success and shifting strategies based on the data.

Data points we usually recommend checking weekly/monthly include:

Total Keywords a Website Ranks For

This can be pulled from a tool such as SEMrush, and helps provide trending data for what many know as a TV or Radio success metric called Reach.

What you want to see as you publish more content or revise your keyword strategy is consistent growth in the total number of keywords your website ranks for. Growth in these SEO metrics means your content is being valued and shown for an increased number of keywords, thus increasing your reach within Google.

Traffic By Source

Segmenting traffic by sources such as Organic, Referral, Social, and Direct can provide insights into which channels perform best – each channel provides its insights.

  • Organic – how is your DIY SEO doing, and are Google, Bing, and Yahoo valuing your website?
  • Referral – is your content being linked to and valued by others?
  • Social – are people sharing and engaging with your content?
  • Direct – a good indication of brand recall and/or successful traditional marketing efforts.

Traffic By Section

Understanding which sections on your website are performing best can help drive strategies.

Traffic Year-over-Year

We like analyzing year-over-year traffic for websites that have major swings in seasonality and traffic patterns from month to month

Rankings Of Priority Keywords

Rankings are okay to monitor, but only if the keywords being tracked have proven to be valuable. Just tracking hundreds of keywords is not the best strategy for most websites.

Conversion Rates By Source

This can help provide insights into which source or marketing channel should get budget allocation or which needs more attention for your team.

In Conclusion

As mentioned, we don’t expect every business to hire a top-rated SEO professional, but if you’ve been doing the SEO for your website and are not seeing the results you expected, we’d love to talk. Feel free to call or email our founder/CEO directly.