By Anna Fox
Is DIY SEO possible?
Yes, and it can improve your blog traffic quite a bit!
And more traffic means more monetization opportunities as well as more potential clients to work with.
So to state the blindingly obvious, increasing the amount of traffic to your blog is a top priority.
By utilizing proper SEO techniques and tools, you can dramatically increase your organic search visibility.
The good news is, SEO is not rocket science. You don’t have to hire an SEO consultant or pay for expensive tools. You can totally master DIY SEO at home and achieve long-term search visibility on a very tight budget.
Disclaimer: I am not an SEO expert, but I have been using the following tools on a regular basis when producing content for clients and myself. So I know what they help with and how to succeed, from my own experience.
What should you be looking for in SEO tools?
Unless you are a professional SEO consultant, the best criteria for choosing SEO software you can focus on are
- Ease of use (You can understand how a tool works without additional training),
- Inexpensive and/or free software
- Reliability! Stay away from false promises and outdated SEO advice such as keyword density metric that can harm your content quality.
1. Google Tools: Monitor Your SEO Health (FREE!)
For the best in free, Google has its own set of optimizing tools for small businesses and content marketers in the form of Google Analytics and Google Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools).
Google Analytics focuses solely on traffic driven to sites and offers statistics on what methods work for this, sales, and more. Everything is set up in a smooth dashboard that’s minimalistic and easy to read.
Google Analytics can get quite intimidating when it comes to goal tracking and setting URL parameters, but if you are just starting out, use the rule I went by:
- If I don’t know what it means, move on.
- Focus on what matters and learn everything else later
This helped me get started with Google Analytics. Install the script (using one of these plugins). Give it a few days to accumulate the data and focus on this section:
Behavior -> Site Content -> All pages
This will help you identify your articles that are driving more traffic. You can use a filter to drill down to article topics and sections to get a better understanding of your blog most successful pages:
Google Search Console
Google Search Console scans your website and alerts you to any errors that you may have made in SEO specific to your website. Linking these two accounts together can also add data specific to your website through Analytics.
My favorite section here is “Performance”. (This can only be found insider new Search Console design. I believe it used to be “Search traffic”)
Here, if you enable the “Average position” tab, you’ll see your best-performing keywords in Google:
While they may not be the top of the line in SEO Marketing tools, the ease of use is a definite positive. Search Console and Analytics are both compatible with mobile devices as well, allowing you to work on the move.
2. Text Optimizer: Implement
Keyword Topic Research and Content Optimization ($60/m)
You’ve probably heard that you need to research and optimize for keywords in order to rank, right?
It’s not simple. You also need to know the topic well.
Fortunately, Google has moved away from matching keywords to content to understand its relevance. And it’s good news for content marketers who want to focus on in-depth, high-quality content.
These days Google understands semantic relationships between words, related concepts and neighboring topics. In other words, Google knows what should be included in a page copy for it to satisfy the user’s query better. Keyword research now includes intent research, synonymous concepts, related terms and neighboring terms.
With that said, put aside your traditional keyword research tools you are using now and give this tool a try.
Text Optimizer is a topic research tool which uses Google search results to give you cues on what needs to be included in a copy for it to rank better.
The tool uses semantic analysis to create topic clusters and help you create better-researched content that Google will like. It can be used to optimize your existing content as well as to create content from scratch.
Let’s see how it works and how it can help:
- Say you have a general content idea
- Single out a phrase that best describes the idea
- Put the phrase in Text Optimizer
Now, select the “Start from scratch” option. The tool will search this phrase in Google and come back with the list of terms and concepts that need to be included in your content:
Select around 20 of those terms that look like they will fit your future article well, then start working on your article. Here’s what I got for “healthy living”, for example:
The tool also provides “Editorial Suggestions” that you are likely to find quite helpful. Those are popular questions on the topic you are writing about:
Once you are done with your content, run the tool again (now choosing the “My text” option). This will show you whether your article is optimized well. Continue tweaking your copy until you have a minimum score of 80. Pay attention to the “Content quality” section for better results:
This way, this helpful tool will direct your writing process allowing you to come up with both better-optimized and higher-quality copy.
One word of advice re. this and most other tools that analyze content – including Grammarly:
Sometimes, machines don’t understand nuance. Always make sure that the suggested changes actually look right to the eye.
3. Yoast SEO: Get Your Structured Data and Important SEO Elements in Order (Freemium)
I am a huge fan of Yoast, and you have almost certainly at least heard of them in the past. This plugin for WordPress guides you along the way to SEO excellence. You put in a focus keyword, write a meta description, put the focus keyword in the bulk text and let the plugin analyze how you are doing regarding basic SEO.
It will give you recommendations to further strengthen your SEO in the post, turning green when you have reached the minimum for Google benefits. It will help you improve readability and structure of your text by encouraging you to use shorter sentences and paragraphs, fewer words between subheadings, active voice, etc.
Yoast also contains a lot of up-to-date sections that help you capture more Google ranking opportunities and optimize for the most recent SEO trends including:
- Adding breadcrumbs (and using structured data for Google to love them)
- Managing redirects (These are useful when you need to get rid of outdated content and send those users to newer articles on the topic
- Optimizing for how-to queries (These are GOLD for writers)
- Managing content blocks
Additionally, the plugin comes with an enormous amount of SEO tutorials that guide you through complicated processes, explain SEO terminology and help you optimize your content better.
Bonus DIY SEO Tools
- Cyfe: This tool is not an SEO tool, but it can be used for monitoring your SEO success easily. Import your most essential stats from Google Analytics, Google Search Console, your rank tracking tool, etc. Cyfe can save you lots of time and turn complicated data into easy-to-understand graphs. It’s a great multi-feature tool, especially if you are not doing SEO 24/7 and want to just keep an eye on your progress without spending hours going from a report to a report
- Answer the Public: This site is a free tool that provides data for searches on popular search engines like Google and Bing. This can help you streamline the keywords you decide to use in your site. This one is also set up similarly to a search engine itself, and the data is clearly displayed for you on a dashboard. It may be a really simple tool, but it can give you valuable information that sends your ranking up leaps and bounds from where you started. It’s also a great content inspiration tool for FAQ pages, lead magnets and even eBooks.
- Detailed.com: Do you want to get better at SEO? Detailed sends you two emails a month listing best SEO tricks and techniques. This won’t help you directly in your smaller market. But it will give you insights on what makes these larger companies tick and the strategies that they utilize to stay on top. This can give you an active look at these strategies being utilized without having to fork out the money to see your competitors.
Don’t underestimate the power of basic actionable SEO. By utilizing the DIY SEO tools when optimizing your content, you step out on the right foot and increase your chances of getting found online!