DIY SEO: A Comprehensive How-To Guide
Everyone knows that in today’s digital world, search engine optimization (SEO) is mandatory if you want to carve out a place for your business on the internet. However, it can be quite costly to hire an SEO professional to optimize your website with the hope of improving its positioning and visibility in organic search results. Most small businesses have marketing budgets that come nowhere near matching the deep pockets of their much larger competitors. Many small businesses handle their marketing in-house to save costs, but most of those internal marketing associates are not skilled in the art of SEO.
As almost everyone is aware, the internet is packed to the brim with “do-it-yourself” guides on anything you could want to learn. There are DIY guides for making fancy coffee drinks, fixing household appliances, making crafts, and countless other simple or complex subjects. So why not DIY SEO for small businesses?
This SEO DIY guide will provide you with some beginner’s DIY SEO tips and tricks. These will allow you to improve and enhance your marketing skill set while performing a function that is essential to the growth and success of your brand. To navigate the article, you can click any topic in the table of contents to skip to that section.
What Is DIY SEO?
Wikipedia defines search engine optimization as “the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website or a web page from search engines.” In particular, SEO affects organic search results. SEO optimization targets online visitors directed toward your website from various types of searches. These include image searches, video searches, news searches, academic searches, and so on.
SEO is responsible for the results you receive when you type a term into a search engine. These search results are considered “organic” or “natural” results because they are generated from queries made by actual people who click the non-sponsored (unpaid) links displayed by the search engine.
The term “do-it-yourself” speaks for itself, but what is DIY SEO, and how can it benefit your small business?
The answer is quite simple: you do not need to blow your company’s entire (likely modest) marketing budget on the services of an SEO specialist. You can handle your company’s online optimization yourself with the proper guidance.
SEO may seem complicated, but it is not. Reduced to its bare bones, SEO is all about:
- Being familiar with the topics that interest your target customers
- Creating content about those topics, such as blog posts, articles, product pages, videos, etc.
- Ensuring your website meets the technical criteria to end up high among the list of organic search results that potential customers receive by searching.
DIY SEO Techniques
There are several ways to go about improving your site’s SEO without resorting to hiring an expert. After learning these techniques, you will likely be well on your way to becoming an SEO expert yourself!
Do your keyword research
The first step on your journey into DIY SEO is researching the most popular words or phrases people enter into search engines to find information about the products and services your business offers.
This will require you to create a list of “seed keywords,” which will be the foundation upon which you will base the rest of your keyword research. Seed keywords are words or phrases you will use as your starting point and tend to be one or two words in length and cover a broad topic. Suppose your company specializes in selling cupcakes. Some of your seed keywords might be cupcake, cupcakes, cake, bakery, frosting, birthday, and dessert, among others.
To create your list of seed keywords, sit down with a pen and paper and consider this: What would people type into a search engine to find your website or one like it? How would someone describe the product or service your company provides?
Once you’ve created a list of seed keywords, you can then elaborate on those words and phrases to come up with other common search terms that may be more complex. Using our previous example, we can expand our seed keywords to other search terms such as online cupcake delivery, birthday cupcakes online, specialty cupcakes, and online birthday dessert.
Using a web scraper as a DIY SEO tool can simplify this process and save you a lot of brainstorming time. We will discuss web scraping search terms further on.
With your keywords in hand, it is time to integrate them into the content hosted on your website to draw traffic to the relevant pages. But how?
Create content and pages optimized for search
After cultivating a list of keywords, you should then create content optimized for SEO using those keywords. Depending on your top keywords, the content you create and optimize could make up a landing page, your website’s homepage, a product page, or a blog post.
On-page SEO (or on-site SEO) is the practice of optimizing the pages on your website to draw organic or natural traffic and improve your website’s search engine rankings. To place highly on a search engine results page (SERP), your website must contain more valuable and relevant content than any other page optimized using the same keywords.
The optimization of web pages includes multiple page elements, including but not limited to:
- Keyword density
- Content quality
- Usability and overall page experience
- URL structure
- Optimization of media elements
- Links (internal and external)
- Page structure
Improving the various elements on your pages helps improve the user experience and tells search engines more about your web pages. When pages are well optimized, your website SERP rankings can improve and draw more organic traffic.
Internet users generally search for content that falls under three categories:
- Informational: The user wants to learn something about a topic, such as how to make jewelry. When the user enters this query into a search engine, the SERP displays the most well-optimized websites about the subject. Other highly-ranked content may include videos, images, news, and books on the topic.
- Transactional: The user seeks a specific business or website with commercial intent, meaning the user is performing a search to buy goods or services. For example, a user searching for a landscaping company in their area performs a transactional search.
- Navigational: The user wants to see a specific website, like viewing the available exhibits at a museum, before attending in person. In most cases, the searcher knows the website address and simply enters the URL into the search bar.
To rank highly on a SERP, it is important that your content matches search intent, which means that you tailor your content to satisfy the searcher’s goals. To accomplish this, you should study the pages with a high SERP ranking for your target keyword. The pages that rank highest tend to match search intent best. Your webpage should closely match the results on the first page of the search results for that keyword.
For example, you may think a search for “baby name website” versus a search for “best baby name website” would yield similar results. However, searching “baby name website” likely results in links to several websites where you can search for names. Results on page one after searching “best baby name website” may consist of blog posts and articles comparing multiple baby name sites. The difference is the user’s search intent, which is the need you should attempt to meet with the content you create based on your target keyword.
Simple, easy-to-read content
If your content is complex or hard to follow, you will likely lose visitors to your website — not to mention customers. A widely-accepted SEO best practice is to keep your copy clear and simple. You can do so by following these guidelines:
- Avoid unnecessarily large words: Use simple language whenever possible. There is no need to confuse readers by describing something as “pulchritudinous” when “beautiful” would be equally appropriate.
- Include multimedia: Use videos, images, GIFs, charts, etc. These can help break up imposing blocks of text and make your content easier to digest.
- Use formatting: Your users do not want to conquer a wall of text. Formatting, such as bulleted or numbered lists, bolding, italics, and underlining, can also help break up large blocks of copy.
- Use clear and concise sentence structures: When your sentences are long and complex, your writing may be too complicated for readers to follow.
Compelling meta descriptions and title tags
So your website has reached a high SERP ranking. Now what? You must attract searchers to click your page over other results for your SEO campaign to succeed. It is important to ensure your meta descriptions and title tags compel the searcher to visit your page. When done correctly, more clicks equal more traffic to your site.
Tips for writing irresistible meta descriptions and title tags include:
- Use power words: These words, such as undeniable, powerful, awesome, dazzling, proven, instantly, and others, invoke an emotional response or trigger curiosity in your readers.
- Keep them concise: Many search engines truncate title tags and meta descriptions at a set number of characters, so it is best to keep them short while still packing a punch.
- Include your target keyword: While this is not mandatory and sometimes not even practical, it is good practice to include the target keyword or phrase in the title tag or meta description to prove to the searcher that your page is the most relevant among the search results.
- Write for humans (not search engines): Cramming too many keywords into your title tag or meta description will make them sound unnatural, and it is not necessary.
- Make them unique for each page: Do not duplicate title tags and meta descriptions from one page on your site to another.
- Ensure each page has a title tag: Without one, searchers will undoubtedly skip your site in their search results for another page that does have one.
Each page on your website should have a unique, descriptive URL, so the searcher knows what to expect from the page.
For example, https://rayobyte.com/blog/audience-engagement/.
It should be obvious that the URL will lead you to a page containing a blog post about audience engagement because the URL itself announces that to the reader. Descriptive URLs like this garner more clicks than vaguely-worded URLs because searchers understand what to expect.
Including internal links in your content connects pages within your website to each other. Some search engines use internal link anchor text to understand the content of your page better.
Also, search engines are always searching the web for new pages to add to their lists of known pages. Some of these pages are “known” because the search engine has previously crawled them. Search engines can also discover pages by following a link from a known page to a new one.
Fix technical site issues
There are multiple reasons why a website may be less than user-friendly. If a user has a negative experience while visiting your website, they are much less likely to visit again than someone who found your site easy to use and free of errors.
You can take some practical steps to head these issues off at the pass.
Secure your website with HTTPS
Look at the address bar at the top of your screen. You may notice an icon that looks like a padlock to the left of the website’s URL.
This padlock indicates the site is secure through the HTTPS protocol. Essentially, this means the website is encrypted. Therefore, only your computer and the server hosting the website can see any data transmitted between your browser and the website.
The use of the HTTPS protocol is a ranking factor for many search engines. Although its impact is relatively low on the ranking scale, it is still important to use HTTPS across all pages on your website.
Ensure your site loads quickly
Internet users in this day and age have come to expect a certain level of speed and responsiveness from the web pages they visit. Most users expect websites to load instantaneously. If a page takes longer than expected to load, users often abandon the attempt and move to another website to obtain the information or service they require.
In addition to retaining potential customers, another benefit of a speedy website is that page speed is also a ranking factor for search engines.
Using a website auditing tool will point out such issues as slow-loading pages, broken links, and other fixable problems with your website.
To increase the loading speed of your web pages, you should consider these tips:
- Choose hosting that works for you: Whether your website resides on a shared or a dedicated server impacts the loading speed of your pages. In this blog post, expert blogger Matthew Woodward discusses the 12 fastest WordPress hosting providers.
- Reduce image sizes: Rather than uploading large, high-resolution photos, ensure the images you use on your website are sized appropriately.
- Enable browser caching: This allows visitors to your website to store your page’s elements automatically on their hard drives. This means the next time they visit your site, the page loads faster because they can access it without sending an HTTP request for those elements to your server.
- Remove unused plugins: Deleting unused plugins, themes, and elements from your web design — not just deactivating them — will help increase your site’s loading speed.
Put simply, link building is the process of getting other websites to link to your website (or pages within your site). Link building increases your website’s authority when it comes to SERPs, allowing the linked pages to rank higher and therefore draw increased organic search traffic.
There are different techniques to accomplish this, but the two most common strategies are:
- Create content that is notable and worthy of a link
- Show your page to website owners and administrators who can link to it.
When another site links to yours, that is known as a backlink. These links are high among the factors search engines use when determining your site’s relevance and ranking. The more websites that link to your pages, the higher your pages rank on SERPs.
One common tactic SEO experts use to build links is posting on community websites such as Reddit and Quora. On these sites, you can post answers to questions that help promote the content on your website. Consider the questions you considered during your keyword research. Once the content has been created that answers those questions, you can post a link to that content on a similar question posted on one of the aforementioned community websites. This is one more opportunity for someone seeking the answer to that question to find further information on your website.
Using other tools
Other sites specializing in SEO, such as Ahrefs, offer tools to simplify your SEO optimization process. For example, you could use any of the following as DIY SEO tools:
- Audit and organize your website, including any existing technical issues, using Site Audit
- Analyze the organic search traffic and backlink profiles of your competitors’ websites using Site Explorer
- Find the keywords frequently used by your potential customers with Keywords Explorer
- Analyze top-ranking content in your industry with Content Explorer
- Track your SERP ranking progress with Rank Tracker
All of the tools created by Ahrefs can essentially be considered DIY SEO software and can make the process much easier.
In addition, you must consider one particularly powerful tool while building your DIY SEO online process: web scraping.
Web Scraping as a DIY SEO Tool
Finding all the data you need to improve your search engine ranking can be challenging. Fortunately, one of today’s most commonly employed data-collecting technologies is ideally suited for this purpose. That technology is called web scraping, although it is also sometimes referred to as web crawling, data scraping, or data harvesting.
What is web scraping, anyway?
A web scraper is a data collection tool that gathers large amounts of data from websites and other online channels. Anyone seeking to collect a large volume of data for any business purpose uses web scraping.
A web scraper scans a website, web page, or social media profile, collecting data pertinent to whatever keyword, phrase, or URL the user inputs to begin the scrape. When all relevant information has been collected (or “scraped”), the scraper extracts the data in a structured format that is easy to read and analyze.
Web scraping is an incredibly powerful tool. Web scraping applications are nearly limitless, and the amount and variety of information a web scraper can collect is unfathomable.
How can I use web scraping for SEO?
Web scraping can boost your DIY SEO efforts to the next level by supplementing your every move with a vast amount of data culled from a wide variety of sources. In this way, you can determine what works for your competitors. The insights you can gain from this process can allow you to employ similar or identical techniques to your advantage.
Some types of data you should consider scraping for SEO purposes include:
Using a web scraper is one of the most effective ways to conduct your keyword research. Web scraping can provide information about which keywords give your competitors high SERP rankings. You can also learn about the title tags and metadata your competitors use for their web pages and blog posts, the types of pay-per-click (PPC) ads they are running, and more.
Extracting content from other websites is simple with a web scraper. This content is excellent for researching blog posts. Because the web scraper gathers data from reliable sources, search engines will consider your website more authoritative. This can have a positive influence on your SERP ranking.
Analyzing the categories of content that tend to rank higher than others is key to raising your site’s SERP ranking. Web scraping can help by allowing you to scrape data about who shares your content and on which social media platforms. You can also learn how many visits your web pages get to help you understand which categories the content that performs best for you falls into.
The data collected via web scraping can teach you what sites link to yours, which links work for you, and which are harming your SERP position. Too many backlinks from low-quality or even spam-filled websites can damage your ranking.
Effectively using a web scraper to boost your DIY SEO game can include some ideas that may be considered outside the box. You can use a web scraper to discover influencers, such as potential guest bloggers with knowledge about your industry or a particular topic covered on your website. Armed with this information, you can connect with talented individuals who may be willing to write content for your site as guest bloggers.
This tactic is even more effective if the guest blogger has a decent-sized following on their social media platforms or credentials pertinent to the topic. That can go even further toward improving your SERP rankings by creating added trust in your website.
Potential DIY SEO Online Roadblocks
Although we have focused so far on the advantages of handling your company’s SEO strategy in-house, it is important to remember that there will likely be challenges involved, as well. These are not insurmountable, but we will go over a few common DIY SEO obstacles.
A large part of a website’s SERP ranking is based on search engine algorithms, which are the mathematical processes employed by the search engine to decide the order of relevant search results appearing on a SERP. The search engine relies on as many as 200 ranking factors. These algorithms constantly change to keep up with improved technology and provide the best possible user experience — one major search engine made over 4,000 changes to its search functionality in 2020 alone.
Your best bet in keeping up with the ever-evolving algorithms is to pay attention to the news in the SEO industry. If a significant change is in the works, there will be buzz about it within the industry. This can help you stay up-to-date with upcoming changes you may need to respond to.
Some experts recommend waiting a little while after algorithm changes before implementing any updates. If a change to an algorithm does not go as planned, the search engine may revert to a previous version, which would render worthless any updates you made in the meantime.
Search engines consider a web page to be low-quality content if the page offers little in the way of original value and lacks on-page SEO. Your website may face negative action by search engines that find this to be the case.
There are four main types of thin content to avoid:
- Automatically generated content: Content has been created by a program or a robot. Copying a post and running it through a program to spin the content, or changing it just enough to make it appear original, is considered as creating thin or spammy content.
- Boilerplate content: This content often relates to affiliate programs or sponsors. When multiple websites review the same product, they often publish the product description. When a search engine comes across the same content on multiple websites, it considers this duplicate content.
- Doorway pages: These are pages on a website created solely to rank based on specific queries or key phrases in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings. The page then redirects traffic to the intended page.
- Scraped content: If the content on a website is spun from other websites or simply republished from other sites, this is not considered favorably by search engines. Republishing quotes or excerpts is fine, but content consisting only of republished content is not.
Ensure your content is not considered thin by creating your own content, writing your own posts, and adding your unique voice to each page.
Low SERP rankings
While it can be discouraging if your content does not immediately and consistently rank among the top search results pages for all of your target keywords, it is not unusual. SEO is a long game; it takes some time to show positive results.
The most important way to affect SEO rankings is to develop a long-term SEO strategy focusing on a few initiatives at a time.
Web scraping blocks
Web scraping is a legitimate and common business practice. Still, some websites do not allow automated data extraction of this kind. Some website owners and administrators harbor concerns that any web scraping activity could overwhelm their servers and crash their websites. Because of these fears, some websites block traffic from web scrapers based on criteria such as the web scraper’s IP address or geolocation.
Scraping blocks are one of the biggest hurdles you may face while using a web scraper as part of your SEO strategy. Because of this, we will devote the entire next section to surmounting this obstacle.
How DIY SEO Tools Can Help
Adhering to the guidelines, tips, and tricks we have provided in this article may seem like an overwhelming task. However, Scraping Robot and Rayobyte are here to help!
Speed up your SEO strategy using proxies for web scraping
As we discussed previously in this post, web scraping can give an invaluable boost to your SEO efforts by providing you with the data you need to determine what works best for your site and your competitors. Scraping for information about keywords, content, categories, backlinks, and influencers can give you the data you need to maintain a competitive edge and rank higher on search engine results pages. For this, you will need a high-quality web scraper.
Because many websites block web scraping based on the scraper’s IP address or geolocation, you will need a way to circumvent such scraping blocks. Rayobyte can provide you with the tools you need to do just that.
Trust Scraping Robot to compile a data gold mine
A ready-made web scraper like Scraping Robot can save you an unimaginable amount of time performing tedious and repetitive manual searches and copying, pasting, organizing, and analyzing your collected data. Scraping Robot’s powerful tools generally complete the process of scraping, organizing, and structuring the data in mere minutes.
Scraping Robot is perfect for running many scrapes at a low flat rate per scrape. This is a much simpler model than complicated subscription fees or pricing structures offered by other companies. Because Scraping Robot frequently adds new modules to improve customers’ experience, customers consistently enjoy new functionality created with their requests in mind.
There are no hidden fees, monthly costs, or complicated price tiers. With Scraping Robot, you won’t have to worry about all the headaches that come with scraping, like proxy management and rotation, server management, browser scalability, CAPTCHA solving, and looking out for new anti-scraping updates from target websites. In addition, they have a reliable support system and 24/7 customer assistance! Scraping Robot is regularly updated with solutions to new anti-scraping technologies, allowing you to be ready to scrape at a moment’s notice.
Rayobyte’s proxies provide anonymity, speed, and access
A proxy server is an intermediary server that functions as a middleman between the user (in this case, your web scraper) and the websites they visit (or scrape). A proxy server can provide you and your scraper tool with private IP authentication and anonymity, allowing you to avoid scraping blocks. Proxies will enable the web scraper to circumvent IP-based blocks, view geolocation-specific content, and scrape web pages for high-volume data without detection.
There are various types of proxies that can be used with your web scraper of choice.
Data center proxies
These fast proxies are stored in data centers. Both plentiful and readily available, data center proxies are also the least costly.
The one disadvantage of using data center proxies is that their data center IP addresses make them more easily identifiable, which can raise red flags for many websites. Some websites outright ban all data center proxy activity; others may ban an entire subnet at the slightest hint of bot-like activity from a single data center IP address. For this reason, Rayobyte has C-class subnets as well as A and B-classes!
ISP proxies give you the best of both proxy worlds: the authority of residential proxies with the speed of data center proxies. Rayobyte’s premium ISP proxies are hosted on data center servers, but they use IP addresses issued by real consumer internet providers. ISP proxies provide fast, stable connections that are as hard for websites to detect as residential IP addresses. Rayobyte has no limit on bandwidth or threads, which means significant cost savings! Currently, Rayobyte offers ISP proxies from the U.S., the U.K., and Germany.
Residential proxies give you access to a vast network of millions of devices worldwide. Residential proxies are the actual IP addresses of individuals. They are issued by real consumer internet service providers (ISPs), giving your web scraper a humanlike appearance to the websites it scrapes. Because most individuals access the internet through residential IP addresses, residential proxies have the most authority, which means websites do not generally block them for no reason.
Rayobyte’s residential proxies with geo-targeting functionality can allow you to collect data from websites that provide different information based on the visitor’s geolocation. Because your web scraper can appear to be located anywhere in the world, you can scrape a website from almost anywhere.
Rayobyte sets the industry standard for ethical residential proxy sourcing. Because residential proxies are obtained directly from end-users, Rayobyte takes extra steps to ensure these users are not negatively affected by the use of their IP addresses. This includes ensuring the end users are informed and compensated for the use of their IP addresses, and they can revoke their approval at any time.
Because we do not provide an option to buy residential proxies directly on our website, we ensure that potential buyers must demonstrate their use case is legitimate before we sell them residential proxies. We also continue monitoring the use of the residential proxies we sell to make sure the buyer uses them ethically.
After reading this helpful guide on how to optimize your website, with any luck, you will have learned some DIY SEO techniques. This knowledge should enable and empower you and your company to create an effective long-term SEO strategy without the assistance of costly SEO specialists. By taking a few simple steps, you will soon be on the path to higher search engine results rankings, which can lead to more traffic to your website and increased conversion numbers. Don’t wait any longer to get started; reach out to Scraping Robot and Rayobyte today!
The information contained within this article, including information posted by official staff, guest-submitted material, message board postings, or other third-party material is presented solely for the purposes of education and furtherance of the knowledge of the reader. All trademarks used in this publication are hereby acknowledged as the property of their respective owners.
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