A lot of people, especially working online, think SEO is intimidating and complicated. And there’s definitely a learning curve to SEO, but you can start small and work your way to an optimized website with regular updates and frequent tweaks. No need to break the bank hiring a pro when you’re just starting out — although I’d definitely encourage you to work with an expert when it comes to your website.
With that in mind, I’ve decided to compile the top 3 DIY ways to optimize your website for search and start ranking on search results! Let’s have a look.
3 simple tweaks you can do for a more SEO-friendly website
When it comes to your website, there’s on-page and off-page SEO.
On-page SEO includes everything you do directly on your website to improve searchability and start ranking for certain keywords. Things like using HTML tags, adding alt image attributes, and targetting keywords are part of on-page SEO.
Off-page SEO includes everything you do outside of your website to drive traffic and build authority and trust in your niche. This includes brand positioning and your client or customer reviews (have you noticed that most top-ranking pages for local businesses are Yelp and TripAdvisor articles?).
Let’s dive into the top ways to increase your chances of ranking on search (including on- and off-page SEO strategies):
Post content frequently
I know, I know. We can’t talk about SEO without mentioning content for your website. Or traffic, for that matter.
While you can optimize landing pages and similar standalone pages, a solid content strategy is key to ranking organically in search results with your niche keywords.
A content strategy that includes regular posting and relevant topics is key in providing value to your readers. It’s also one of the best and most cost-effective ways to drive organic traffic.
Plus, you can repurpose your content across channels (learn more about that on How to make repurposing content part of your content plan) to grow your audience in more than one channel. Your strategy can include Pinterest, LinkedIn, Medium, and more. It’s all about where your audience hangs out!
Another benefit of your content plan is building your email list if you’ve decided to have one. Freebies, ebooks, infographics and more are great lead magnets; and you don’t need all-new content for these: Even repackaging previous successful content is valuable to your audience. Hot tip: Update non-evergreen resources such as yearly lists or recommendations to stay relevant and continue driving traffic to existing links rather than creating new ones.
When it comes to building your content plan, pick the medium you like best to make being consistent easier. Whether that’s video, writing, a podcast, interviews, or any form that’s relevant to your audience, it’s fair game.
For topics, study your audience and focus on stuff they would find valuable — don’t just sell your offer! The longer your visitor engages with your website and the more they click around looking at other resources, the higher your website will “score” and is likelier to be recommended to others.
Pick a niche and stick to it
A lot of times, multi-passionate creatives have a hard time pinning down their audience because they serve multiple crowds. On a website, this has the potential to cause trouble because someone coming in search of one of your services might be distracted by the others and zoom out.
You risk a high bounce rate if they come to your website and can’t find what they’re looking for. Your bounce rate is the rate of people who enter your website and leave without clicking on anything else, and the higher this rate, the more damaging it can be as it points to the search engine that you’re not providing what the audience is searching for.
Further more, for the search engine, it’s confusing to find a single page that includes several different things — so it won’t know how to catalog you.
In practice, a way to solve this is having a quick navigation on your homepage where you list your different services and direct users to each one in separate pages, like this:
In this recent client launch, I worked with Rachel on a website for her photography and coaching business. We separated these by directing users to the service they’re most interested in and kept the homepage minimal.
Separate pages for separate services also make it easier to target keywords that are relevant to your target audience. And your copy is going to drive a lot more qualified leads than a generic website.
Get some backlinks
They’re a key aspect of off-page SEO. But what exactly are backlinks? Put simply, backlinks are links from trusted websites that direct traffic to yours. A good example would be a publication or another person in your industry linking to your website as a reference. Check out this example from Apartment Therapy (← this is a backlink!):
It’s not always easy to get what we could consider “good” backlinks. A lot of businesses invest a lot of money and time in getting backlinks because they’re so valuable.
Here, you need to be careful. There’s what’s known as white hat SEO and black hat SEO. You can easily see this in backlinking strategies: Black hat techniques are mostly things like sharing your website link everywhere to get traffic. This is often considered spam and it looks like spammy comments on pages like Reddit, the comment section in someone’s blog, and more. I personally don’t recommend this.
White hat SEO starts with building a relationship with the person or business that will ultimately link you in their website. As you build authority, bigger and more famous websites may link to you as well. A good example would be a travel blogger or photographer being shared by Nat Geo.
A good place to start getting backlinks is guest posting or being featured in a review or similar. For example, if your business buddy has a blog, they can link to your website if they mention some of the services you offer in one of their posts.
The great thing about backlinking is that the reputation of the websites that tag you increases your reputation. This is because a massive platform like Nat Geo wouldn’t share any old blog without checking that it’s legit. So you’re building trust and earning even more authority, which increases your chances of ranking — the ultimate goal of SEO.
SEO can be overwhelming if you’re starting out online or are unfamiliar with how websites work
But you don’t need to shed all the cash to get started with an SEO strategy for your website. With simple DIY strategies, you can gain solid ground and start ranking on search engine page results (aka SERPs). So you can increase your traffic with a small time investment.
A good rule of thumb is posting resources and content that your audience finds relevant and valuable. This means sharing your expertise in your blogs, but also posting adjacent topics your audience may be struggling with. If you start running out of ideas, go on a Pinterest search or ask a trusted network for ideas. When in doubt, search for trends on Google and social media.
For backlinks, think partnership and businesses with similar target audiences rather than businesses that are a far stretch. Even if they come easily. And this applies both on and off your website. Collaborating with businesses adjacent to yours helps grow a more qualified audience than collaborating with someone in a different niche.
With a strong foundation on your website, you’ll get better results if you decide to hire an SEO expert later on. So you’ll get more bang for your buck if you do choose the expert route.
Do you have the traffic down but find that visitors leave your page without engaging? Check this out: Free download: 7 easy tweaks to your homepage that will easily double or triple your client leads.