What you need to know before trying SEO for yourself


There’s something appealing about search engine optimization (SEO). It’s a kind of digital magic that allows businesses to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) and thus gain more organic traffic.

It’s also appealing because it’s ridiculously easy to learn the fundamentals of strategy; half an hour of online research, or even skimming through an article like this, might be all you need to get a feel for the essentials of a successful search marketing approach.

This leads to many people trying to execute an SEO strategy on their own. But before you do that, there are some things you need to know.

Search Engine Optimization: The Basics for Trying SEO

In case SEO is totally new to you, we’ll go over some of the basics here. The search returns a massive list of results formulated in the search engine results pages (SERPs). If you’re like most consumers, you click on the top-ranked result more than any other result and skip everything after the first page.

SEO strategies aim to improve your website’s trustworthiness (as measured by Google and other authorities) and increase its relevance for specific terms, ultimately helping it to rise to the top spots in the SERPs for the words relevant keys.

Many tactics play into this strategy. On-site optimizations (such as improving load times), on-site content publishing, and external link building can all help you with this endeavor in different ways. You will need a bit of everything if you want to rank higher reliably.

Also note that SEO is not just for digital businesses. Any business with a website can benefit from search engine optimization.

Agencies, Freelancers and Partners

At first, most hobbyists hire experts to help them design and execute a proper SEO campaign. There are plenty of options available to you on this front. To get started, you can work with an SEO agency, paying a flat monthly fee for various services, all aimed at helping you rank higher. Agencies also tend to have access to a wide range of different niche experts, so you can get everything you need in one place.

Alternatively, you can hire employees from within your company or work with freelancers to build the team needed to perform the work you need. This tends to be less expensive than using an agency, but it also tends to be more time consuming and less reliable.

The DIY approach

Agencies are expensive and freelancers are a pain. That’s why it’s no wonder so many people try to do SEO completely independently.

Technically, it is always possible to try SEO for yourself. It is even possible to succeed with a DIY strategy.

Here are some of the reasons why:

  • Built-in website building tools. Website builders like WordPress and Wix are some of the most popular ways to build a website in the modern world. Indeed, they are intuitive design tools that allow even amateurs to create a professional-looking website. Most website builders also offer a series of built-in tools to help webmasters manage these websites, including tools specifically geared towards SEO. For example, with a plugin, you can get a list of recommendations on how to optimize your site and analytics tools to help you track your progress in the SERPs.
  • Keyword research tools. There are also a variety of free keyword research tools, allowing hobbyist optimizers to quickly analyze the list of keyword possibilities they’ve generated and come up with new ideas simultaneously. Once you better understand your competitive landscape and your target keywords, it’s natural to feel motivated and it’s much easier to jump into executing your strategy.
  • Internal written content. You already have full control over your website, so adding blog posts, white papers, and other forms of content isn’t difficult. If you are passionate about your industry or the central idea of ​​your website, producing your own content is also enjoyable. Content is at the heart of any SEO strategy, so mastering this aspect on your own can be hugely beneficial.
  • Measurement and analysis. Google doesn’t always make it easy to track your keyword rankings, but you just have to dig a little to find ways around this problem. Alternatively, Google makes it easy to measure and analyze your website’s performance with its free tool, Google Analytics. At a glance, even amateurs should be able to tell if their tactics are working or not.

Problems with DIY SEO

But before jumping on the DIY train, there are some drawbacks and limitations that we should be aware of. For example:

  • The learning curve. First, you need to understand that SEO is a steep learning curve. It only takes a few minutes to grasp the essential elements of this strategy, but it takes a whole career to fully master the nuances of its execution. Add to that the fact that Google and SEO tactics are constantly changing. It becomes virtually impossible for anyone to know everything there is to know about the world of search engine optimization. If you don’t have any previous experience in search marketing, it will be very difficult to try to assimilate everything.
  • Strategic orientation (and lost potential). Without the advantage of experience on your side, it will be difficult for you to make high-level strategic decisions with the greatest possibility of gain. For example, how do you know for sure that one group of keywords will perform better than another? Should you prioritize content or link building first? Your decisions may be acceptable but suboptimal, ultimately leading to significant lost potential.
  • Limitations and weaknesses of free tools. DIY search gurus rely heavily on the availability of free tools, from website builders with SEO plugins to free keyword research and keyword rank checking tools. But free tools are often inherently limited. At best, you’ll face practical limitations like many searches that can be done in a given amount of time. At worst, you could be fed misinformation.
  • Limited scalability. You might be able to adequately support your little new site with all of its search engine needs. Writing a short blog post a week and manually building links one at a time might be enough to help you build some initial momentum. But you’re going to have a much harder time when it comes time to adapt your strategy and support your ever-growing website.
  • Repair. Mistakes are inevitable in the world of SEO. Sooner or later, you’ll make a coding mistake, post the wrong type of content, create the wrong link, or watch your keyword rankings mysteriously drop without a reasonable explanation. When these disasters occur, amateurs tend to struggle. They don’t have the experience or knowledge to troubleshoot properly.

A hybrid approach?

Another important note here: this is not a binary decision. Just because you want to execute most of your strategy on your own doesn’t mean you’re prohibited from working with freelancers or other experts, and hiring a full-service agency doesn’t allow you to do anything for yourself. SEO advantage. The best approach for many people and businesses is a hybrid approach that uses the best of DIY SEO and professional help.

Although it may undergo significant changes in the future, SEO will remain a timeless industry. Google will change, and maybe one day it will become completely obsolete.

But people will always need a way to find the content they’re looking for online, which means there’s always going to be an opportunity to help your content get prioritized.

Learning SEO could be a valuable investment in your future and that of your business, but in the meantime, consider leaning on agencies and freelancers to get you off to a good start.

Image credit: Kindel Media from Pexels; Thank you

Timothy Carter

Revenue Director

Timothy Carter is chief revenue officer for the Seattle-based digital marketing agency SEO.co, DEV.co & PPC.co. He has spent over 20 years in the world of SEO and digital marketing leading, building and scaling sales operations, helping companies increase revenue efficiency and drive website and team growth. of sale. When he’s not working, Tim enjoys playing a few rounds of disc golf, running and spending time with his wife and family on the beach – preferably in Hawaii with a cup of Kona coffee. Follow him on Twitter @TimothyCarter


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