The Ultimate DIY SEO Guide To Small Businesses

You’ve probably heard about SEO. As a small business owner, you’re convinced SEO works well for your business. But hiring a SEO agency can be costly. Don’t have a huge marketing budget? Can’t afford to hire an SEO expert? Don’t worry. It’s possible to get started with SEO yourself.

Let’s weigh the pros and cons of DIY SEO before you make the call! Pros of doing DIY SEO include:

Saving Money

The first benefit you’ll likely notice is the money you’ll save by doing SEO yourself. Hiring agencies and consultants could be costly. You often need to sign long-term contracts with them and pay monthly service fees. This will eat up a chunk of your marketing budget. Also, selecting SEO agencies could be a painstaking task. You need to do a lot of research to find a trustworthy and reliable one. Hiring in house employees is even more expensive, especially when you need to consider full-time benefits! So doing SEO yourself could be a good solution. As a small business owner, your marketing budget is probably very limited. DIY SEO requires only an investment of time – what you need to do is to learn the fundamentals. Then you are able to put the money spent on SEO into other marketing and advertising opportunities. And of course, you have to stay up to date with the latest SEO trends and keep improving your skills. We all know that time is money. So you have to examine your situation and budget carefully. You may find that it’s just as efficient to pay someone else to do the task for you.

Better Quality Control

Sometimes, it’s very tough to outsource your online marketing projects to an outside party. There are countless agencies and consultants in the marketplace. It’s very difficult to find a trusted partner who truly ‘gets’ you. Especially they will be responsible for creating your content and speaking as your brand. You need to make sure the outside party understands your brand values fully. Outsourcing could be less efficient as you need to spend time communicating your needs to an external agent. Contrastingly, DIY SEO allows you to maintain complete control over your content and all your online actions.

Learn the Basics

One of the benefits to learning SEO in a do-it-yourself approach is that you can learn SEO and don’t have to rely on outside resources. As a small business owner, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest marketing trends. And SEO is definitely a very rewarding field. Learning by doing helps you learn the SEO fundamentals effectively and efficiently. It also provides you with greater clarity for how your website operates and functions as a revenue generator. You’ll be more in tune to the inner workings of your website and able to notice the difference in small changes, whether good or bad. This improves your general marketing sense as well.

This knowledge is incredibly valuable even if you decide to outsource your SEO efforts later. If you do not know the basics, you can’t even assess the work done by an external agency. Knowing the basics empowers you to separate the good SEO from the bad and ugly, and the claims from all the inaccurate or deceptive SEO noise. So it is always a good time to upskill yourself!

Instant Flexibility

Most SEO agencies needs a minimum duration for new contracts. This makes perfect sense because it takes time for results to develop. A minimum contract duration prevents premature departures. But it restricts your flexibility, especially as we live in an ever-changing environment. You may find yourself wanting to change directions, adopt new ideas, or simply try out a new service provider. Doing SEO yourself gives you all this flexibility.

Despite the pros that DIY SEO offers, there are some major disadvantages—especially for SEO newbies:

Poor Documentation:

SEO is a mystery to outsiders. There are plenty of resources (and rumours!) about SEO online. While Google does not provide clear and well-documented instructions, it’s very hard for newbies to get started. Just as you can save money by doing SEO yourself, you can also cost yourself in time, money and effort by studying all the online materials. As a business owner, your primary task is to manage your business. No matter how much of a workaholic you are, there’s an upper limit to how much time you’ll be able to devote to SEO. Doing SEO yourself means you’re the only person who can invest more time into your SEO project. When you want to scale up, you’ll find yourself unable to continue further. Compare this to an external agency, which has good connections and resources to scale your campaign as far as your budget will allow.

Steep Learning Curve:

Your lack of expertise and familiarity will result in there being more unknown unknowns. SEO is a very dynamic field and there are things you know you don’t know about SEO. But there are also things you don’t know that you don’t know—the unknown unknowns. So your learning curve will be very steep. Because of the unknowns, your website may end up in being injured or harmed. Most of this harm is due to the inexperience of the business owner to understand the intricacies of SEO. Knowing the difference between white-hat SEO and black-hat SEO is a perfect example. Black hat SEO is a practice against search engine guidelines. It is used to get a site ranking higher in search results. These unethical tactics don’t solve for the searcher and often end in a penalty from search engines. Common practices are keyword stuffing, cloaking, and using private link networks. Deceptive SEO practices may wreak havoc on a website to the tune of heavy penalties and lost domain authority and rankings. Eventually, it takes time for you to identify the unknowns and clean up the mess.

Ever-changing field

SEO is an ever-changing field. There are a lot of outdated sources written on the internet years ago. Also, Google updates their policy from time to time. Some successful SEO tactics can become outdated and lead to penalties. For example, keyword stuffing was an earlier SEO method to make websites searchable. But nowadays, it is widely condemned by search engines, and the activity could lead to a search penalty. If you do not want to become victims by performing outdated strategies, you must keep learning the best practices. When your own actions lead to heavy SEO penalties, you may have to completely re-develop your website and SEO effort from scratch! As a small business owner, you have a lot of things to manage already every day. So we understand how hard it is to keep up with the forever-changing SEO knowledge. In this case, hiring an agency could be a better option.

So, should you attempt DIY SEO? Our suggestion is that you should learn and do the basics yourself. Also, there are free tools and services that can help you do the work of an expensive agency. As a small business owner, it’s also very important to upskill yourself and learn this sexy online marketing technique. When you know how to do it yourself and want to scale up your efforts, you can then hire an agency. What you’ve learnt can help you communicate better with the external party as well. To make your life easier, we’ve put together a list of SEO basics. Follow our guide and learn how to learn SEO!

Long Tail SEO

There are lots of keyword strategies (keyword stuffing is not one of them!) and long tail SEO is a highly recommended one. A long-tail keyword is more specific than a head keyword. And most of the time it consists of more words. And because it is more specific, usually fewer people create content about it. Let’s look at an example of a long-tail keyword. If you’re selling educational books for children, you may want to create content about it. Your target keyword could be “educational books for children”. But, there are many booksellers, publishers and retailers writing about this topic. The competition is huge. So what you should do is to focus on a niche. If your bookstores sell education books for kids with attention issues, this could be your niche. “Educational books for kids with attention issues” is an example of a long tail keyword. If you write high-quality content about a niche topic like that, you can beat the competition for those long-tail terms. Long tail keywords means higher conversions too! For example, a long-tail term like “where to buy educational books for kids with attention issues in Toronto” is very specific. And we can assume searchers of this term have a great intention to buy books. It’s easier to turn them into customers if they find relevant content in your website. Long tail SEO is a very good strategy for small business owners. You should definitely want to learn more about this field.

Basic On Page SEO

SEO requires both an understanding of how websites relate to search results and creativity of content. It’s more than keywords and it’s more than content writing – and it’s more than web design and formatting. Writing good content is not enough. As SEO gurus, we need to know how to “communicate” with search engines. Mastering the on page SEO techniques helps to provide better signals as to what our content relates to. Eventually it helps our content to rank higher in search results. There are a couple of basic on-page SEO techniques. As a busy small business owner and SEO newbie, learning the basic on-page SEO techniques is a good starting point.

Basic Site Architecture

Website architecture is a very specific term. It is how pages are structured and linked together in a website. An optimized architecture helps search engines find and index all the pages on your website. Also, it’s easier for visitors to find out what they need with a good architecture. This can indirectly help with your SEO. So, if you want to stay ahead of the SEO game, you must need to know how to set up an SEO friendly website architecture.

Link Building

Building links is one of the many tactics used in SEO. Links are a signal to Google that your site is a quality resource worthy of citation. So, sites with more backlinks tend to earn higher rankings. But to be honest, link building is generally hard. When you’re a small business, it’s even harder! Because you’re small, it’s simply not as easy for you to attract external links as a well-known brand. But link building is not impossible. Like everything else that’s difficult, it takes time and effort. In fact, link building can work for small businesses. To build a successful link building strategy for your small business, you need to be focused and creative. Go check out some innovative link building ideas specifically for small business!

In a nutshell, SEO is an essential part of any effective marketing strategy. It can drive natural traffic to your website. And it is a proven way to help small businesses succeed. Most importantly, unlike advertising, SEO is free. You do not need to pay for anything. Before you decide to outsource your SEO efforts, why don’t you start learning SEO yourself? You can check out our learning guide to master the basics. After gaining substantial knowledge in different areas of SEO, you should be empowered to do your own SEO. And of course, there are always some cons when you decide to do it yourself. So it’s extremely important for you to do enough research and have adequate knowledge! Let’s check out our other SEO articles to get yourself prepared for this sexy field!