14-Steps On “How To Do SEO Yourself” for your website and save money?
You want to learn about DIY SEO because you want your website to appear above your competition in search results but don’t have thousands of $$$ to hire a professional SEO company.
You know that an experienced SEO agency can give your search engine marketing campaign a great boost.
But what can you do when the resources for your search engine optimization (SEO) campaign are not available or are scarce?
That is when you know you decide to do SEO yourself.
If you have some time to spare, then our 13-steps DIY SEO guide on how to do search engine optimization yourself is for you.
This DIY SEO guide will work whether you want to optimize your WordPress website, or optimize a Joomla! based site.
So your website design is complete, and you’ve decided to learn SEO and give do-it-yourself SEO a shot to promote your business online and drive more traffic to your website from search engines for free.
But the only thing stopping you from taking that jump of doing SEO yourself is:
- You don’t know how to do SEO yourself,
- Or where to begin
Don’t worry. We can help!
Search engine optimization (SEO) services can be expensive; therefore, hiring an SEO company might not be an option for small business with limited marketing resources.
You decide to learn everything there is to know about search engines and how to do SEO yourself.
The process of learning SEO, testing your SEO knowledge on a live site, then tweak it further to achieve #1 position in search engines can be time-consuming, and overwhelming.
Do you still want to do SEO yourself to promote your website and business online?
Then go grab a large cup of coffee or one of your favorite drinks and come back to learn how to do SEO yourself.
Don’t worry, BuzFind’s 20-step SEO guide that anyone can follow will be right here waiting for you.
Step 1. A Good DIY SEO starts with The Right Domain Name
Choose your domain name carefully!
Choosing a domain name requires a lot of care, insights, attention, and patience. So take your time and don’t rush in.
The domain name you’ll choose will be your brand and identity on the internet; so make sure you think hard and choose carefully.
Here are my 15 tips for choosing the perfect domain name:
- Take the time to research the domain name first
- Use a domain name generator to get ideas if you need to
- Choose a short domain – Note. It took me about a month to decide on the domain name BuzFind
- Make the domain name easy for people to remember
- Make sure it is impossible to misspell
- Make it easy to pronounce
- Don’t make it difficult for people to type
- Make it brandable – Note. If you can’t find a short domain name, use your brand
- Make sure that it defines your brand – Note. BuzFind means “we help people find your business.”
- Use your main targeted keyword – But avoid “exact match domain” (EMD) because it will affect your SEO outcome
- If you are a local business, target your area by using the state, county, or city name
- Do not use hyphens (-). They are outdated, and you don’t need to
- Do not use numbers
- Use the right TLD (Top Level Domain) extension such as a .com. If the .com extension is not available, rewrite your domain instead of choosing an available extension such as .net. Note. For a non-profit organization, you can use the .org extension.
- Think of the long-term. If you decide to change the domain name, it will cost you money to start SEO, for branding and social media marketing
Step 2. Do-It-Yourself SEO Begins with Selecting The Right Hosting
Did you know that your hosting company could be working against your SEO campaign efforts?
Instead of focusing on SEO friendly hosting, many small businesses look for the cheapest hosting package possible.
Not realizing the choice they’ve made could impact their search engine optimization (SEO) effort.
When it comes to selecting a good hosting company, look for the following features that will affect your page speed and SEO:
- Guaranteed Uptime
- Latest hardware such as SSD, processors
- Latest SQL and PHP software version
- Data Center (server) location
For more on SEO-Friendly Hosting, check out Search Engine Journal’s “5 Things to Look For in a Hosting Company” article.
Step 3. Do It Yourself Search Engine Optimization Starts With..,
- Analyzing and
- Understand Your Competition
So get to know your competition and know them well!
I cannot stress enough this crucial but often missed step when optimizing your website for search engines yourself. You can’t do SEO yourself and expect to outrank your competition without performing competitive analysis first.
Why do you ask?
Performing a competitive analysis through an SEO audit will give you the following insights about your competition:
- How your competitors are performing on search engines
- What keywords or terms they are targeting
- How their site and URLs are structured
- Whether they are on social media sites or not
- What they are doing wrong, or doing well
- If they have content that you are missing
The more you learn about your competitions’ strengths and weaknesses, the higher chance you’ll have in outranking them in Google search results.
Step 4. Importance Of Keyword Research When Doing SEO Yourself
Don’t assume you know what your customers want.
I know you know your business very well and possibly know what keyword to target. However, can’t stress enough the importance of doing keyword research first.
Now that you’ve finished auditing your main competitor’s website, it’s time to perform keyword research.
Keyword research helps you understand what your potential customers or readers are using to find your blog, products, or services.
It is important to note that;
- Using keywords you got out of a hat in your content will get you nowhere, or maybe the wrong traffic
- Using terms willy-nilly within your content might also get your website penalized for keyword spamming
Doing SEO yourself will be of no benefit to you or to your business if you are targeting the wrong keyword(s).
Performing keyword research using tools such as;
Or any of your favorite keyword research tool to help you determine the value of each keyword.
So take the time to research the keywords you are targeting, and the keyword terms your competition is using.
Not researching your search terms first will brake your DIY SEO campaign efforts and your online business.
Step 5. Think of your site structure before starting the design
Start your design with a solid foundation
If you haven’t designed your website yet, then you are off to a good start. I have always wondered why many business owners think of creating their website first, and leave SEO last.
To be successful online, search engine optimization techniques should not be an afterthought. SEO should be implemented during the design of your website, and not at a later time.
Site structure may not seem important at this time, but it is a vital step when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). So before you start designing your website, think of site structure.
Step 6. Choose the right web design tools
Not all web design tools are created equal!
As a do-it-yourself SEO beginner, you might not know which web design tool to use. So before you go ahead and start designing your website, I urge you to stop for a minute and take the time to research the tool you are contemplating on using.
In case you stumbled upon some site builders available within your cPanel, read great reviews and watch ads about Wix website builder, AnswerThePublic.
I must recommend any DIY SEOs against the use of the following design tools:
- Site builders available within your cPanel, and offered by your hosting company
- Wix website builder
As a young teenager; I remember helping my dad with his car troubles. He always reminded me of the importance of ‘using the right tool for the task at hand.’
At a young age, I didn’t understand what he was saying, but later on in life, I came to understand and appreciate every word he was saying.
Let me share with you these important tips on choosing the right design tool depending on the type of website you want to create:
- Joomla! – Joomla! is a free and open-source content management system (CMS) that allows you to build a user and SEO friendly website. If you are a business owner who wants to give your small business a web presence, then Joomla is the right tool. Don’t take me wrong. Joomla offers a lot of advanced features allowing you to create great websites such as Harvard University, IKEA, Lipton Ice Tea, Linux, and alike. However, if you are thinking of running a blog, then I would recommend you to use WordPress even though Joomla! can handle a blog.
- WordPress – WordPress is a content management system (CMS) based on PHP and MySQL I would recommend to design your blog, newspaper, or a magazine type of websites. WordPress is free and open-source with thousands of available templates and plugins. One important note I want to make is that, if you are thinking of using WordPress to design your website, download WordPress from WordPress.org, and not from WordPress.com. I left out the link to WordPress.com on purpose because I don’t want you to make the same mistake many did before you.
- Magento – Magento is another free and open-source content management system built specifically for eCommerce. Magento offers eCommerce solutions for every type and size of business. Magento is also SEO and user-friendly provided you let an experienced professional do the leg work for you. Can you learn Magento, the most popular eCommerce platform in the world? Yes, you can. There are two Magento versions available, Magento v1 and Magento v2. I recommend Magento v2 because it offers significant new tools, and over 30 core security improvement that both merchant and developer will appreciate. You can also download Magento v2 with the composer or without (Magento v2.3.2 full release zip with no data). According to Magento, the composer provides better in-app experience, improved upgradeability, and better manage third-party components such as modules, themes, languages, etc.
Step 7. Focus On Mobile-Friendly Design
Always think of your readers first
With the introduction of mobile-friendly design, the days of creating a separate mobile website are over.
Mobile optimization means your website offers visitors with mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets excellent user experience. More and more people are using their mobile devices to search the internet. However, many website owners haven’t moved to mobile-friendly design yet.
As a do-it-yourself SEO beginner who wants their small business to succeed online, you must optimize your website for mobile devices. Learn about Google’s mobile-first indexing.
The point I am trying to make here is..;
When you put your readers first, search engines will reward you.
Step 8. Use SEO-Friendly Template (theme)
Good DIY SEO begins with using an SEO-Friendly template
In case you didn’t know that a website theme you are thinking of using could affect your DIY SEO effort, now you do!
With the appearance of CMSs (Content Management Systems) such as Joomla! WordPress, Magento, the market for mobile-friendly (aka SEO-Friendly) themes/templates has soared.
And with too many free SEO friendly themes available to download, selecting the wrong template could affect your search results, and break your business.
Templates or themes can affect your SEO efforts in the following ways:
- Unsightly design
- Poor structure and layout
- Slow page load
Here are what to look for when choosing an SEO-Friendly template (or theme) for your CMS:
- When possible, avoid templates that include a page builder because poorly designed page builders will slow down your page
- Look for a CMS theme with proper HTML Markup
- Less Is More! Avoid using bloated themes with features you don’t need such as slideshows, or carousels which can affect your DIY SEO effort
- Select a template that has its core images/icon optimized for speed. You can use TinyPNG (or TinyJPG) to optimize the icons to attain faster page load
- Choose your plugins carefully – When it comes to page speed and the number you have installed, it’s not about the quantity but the quality of the plugins.
Step 9. On-page SEO technique a do-it-yourself SEO should learn
What is On-Page SEO?
Unlike Off-Page SEO, On-Page SEO is the method of optimizing your page(s) to achieve top ranking in search results and increase ‘free website traffic” based on searchers query.
On-page search engine optimization refers to both optimizing content and HTML source code.
There are too many on-page SEO techniques to mention them all here. However, I am only going to list crucial on-page search engine optimization tactics.
Once properly implemented, these SEO techniques will put your business above your competition in search results pages.
- URLs – Make your page URL short, sweet, and easy to remember.
- Static vs. Dynamic URLs – Search engines have no problem crawling and indexing dynamic URLs. But for SEO and your users’ sake, use static URLs by switching ‘URL Rewriting’ to ON within your CMS’s back end. Don’t forget to change your htaccess.txt file to .htaccess
- Use SEO friendly URLs – Using your keyword in your page URL, it can improve your site’s online presence. So make your URL short and include your keyword, provided you don’t make the URL a mile long
- Page Title – Optimize your page title by adding your keyword as early as possible within the title. Also, try to make your page title enticing to boost your click-through rate. Make sure the page title tag doesn’t exceed 600 Pixel Width threshold. Don’t measure your page title using character limits (155-16-); measure using Pixel Width instead. One more thing, avoid duplicate page title.
- Use Keywords – Many SEO beginners don’t take the critical step of looking at the ‘queries’ feature found in their Google Analytics. This feature will allow you to learn about which search term is driving organic traffic, understand how your visitors are searching, and come up with ideas about future posts
- Page Meta Description Tag – In September of 2009, Google has announced that meta descriptions and meta keywords tags are not ranking factors. Nonetheless, the page description tag is your opportunity to advertise your content. So make your description sweet, concise, and enticing to increase your page click-through rate. Use searchwilderness.com to measure your page title and meta description tag’s pixel length. Also, make sure you avoid duplicate meta description tags.
- Use optimized heading (H1 – H6) – While headings (H1-H6) might not be essential ranking factors like they used to be, header tags still serve a vital function. However, using and writing proper headings will make your content easy and enjoyable to read, thus, improving your ranking. Headers are used to break up content in an easy to read and digestible piece, provide a good page structure. Well written header tags could appear in featured snippets in search results. As a DIY SEO beginner; you can’t afford not spending some time to write keyword-rich headings for your users and search engines. Some SEOs will tell you that you can use multiple H1 on a single page. Depending on the type of content, you can use more than one H1 header on a page. However, it is not an SEO best practice. Keep your header tags consistent and short throughout your website. One last thing – Do not use a header to highlight a keyword-rich block of content
- Offer high-quality and relevant content based on users’ query – Quality content and SEO bond very well and can propel your website to the top position of the search results. In the same token, poor content quality can get your site/page penalized. When writing content, make sure you include your targeted keyword within the first paragraph. Depending on how long your content is, you can use your keyword twice or three times throughout the page content. Also, you should use LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords and synonyms to tweak your on-page SEO further and rank for multiple keywords on a single page.
- Optimize your images for SEO and speed – Many site owners reached out to us to complain about their website for being very slow. Upon running a site audit, we found the core issue of their website being slow was the sheer number of non-optimized images used. Also, most of the pictures used didn’t have the width and height within the HTML. Before you upload any image, make sure it is optimized for speed, you upload the image with the intended dimensions you want to use, and that you don’t resize the image by dragging it from within the editor.
- Internal linking for SEO – Internal links help you offer good navigation to your readers, define your site’s architecture, and spreads page authority. A good SEO analyst implements a robust internal linking scheme and makes sure that every page is linking to another relevant page. For more in internal-linking your relevant pages properly, check out good read ‘Internal Linking for SEO: Why and How?‘ article from Yoast SEO.
- Reduce page load time – Nobody likes a slow loading page, including you.
- Link to high quality and authoritative websites with relevant and high-quality content
Step 10. Use primary search term for each page
Once you’ve finished doing keyword research, you’ll end up with a plethora of search terms you could use within your page content.
But before you choose a keyword to target willy-nilly, make sure you select the primary keyword term that will attract free and relevant traffic to your business.
A good DIY SEO will also include LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keyword to boost further his/her chances of getting that #1 position.
What Is LSI?
LSI keywords are related terms you could use to help search engines further understand your page content’s overall topic.
For example, let’s say you’ve learned enough SEO and are confident you could offer your affordable SEO services for small businesses in your local area.
The keyword term you might be thinking of targeting is ‘small business SEO.’
Search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo will also scan your page content for LSI keywords such as ‘affordable SEO,’ and possibly ‘search engine optimization services.’
Once search engines see your primary keyword with LSI search terms, they will say;
“This page is about offering search engine optimization services, and not just talking about SEO.”
Step 11. Off-Page SEO
If you want to optimize your website yourself, you can’t just stop at on-Page SEO and forget about Off-Page SEO.
What Is Off-Page SEO?
Simply put, Off-page SEO is the process of promoting your website using techniques and tools available outside your site, such as social media.
Search engines rely not only on on-page SEO signals but also on social media platforms to offer their searchers the best results.
If you want to:
- Increase your ranking
- Get more exposure than what on-page SEO could offer
Then you must invest time and resources to promote your business on social media sites.
Off-Page SEO also includes Link-Building, which happens to be the most popular Off-Page search engine optimization technique to promote your business outside the boundaries of your website.
What is Link-Building?
Link-building is like a vote you get from authoritative websites from a page with relevant content, and from social media. The more relevant links you get from trustworthy websites, the higher your site will be on search engines search result pages(SERPs).
Not all links are created equal!
If you have a newly designed website and are thinking of getting external links, make sure you;
- Don’t fall for the ‘buy-links’ scheme
- Avoid using PBN (Private Blog Network) to build links – At BuzFind, we call PBN ‘Grey Hat SEO Techniques’ and they should be avoided at all cost. Why? Because sooner or later, Google (and other major search engines) will catch up to your grey-hat SEO tactics and penalize you for the bad things you did.
Many business owners ask me if submitting your website to directories is good SEO.
My answer is Yes, and No!
If submitting your site to directories such as (partial list);
- BOTW (Best Of The Web) – Trusted by over 16 million businesses
- Yext – You can list your business with Yext. Just expect some phone calls from someone trying to sell you features/services you don’t really need
- Chamber of Commerce – Similar to your local Chamber of Commerce. You should claim your business
- Google My Business (GMB) – Perfect for local businesses
- Bing Places – World’s next most popular search engine
- Yelp – A review site for local businesses
- Yahoo –
- Angie’s List – Another review site for local businesses
- Yellow Pages – You can claim your business for free. However, expect some phone calls
Then my answer is ‘Yes.’
For a detailed list of directories, you could submit your business to, check out Search Engine Journal “21 Web Directories That Still Have Value in 2019” article.
However, if you are thinking of submitting your website to every online directory you can find..,
Then my answer is ‘No.’
Step 12. Technical SEO
The technical SEO should be done way before you submit your website to search engines, social media sites, and directories.
The reason you want to perform a technical SEO audit is so that you eliminate issues that will affect your site’s;
- And indexing
Before search engines get to notice the errors. Performing a technical site audit will help search engines crawl, understand, and index your website without problems.
Here are the best tools for technical SEO audits;
- ScreamingFrog – I’ve been using ScreamingFrog for technical SEO audit since its inception and I believe it to be the best Technical and On-page SEO audit tool. Note that Screaming-frog offers a Free (500 URLs max) and a Paid (unlimited URLs) version. If your website is small, then no need to get the pro/full version of Screaming Frog
- Google Search Console – Google Seach Console offers a tons of data such as indexability issues
- SEMrush – Check out SEMrush’s On-Page SEO Checker
Step 13. Submit your sitemap to Google, Bing, and Yahoo
I’ve been asked countless times by business owners, and do it yourself SEO beginners about whether submitting an XML sitemap will help boost their SEO campaign.
My answer is..,
Yes, and No.
- A sitemap WILL make it easier for search engines to:
- Be notified of new or updated pages
- Better understand your site’s structure
- Boost site’s crawlability and indexing
The more high-quality pages are indexed, the higher chance of getting top ranking in search results will be.
On the other hand, if your sitemap only contains links to poor quality pages, it will not help your DIY search engine optimization efforts.
Do I recommend submitting an XML to search engines? Of course, I do. But..,
Only if you are submitting a well-structured and highly optimized sitemap.
Note – Don’t just depend on your submitted sitemap online!
You might or might not agree with me but there is another way of getting more pages crawled and indexed submitting an XML sitemap.
Another way of boosting your site’s crawlability and indexability by search engines is internal-links. Properly inter-linking your pages will help increase the number of crawled and indexed pages – Provided their content is of high-quality and relevant.
If you are a WordPress user, You are in luck.
Yoast SEO plugin has a great XML sitemap generator feature that once enabled, it will act as a roadmap of your site.
For more on what is a sitemap and why you should have one, read Yoast’s article about sitemaps.
Step 14. If you think you are done doing SEO yourself, think again
As a DIY SEO beginner who just got his website top ranking in search results, you might say to yourself..,
“Now that I have good rankings, I can stop doing SEO.”
You might think that once you have reached Googledom, your SEO work and efforts are done, and you can now sit back and reap the rewards of having done good SEO.
You see, SEO will continue to evolve for as long as search engines keep updating their 200+ algorithms, and changing their ranking factors.
I don’t mean to scare you, but you have just scratched the surface of search engine optimization. There are two important facts I need to share with you, and that you must burn into your brain;
- SEO is not dead – The process and techniques of doing SEO will for sure changes, however, SEO will never be dead
- You’ve just started SEO – Once you start optimizing your site for search engines, you can’t stop doing SEO
The work you will need to continue doing if you want to keep that #1 position on Google is:
- Tweak SEO further – Like previously mentioned, as long as search engines are alive, you will need to keep up with future SEO changes
- Test your SEO – You will not know whether the changes you made to tweak your SEO further will have worked or not unless you perform regular testing at least once a month
- Measure your SEO results – You need to continuously measure your DIY SEO results using your Google Analytics and Search Console, and make required changes if you want to keep your site above your competition in search results
Can you do SEO for free? The answer is ‘Yes!’ – Provided you find a good DIY SEO guide to help you along in this long journey
Should you do SEO yourself? My answer is, if you have an existing website you want to optimize, I highly recommend seeking the help of an SEO expert before you jump into the water.
The reason I recommend that you consult with an SEO professional first is I don’t want you to get your site penalized by search engines because it is not as easy as you might think to remove that penalty.
If you need help promoting your site with search engines, or have some questions about DIY SEO, we are here to help.
We are not going to teach you everything there is to know about search engines and how to do SEO yourself. However, we will answer any questions other DIY SEO guides didn’t provide.
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A DIY SEO Guide to optimizing your own website yourself for free.