An hour a day SEO: hints and tips for DIY search marketing
How you can get a ‘do it yourself’ SEO campaign off the ground in 60 minutes – and save money
SEO is a vital investment for businesses but expert agencies can demand investments that you don’t always have available as a start-up.
So for business owners who want to be hands-on with their SEO or who simply don’t have the budget to outsource, time is valuable and this is a guide to SEO in an hour a day.
Get in Google’s good books
Before you can be expected to figure out how to improve your site in Google’s eyes, you need to know what Google wants.
Spend an hour reading through Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This is an essential starting point for anybody looking to spend time on their own SEO campaigns.
Fine tune your content
The old cliché, ‘Content is King’, rings truer than ever before. Whatever your sector, you give yourself the best chance of tickling Google’s fancy by producing brilliant content.
We’re not just talking about text content either. Data visualisation (charts, infographics) other imagery, video and audio content all count.
Start with your key pages and make sure your content is unique to you and has something original to offer. A great use of time, particularly for businesses where everyone’s content in the sector is effectively the same includes:
- Pulling testimonials and case studies together – these are unique to you!
- Making your ‘About Us’ page genuinely informative. Steer clear of clichés and effectively just using the same paragraph you’ve got all over your social profiles. Create something truly unique for your website.
- Produce unique descriptions for your products. This is particularly important for e-commerce businesses where you’re selling products manufactured by a third party and where lots of other people sell them. You tend to find that a lot of retailers run the manufacturer’s own description as their product description, meaning you have nothing unique. If your site falls into the category of a site with a lot of products where you’re running much of the same description content as your competitors, then an hour a day spent updating products will be incredibly productive.
- Give your opinion or spin on a trending news story from within your industry in the form of a blog post.
As critical as content is, much of what determines where you show up in search is still down to links to your site from other relevant sites.
Don’t fall into the trap of submitting your site to lots of low quality free directories for a link or for doing a lot of ‘link exchanges’ with irrelevant websites.
These are tactics that could get you in trouble in the long run and actually, in the worst cases, result in Google removing your website from its index altogether!
Refer back to the Webmaster Guidelines for more information on the link schemes Google’s not a fan of!
Instead, if you are going to invest time in acquiring links back to your site, do it in these ways:
1. Make contact with a handful of the most influential and authoritative bloggers in your sphere.
This could be in the form of an email, a Twitter exchange or similar. Don’t start by asking for anything! Maybe start by adding valuable comments to their blogs, responding to something they Tweet and generally adding value.
Spend some time working out who their audience is, what their blogging style is and therefore the type of content likely to be of value to those bloggers.
When you have a feel for the content likely to work on their blog, perhaps suggest writing a guest post for them.
Guest posts are often credited to authors with an author bio including a link back to the author’s website. Guest blogging is a really valuable link building tactic when used correctly.
2. Claim listings in valuable and authoritative directories.
I know I just warned away from directories, but some are great. Aside from some of the premium (and costly) ones like BOTW.org, there could be some directories or regulatory bodies that list relevant businesses specifically for your industry.
For example, in the digital marketing industry, the Recommended Agencies Register acts as a high quality register of agencies based on the client recommendations. This does include a link back to the agencies too. If there are similar bodies in your industry, get yourself listed.
3. Claim your image credits.
If you produce original photographs or images, there’s a great way to build links. You can use Google Image Search to find instances of your image on other people’s websites.
Where the website hasn’t credited your image with a link, send the webmaster an email. Be polite! Simply tell them you have spotted that they are using an image you own and you are more than happy for them to continue doing so, but that you would appreciate an image credit link back to your website.
Get to grips with Google Analytics
All those hours spent writing copy and building links will become somewhat demotivating if you’ve no way of actually measuring the results!
Google Analytics is incredibly useful even right out of the box, but with some deeper knowledge of the product and how to customise it to your needs, it becomes a powerhouse for insights.
Google has a course and exam for Google Analytics known as ‘Google Analytics IQ.’ You don’t have to take the exam to be able to access the course material though and the course material is free to use! Spend some time learning more about Google Analytics.
Spot-check your technical set up and speed
- If you have development skills or a developer on hand, go through your website checking the URL structure, checking how easily crawled the site is and checking for any duplicate content issues (common on large e-commerce websites).
- Check for any internal dead links. You don’t want to have links on your own websites pointing to dead pages (either dead pages on your site or external dead pages). There’s a Chrome extension called Check my Links that’s useful for highlighting such links. Fix up any that you find.
- Use Google’s page speed insights tool to measure how quickly your site loads in Google’s view. Page speed is a ranking factor in search now, so it’s important you’re speedy. You can switch between mobile and desktop as well to see how your site performs for both sets of users and Google will provide you with an actionable list of fixes if there are any issues. Don’t worry if your site doesn’t score 100%. Benchmark against your closest competitors by running a quick check on their sites in the tool too.
I’m not suggesting an hour a day could be a permanent solution to a specialist in-house team or agency, of course. But 60 minutes a day can enhance your SEO presence and start bringing in more qualified traffic and therefore revenue, which is the first step on the way to being able allocate even more budget for SEO resource.
Stacey Cavanagh is the digital marketing manager for Tecmark, a UK digital marketing agency operating search campaigns for businesses in a number of sectors.