Do It Yourself (DIY) Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Advice

diyMany entrepreneurs and small business owners have a “Do-It-Yourself’ mindset. After all it’s that same mindset that encouraged many owners to go into business for themselves in the first place, and there are plenty of examples of business owners who have success marketing themselves online.

With that in mind, depending on the size of your business, your level of commitment to marketing online, and your company’s lifestage, there are plenty of low-cost initial steps you can take for yourself, without any help from a third-party provider.

1. Take a few hours to learn the basics of search marketing online

I’ll try to help simplify things by pointing you to a couple of fantastic free resources (other than PPC For Hire of course!) where you can start to learn the ropes.

SEOmoz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO and companion Beginner’s Checklist are two of the best places to start. Matt McGee’s “How to Promote a New Small Business Website” and Lisa Barone’s “How to Launch that SMB Website” are a couple of additional resources to round out the list.

2. Learn what your customers are searching for

One of the first questions I ask in a new click kick-off-call is “what are 10 key phrases you want to rank for?” This helps to provide a good starting point, but sometimes owners describe their business, or their product offerring, differently than a consumer would.

Luckily Google has an external keyword research tool that is simple to use. Just punch in a few keyword phrases you think one of your customers would use to describe your business, and Google will return related phrases and the search volume associated with those phrases. The goal, of course, is to target terms on your website where Google shows a lot of volume, but not a lot of advertiser competition.

If you already have a Twitter account, depending on your business, you might be able to see hot trends on search.twitter.com that are worth pursuing. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your followers directly: “what keywords would you use to search for my business?” The responses could be eye-opening!

3. Create a web presence

You don’t want to deal with setting up a website or the hassle’s of a website redesign? No problem! You can rank in plenty of Local search results without one.  Leverage local profiles on a powerful website like Yelp or Yahoo as your initial web presence. Be sure to use  keywords from Step 2 above in describing your business!

But if you are ready to take the plunge on an actual site, or revise your current one, I highly recommend building it with WordPress. Buy a domain name and a sign up for a hosting account (approximately $10 and $50-$100 per year, respectively) and install this free publishing platform.  There are literally thousands of high-quality free or cheap themes for WordPress on places like Premium Themes, ThemeForest and DIY Themes.

4. Submit your business to the local search engines

Did you know that you can submit your business information to the major search engines? Tell Google’s Local Business Center, Yahoo Local, and Bing Local about your business at a minimum. Again, use some of the keywords from Step 2 in describing your business, and make sure you place yourself in the proper categories.

Don’t stop there! Sign up for listing syndication services Localeze and Universal Business Listing as well.  Remember to be consistent with your business information and sign up on as many additional directories as you have time to do.

5. Track and analyze your results

Install Google Analytics‘ free tracking code and you’ll have access to what pages people are landing on & the ones that are catching their attention the most based on the ‘time on site’ statistic.

6. Get social

If you haven’t joined Twitter yet, now is the time to take the leap. Make friends in your community/vertical and let your customers know your Twitter handle in both your offline and online marketing materials. (While you’re at it add us as a friend as well @ppcforhire)

7. Stay informed about best practices in small business and local SEO

Read bloggers like Mike Blumenthal, Matt McGee, Miriam Ellis, and Andrew Shotland to name a few!

Total financial cost of ‘doing it yourself SEO’: $30 – $200 per year

As you can see, it’s fairly easy to get started on a pretty small and reasonable budget, if you’re interested in taking on the role of ‘do it yourself’ SEO!

Ask us about our local search engine optimization services!

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