Several years ago, I worked in a startup with no marketing budget.
No one had any marketing experience either. Being the only person who had read a couple of marketing books, I was put in charge of the marketing strategy.
Without any know-how or marketing dollars, I read a couple of SEO blogs and tried implementing their strategies.
And it worked.
Due to business challenges, the company no longer exists, which explains the sudden decline in traffic.
With the proper guidance, anyone can do SEO by themselves. You just need to know how to get started.
That’s what this guide is for.
If Google cannot find, crawl, and index your pages, it doesn’t matter what SEO tactics you pull out of the hat. Your pages just can’t rank.
So the first step is to make sure Google can do all of the above for your site.
The easiest way to see if any issues are hindering Google is to audit your website. You can do this by signing up for our free Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (AWT) and using Site Audit to run a crawl of your website.
When the crawl is done, you’ll see all the top issues plaguing your site. Click on the number in the Crawled column to see which URLs these are.
You can also click on the issue itself to see why it’s a problem and how to fix it.
To get search traffic, you need to target the words and phrases your potential customers are searching for. You can find what these are by doing keyword research.
Here’s the easiest way to get started. You can:
Here, you’ll see over 400,000 potential topics. But that’s too many. So you’ll want to reduce the list to something manageable. Specifically, you’ll want to target keywords that can potentially send you tons of traffic but are not competitive.
We do this by using two filters:
This list is much more workable. Make sure you manually review each keyword to see if it’s relevant to your business.
Learn more: Keyword Research: The Beginner’s Guide by Ahrefs
Creating search-optimized pages is no longer about stuffing as many target keywords as possible. Keyword stuffing died over a decade ago. Today, Google can easily understand synonyms and semantically related words.
Then, how do you create pages optimized for search? Here’s how.
Google wants its users to be happy. To it, that means figuring out why the searcher is searching —i.e., search intent—and then showing them the most relevant results.
So if you want to rank high on Google, you’ll have to match search intent.
Fortunately, figuring out search intent is relatively simple. Since Google already works to serve the most relevant results, we can look at the current top-ranking pages to understand search intent.
Specifically, we want to analyze the three Cs of search intent:
For example, let’s suppose you want to cover the topic “how to save money”:
Here’s what we’ll learn when analyzing the SERPs:
So we could potentially create an article titled “XX Proven Ways to Save Money.”
Learn more: What Is Search Intent? A Complete Guide for Beginners
The best result for most queries usually covers everything searchers want to know about the topic.
An easy way to find out what subtopics and important points searchers want to see is to run a content gap analysis:
In this example, we’re targeting the keyword inbound marketing. You can see that many of these keywords map to potential subtopics:
… could make perfect H2s for our blog post.
You should cover the topic in full. But that doesn’t give you leeway to copy-paste what’s already on the top-ranking pages.
After all, copycat content can neither stand out nor incentivize people to link to you (and links are an important ranking factor).
So you’ll want to make sure your content is unique. Here are some ideas on how you can do that:
Content that’s hard to read is not only bad for SEO, but it’s also bad for business. How can you convince someone to buy your product if your copy can’t even be understood?
Keep your copy nice and simple. Use these tips:
This is the “icing” on the cake that makes it extra clear to Google and searchers that your page is relevant.
Follow these best practices:
Learn more: On-Page SEO: The Beginner’s Guide
Links are an important Google ranking factor. You’ll likely need them to rank higher.
When it comes to links, many people neglect internal links. But they’re actually important—not only because they pass authority between your pages, but they also help Google discover and understand pages.
The easiest way to find relevant internal link opportunities is to use the Link opportunities report in Site Audit. You’ve already run a crawl in step #1, so all that’s left to do is to see what internal links the report suggests you should add.
For example, Site Audit suggests that we can potentially add an internal link to our post on Google’s URL Inspection tool on our post about submitting websites to search engines.
Learn more: Internal Links for SEO: An Actionable Guide
HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a free service connecting journalists to sources and sources to journalists. If you’re an expert in your niche, you can easily provide a quote and the journalists may link to your site.
Getting started is easy—you just have to sign up as a source on the website.
Then, you’ll receive emails with queries from journalists working for various publications. However, most queries will likely be irrelevant to you, so we recommend setting up a Gmail filter:
For the best results, only respond to queries where you have relevant expertise.
If someone is linking to your competitors, chances are they will link to you too. So you merely have to find out who’s linking to them and not you and find a way to replicate those links.
Go through the results to see if there are any links you can potentially replicate.
For example, the website below links to both of our competitors. Looking closely at the links, we see they’re both podcast interviews:
Given that the host has already interviewed two of our competitors, they may also be interested in interviewing us.
Finally, you’ll need to track some metrics to know if you’re going down the right path.
The exact metrics you’ll need to track depend on your goals, but some of the most common ones are:
This simple DIY SEO guide covers the fundamentals of SEO.
You can follow this guide over and over again to optimize your site and rank for meaningful and relevant keywords.
Then as you experience more success, you may even consider hiring an agency to take things to the next level. Or if you prefer to continue the DIY route, you can learn more on our blog, YouTube channel, and Academy.
Any questions or comments? Let me know on Twitter.
Source: ahrefs.com, originally published on 2022-12-15 07:23:00