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DIY SEO for Small Businesses: The Complete Guide In 2024

diy seo for small business

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. i.e., if you sign up for their paid programs, I will get a commission, at no cost to you. Please rest assured that I only recommend software/ products I genuinely believe in, and trust to be good for you.

Are you a startup/ small business owner/solo entrepreneur/ freelancer/ blogger with a limited budget, and no prior knowledge of SEO? Keep reading.

Most likely:

  • Your website has few pages, mostly the product/ service ones, or a limited number of blog posts
  • The site gets few visitors, or your visitors don’t convert to leads and customers
  • Maybe you were selling in retail before, but because of Covid19 you have to sell online
  • You’d like to get more eyes on your site and business
  • You’ve heard SEO (maybe not even sure what it’s an abbreviation for!) can help with that

Every penny counts, so instead of hiring a professional right now, you want to DIY SEO for your small business website.

You may have read a few articles on SEO and how it can improve traffic, but it all seems a bit overwhelming. So much to do! Do you really have to do all that?

Trust me, I work with many clients like you, so you are not alone. Hence this post.

This post will stick to what is important for YOU as an entrepreneur/ small business manager/ freelancer/ blogger. It will:

  • Clarify your SEO questions
  • Explain the fundamentals of SEO, its various 6 elements, and how they work together
  • Mention all the next steps to do, at an intermediate-advanced level

DIY SEO from Scratch for Absolute Beginners

What is small business SEO?

Small business SEO is the process of optimizing your small business website or page to show up in the top results on a search engine when your audience searches for topics related to your business. Small business SEO aims to increase the traffic to your niche website without paid advertising.

There are many search engines out there, like Bing, Yahoo, but let’s focus on Google for now, shall we?

You can buy ads on Google, not searches. Google’s algorithm will decide which site page, out of hundreds of billions in its directory, should rank in the top positions of the search engine results for different queries.

How does Google search work?

Here’s a very simple video to explain it:

How does SEO work?

If you want your website to rank high on Google, you need to know what Google cares about most, right?

Well, for Google, it’s all about the user. It tries to understand what people are searching for and why, then gives them the best answers, like product pages, pictures, articles, and more.

Google Mission organic rank

So, whether your site shows up at the top depends on a few things: how well it matches the search, how good and helpful its content is, how much Google trusts it, and how much people like using it.

SEO works by making your site easy for users and search engines to understand, creating high-quality content that people want to see, and getting other websites to link to yours. The goal is to make your site more relevant, trustworthy, and user-friendly, which helps it rank better and attract more visitors.

Now, whether Google shows your site at the top depends on hundreds of factors. These are a few key ones:

  • Relevance: How accurately your webpage matches the search query
  • Quality: How good and helpful your page content is for the particular search query
  • Authority: How accurate and reliable Google thinks your page is
  • User experience (UX): How much users engage with your page

What does this mean for you?

Most importantly, the user should be at the core of all for SEO activities. Which also makes sense, right? Because it is the user who will eventually help you increase revenue. Share on X

Google also uses the concept of E-E-A-T – Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness to evaluate the quality of content creators and websites.

E-E-A-T emphasizes the significance of firsthand experience in creating trustworthy and authoritative content. While it’s not a direct ranking factor in Google’s algorithm, it plays a crucial role in assessing content quality according to Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines.

What is SEO NOT?

1. A quick win.

SEO doesn’t guarantee instant results or immediate top rankings in search engine results pages.

It is a long-term strategy, and you will need at least a few months to see results if you keep working at it. So the sooner you start work on it the better.

2. Shady or illegal ways to trick Google.

It’s not about using deceptive tactics or manipulative strategies to artificially boost rankings. The only way for a page to get to a high Google rank is to be high quality.

3. A one-time task

SEO is not something you do once and forget about. It requires ongoing effort, adaptation, and staying updated with search engine algorithms and best practices.

What is DIY SEO for small businesses?

DIY SEO for your small business means optimizing your website to boost its ranking in search engines and get more website traffic. You undertake all the tasks yourself without relying on external agencies.

DIY SEO allows you to take control of your business’s online presence and marketing efforts, often at a lower cost than hiring professional SEO services. However, it requires dedication, time, and ongoing learning to stay updated with SEO best practices and effectively implement strategies for long-term success.

Benefits of SEO for small businesses

Simply put, SEO helps boost brand awareness and sales in the long run by bringing in a constant stream of visitors.

Good SEO = More website traffic = Possibly more income Share on X

1. Increased online visibility and traffic

SEO helps improve your website’s visibility in search engine results, making it easier for potential customers to find your website.

And the higher up you are on Google, the more chances of your audience clicking on your website. See the graphs below.

The first few results get the most number of clicks

First results in Google get maximum traffic

The first page in Google gets the most traffic.

First page in Google get maximum traffic

So good SEO pushes you high up in the rankings and generates consistent traffic from search over a period of time, even repeat traffic, without spending any additional money.

That’s real people visiting your site.

2. Targeted traffic

SEO helps attract highly relevant traffic from users actively seeking what you offer.

This targeted approach increases the likelihood of converting visitors into customers, ultimately driving more sales and revenue for your small business.

  • It makes people want to stay on your site longer and browse through your brand and marketing messages
  • It boosts your brand awareness, people have more brand recall, they come back to your site repeatedly, recommend you to others

All of this means higher chances of increased income.

Read my post on small business SEO success stories to know how SEO boosts sales.

3. Cost-effective marketing

Compared to traditional paid advertising methods, SEO offers a cost-effective way to market your small business online.

Once your website ranks well in search results, you can continue to attract organic traffic without incurring ongoing advertising expenses, making SEO a sustainable and budget-friendly marketing strategy.

4. Improved credibility and trust

Ranking high in search results signals credibility and authority to potential customers, establishing trust in your brand and increasing click-through rates.

By consistently delivering valuable content that meets the needs of your target audience, you can build stronger relationships with customers and enhance brand loyalty over time.

5. Competitive advantage

SEO levels the playing field for small businesses, allowing them to compete effectively with larger competitors in the digital marketplace.

By implementing strategic SEO tactics, you can differentiate your business, highlight your unique value proposition, and position yourself as a leader in your industry, gaining a competitive edge and capturing a larger market share.

6. Long-term results

Unlike paid advertising, which delivers temporary results, SEO provides sustainable long-term benefits for your small business. While it may take time to see significant improvements in search rankings, the ongoing efforts to optimize your website and create valuable content can lead to lasting success, ensuring a steady stream of organic traffic and leads over time.

By investing in SEO as part of your long-term marketing strategy, you can future-proof your business and achieve sustainable growth in the digital landscape.

6 types of SEO

Different aspects of SEO contribute in different ways to help the overall SEO of a site or page.

Below are the definitions of each element and explanations of how it impacts both the user and Google.

6 SEO Elements: Definitions, Objective, & Relevance for User & Google

So, do you remember the 4 factors earlier about how Google decides whom to rank on top? You achieve each of them with different elements of SEO.

How to Rank High on Google - SEO Ranking Factors Final

Certainly, here’s the breakdown with each type of SEO in H3 and each tip in H4:

1. Keyword Research

Keyword research involves identifying the specific words and phrases that potential customers use when searching for products or services related to your business.

When conducting keyword research, you’re trying to understand what words and phrases your potential customers use when searching online. By knowing these keywords, you can create content that matches their searches, making it easier for them to find your business.

1. Use keyword research tools

Keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner or Semrush help you identify relevant keywords with high search volume and low competition. These tools provide insights into popular search queries related to your business, effectively allowing you to tailor your content to match user intent.

2. Focus on long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords are specific phrases that typically have lower search volume but higher conversion rates. Targeting long-tail keywords allows you to capture highly targeted traffic and attract users who are closer to making a purchasing decision.

3. Analyze competitor keywords

Analyzing competitor keywords can provide valuable insights into gaps in your own keyword strategy. By studying what keywords your competitors rank for, you can identify opportunities to target similar keywords and improve your search visibility.

4. Consider search intent

Understanding the intent behind users’ search queries is crucial for selecting the right keywords.

Choose keywords that align with the searcher’s intent, whether informational, navigational, or transactional, to ensure your content effectively addresses their needs.

Related: Use high-intent keywords to drive conversions

5. Regularly update the keyword list

Search trends and user behavior evolve over time, so reviewing and updating your keyword list is essential. Keep an eye on changes in search volume, competition, and emerging trends to stay ahead of the curve and adjust your keyword strategy accordingly.

2. On-page SEO

On-page SEO involves optimizing individual web pages to improve their visibility and relevance in search engine results.

With on-page SEO, you optimize individual web pages to make them more visible to search engines. This involves using relevant keywords in your page titles, headings, and content and ensuring your website is easy for visitors to navigate.

1. Optimize meta tags

Meta tags, including title tags and meta descriptions, provide essential information to search engines about your webpage’s content. Optimize these tags by including relevant keywords and compelling descriptions that entice users to click through to your site.

2. Use headers and subheaders

Headers (H1, H2, etc.) help organize your content and improve readability for both users and search engines. Use descriptive headers and subheaders that include keywords to signal the structure and relevance of your content to search engines.

3. Optimize URL structure

A clean and descriptive URL structure improves user experience and helps search engines understand the context of your pages. Include relevant keywords in your URLs and avoid long strings of numbers or special characters to make them more user-friendly and SEO-friendly.

4. Optimize images

Images play a crucial role in enhancing the visual appeal of your content, but they also provide an opportunity for optimization.

Use descriptive filenames and alt text that include relevant keywords to help search engines understand the content of your images and improve your overall SEO.

5. Improve page load speed

Page speed is a critical ranking factor, directly impacting user experience and bounce rates. Optimize your website’s performance by minimizing server response times, compressing images, and leveraging browser caching to ensure fast loading times and a seamless user experience.

3. Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO refers to activities outside your website that impact your search engine rankings. This includes building backlinks from other reputable websites, engaging with your audience on social media, and managing your online reputation through reviews and mentions.

1. Build quality backlinks

Backlinks from authoritative and relevant websites strongly signal your site’s credibility and authority.

Focus on earning high-quality backlinks through guest blogging, influencer outreach, and content partnerships to improve your search rankings and increase organic traffic.

2. Engage on social media

Social media engagement can indirectly impact your SEO by driving traffic to your website and increasing brand visibility.

Actively engage with your audience on social media platforms, share your content, and encourage social sharing to amplify your reach and attract more inbound links.

3. Monitor online mentions

Monitoring online mentions of your brand allows you to proactively manage your online reputation and address any negative feedback or inaccuracies.

Respond promptly to customer reviews, comments, and mentions to build trust with your audience and maintain a positive online presence.

4. Participate in online communities

Joining relevant forums, groups, and communities related to your industry provides opportunities to engage with your target audience and establish your authority.

Contribute valuable insights, answer questions, and share your expertise to build relationships and attract inbound links from community members.

5. Encourage user-generated content

User-generated content, such as reviews, testimonials, and user-generated videos, can enhance your credibility and attract more organic traffic.

Encourage satisfied customers to share their experiences and opinions, and showcase user-generated content on your website and social media channels to build trust with potential customers.

4. Content SEO

Content SEO involves creating high-quality, relevant content that attracts and engages your target audience while optimizing it for search engines.

When focusing on content SEO, you’re creating high-quality, relevant content that attracts and engages your audience.

This means writing informative blog posts, creating engaging videos, and optimizing your content with the right keywords to improve its visibility in search results.

1. Research topics and keywords

Conduct thorough research to identify relevant topics and keywords that resonate with your target audience.

Use keyword research tools to uncover search trends, analyze search volume, and identify valuable keywords to target in your content.

2. Create valuable content

Focus on creating high-quality, informative, and engaging content that addresses the needs and interests of your target audience.

Create a solid digital content strategy, provide valuable insights, answer common questions, and offer solutions to problems to establish authority and attract organic traffic.

3. Optimize content structure

Organize your content into clear, well-structured sections with descriptive headings and subheadings.

Use bullet points, numbered lists, and formatting techniques to improve readability and make your content more scannable for users and search engines.

4. Include target keywords naturally

Incorporate target keywords naturally throughout your content, including headings, body text, and meta tags.

Avoid keyword stuffing and prioritize readability and user experience by seamlessly integrating keywords into your content where they add value and relevance.

5. Regularly update and refresh content

Keep your content up-to-date and relevant by regularly reviewing and optimizing existing content.

Update your website and all outdated information, add new insights or developments, and repurpose content into different formats to keep your audience engaged and maintain your search visibility over time.

5. Technical SEO

Technical SEO focuses on optimizing the technical aspects of your website to improve its performance, accessibility, and crawlability for search engines.

With technical SEO, you’re optimizing the technical aspects of your website to improve its performance and accessibility for search engines.

This includes tasks like speeding up your site, ensuring it’s mobile-friendly, and fixing any technical errors that could hold you back in search results.

1. Optimize site speed

Improve your website’s loading speed by optimizing images, minimizing server response times, and leveraging browser caching.

A faster website improves user experience, boosts search engine rankings, and reduces bounce rates.

2. Ensure mobile-friendliness

With most searches now conducted on mobile devices, ensuring your website is mobile-friendly and responsive is essential.

Optimize your site for mobile usability, including easy navigation, fast loading times, and responsive design, to provide a seamless experience across all devices.

3. Fix crawl errors

Regularly audit your website for crawl errors, broken links, and other technical issues hindering search engine crawling and indexing.

Use tools like Google Search Console to promptly identify and fix crawl errors to ensure your website is properly indexed and accessible to search engines.

4. Secure your website

Implement HTTPS encryption, use secure hosting, and regularly update software to protect your website from security threats and vulnerabilities.

A secure website protects user data and boosts trust and credibility with users and search engines.

5. Improve site structure

Create a clear and logical site structure with well-organized navigation and internal linking.

A well-structured website improves user experience and helps search engines crawl and understand the hierarchy and context of your content, leading to better search visibility and rankings.

6. Local SEO

Local SEO targets local search queries to improve your business’s visibility in geographic-specific search results, particularly for brick-and-mortar businesses targeting local customers.

For local SEO, you’re optimizing your online presence to attract customers from your specific area. This involves claiming and optimizing your Google My Business listing, listing in local directories, and encouraging local reviews to boost your visibility in local search results.

1. Claim and optimize Google My Business listing

Claim your Google My Business listing and ensure it is complete, accurate, and up-to-date with your business information, including address, phone number, and business hours.

Optimizing your GMB listing improves your visibility in local search results and helps attract more customers in your area.

2. Get listed in local directories

Ensure your business is listed in online directories, citation sites, and review platforms relevant to your industry and location.

Consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) information across these directories helps improve your local search visibility and builds trust with potential customers.

3. Optimize for local keywords

Use location-specific keywords in your website content, meta tags, and headings to target local search queries and attract users searching for businesses in your area.

Incorporate location-based terms naturally into your content to signal relevance to local search intent.

4. Encourage local reviews

Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews and ratings on your Google My Business profile and other review platforms.

Positive reviews improve your local search rankings and build trust and credibility with potential customers searching for local businesses.

5. Create locally-focused content

Produce relevant and useful content to your local audience, such as local guides, event announcements, and community news.

By addressing topics and interests specific to your local area, you can attract more local traffic and establish your business as a trusted resource in the community.

Do you have to do all 6 types of SEO?

The first thing to understand is that, as you can see from the above graphic, all these steps work together to improve your site ranking. And they are all broken down into hundreds of steps.

We cannot meet every criterion of Google (it doesn’t even share all its ranking factors openly), but there are a few steps in each section that are good for you to do for your website or online store. The more you can do, the better. If you can do only one or two now and keep the rest for after a few months, that’s okay, too.

If you prefer to have one of these steps sent to your inbox daily for 7 days, complete with full videos & worksheets, sign up for my FREE 7-Day Do-It-Yourself SEO Starter Course.

But you don’t have to do everything all together. If you’re new to DIY SEO, baby steps are better. Plus, you have a business to run and a life to live, and a day only has 24 hours, right?

DIY SEO Tips for small businesses

Here are some extra tips to help you work on your own SEO.

1. Know your audience

Research your target audience to understand their interests, preferences, and search habits. This will help you to develop a website strategy and create content that resonates with them and addresses their needs effectively.

It will also help you understand the intent behind their searches.

2. Use relevant keywords

Identify keywords and phrases relevant to your business and commonly used by your target audience in search queries.

Incorporate these keywords naturally into your website content, including titles, headings, and body text. You can refer to this keyword research checklist for ideas.

3. Create quality content regularly

Develop informative, engaging content that provides value to your audience, and do it consistently, not once in a while.

This could include blog posts, how-to guides, videos, or infographics that address common questions or problems related to your industry.

The important thing is to stay consistent and relevant.

4. Get Noticed

Contact other websites, bloggers, and influencers in your niche and ask them to link to your site.

Building quality backlinks from reputable sources can help improve your website’s authority and visibility in search engine results.

5. Get local

Ensure your business is listed on Google My Business and other local directories.

To improve your visibility in local search results, provide accurate and up-to-date information about your business, including your address, phone number, and business hours.

6. Speed up your site

Optimize your website’s loading speed by compressing images, minifying code, and reducing server response times.

A fast-loading website improves user experience and enhances your chances of ranking higher in search results.

7. Make your website mobile-friendly

Design your website to be responsive and mobile-friendly, ensuring it looks and functions well on various devices and screen sizes.

With more users accessing the internet from mobile devices, a mobile-friendly website is essential for SEO success.

8. Measure your progress

Use tools like Google Analytics to monitor your website traffic, track user behavior, and measure the effectiveness of your SEO efforts. Analyze key metrics such as organic traffic, bounce rate, and conversion rate to identify areas for improvement.

9. Stay updated on SEO trends

Stay informed about the latest trends, updates, and best practices in SEO by following industry blogs, attending webinars, and participating in online forums.

Continuously learning and adapting your SEO strategy will help you stay ahead of the competition and maintain your website’s visibility in search results.

10. Be patient

SEO is a long-term strategy that requires time, effort, and consistency to see results.

Don’t expect immediate success; instead, focus on implementing sustainable SEO practices and be patient as you wait for your efforts to pay off through improved search rankings and increased organic traffic.

How much does SEO cost for a small business?

The cost of SEO can vary based on factors like your industry competitiveness and the specific services you require. On average, you might expect to invest anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars monthly for professional SEO services.

Alternatively, one-time SEO projects could range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the scope of work.

When considering SEO investment, carefully assess your budget and objectives and select a reputable provider offering transparent pricing and tangible results.

Professional SEO help can of course, get you results faster, simply because the specialists have more experience than you.

SEO manufacturing services can be particularly useful for targeting customers within the manufacturing industry, helping them find specific products or services offered by your business in the competitive landscape.

To save costs, you can opt for do-it-yourself SEO, but remember, that’s not exactly free. You must spend time on keyword research, creating content, and adding backlinks. That’s time spent away from your business, which has an opportunity cost.

Besides that, I would highly recommend you invest in SEO software. But more on that later.

How long will DIY SEO take to show results?

If your website is currently showing up around the 5th page of Google for searches or not at all, and someone tells you it can rank within the top 20 positions in Google in a matter of weeks, if not days, run like hell. Or, show me the results and surprise me!

How long SEO takes to work, whether you hire someone or do it yourself, depends on how much work you put in. I would say at least 6 months if you consistently work on your SEO maintenance, a little every day.

This is an example of how one of my client’s results changed over a year with consistent work (there are only product pages, no blog).
How long will SEO take to work

Does SEO work for small businesses?

SEO can be very effective for your small business, but some important factors must be considered.

Firstly, it’s not a quick solution; it takes time and consistent effort to see results, especially in competitive markets. You’ll need to invest resources in activities like optimizing your website, creating quality content, and building links, which can be time-consuming.

Moreover, as a small business, you’ll likely face tough competition from larger companies with bigger budgets and established online presence. Breaking through this competition and achieving top search engine rankings can be challenging.

It’s also important to remember that SEO outcomes are not guaranteed; algorithms change, and market dynamics fluctuate, making it somewhat unpredictable.

Therefore, committing to a long-term strategy, continuously monitoring and adjusting your approach to maximize results, is essential.

Despite these challenges, with dedication and the right strategy, SEO can help your small business improve its online visibility and attract more organic traffic.

Do I need any SEO tools?

– A website with a good website host.

I would recommend Siteground or Bluehost (both officially recommended by WordPress). This is NOT a tutorial for SEO on Etsy.

You can control your content on Etsy, but you need your own site with paid hosting (jargon: domain) to really optimize your site completely. Read my detailed Siteground review to know why I recommend it so highly.

– A Google account

– An SEO software. I highly recommend Semrush or SE Ranking.

There are tons of others, too, but these are some of the best SEO tools for small businesses, for the beginner to intermediate level, in my experience. Start with a 14-day trial of Semrush or SE Ranking.

Start with free trials of SEO tools to check if the tool meets your needs before you buy it.

When should I start SEO?

You should start working on SEO for your small business as soon as possible. The sooner you begin optimizing your website and implementing SEO strategies, the sooner you can start seeing results.

I get this question a lot from clients:

Question from my clients: My website is still WIP/ has very few pages. Shouldn’t I wait to do SEO till it’s done?

My answer: A. Absolutely not. You should start working on your SEO strategy in parallel while you finish your site.

Here’s why: Ranking on Google takes time.

It’s not like you will start your SEO efforts now, and tomorrow, Google will rank you at the top for what your audience is searching for.

SEO is a long-term investment, and it takes time to build up your online presence and improve your search engine rankings.

When you start early, you give yourself the best chance of success and ensure you’re not falling behind your competitors who may already be investing in SEO.

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Megha Chatterjee
1 year ago

Hi Poulami,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Diy SEO. It is really helpful for small business owners and startups. While SEO can be a complex and ever-evolving field, there are some basic strategies you can implement on your own to improve your website’s visibility and rankings in search engine results.

Megha Chatterjee
1 year ago
Reply to  Poulomi Basu

You most welcome. Yes, you have to keep your eyes on recent Google updates and you can do your own SEO with flying colors,

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