Anyone who has ever registered a domain name can tell you that there is no shortage of people out there willing to sell you search engine optimization services (SEO). While I fully endorse a business’s decision to work with an SEO consultant (full disclosure: I am one), there is quite a lot that you can do on your own to help your website rank better in Google.
If your budget isn’t quite there yet, or you would rather have more control over your website’s marketing, these seven do-it-yourself SEO tactics may help you. These tactics can also help you become a better SEO consultant if you already have a couple of clients.
1. Check your onpage optimization.
Onpage optimization is basically the process of changing your website in a such a way that makes it easier for search engines like Google to read and understand. Search engines being able to read and understand your website has a direct impact of where you’ll wind up in the search results.
While it’s easy to spend hours talking about proper onpage SEO techniques, the short version is have the keyword(s) you want to rank for in the title, headline and meta description of each page of your website.
If you’re running Wordpress, the free SEO Yoast plugin makes it simple to put your keywords in the right places. For other platforms, like Weebly or Squarespace, there are options to edit your website’s metadata information as well, though the simple checklist format of SEO Yoast should make using Wordpress all the more tempting.
2. Claim your Google My Business listing.
This might seem a little basic for those with a bit of marketing experience, but you would be surprised how many businesses out there have an unclaimed Google My Business listing. Claiming, completing and optimizing your Google My Business listing is essential for being able to rank for local keywords. That is, keywords that focus on a specific spot -- for example, “Long Island Plumber” or “Iowa City Chiropractor.”
Also, if you’ve been working out of a specific location for long enough, Google will simply create a listing for you. It’s a good idea to claim that listing so that you can modify the information there, add photos and your website, and respond to any reviews former or current customers have left for you there.
3. Complete social media profiles.
Again, this one is a little basic, but you absolutely must have your completed social media profiles for your business on at least all the major social media platforms. We recommend that, at the very least, you have a Facebook page, a Twitter profile, a Pinterest account, an Instagram account and a Google+ Profile.
Having an account on all of these platforms builds trust and shows the search engines that you’re a real business. It’s also important to make sure you have your website URL listed in the profile of each account. Even though it’s a “no-follow” link (meaning it doesn’t pass authority) it’s another trust signal that you and your business are legit.
4. Schema markup.
Over the last couple of years, Google has publicly announced its support for schema markup and the semantic web in general. This means those who add schema markup to their websites are ahead of the game when it comes to being in Google’s favor.
Without getting too complicated, schema is essentially a library of code that helps search engines better understand your website and return more relevant and informative results. For example, have you noticed those star ratings that are popping up all over the search results recently? Pretty cool right? You know what makes them happen? Yep, it's schema markup.
Now, for those with the time and technical know-how, you can do your website’s schema markup by hand, no problem. But if you have a little bit of budget lying around, are running a Wordpress website, and would rather just have the whole thing done for you, check out the Project Supremacy plugin.
For those running Weebly, Wix or Squarespace, you’ll have to add your schema in by hand. This quick start guide is pretty handy though.
5. Geotag your photos.
One of the hidden secrets of the SEO world that goes a long way towards ranking for local keywords is geotagging your photos -- adding GPS coordinates to the metadata of each photo you use on your website.
Search engines can’t see photos in the same way that we can. They need a little extra help to understand what’s happening and where. Having geotagged photos on your website, with an address that matches the address of your business’s physical location, is a huge trust signal for search engines.
To do the actual geotagging, you can use a web service like geotag.online. Put in your address, upload your photos, and they’ll do the rest. Then simply upload those newly geotagged photos to your website. You should see a bump in rankings over time.
Pro tip -- Upload those same geotagged photos to your Google My Business Listing for an even bigger boost in ranking.
6. Press releases.
To most of the world, press releases are things that you put out sparingly. Conventional wisdom says you should only put them out when your company is working on or announcing something big.
In the SEO world, press releases are a way to get a large number of diversified backlinks out into the world all at once. Not only do these press releases build backlinks that get you ranked, they also send your website quite a bit of traffic from hungry consumers.
Now, you might also think that press releases are insanely expensive, and inaccessible to the average business owner, but they’re actually quite reasonable. You can get press releases done for less than $100 in most cases. You just need to know where to look. One service is Web 2.0 Ranker’s press release service.
7. White label SEO services.
Did you know that a good chunk of SEO consultants out there just farm your work out to so-called “white label” fulfillment agencies? Whether you believe this is ethical or not, the fact remains that some consultants approaching you to do SEO work on your website will simply contract with another company to do the actual work, then slap their logo on the reports every month. We call this white labeling.
As a business owner who’s a little savvier than average, you can cut out the middleman and work directly with these white label providers, usually for a much cheaper price than what the so-called SEO consultant was going to charge you. As a jumping off point, check out a service like PosiRank or Links Management.
If a full-on SEO campaign isn’t something you’re interested in, you can check out The Hoth, which is another white label SEO agency, except at The Hoth, you can pick and choose one-off SEO services like a batch of links or help building directory listings.
There is practically an endless number of things you can do for your website’s SEO, and there is no substitute for a dedicated consultant whose only job is ranking you higher in the search results. But if the budget isn’t there, or you want to be more hands on with your website’s SEO, then these steps are a great place to start.