After looking into search engine optimization (SEO), you may have realized it costs more than you thought to hire a professional.
If you have the capital, that’s no big deal, but if you’re one of many business owners without a dedicated SEO budget, it makes sense to look for ways to optimize your own website for free (or with as little investment as possible).
You’ll be happy to know that you can optimize your website for search engines without paying for professional services.
As long as you have an SEO-friendly site design, you have a good foundation to work with, and from there, you’ll need to learn how to implement the following SEO components.
Table of Contents
1. Keyword and subject research
SEO begins with determining what queries users type into search engines when they need your product or service. You’ll use these keywords in your content, product descriptions, page titles, and anywhere else appropriate. Check out these free keyword research tools to get started. However, don’t stop at keyword research. You’ll need to research your subject matter as well.
In the early days, ranking a website was largely dependent on keywords. Google and other search engines ranked websites by finding matching keywords between a user’s search and the words that appeared on a web page without much consideration for other factors. While keywords are still important, they don’t carry as much weight. You can’t expect a website to rank just by filling the pages with keywords people are typing into their search bar.
While you need to research keywords, you also need to research your subject to understand it in-depth and identify related keywords and phrases. Doing this will help you rank for semantic search. In the world of SEO, this is called LSI, or Latent Semantic Indexing.
LSI keywords and phrases work like this. Say you run a law firm and your main keyword phrase is “criminal defense attorney near me.” You also want to optimize your content for phrases like, “criminal defense lawyer,” “do I need a lawyer for criminal charges,” “beat criminal charges in [city],” etc. The idea is to use a handful of additional phrases that help search engines understand the full context of your web page so it will be included in search results when it’s most relevant, since users search for these additional phrases.
Keyword research tips
- Embrace long tail keywords.
- Use a spreadsheet to organize your keyword lists.
- Use free SEO tools, but don’t be opposed to paying to get better features.
- Research your competitors’ keywords to get more ideas.
- Identify and go after keyword gaps – these are keywords you don’t rank for, but two or more competitors do.
2. Start building your internal link structure
You may not realize how important internal links are for ranking. Sure, they’re links to pages on your own website, but they tell search engines how important your pages are and provide more context about your content. The more internal links you have pointing to a given page, the more equity Google will assign to that page.
There is no official Google guidance on where to place internal links, but in general, they can go anywhere: blog posts, navigation menus, footers, and sidebars. To get links on your home page, use widgets that link to your latest or most popular posts. After creating a blog post, find other pages on your site with relevant content and link it in your new article.
Internal link building tips
- Use exact match anchor text. For example, if you run a marketing blog, you might use the following anchor text options: “marketing tips,” “target market,” and “hire an agency.”
- Only link to target content once per page.
- Use links sparingly. A few per page is good.
3. Optimize your title tags
Although title tags aren’t a powerful ranking factor anymore, they are absolutely important on the back end and for getting users to click. Your page titles tell Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines what your content is all about. Search engines use this information to determine how to rank pages.
Your page titles will also contribute heavily to your click through rate, since users will skim titles and quickly decide whether or not the page contains the information they want.
Title tag tips
- Keep titles short to 50 characters or less or at least get the most important words into that space.
- Don’t get too attached to how your titles display. Google often rewrites page titles before displaying results. To avoid having your titles rewritten, don’t use brackets, parenthesis, dashes and pipes, or repeat the same keyword multiple times.
- Create simple and clear titles that speak for themselves.
4. Update older content
Old content isn’t necessarily bad, but Google prefers to display fresh, new content in the search results. Sometimes, users are turned off by content simply because of the publication date. Your page might be exactly what they’re looking for, but if it seems outdated, they may not click.
To avoid being passed over, update your pages periodically by adding some new content, references, or images. This will trigger Google to create a new publication date that users will see in search results.
Content refresh tips
- Don’t alter good content just to make it new. Instead, add a paragraph.
- Replace outdated suggestions with better options.
- Rework your introductions to capture more attention.
5. Go for rich and structured snippets
Getting your website to rank in the search engines is great, but you also need people to click on your links in the results pages. You can increase your click through rate (CTR) by leveraging Schema markup.
You may have noticed that some websites in Google’s results show additional information, like product details and starred ratings. These rich and structured snippets make search results stand out, but where does it come from? Well, Google pulls this information from two sources: Schema markup and data formatted in tables on your website.
Tips for implementing snippets
- Use tables to display product information, like prices, availability, and rating.
- Don’t expect snippets to show up. Sometimes Google ignores tables and markup.
- Use both Schema markup and tabular data to increase the chances of your information showing up in search results.
6. Publish amazing content
Hands down, content will always be king. The best way to optimize your web pages is to create useful content that people find interesting, helpful, and amazing. Once you have pages full of information users will want, it’s easier to make smaller tweaks, like adding in LSI keywords, adjusting titles and meta descriptions, and making your pages mobile-friendly.
It’s also beneficial to frame content around questions. Since Google now discerns user intent, you can benefit by formulating your headings as questions rather than statements. Questions make intent easier to understand, and they also help with voice search. Many people on mobile devices speak their search queries in the form of a question, so when your headings match those questions, you have a better chance at ranking.
- Publish authoritative content in your niche. If you’re not an expert, hire one.
- Create content that fills in the gaps left by your competitors.
- Be concise and use power words.
7. Track your ranking progress
You’ll have an easier time getting better rankings when you track your progress the whole time. Four free SEO tools you’ll need to use are Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools and Google Keyword Planner. Using these, you’ll get information on the source and quantity of organic traffic, keywords people use to find your pages, and other metrics, like conversions and engagement.
Tracking your search data will give you a heads up about traffic drops and other issues so you can address them immediately.
Data tracking tips
- Install your analytics code as early as possible to capture the most data.
- If your key pages aren’t ranking, add more internal links and be sure you’ve created a proper sitemap for search engine spiders.
- Showing up in searches is great, but make sure you’re getting clicks.
8. Generate legitimate backlinks
Forget about all the people who talk about buying backlinks in bulk to improve their search rankings. This is an old black hat tactic that is still being used but doesn’t produce long-term results. In fact, buying bulk links is considered spam and your site might get blacklisted if you get caught. Not to mention, the links you can buy in bulk are almost always spam posted to irrelevant sites that nobody ever visits. These sites are often part of blog networks that exist solely to host backlinks, and Google shuts these sites down fast.
Buying backlinks like this is a waste of money and is too risky. Instead, use only white hat link building techniques. Unlike paid links, you can build high quality backlinks for free by doing manual outreach. It will take work, but it’s possible.
Backlink building tips:
- Look for websites related to your niche and seek links from only those sites.
- Start participating in online communities related to your niche. This will increase your chances of getting links from people in your industry who recognize and respect your content.
- Avoid adding links to your site on random wikis and other sites that give you free access to edit.
9. Take some SEO courses online
Short of hiring a professional SEO agency, taking some free SEO courses online can benefit your efforts greatly.
Search engine optimization is a complex, multi-faceted task, and while it’s not possible to master it overnight, you can learn quite a bit on your own.
Combine your free SEO courses with your favorite, best free SEO tools and you’ll be primed for growth!
10. Free SEO Tools to Enhance Your DIY Approach
For novice marketers, SEO can often feel like an intimidating field with constantly evolving trends, distinct strategies, and technical jargon to navigate – not to mention expenses associated with acquiring data-driven insights essential to building lasting success.
However, there exist several high-quality free tools available that could just fit your budgeted pockets—helping you boost rankings.
1. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a comprehensive tool for analyzing website traffic performance. It’s designed to track key metrics such as the number of users and page views, the average length of time spent on certain webpages, and user engagement rates. Thus, providing detailed insight into who visits your site, which parts are most successful, and how you can improve outreach.
Key features and insights for tracking website performance
Google Analytics provides key features such as overviews of sources impacting your website, tracking popular keywords that bring organic traffic to the site, monitoring user engagement on different pages, and other useful functionalities.
It delivers analytical insights into groups or channels displaying trending site activities, advising if more focus should be allocated to targeted areas w regard to each segment to provide personal experience upon visits from users.
2. Google Search Console
Google Search Console is an essential free SEO tool to monitor website presence in search results. It alerts the user regarding any issues encountered and delivers invaluable performance reports on keyword rankings and visibility, the index status of a particular webpage, organic impressions, etc.
With this trustworthy analytics platform from Google, you can spot emerging SEO opportunities, and oversee visual snippets creation & adjustment as desired for optimizing them ultimately increasing the clickthrough rate from SERPs.
Utilizing performance reports to identify keyword opportunities.
Its performance reports are especially advantageous in identifying actionable keyword suggestions and imperative SEO issues within one’s own website. Coupled with the ability to compare data over periods of time, potential keyword visibility can be maximized as well as responded to optimization issues must expediently.
Ensuring that your target keywords are doing well will allow you to focus increasing marketing efforts on them while exploring competition to users obtain relevancy for words with high search volume but low competition.
3. Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is a free keyword research tool designed to help website owners and marketers identify accurate and relevant keywords for their websites.
It allows users to search the Internet, dig up suggestions related to a particular niche, find volumes of search traffic associated with each phrase, determine competitor bids on best-performing terms, and make educated decisions about where to concentrate their businesses’ digital efforts when it comes to SEO.
Furthermore, it helps compare metrics from different times as well as manage keywords in split lists of interested groups.
Finding relevant keywords for content
Google Keyword Planner can be an invaluable tool for novice marketers when it comes to finding relevant, high-performing keywords for their content. It’s free and straightforward to use and allows users to search through low-hanging fruit in the keyword space – both long tail and head terms alike – based upon their chosen business vertical or industry.
The planer surfaces mounds of real volume data along with complementary metrics such as CPC (cost per click) which is useful insight into the competitiveness of variations that come up in any given search session.
This ensures that users get great ideas on where they should target trying to drive web traffic and attract better search rankings quicker than expected, without ruining budgets.
4. Yoast SEO Plugin
Yoast SEO is an incredibly popular WordPress plugin widely recognized as one of the most effective tools for on-page SEO optimization. It allows users to quickly analyze, edit and optimize their web page content to make it SEO-friendly.
With a user-friendly interface, this tool helps identify overstuffing issues with critical keywords, track readability scores against various search engine algorithms for better ranking and ensure the proper technical structure of a website involved in generating organic access from search engines.
Integrating Schema standard scales that accompany blog posts or pages at the backside area further enhances reading capability by Google Index Network & reaches ahead making its way into visibility!
How to optimize on-page SEO elements using Yoast
Yoast SEO Plugin enables you to optimize the crucial on-page SEO elements of your website. This WordPress plugin helps to improve readability, integrate metadata, and create customizable URLS necessary.
Additionally, it educates users with provided content analysis focusing on things such as keyword distribution and length in order to keep their text well-structured targeting different algorithms.
Visitors can preview directly what their posts will look like in the Google search engine used as a tool for optimization purposes along with syncing both views allowing edits instantly inside real user session recordings becoming easier than ever.
5. Moz Link Explorer
Moz Link Explorer is a free backlink tool powered by Moz that allows businesses and marketers to identify new link-building opportunities, track SEO performance, and cultivate higher-ranked search engine results pages.
Through this powerful tool, users can assess their own websites’ backlinking strategies as well as analyze competitors’ links for potential inside information on best practices.
Moz Link Explorer also provides domain authority scoring so online companies can evaluate each website’s potential influence in search rankings when determining whether they should pursue external linking opportunities with other sites or content producers.
Importance of backlinks in SEO
Backlinks are a critical element when it comes to enhancing website visibility and SEO performance. Moz Link Explorer recognizes the importance of such links and allows users to analyze the volume, type, anchor text, linking domain authority and other factors of a specific page or domain’s backlinks profile.
Utilizing this data can help marketers understand how their placement on link-based search engine rankings may be affected and identify new opportunities for authoritative and organic links to build in order to increase page authority. With more relevant backlinks leading visitors directly to highly optimized web pages, marketers can look forward to larger volumes at lower cost — while significantly boosting their campaigns.
Ubersuggest is a comprehensive all-in-one SEO tool allowing users to do keyword research and competitive analysis.
It features improved tracking metrics that provide valuable insights such as keyword search volume along with competition and best-performing sites for each query made, enabling you to customize campaigns and content around your competitor’s keywords.
In addition, Ubersuggest allows the discovery of new content ideas with suggestions generated from existing top-ranking pages – meaning there are ample opportunities for organic traffic growth through well-executed online marketing initiatives.
Discovering new content ideas and track rankings
With its powerful algorithms, Ubersuggest quickly provides rich insights about topics related to your brand or product. On top of that, it generates new content ideas based on user search query trends and exposes what type of content ranks better among the competition.
You can also track your website rankings easily across different search engine regions and generate detailed reports for identifying optimization areas. Overall, Ubersuggest is a great free tool ideal for kick-starting any online venture.
AnswerThePublic is one of several invaluable and free keyword research tools for content creators and digital marketers looking to generate new ideas and understand user search intent. It visualizes data from various autocomplete services, showing different term combinations and ranks of ascending prominence alongside related queries across different locations.
With a personalized understanding of the words users are searching for, you can optimize the relevancy of your website content to meet current market demands, boosting both organic exposure and engagement levels.
AnswerThePublic is a very powerful synthetic intelligence toolset ideal for comprehensive Keyword Research and pushing SEO plans millionths further into lucidity beyond what generic keyword extraction techniques can ever reveal.
How to use long-tail keywords effectively using this tool
AnswerThePublic is a keyword research and content suggestion tool that helps analyze user searches in Google and other search engines. From the visually generated map, users can identify potential long-tail keywords ideas related to their main keyword or concept.
By incorporating them into content strategies, they can better rank for such terms while increasing their chances of being discovered by specific audiences searching on exact queries.
To make the best out of this tool, one should strategically utilize combination words or phrases (long-tail & questions) tailored to his target market’s needs who subsequently drive conversions after connecting with truly helpful blog posts or website articles.
Long-tail keywords also help lower priority completed pages along be more relevant comparisons when deciding which company resolves most of their trials.
Pro tip: use AnswerthePublic in conjunction with Google Trends data!
8. Screaming Frog SEO Spider
Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a powerful website auditing tool used to discover potential areas of both technical and content-related optimization opportunities.
It crawls web pages at lightning speed, analyzing HTML code and other site structure properties from the page like titles, headings, metadata & duplicate content as well as spidering links on each page & identifying those which are internal.
By using this plugin, innumerable issues such as large page size and content duplication can be identified quickly for improved ranking chances.
SERPsim is a free SEO tool that helps developers simulate accurate search engine results page (SERP) snippets. This critical element performs an important role in driving and sustaining organic traffic on websites.
SERPsim can be used for previewing how the fragments of text, such as titles and meta descriptions, will appear when your content populates in the listings section based upon search queries by web users.
With this useful tool, it’s easy to allocate spaces responsively for titles & description elements along with image thumbnails while complying with Google’s best snippet practices for performance optimization.
Crafting compelling meta titles and descriptions
SERPsim is a free tool for optimizing website search snippets to focus on improving the click-through rates of organic traffic. With SERPsim, you can watch how potential visitors interact with your page title and meta description in real-time.
It allows users to have full control over their site’s snippets dynamically by customizing titles and descriptions, analyzing any changes made in search engine ranking positions, as well as ultimately crafting compelling meta titles or descriptions that will lead to higher conversion stimulus clicks for increased web performance.
10. Schema Markup Generator
Structured snippets allow users more accurate previews of what they can expect from a website before visiting. With the use of schema markup, the indexed results become richer and clearer, helping you rank higher in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).
The tool makes it easy to generate and implement structured meta-description tags on your webpages making them visible in Google Search results.
Importance of schema markup for search engines
Schema markup provides a path for search engine algorithms to interpret the accelerated and complex development that helps make up dynamic web pages. Created using microdata, schema data in simple language assigns almost real-world meaning and interpretation to the HTML on webpages.
This is well-recognized by all major search engines including Google, supporting crawler bots with more direction while giving websites better placement within Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).
Constructing a strong online presence starts with effective SEO, and thankfully there are various tools that can help novice marketers navigate this process.
Need some help with your SEO? We’ll get you started
If you’ve read all of these DIY strategies and you’ve decided you don’t want to do SEO on your own, reach out to us and let’s talk. At SEO.co, our team of experts have a proven track record of getting results for clients in just about any industry. Whether your niche is big or small, with or without much competition, we know how to get results.
Optimizing your website for search is an ongoing, long-term commitment. If you don’t have the time or patience to do it all yourself, connect with us an tell us what you need. We would love to help you rank better and generate the traffic you deserve.