November 21, 2022 Andy Driver

Search engine optimization is often regarded as a black art or science. And it’s tempting to rely on experts to do this on your behalf. But, as with most marketing and business development activities, there are some simple and useful things you can do for yourself without the need for external support.

Alternatively, if you’re short of time or lacking in confidence you can of course pay an expert to give you some help.

The purpose of this guide is to give you some tips on how to manage SEO (search engine optimisation) for yourself.

Take your website from the side street to the High Street

The purpose of SEO is to enable it to be found more easily and more quickly by your potential customers. This does not mean that you will appear on page one of the search rankings. But always the emphasis is on improving your overall position, preferably without too much cost.

Who are your website visitors?

Think about your ideal customer. What draws them towards you? What are their needs and preferences? What do you know about their lifestyle? Why do they buy from businesses like yours? More specifically, why do customers buy from you in particular, and what makes you different? Understanding the answers to these questions will help you to think about the key components of your SEO, improving your chances of being found online.

Think about your website keywords

Keywords are the phrases or individual words used by customers when they are looking for products or services like yours. Search engines will match up the content on a specific page to the question being asked by the customer.

It’s much harder for a website with fewer pages to rank for all its keyword targets. Therefore, a specific page for each service, product or offer is the way to go.

There are some tools available that can help you to understand and plan your keyword research, such as Wordstream, Ubersuggest and Google’s Keyword Planner.

Long tail keywords

These are longer and more specific phrases that search engine users type in when they’re closer to making a purchase.

By focusing on long tail keywords, you are adopting a more targeted and relevant, even localised, approach. So, for example, instead of using keywords such as business photography, try a long tail keyword such as photography for small businesses or product photography, or children’s fashion photography.

Study your competitors

Once you’ve considered your keyword strategy identify the top competitors for each keyword. Insight on your competitors is helpful but be sure not to shape all of your SEO thinking around this.

Remember to think closely about your target customer, which may not be the same as your competitors’ target customers.

Add unique blog content on a regular basis.

Search engines are always looking for new content, and blogging is a great way to publish recent relevant content for the search engines to index.

Remember, your blogs need to be focused on your ideal customer, their needs and challenges. Be sure not to stuff your blogs with keywords. Your content needs to be readable, engaging and human, not a robotic set of keywords.

Guest blogging

Another blogging tip is to identify influential people in your marketplace and partner up with them. Ask them to create content that links back to your site. This is a great way to boost traffic, shares and build your brand online.

Meta descriptions

Meta descriptions sit on your content management page and help to improve the optimum performance of your website, in terms of search engines ranking your site.

A meta description is rather like a library index card for each of the URL pages on your website.

It’s a shorthand process for Google to scan your website and understand what each page contains. Ideally it will be a maximum 150-character description of the page. It’s important not to repeat the same meta description for every page of the website. After all, every page is different, yes, so the work you do to define the meta description for each page is important.

Drive out duplicate content

The search engines want to push original and relevant content to the top of their rankings. If you want to add content from another site, the best practice is to link to it rather than simply paste it across to your site.

Use internal links

Understand the natural links between pages across your own website and create links between them. If you use internal links on your site pages and in your blog posts, it improves the readability of your site for your visitors. It also improves your keyword ranking. Finally, it enables the ability of search engines to crawl your site and index them.

Grow your inbound links

This remains a key factor in ranking (SERPS) performance. As well as your internal linking strategy, it’s important to improve ways in which other sites will link to you. Coverage on or publication by other sites, particularly those with more authority than yours can be helpful to the ranking of your site.

An example would be if the online version of a regional newspaper kindly provides a link to your business, then a search engine will recognise that a superior site has featured you and will rank you more highly.

Use SEO friendly URLs

Tools like Yoast can help you to take a step by step approach to managing your SEO. If it’s not already on your content management system, it can often be added as a plug in.

SEO for your images

A good way to look at image SEO is this; Google can read text but not see images for what they are. Coding tells Google there is an image in place and we need to tell them what the image contains so it adds to overall page relevance and therefore usefulness.

We call this Alt Image Attribute. You need understand these. Imagine reading a page in a book and there’s a blank space where an image should be. You would have no idea what it should be or whether it is relevant to the content.  This is how Google views your page without an Alt Image Attribute (description).


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